NO one can argue that Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, the two youthful morons who posted the bak kut teh buka puasa photo on their Facebook page, should be charged in court for their offensive prank.
This couple seem to have an insatiable need to draw attention to themselves and had stepped over the red line of decency in their previous postings of their sex scenes on their blog.
However, the Internet is awash with sex videos so their postings hardly raised an eyebrow locally aside from raising condemnation for their indecency.
They got off with a slap on the wrist and most probably with a smirk on their faces – they are famous albeit for the wrong reasons but well known just the same and the icing on the cake was they earned the moniker Sex Bloggers.
Expecting to get away lightly again with their latest stunt, they foolishly stepped into the minefield of religious relations and now find themselves in prison having been denied bail by the court after they were charged for several offences, the most serious among them being sedition.
The swiftness with which the Attorney General brought them to court should have been lauded for nipping religious strife in the bud if not for the fact similar offences in the past had been either ignored or the perpetrators gotten away with just a caution.
The disturbing question that arises from this unequal treatment is why those who committed similar offences as that of Tan and Lee in the past were not charged.
This glaring double standard has raised concern not only among non-Muslims but also among Muslim leaders on both sides of the political divide.
Speaking at the BN Youth Fair in Kuala Lumpur last Monday, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaludin, in calling for stern action to be taken against the sex bloggers for their insensitive stunt, also cautioned that similar actions must be taken against anyone insulting other religions, not only Islam.
These are encouraging words but the proof of the pudding is in the eating – Malaysians are watching what befalls the sex bloggers in court and more importantly how the authorities will deal with those who insult other religions in the future.
Another breath of fresh air on the whole affair came from a surprising source – the Sepang MP Mohammed Hanipa Maidin who is a member of PAS.
Amidst the chorus for stern action to be taken against Tan and Lee, especially from politicians clamouring to be on the bandwagon of righteous indignation, Mohamed called for forgiveness for the young couple.
His call published in his party’s newspaper Harakah reasoned that the month of Ramadan is a time to show mercy and forgiveness and as they have apologised to Muslims for their insensitive stunt, the couple should be given another chance.
Indeed in the apology, Tan ended his message by saying, “Selamat Aidilfitri dan maaf zahir batin.”
Were they sincere in their repentance? It is not for anyone to judge but by asking for forgiveness they have put the ball in the court of the people they insulted.
Certainly they should not get away scot-free for their offence but let us pray that whatever the punishment meted out to them, will be tempered with mercy in the spirit of the season.
On the lighter side, this case has aroused the curiosity of a young Malay friend of mine who asked me if bak kut teh is some kind of tea.
He was not wrong actually because the soup is indeed tea except that meat is added to it and the dish can be halal if the meat used is halal because the herbs in the soup are halal.
In fact there is halal ‘bak kut teh’, which uses chicken and is known as chick kut teh.
A friend of mine who runs a beef noodle stall in the Satok area serves chick kut teh to his Muslim customers. If he had used beef I presume he would have called it beef kut teh.
There was one time a cousin of my former colleague asked for it by mistake. He thought it was some kind of tea and was shocked when it turned out to be a steaming bowl of chicken soup!
From my friend’s account, his cousin said the soup was nice and so his accidental introduction to chick kut teh ended on a happy note.
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