Footage of member of Malaysia's opposition PAS allegedly mocking Hindus triggers protest

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK): A five-year-old video of a PAS member allegedly mocking Hindus has surfaced and is causing an uproar, with the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and a Muslim civic group calling for the man to be prosecuted and charged during a protest at the Elephant Fountain in Brickfield's Little India on Wednesday.

The footage of Mr Sahul Hamid Seeni Muhammad speaking during a closed-door event was uploaded in May, but the video has since gone viral on social media.

In the video, he questioned why Muslims were buying curry powder from non-Muslim manufacturers like Baba's and Alagappas, rather than Adabi.

Mr Sahul Hamid also made fun of a dishti bomma, a squarish metal plate with the face of a fearsome demon on it placed at the entrance of a curry powder factory in Permatang Pauh, claiming that powder from the factory is "licked by the demon".

According to The Hindu newspaper, the dishti bomma is traditionally placed at business premises and is believed to ward off the "evil eye", which Hindus believe bring unpleasant events.

In another clip, he was also seen making jokes about the snake temple in Penang and apparent "sexy" Hindu idols.

About 80 protesters, led by MIC vice-president M. Saravanan, demanded the police to investigate Mr Sahul Hamid for uttering seditious statements.

"Let's not see this as a racial issue. These statements are the opinions of a rude individual. I hope that the Home Ministry and the Government will take action," said Datuk Saravanan, threatening to stage an even bigger demonstration in front of Mr Sahul Hamid's house if he went unpunished.

Also present was Jihad for Justice chairman Datuk Thasleem Mohamed Ibrahim, who said he was ashamed of the way a fellow Muslim has acted, and blamed a docile judiciary for allowing radicals to freely spout bile.

"Zul Nordin had similarly insulted Hindu Gods some time ago and was investigated by the police. The authorities presented his case to the Attorney-General with a recommendation to charge him but he was never prosecuted," said Datuk Thasleem.

"If they had prosecuted Zul, there wouldn't be people like this," he said.

The protesters dispersed at around 2.30pm and lodged a report against Mr Sahul Hamid at the Travers police station.

Datuk Mohd Salleh Man, former Penang commissioner of the islamic Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) confirmed that Mr Sahul Hamid was a PAS member and that the controversial video was taken five years ago.

"I just spoke with Sahul and he told me it was said at a closed-door event nearly five years ago, which has only surfaced now. It is up to the current state committee to decide if any action should be taken," he said.

Following the uproar, Mr Sahul Hamid uploaded a video apology.

"The ceramah was made at a closed-door event attended by other Muslims. The individual who recorded and uploaded it did it without my knowledge or consent, with possible malicious intentions," he said in the video.

"What I said was based on trusted knowledge that may have offended some and I apologise. I hope this issue is not dragged out and is halted immediately. Insha'Allah I hope this incident does not occur again," he said.

Meanwhile, Bukit Aman said Mr Sahul Hamid could face up to five years in prison if he is found guilty under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act and called for moderate views from both sides.

"PDRM would like to advise the public to be careful and practice humility in presenting information during scholarly events, which should be a medium for progress and not manipulation with the intention of disturbing racial harmony.

"The public should also be smarter in analysing the information they receive and share on social media.

"We also urge the public not to hold demonstrations on this matter. However, we urge those who are not satisfied to lodge police reports," said Bukit Aman spokesman ACP Datin Asmawati Ahmad.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.