Sarawak activist disappointed Attorney General Chambers not pursuing preacher Syakir Nasoha’s case

Peter John Jaban (file photo)

KUCHING, July 16: Sarawak activist Peter John Jaban has expressed disappointment with the Attorney General Chambers’ (AGC) decision not to charge the controversial Islamic preacher Syakir Nasoha, who allegedly made offensive remarks towards the Dayaks.

He said the decision was communicated by a letter from the Bukit Aman CID Prosecution and Legal Division (D5) addressed to S. Shashi Kumar, president of Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF), the civil society movement which started a police report campaign against Syakir.

In the letter, the police said the AGC had ordered them not to pursue the matter of Syakir’s disparaging video comments any further, claiming that the issue had been taken out of context and that it did not touch on religious sensitivity in the country.

According to Peter John who is also the vice secretary of GHRF, a 1-minute video went viral in Borneo States and Kalimantan, Indonesia starting October 2021 which showed Syakir making comments against other religions and the Dayak community.

The video was allegedly part of Syakir’s one hour and a half-long sermon at Abu Bakar Mosque, Bakar Arang, Sg Petani, Kedah back in 2017.

Syakir was later investigated under Section 505(c) of the Penal Code for making statements conducive to public mischief with intent to incite the community to cause them to commit an office against other communities, and Section 233 of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 for abuse of network services.

“In the one-minute clip, the preacher can be heard making highly offensive remarks aimed at Dayaks and non-Muslims, but the authorities have reached a decision that their time is better spent pursuing people over dubious attempts at humour,” he said in a statement today.

“We are currently living in a Malaysia where a woman can be arrested at a comedy club in Kuala Lumpur while exercising her right to freedom of speech. In this case, Siti Nuramira Abdullah was charged under Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity or enmity, hatred or ill will on the grounds of religion.”

He further said that Syakir should be charged under Sedition Act or Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code for “spreading words that cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill will, or prejudicing, the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion”. It provides an imprisonment of up to five years, if found guilty.

At the same time, Peter John mentioned that AGC’s decision not to pursue Syakir’s case exposes the double standards at the heart of the system, especially with respect to the charge of causing disharmony between religions.

“Yet, we see the AGC protecting people like Syakir who is openly preaching offensive comments against non-Muslims and their practises,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily