Perak DAP chief Ngeh Khoo Ham has apologised and retracted his Twitter posting about Muslim outrage over a American movie that insulted Islam.
"I retract and apologise to any Muslim who is offended by my tweet as it was never intended to be so," he said in a press statement today.
On Sept 17, Ngeh had tweeted: "Khairy wants Muslim protest against Same Bacile. For Islam or for his political gains? Are Muslims wasting to much time and energy on this?"
This generated heavy criticism from Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin, who is organising a demonstration tomorrow to condemn the film.
Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia also joined the fray, quoting PAS leaders such as its Kedah commissioner and Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak, Johor commissioner Mahfodz Mohamed and former Penang Youth chief Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin condemning Ngeh
According to Berita Harian , Ngeh had told the daily yesterday that the issue of an apology did not arise as he was merely posing a question.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng had said his party's official stand was against the film but he did not criticise Ngeh, stating that he would withhold comment on him until the mainstream press published his condemnation of the film.
Film the work of a 'mad man'
In his press release, Ngeh said he shared the views of his party as explained in Lim's press release on Sept 16 and is in support of the freedom to hold demonstrations.
However, he did not agree with how demonstrations againt the film in other parts of the world had caused unrest, as well as loss of lives and properties.
He explained that he tweeted about the matter after learning that Khairy was organising a protest against the film as well.
Ngeh said he was wondering aloud whether time and energy was being wasted because the film was the work of a "mad man".
"I want our society to think deeper with regard to the way we respond to any provocation or issue that confronts us.
"I have been taught, and have always emphasised to the young, never to react but always to respond," he said.
Ngeh expressed regret that some Umno leaders had intentionally quoted him out of context to portray him as someone who belittles Islam.
"However, having explained the context in which my question was posed, any Muslim who is still offended by the question I posed, I apologise as that was never intended," he said.
'It's outright sedition'
Earlier today, the former deputy public prosecutor who was in charge of the Altantuya murder prosecution, Salehuddin Saidin, lambasted Ngeh, accusing him of outright sedition.
"That itself is seditious in nature," the lawyer who is now in private practice said when asked Ngeh's tweet at a forum in Kuala Lumpur today.
Drawing from his experience as a prosecutor, he said even if Ngeh had put a question mark at the end of his remark, his 'question' disseminated online still served to enrage and provoke a segment of the public.
Salehuddin spoke at a forum organised by the the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry's special affairs department that discussed the controversial Section 114A of the Evidence Act 1950.
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