KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg and his Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) MPs ought to register their protest against Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh for offending Christians with his “unfounded remark” in view that they are in the same Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition, said Selangau MP Baru Bian.
He said the PAS politician must be reprimanded to ensure that the mutual respect and harmony in Sarawak flourishes throughout Malaysia.
“Today it may be Malaya, tomorrow it could be Sabah or Sarawak. Sarawak must not only be a model state in this respect but we must rise to the occasion to speak out boldly when the need arises, especially against religious bigots who are bent to use religion to hold on to political power,” he said in a statement today.
Baru, who is also a Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) Presidential Council member, said though Sarawak, along with Sabah and Singapore, were given assurance and high expectations that Malaysia would be a nation where its citizens would be treated equally and enjoy ever increasing standards of living, and co-exist in mutual respect and harmony following the formation of the Federation of Malaysia in 1963, it was sadly not the case as more than half a century later, the country continues to be divided along racial and religious lines.
“Religious leaders have taken to Parliament to pass judgment on other religions and when told that others are offended, have not an ounce of grace or humility to apologise but instead, say that the offended have no right to take offence.
“It is regrettable that such leaders choose to create division and disharmony rather than promote unity and understanding among the citizenry. The case of Pasir Puteh MP is a damning indictment of the arrogance of a particular group of people brought about by a supremacist mentality. What is more disappointing is that hardly any Muslim leaders have spoken up about it,” he remarked.
He pointed out that for non-Muslims in the country, they have been reminded constantly not to comment on Islam because “we do not understand their religion.”
“The MP for Pasir Puteh does not feel that he should show the same restraint when it comes to commenting about Christians and the Bible, ostensibly because he is an Ustaz.
“But it is precisely because he is an Ustaz, that he should be humble and respectful of other religions. By his bold and insensitive comments, he is encouraging others to behave in the same manner. This does not bode well for the future of this country,” said Baru, who in showing solidarity with Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and the Association of Churches Sarawak, have since written to Nik Zawawi asking him to withdraw him comments and to apologise for having made them in the first place.
“I have also written to the Speaker of Parliament to request that he direct the MP for Pasir Puteh to apologise and withdraw his comments,” he added.
Baru also acknowledged that there are those who feel that as Christians, they should just forgive Nik Muhammad Zawawi.
“Yes, there is forgiveness in Christianity but there is also righteous anger. We are told that just because this MP is from Peninsular Malaysia, we can forgive and forget; after all, we can bar him from entering our territory.
“No, we are one country having a multi-religious society and no one religion is superior or subservient to the other. Our silence will be taken by others to mean acquiescence, and they will be further emboldened to continue with their deplorable behaviour,” he said.