PETALING JAYA, Dec 13 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Thursday that those who defame the country overseas are people who do not love their country.
"The people are also angry at those who go overseas to seek support and cook up baseless allegations.
"Actually they don't love the country, they only hunger for power and don't care about what happens to the country," he told reporters after receiving a memorandum from the Damai Malaysia group opposing street demonstrations in the country.
Abdullah said that those who were obsessed with their views did not care about the consequences of their acts.
"We are the ones who have to face everything. We have to defend the peace and well-being of the people," he said.
Damai Malaysia, a group of caring Malaysian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), submitted the five-page memorandum from 395 NGOs which jointly rejected street demonstrations and called on the government to take stern action against the culprits. Abdullah said the country had become developed and successful based on the practice of democracy which respected and upheld the law and constitution.
Malaysia still gave the people the freedom to voice their opinions, including in the mass media, he said. "If this freedom is used in an irresponsible manner, the people will suffer," he added.
He said that as a result of the recent street demonstrations, various sectors, especially the tourism and business sectors, had suffered losses.
He had been informed that hotels in the Bukit Bintang area had received 10 per cent cancellations of room reservations because of these demonstrations.
"If already 10 per cent of the bookings are cancelled, it's a loss to the hotels. Besides, I believe that the tour agencies and tour bus operators have also received cancellations," he said.
The memorandum submitted by Damai Malaysia coordinating chairman Mohd Saiful Adil Mohd Daud contained a declaration condemning the organisation of any street demonstrations and rejecting discussions on sensitive issues like race and religion through this means.
The declaration also condemned certain parties which resort to fraud, defamation and sedition to get the support of foreign countries and powers to interfere in Malaysia's internal affairs.
Among the 395 NGOs in Damai Malaysia are the Federation of Peninsular Malay Students (GPMS), Malaysian Association of Youth Clubs, Felda Youth Council Malaysia, Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia and the United Indian Welfare Organisation.
Speaking in KUANTAN later, upon his arrival for a one-day visit to Pahang, Abdullah labelled those who solicit support from outsiders as traitors and the action of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf), which claimed to fight for the rights of the Indian community in Malaysia, as an attempt to destroy the country and racial unity.
"This is a betrayal of our country. Was there ethnic cleansing? There was nothing about wiping out the Indians in the country," he said at a function to welcome him and his wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base.
Abdullah said the Barisan Nasional-led government always listened to the views of the people which were conveyed through the proper channels like the elected representatives, associations, non-governmental organisations and certain committees.
"We carry out development according to the wishes and aspirations of the people and we practise a policy of helping all the races," he said.
True. Those who defame the country overseas surely do not love the country.
The same goes for those who defame the country and tell lies about the country at home, right here in this land.
But that's not to say that those who criticise the ills and wrongs in government do not love or are not loyal to, the country.
People express their opinions and may say things the government does not like to hear.
This does not mean they do not love the country. On the contrary.
This love for the country is not exclusive to the government or its supporters.
I hope we all can make a distinction between those criticising with malicious intent and those making honest criticisms, which may be what the governement does not want to hear.
Now. Street demonstrations. I don't know about you but I believe that PEACEFUL demonstrations are part and parcel of a healthy democratic process and system.
It is a way citizens of democratic countries show their support or express their protest.
The penguin walk in Putrajaya was peaceful. So was the Bersih 10-Eleven rally until the Masjid Jamek incident, which certainly marred the, otherwise peaceful event.
The Dec 9 Freedom (for Human Rights) Walk was peaceful.
No traffic disruption in Putrajaya. None when people walked for human rights.
There was some disruption when police set up road blocks during the Bersih rally.
Whatever disruption caused is no different when Malay Mail holds their annual Big Walk or during our annual Merdeka celebrations.
And the Hindraf rally? It was terribly unfortunate that it turned out and ended the way it did. But surely, that cannot be used against civil society.
I don't support street demonstrations per se. But I do believe that Malaysians should be allowed to assemble peacefully.
Now, I do recall a certain deputy chief of a (youth) political body making fiery speeches in a a not-so-peaceful rally.
I'm sure many of us can still remember that angry face and the loud, almost rowdy, cheers that he got.
And to Damai Malaysia. Bully for you for wanting peace. We all do.