MIRI: Yayasan Amal Sarawak (YAS) chairman, Muktar Suhaili, has clarified briefly that a missionary and welfare programme, initially scheduled to run from October 15 to 19 at Rumah Tanjung longhouse, but which has since been scrapped, “was on engaging Muslims in the district on welfare matters”.
YAS is the local chapter of the Peninsular Malaysia-based Yayasan Amal Malaysia.
However Belaga assemblyman Liwan Lagang who traveled to Rumah Tanjung to check out the YAS Programme, has a different version. He travelled there with Roman Catholic (RC) priests, Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB) pastors, a senior administrative officer (SAO) and police personnel.
“Yes, there was the promise of some assistance to Muslim converts, but very basic ones like buying household necessities, that is all. No one received large amounts of money in the longhouse,” said Liwan, a Christian, who is also Culture and Heritage Assistant Minister.
He added that there were also some Muslim converts in the longhouse. “There are 23 doors at Rumah Tanjung longhouse. The residents are mostly Roman Catholics or members of the SIB Church.”
Both Liwan and Muktar were commenting on Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem directing the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and Sarawak Islamic Council (Mais) to stop the YAS Islamic programme in Belaga following the discovery that it was not authorised, as required by law.
It was alleged that YAS offered RM6,000 to Christians of Rumah Tanjung to convert to Islam. The news went viral on social media.
“I advise NGOs or missionary groups heading to some place with a Christian majority to be more sensitive to the locals there,” said Liwan in warning that remote communities may be more at risk as they were being targeted by predatory missionary groups.
He challenged community leaders to be more concerned about the welfare of Christians, and step up efforts to educate those living in remote parts of Sarawak to enhance their understanding of their faith.
“Christians who are concerned and want to help their brothers and sisters in remote longhouses may contact Father Ding (RC) at 012-8844 355 and Pastor Ajan Sego (SIB) at 013-5702 655,” he stressed.
~ Free Malaysia Today