Sarawakians urged not to be too sensitive over religion, race

Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing

KUCHING, Feb 7: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing calls on all quarters not to be overly sensitive but learn to trust others of different religions.

He said the relationship between various races in Peninsular Malaysia is already strenuous and Sarawakians should be more mature to avoid being easily manipulated by religious or racial issues.

“If I am not mistaken, in June 2017, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan (Tengku Mansor) also lashed out at an MP for giving a political speech in a mosque in Cheras. What transpired from there, we don’t know. But after that, there were many negative comments hurled at him.

“This time round, he was quoted as advising church leaders not to spread unverified news when giving sermons. Subsequently, he brought up one such example where a Sunday sermon was given based on a press statement by Hindraf Chairman P. Waytha Moorthy.

“If this is what Tengku Adnan said, and if the church did give a sermon based on a statement by a politician, then the whole incident may have some political undertone,” Masing told DayakDaily.

For Masing, who is also president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak, the whole issue must be looked into from a larger perspective and context.

“We should not condemn based on a single incident alone. We have to examine it through a series of Tengku Adnan’s speech and behaviour, not jumping to conclusions based on one incidence,” said Masing.

Masing said, history has shown that religion should not be brought into politics where the failure to do so had brought about wars and bloodbath.

“Because of this, all of us need to be vigilant. Most of us go to places of worship to pray, but we must also be aware that there are some people who would use religion as platforms for political gain.

“This happens everywhere, and we need to be alert so that it would not happen in Malaysia, in Sarawak,” he said.

He said he would not take Tengku Adnan’s words out of context, and jump to conclusions that the Federal Territories Minister was insulting churches.

“To me, we should not assume that Tengku Adnan is insulting the churches. I am sure he did not mean to insult mosques when he said mosques should not be used as a political platform in June 2017.

“The same applies to the Regent of Pahang when he said mosques should not be used as a place to divide people of differing opinions (March 2017).

“General advice should be taken as a general one, not more and not less. One cannot read in between the lines all the time because there may be danger of reading out of context or reading too much into it.

“If we see Tengku Adnan’s advice to churches as a caution out of goodwill, then perhaps it is not an issue,” said Masing.

He said the relationships between various races in Peninsular Malaysia have been strained over the years and it is now time for Malaysians to learn not to be overly sensitive but trust each other in good faith.

“I hope Sarawakians are more mature than this and will be more alert and practise discernment. We neither want to manipulate others by using religion, nor do we want to be easily manipulated by others through religion,” he stressed.

He added that houses of religion should remain as places of worship where there should be no mentioning of political ideologies and agendas.

“Please leave our Sarawakian temples, kuils, churches or mosques to what they are meant for — as places of worship, religious teachings and prayers,” said Masing. — DayakDaily