Voon urges GPS to be firm in religious stand that restricts religious freedom in Sabah, Sarawak

Voon Lee Shan

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, March 20: Parti Bumi Kenyalang (PBK) president Voon Lee Shan has called on the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government to be firm in its religious stand by calling the federal government to lift all Home Ministry’s directive that restricted religious practices in Sabah and Sarawak.

Following the federal government’s appeal on the use of the word “Allah” recently, Voon in a statement today, said the restriction of religious practices in Sabah and Sarawak is not consistent with the 18 and 20 Points Agreement.

He recalled that during the formation of Malaysia in 1963 as listed in the 18 and 20 Points Agreement, there were no official religions outlined because our forefathers foresaw possible dominance of Malayan Malay over Sabah and Sarawak in religious matters.

“For the GPS government to come to say that the word “Allah” could be used in Sarawak without any objection from the government in its recent press statement on March 18 is not enough.

“The GPS government should put their feet down and tell the federal government that the federal government should not appeal against the decision of the court in this matter.

“The silence of the GPS government amounts to agreement by the GPS government that the appeal should proceed,” he said.

On a different note, Voon said the GPS government should not allow religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia to preach in Sarawak if the state government is serious in maintaining religious harmony in the state.

He believed the teachings of local Ulamas by our Muslim brethren here are acceptable to the people of Sarawak be there are preachings amongst other communities here.

“It is for this reason, we could see churches, temples and suraus or mosques not far from each other.

“We don’t object suraus in non Muslim housing communities or churches near or within Muslim communities in Sarawak.

“All communities in Sarawak lived harmoniously and we don’t want Malayan cultures to disrupt our harmony here,” he stressed.

Apart from that, Voon said the GPS government has lots to answer to the public on the implementation of Kat Jawi in schools, a move seen with suspicions by many towards propagating one’s religion over others.

Hence, he opined that the move to get Jawi to be part of the school’s curriculum may further create disharmony in Sarawak’s society. — DayakDaily