'Stop using political power to convert bumis to Islam'
11:37AM Jan 25, 2014
Christians in Sabah want Prime Minister Najib Razak to stop the use of political power to convert bumiputeras to Islam, and will stage a series of protests until their cause gets heard.
The Solidarity Natives, or Perpaduan Anak Negeri (PAN), alleges that a ‘dakwah’ movement backed by Putrajaya had used "intimidation, threat, deception and inducements" to win Muslim converts.
This, it said, violated Malaysia's promise of freedom of religion to the Borneo state when it became part of the federation 50 years ago.
"We have been deceived, intimidated and cheated long enough. PM Najib must lead the way to assure us that he is not only a PM for the Malays, but for all Malaysians.
"All must be treated fairly and have the freedom to embrace a faith of their choice. We acknowledge Islam as the religion of the federation, but not extreme political Islam, in ways not envisaged by the framers of our federal constitution.
“This (the federal constitution) is the supreme law of the nation and not syariah (laws)," said PAN in a statement on its assembly in Ranau on Saturday.
PAN has launched asix-month campaign into the Kadazan Dusum-Murut (KDM) heartland. It started off with a ‘mamangkis’ in Penampang, Kota Kinabalu during the Christmas period.
‘Mamangkis’ is a war cry from the Borneo natives' headhunting days and is often invoked when faced with a threat.
"Today, our mamangkis takes a different form. No more do we seek victory with blood other than the blood of Jesus, our redeemer and our Lord over us," it said.
PAN stressed that while it rallied against extremism, it is not anti-Muslim.
"Rest assured we do not see Muslims, and those who become Muslims by choice, as our enemies. We have always embraced them as our brothers and sisters.
“In Sabah, we are one big family with Christians and Muslims living in peace and harmony side by side even within the same family."
What the group didn’t want is a systematic attempt to eradicate Sabahan's cultural heritage as Christians and their ethnicity.
"Some call this a form of genocide," lamented the statement.
PAN noted that many of its complaints about the forced conversion of natives into Islam have fallen on deaf ears as the Putrajaya-controlled state apparatus always held the final say.
"Just last month after Christmas, a group from the peninsula went to Pitas, one of Malaysia’s poorest districts, and deceived Christians there to convert to Islam under the guise that the federal government was giving them some financial aid.
"The place is so poor that there is no piped water, nor electricity. The place is so remote that no elected assemblyperson has visited them in the last 50 years.
“Makadan Masabu, 54, has lodged a police report. But the police have handed the matter to Muis, the Sabah Islamic Council," the group added.
Conversions not proper
Although it has been reported by Utusan Malaysia in 2009 that Muis have registered 117,579 new Muslim converts since 1970, PAN said many of these cases might not be properly done.
PAN said that many natives were often handed valuable land to entice them to convert to Islam.
The group also alleged that the National Registration Department (JPN) had deliberately classified some Christians as Muslims, adding a 'bin' or 'binti' into their identity cards.
When these mistakes were pointed out, the JPN reportedly would not rectify them.
"The Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah had compiled a list of 162 such cases and their lawyers had handed it over to the JPN for remedial action nearly four years ago.
“JPN replied that all these 162 files have been lost in their office. Until the files are found, these 162 bumiputera Christians are officially Muslims," it said.
The recent Jan 2 controversy in Selangor, where the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) seized copies of the Alkitab, was just another example of how political Islam has cast a pall on the issue, PAN added.
"History teaches us that the controversy over the use of the ‘Allah’ word is not new. Our Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible, was banned 33 years ago. It is still banned as evident by one fatwa after another.
“It is not about one word. It’s a long-term strategy of extreme political Islam to dominate (others)," the group stressed.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has, however, reaffirmed on Thursday the government’s commitment towardsthe10-point solution, an agreement reached with Christian groups on importation and use of the Alkitab.
But Najib yesterday said that the ban on non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’ stands in states which have such provision under law.