15 OCTOBER 2013
I find it absolutely mind-boggling that certain groups and individuals have responded to yesterday’s COA decision with apparent nonchalance, saying that the decision is confined to ‘The Herald’ or to West Malaysia and trying to convince us that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak will be left to practise our faith in peace. These naïve and deluded persons include members of local political parties, whose comments have been picked up by the media. I am in no doubt that there are many other such statements which have escaped the attention of the media.
Let me say in no uncertain terms that this issue has been affecting Sabahans and Sarawakians since even before the beast first reared its ugly head in Court. For those with short or selective memories, may I remind you about the 2 cases that are pending decisions in the High Court. The first case was brought by SIB (Borneo Evangelical Church) Sabah against the Home Ministry in 2007 for confiscating its Malay-language Sunday school materials containing the word ‘Allah’. The second concerns the 2008 government seizure of audio CDs belonging to Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence, which also contain the word ‘Allah’. These cases without doubt happened even before the Herald case, which was filed in 2009.
Recall also the hold-up of the 10,000 copies of the Al-Kitab in 2008 and 30,000 copies at the Kuching Ports in 2011. Remember the 2 conditions arrogantly sought to be imposed, that the words ‘For Christians Only’ and a serial number be stamped before the Bibles were released. The 2 shipments were subsequently released without condition but the point I emphasise is that the seizures would not have happened at all if the fervent zealots in the government port authorities had not been emboldened by the Home Minister’s move in issuing the ‘ban directive’ in the first place and later appealing against the High Court’s decision.
I also know for a fact that there have been raids carried out in Christian bookshops in Sarawak on the same grounds, that the word ‘Allah’ is not to be used in Christian publications.
What of the thousands of native Christian Sarawakians and Sabahans who live and work in West Malaysia and who attend Church services and masses conducted in Bahasa Malaysia and who use Alkitab, Prayer Books and pray in Bahasa Malaysia? Are they not affected by this decision?
Dato’ Seri Idris Jala the Minister in the Prime Minister’s department and the Prime Minister proposed the 10-point solution to appease Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians before the 13th General Elections but what has happened to that? Have the BN/UMNO apologists read the news that the unfortunate rabid souls in PERKASA are demanding that the COA’s decision be extended to Sabah and Sarawak? I would advise them to pull their heads out of the sand, the blinkers off their eyes and the cotton-wool from their ears and acknowledge that the BN/UMNO government does not have the gumption or moral fortitude (nor any desire) to stand up to the likes of PERKASA. Ask why the Home Minister and the government issued the ban directive and filed the appeal in the first place – is it possible that it was because of the goading and pressure from a group of small-minded religious bigots? Can we expect this same government to really stand up for us in Sabah and Sarawak under more pressure from a now gloating and even more pernicious PERKASA?
Today the editorial for Berita Harian proclaimed boldly that the decision does not affect the Borneo States. How I wish the learned Editor and the other political leaders who echoed the same stance are the ones sitting in the seats of the Federal Courts in Malaysia. Do not for one instant believe that this is the truth of the matter (notwithstanding the written judgment and the statement made by Datuk Wan Junaidi published in the Malaysian Insider 15th October) because we have learned that even the words, assurance and undertaking by the Malaysian Prime Minister himself (representing the Federal Government) does not hold water anymore.
In 1915, Charles Brooke warned Sarawakians about ‘others’ who ‘may appear with soft and smiling countenances, to deprive you of what is solemnly your right – and that is, the very land on which you live, the source of your income, the food even of your mouths’ and uttered these prophetic words:
‘Unless you follow this advice you will lose your birthright, which will be taken from you by strangers and speculators who will in their turn become masters and owners, whilst you yourselves, you people of the soil, will be thrown aside, and become nothing but coolies and outcasts of the island.’
Never in his worst nightmare could Charles Brooke have imagined that having had their lands, livelihood and heritage ripped from them by some who would come with soft and smiling countenances, and having little else of value left, the natives of Sarawak would one day be faced with the threat of losing their right to practise their faith as they had done for centuries; that even their most precious word ‘Allah’ could be denied them by some others who would also come with soft and smiling countenances and who would similarly help themselves to the riches of this land.
The weight of this oppressive and tyrannical judgment of the COA has started sending ripples of an even greater magnitude across the South China Sea. Instead of denying the ugly reality, we need to face it and stand firm for our rights vide all legal and peaceful means, so that the bigotry, hypocrisy and delusional supremacist movement of a small group of West Malaysians are kept away from our shores.
I wish all my Muslim friends a belated Selamat Hari Raya Haji.
ADUN N70 BA’ KELALAN