Stay calm & united. Do not let one man’s bigotry undermine the peace : Datuk Dr Jeffrey

1 September 2020

This is the full text of STARSABAH Party President Press Statement released on 31 August 2020 and published by The New Straits Time on 1 September 2020. For NST’s reporting, please click here.

I refer to the comments made by PAS Pasir Puteh MP on 26 August in Parliament during the debate on the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020. I was at a quandary as whether to respond initially as I am of the opinion that any Malaysian’s belief or faith should not be made a political fodder. Religion should not be politicized.

In Sabah, we live peacefully despite being multi ethnic/race and with multi belief system. We viewed our religions as teachings of peace and not used as instruments of hate. Therefore, his action has left us utterly perplexed.

Terrence Siambun was right when he said that there is no need to engage Nik Muhammad Zamawi Salleh in a dialogue and that it would be useless. That was my exact position, to respond to Pasir Puteh’s impudence will only exacerbate matter and prolong the issue. It’s like pouring oil into flame with no positive conclusion.

And I trusted that Malaysians, particularly Sabahans, are mature and sensible enough to see that Zamawi was just being impudent and boorish. His obtuse respond that Christians have no right to be offended underscore his lack of Malaysian spirit.

As a leader and lawmaker, upholding peace and law of the land is paramount. And I had hope to be able to address this in closed doors so as to spare Malaysians the irreversible feelings of resentment and suspicion it will no doubt cast to our citizens of various race and religion. This is a divisive issue.

To my dismay, there are quarters whom have taken this opportunity to exploit this divisive issue for political mileage. They threw caution to the wind. It is not done out of pure concern for justice but for political gain. My advice is, be careful that you do not end up with Pyrrhic Victory. What’s the point of winning if the cost of victory is burning the house down?

As an MP, Zamawi should not have brought his bigotry to the August House where we are suppose to uphold and defend the highest law of the land, the Federal Constitution.

Article 3 (1) and Article 11 (1) guarantees every citizen of the Malaysian Federation the right to religious freedom as well as to practice their respective faith in peace and free from prejudice and threats. Article 11(5) makes exception to these rights when they threaten public order such as making seditious statements or hurting the sensitivity of a group of people.

Zamawi has therefore abused his position as Member of Parliament by making hurtful comments against Christians in the August House knowing that he could hide behind Parliamentary Privilege. Would he dare to repeat his insults outside of parliament?

I would also like to call upon our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as President of Perikatan Nasional to take appropriate action on Zawawi against such future outburst lest Zawawi forgets: Sabahans and Sarawakians do not subscribe to such extremism. Despite being a model of tolerance, Zamawi will find there is no tolerance for bigotry in Sabah.

Lastly, i would like to remind Warisan leaders such as Terence Siambun and Samuel Wong to learn from Datuk Darrell Leiking who rightly called for unity amongst Malaysians to reject extremism, rather than to flame the Christian sentiments to gain political mileage.

Do not let the bigotry of one person undermine the peace of this nation. We do not have to dignify every single provocations lest we would be too busy being offended and neglect our duty to nation building.

Link to FMT’s report is here. I don’t want to make matters worse, says Jeffrey over PAS MP’s Bible remark.