Sabah churches object to nominating PAS rep in assembly

Bishop Rev Dr James Wong. – Catholic Sabah photo.

THE Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) wants newly-minted Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan to stop plans to nominate a PAS representative in the state assembly.

“We are very concerned over the news that PAS has requested to fill one of the six spots for appointed assemblymen in the state assembly.

“PAS is an Islamist political party known to be divisive and holding little respect for other minority religions,” the council said in a letter to Jeffrey, who heads STAR, a component of the ruling Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS).

The Malaysian Insight reported that the same letter was also sent to another GRS party, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS).

An SCC official contacted by TMI confirmed sending the letter.

“Yes it’s true. This is supposed to be private letters to PBS and also STAR but they have become viral,” he said, requesting anonymity.

In the letter, the SCC drew attention to PAS Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh’s refusal to apologise for his “derogatory” remarks about the Bible.

This was in reference to Zawawi’s statement in parliament last month that the Bible had been “distorted” to allow alcohol consumption.

The SCC said Zawawi was an example of political culture PAS was promoting in multi-racial Malaysia.

The council said racial unity had been been the basis for the success and prosperity of Malaysia since independence.

It added mutual respect, honour, and tolerance were the hallmarks of Sabah.

“To have PAS in our state government is opening a door to division and polarisation of the different communities in Sabah, causing discord and the eventual erosion of the racial and religious harmony that we have achieved so far. Sabah has been the shining light of Unity in Diversity in Malaysia. Let not this be taken away,” the letter said.

“Thus, it is our hope and prayer that YB Datuk and your party will strongly object to the inclusion of PAS in the Sabah state assembly.”

The letter was signed by SCC president Bishop Rev Dr James Wong, deputy president Jerry Dusing and vice-presidents Archbishop Melter Jiki Tais and Archbishop John Wong Soon Kau.

Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa said on Thursday he expected PAS to be granted at least one of the six assemblyman’s appointments in Sabah

PAS did not contest in the state polls but is an ally of GRS parties Umno and Bersatu.

Jeffrey has dismissed talk that a PAS representative would be appointed to the state assembly and a position in Sabah’s Law and Native Affairs Ministry.

“No, that’s not true. I know because someone else will be appointed. So all this is fake news,” Jeffrey said.