COMMENT | Almost two weeks after
the sensitive Bible remarks uttered by PAS lawmaker Nik Muhammad Zawawi
Salleh, it is clear that the people of Sarawak have not got over it yet. Yesterday,
10 NGO and civil society leaders lodged a police report against the
Pasir Puteh MP at the Kota Sentosa police station in Kuching.
Thursday (Sept 3), my colleagues in the Movement for Change, Sarawak
(MoCS), also lodged a similar report in Kuching. We did so to express
our solidarity with the Association of Churches, Sarawak’s (ACS) strong
protest against the PAS lawmaker. The Council of Churches of Malaysia
had also demanded an apology from Zawawi.
It has been nine years
since MoCS has lodged a police report against any politician. Zawawi’s
case was one we took exception to. Hence, this affirmative action. It
is wrong, wrong, wrong for an MP to speak negatively in the august
House against another religion that is not his own. Surely, even the
not-so-smart MPs with a little brain would realise that they must be
guided by such decorum.
Even though we are aware that it would
be difficult for the police to take action against lawmakers for their
speeches in Parliament, the report is to put on record our vehement
protest against hate and sacrilegious statements from politicians.
ACS chairperson Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh (above, second from left) had earlier described the MP’s remark as a “direct insult” to the Christian holy text. In
an interview with the media last week, the archbishop rightly said that
“Parliament is a place to solve, not create problems”. Isn’t it
an irony that an MP, who has claimed to have studied comparative
religion, and is supposedly an intelligent fella, has to be told by a
non-politician and a clergyman of how to conduct himself in Parliament?
Zawawi, it would do you a world of good to heed the archbishop’s sincere advice. Yesterday,
Senior Minister Fadillah Yusof of PBB also hit out at Zawawi, saying
that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) does not condone such action. Fadillah,
who is also the works minister, stressed that although GPS is part of
the Perikatan Nasional-led federal government, it does not mean that the
Sarawak’s ruling coalition supports individuals from the PN pact who
say things that go against the GPS’ struggle for Sarawakians.
Ticking off the PAS lawmaker isn’t enough. I urge Fadillah (above)
to bring up the matter with PN chief and Prime Minister Muhyiddin
Yassin and have Zawawi reprimanded for his callous indulgence in open
bigotry. The MP must be told to apologise. There are no two ways
around it. This is a demand from Sarawak Christians, and we expect PN
and GPS to deliver.
The majority of Malaysians, including Muslims, do not tolerate religious bigots and extremists. So,
will Zawawi be man enough to apologise? And he must do it with
sincerity from the heart and not just say that “if my words have hurt
some groups, I apologise”. To me, that is not good enough. It
smacks of insincerity. That is a politician’s familiar attempt of
getting away with a straight apology and salvaging some self-pride. If
Zawawi remains defiant and still refuses to apologise to Christians,
then we would know how to judge the man’s character and whether he is
worthy of being an elected representative.
our words are considered acrimonious or have hurt others, even
unintentionally, it takes a real man and leader to express humility in
acknowledging the possibility of a mistake. So far, there is no indication that Zawawi possesses any humility.
'We're all against drunk driving'
I have also digested the Pasir Puteh MP’s lengthy defence of his speech and why he does not think it is necessary for him to apologise as “Christians have no right to be offended”. No matter how he tried to defend himself, what has drunk-driving got to do with religion in the first place? Has
it not occurred to Zawawi that all of us (sans drunkards) are against
drunk-driving and would support heavier penalties for the offence?
the need to indulge in bigotry and claim that the Bible had been
distorted? I don’t think a real expert in comparative religion will ever
talk negatively about other faiths. That will only cause divisiveness, animosity and hatred in a pluralistic society. At
times, I wonder whether Zawawi is another ambitious PAS politician who
is only attempting his best to hasten his climb up the political ladder
by impressing his party bosses with his Islamic credentials.
Don’t some politicians have a knack of stirring controversies in order to get noticed?
Is the Pasir Puteh MP one of them? If so, then he is among the ordinary - "just one of da boys".
I doubt then that he will ever get my message here.