Indonesia disaster 'punishment for gay activities': Former Malaysian DPM

Indonesia disaster 'punishment for gay activities': Former Malaysian DPM
Detained Malaysia's deputy former prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi escorted by police waves before entering a court in Kuala Lumpur to face charges on October 19, 2018.
PHOTO: AFP

Malaysia's opposition leader said Tuesday a quake-tsunami that killed thousands in neighbouring Indonesia was "punishment from Allah" for the activities of gay people, sparking a storm of criticism.

Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who heads a party which lost power in Muslim-majority Malaysia at historic elections in May, made the remarks in parliament as he warned about the growing influence of the country's gay community.

It was the latest sign of a backlash against homosexuals in Malaysia. In recent months officials -- including the prime minister -- have spoken out against gay rights and two lesbians were caned for breaking Islamic laws that forbid same-sex relations.

Ahmad Zahid, a former deputy former premier who is now facing jail after being arrested for corruption, said that "in Palu, where there was recently an earthquake and tsunami, it was said that there were more than 1,000 (people) involved in such (LGBT) activities.

"As a result, the whole area was crushed. This is punishment from Allah."

The 7.5-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami smashed into the coastal city of Palu, on Sulawesi island, on September 28.

More than 2,000 bodies have since been recovered and there are fears that 5,000 more could be buried beneath the ruins in several hit-hard neighbourhoods.

Scores killed in Indonesia quake, tsunami

  • Open gallery

    Earthquake survivors in Palu, Central Sulawesi, crowd Mutiara Sis Al Jufri Airport in Palu in a desperate attempt to leave the devastated area on Monday.

  • Open gallery

    A combination of satellite images shows Palu, Indonesia on September 22, 2018 (L) and on October 1, 2018.

  • Open gallery

    A combination of satellite images shows Palu, Indonesia on September 22, 2018 (L) and on October 1, 2018.

  • Open gallery

    In the wake of mass destruction caused by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake and the subsequent tsunami, survivors in Palu and Donggala in Central Sulawesi have been scrambling to salvage food supplies and other items, as aid from the central government began to trickle into the region.

  • Open gallery

    An aerial view of an area devestated by an earthquake in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia October 1, 2018 in this photo taken by Antara Foto.

  • Open gallery

    Local residents affected by the earthquake and tsunami retrieve gasoline at a gas station in Palu, Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.

  • Open gallery

    This handout from Indonesia's National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) taken on September 29, 2018 shows an aerial view of Palu, Indonesia's Central Sulawesi, after an earthquake and tsunami hit the area on September 28.

  • Open gallery

    Scores of people were killed when a powerful quake and tsunami struck central Indonesia, an AFP photographer at the scene said on Saturday (Sept 29), as rescuers scrambled to reach the stricken region.

  • Open gallery

    Photographs from Palu, home to around 350,000 on the coast of Sulawesi island, showed partially covered bodies on the ground near the shore, the morning after tsunami waves as high as 1.5 metres slammed into the city.

  • Open gallery

    A satellite image shows Palu, Indonesia on October 1, 2018.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    The tsunami was triggered by a strong quake that brought down several buildings and sent locals fleeing their homes for higher ground as a churning wall of water crashed into Palu.

  • Open gallery

    People living hundreds of kilometres from the epicentre reported feeling the massive shake, hours after a smaller jolt killed at least one person in the same part of the South-east Asian archipelago.

  • Open gallery

    The quake hit just off central Sulawesi at a depth of 10 kilometres just before 6pm local time, the US Geological Survey said. Such shallow quakes tend to be more destructive.

  • Open gallery

    Search and rescue teams have been dispatched to hard-hit areas

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    A 10-storey hotel in Palu in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi collapsed following a strong earthquake in the area.

  • Open gallery

    As shattered survivors scoured make-shift morgues for loved ones, and authorities struggled to dig out the living or assess the scale of the devastation beyond the city of Palu, grim warnings came that the eventual toll could reach thousands.

  • Open gallery

    Rescuers on Sulawesi island raced against the clock and a lack of equipment to save those still trapped in the rubble, with up to 60 people feared to be underneath one Palu hotel alone.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Others have centred their search around open-air morgues, where the dead lay in the baking sun - waiting to be claimed, waiting to be named.

  • Open gallery

    Still, as dire as the situation in Palu was, it was at least clear. In outlying areas, the fate of thousands is still unknown.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

    Desperate survivors, now facing a third straight night sleeping outdoors, turned to looting shops for basics like food, water and fuel as police looked on, unwilling or unable to intervene.

  • Open gallery
  • Open gallery

Ahmad Zahid's remarks sparked widespread criticism, and he was accused of making populist comments to save his own skin.

Pang Khee Teik, a leading gay rights activist, told AFP that the comments were "proof that every time a politician is in trouble, LGBT people get blamed.

"Next time you hear a politician say that LGBT people are causing natural disaster, please remember that it's because his career is about to be swallowed up by the earth."

There was a flood of anger on social media, with one Facebook user slamming Ahmad Zahid for his "stupid and irresponsible statement".

Last week the 65-year-old was hit with 45 charges in a US$26 million (S$35.8 million) corruption case. He is accused of crimes that include accepting bribes to award government contracts and money-laundering.

 

     

    Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
    By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.