Kashthurirani Pato MP

Federal Parliament

Dewan Rakyat

Date: 28 October 2018

Dear Hon. Member

Re: your threat to sue Ismaweb dated 17 October 2018.

We refer to your recent speech in parliament recently calling for Malaysia to ratify the UN Convention on Human Rights (UN Convention) which seeks to eliminate all forms of Intolerance and Discrimination based on Religion and Belief which will allow for religious freedom in Malaysia.

Further we note your threat to sue Ismaweb for an article published on their website purporting to have defamed you. Ismaweb in that article was responding to your call to government in parliament in which you referred to the Shia  as a religion.

Your comments and your response to Ismaweb as published in an article in the Star Newspaper is titled “Batu Kawan MP gives portal 48-hour ultimatum to retract their response published in 17 Oct 2018”.



It is not controversial that as a member of parliament (MP) you enjoy parliamentary immunity and are covered by parliamentary privilege for statements you make in parliament.

It is also not controversial that freedom of religion, speech and thought are universal principles adopted either expressly or by implication or conduct (convention) in many countries including Malaysia without them being signatories of the UN Convention.

You failed to explain how ratification of the UN Convention could guarantee any of those liberties or “rights” you referred to in your speech in parliament recently quoting parts of Article 18 of the UN Convention which provides amongst other things: “that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”.

You further failed to identify religion by any common definition making the distinction between holding a religious belief and practising it. Perhaps this is where the distinction lies which you failed to realize which made your references to the Shia as a persecuted religious minority inflaming the sentiments of the Sunnis in a majority in Malaysia.

Considering your recent threats to Ismaweb this particular statement (underlined) rings hollow and insincere as it cannot form the basis upon which you ground your threats to Ismaweb. Your threats to Ismaweb flies in the face of this particular extract from the convention (Article 18) and contradicts your claims about your “love for Islam and your support for freedom of thought, belief and religion”.

If indeed you believe as you said that “everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, you would not have issued a threat to prosecute an entity who challenged your statements in parliament which offended their beliefs, views and thoughts which you refer to as a right (and the subject of your threats against Ismaweb’s published views). That’s censorship of the worst kind.

Freedom of speech and expression (an integral component of which is the freedom of religion belief and thought) is a two way street. It was never designed to be the express or sole right and privilege of a tyrannical regime that threatens anyone who disagrees with them.

The tone of your threat in response to the Ismaweb article appears to suggest that you are intolerant of free speech and religious beliefs and are quite comfortable with the idea of censorship which is the very antithesis of free speech. At another level your comments reveal your lack of understanding of those freedoms you purport to champion.

What you said in parliament under privilege was indeed blasphemous and offensive and runs contrary to the tenets of Sunni Islam. It is anathema to the Sunni definitions of what defines Islam and religion. Your statements constitute an insult to a great many Muslims around the world who are Sunnis.

Malaysia is a Sunni majority country and the Sunnis do in fact consider the Shia to be deviants and apostates in Islam by the universal interpretations of their religious cannons right or wrong.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the Shia and Ahmadi are widely regarded by Sunnis everywhere  and not only in Malaysia to be deviants and not a religion. In so much as the Sunni consider the Shia and Ahmadi to be deviants and therefore not worthy of being identified with Islam, the Americans consider the Branch Davidians to be a cult and not a religion. In Germany the government there has banned the Church of Scientology and denied it the status of religion.

More relevantly the Mormons (or Christian Church of Latter Day Saints) in the US claim to be a persecuted religious minority because their practice of bigamy (more than one wife) is a crime under US law inspite of their protection of free speech and religion under their constitution.

A challenge to this practice of bigamy before the Supreme Court of the US settled the issue of the Mormon practice of polygamy under the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom thus:

Mormon, Reynolds challenged the US government claiming he was discriminated against on religious grounds for having more than one wife, a practice allowed by the Mormon church.

The Supreme Court disagreed with Reynold’s claim. The court in the case of Reynolds vs the Govt of the USA ruled that the First Amendment guaranteed only freedom of belief, not freedom of practice.

Your speech in parliament offending the beliefs of the Sunnis in a majority in Malaysia was provocative, insensitive, inappropriate and incorrect in every respect. It was unjustified and deliberate.

Malaysia is a sovereign nation and its majority the Malays who are Sunni Muslims are sovereign through their King the Yang Di Pertuan Agong. The Agong is defender of the faith of Islam and protector of Malay culture.

Any reference to Shia as being Islam is both offensive as it is a denial and a challenge to Sunni orthodoxy in reference to Islam and the Shia. The Shia likewise adopting the rationale in Reynolds are entitled to their beliefs but not its practice in Malaysia. And the US constitution and its laws at least supports that position.

Malaysia has a dual legal system one of which is the Syariah. The Syariah the legal code of the majority Malay Sunni Muslims of Malaysia does not recognize or condone the Shia as a religion in the traditions or theology of Islam. To them and it is widely accepted and acknowledged that any reference to the Shia as a religion is heresy and support for that heresy. They are entitled to hold their beliefs. Not the practice.

As another example of the point; Hindus are entitled to practice their religion but not its caste imperatives or the practice of Sutee (bride burning at the death of her spouse) in Malaysia or India. Perhaps the extremes of the point needs be made for you to understand the difference and the hurt your speech has caused Muslims in the context of your Shia Sunni argument.

Your claim to “have a great respect and love for Islam and neither me, my party (DAP) or Pakatan Harapan has said anything against Islam” appears a bit thin and merely rhetoric when in practise you ignore what the majority in Malaysia (its Sunni Muslims) regard as the only form of Islam. Because to them and to them Shia is heresy.

By your threats against Ismaweb you demonstrate a paucity of knowledge where the concept of free speech and the freedoms of expression are concerned.

Your claim that they Ismaweb have fanned hatred amongst Malaysians is defamatory and slanderous of Ismaweb.  Your advocacy on behalf of the Shia ostensibly on behalf of the republic of Iran (judging by your statement in parliament) a nation rightfully or otherwise credited with supporting terrorism is questionable and scandalous.

Your speech latently betrays your real objectives, using the cover of parliament and the UN Convention to do so.

It appears your speech was designed to intentionally provoke Malaysia’s majority Sunni Muslims and to inflame religious passions to Shia in your speech in an effort to instigate communal and religious tensions in what is a Malay Muslim (Sunni) nation.

The Malay Sunni beliefs especially their religious beliefs are a non-negotiable right in a country whose official religion is Islam. It is an inseparable part of Malay culture, the position of the Agong and Sultans and the tenets of the Sunnah.

We call upon you to remedy this situation lest it gets out of hand with you in the middle as the agent provocateur by issuing an unconditional apology to all Sunni Muslims in Malaysia without reserve.

The fall-out from your negligence and insult to the majority Malay Sunnis in this regard cannot be imputed to the Malays, Sunni Muslims or the Article 18 of the UN Convention which you quote from.

We trust that you will discharge your responsibilities as a sworn MP for your constituency as well as for the parliament which you serve under the Agong in a responsible and mature way. You can demonstrate your sincerity by issuing an unconditional apology on your threat to sue Ismaweb and withdraw the reference to Shia.


Gopal Rajkumar









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