47 Prominent Sabahans Open Letter Urging Govt to Act Against Islamic Extremism

Excerpt from Open Letter: WE, a group of concerned Malaysian citizens in Sabah, would like to express our deep concerns at the Government’s response to the violations of religious freedom occurring in the context of misguided and extreme actions undertaken in the implementation of what is claimed to be policies for the inculcation of Islamic values.

We speak against the violation of our fundamental right and freedom of religion that has been promised and guaranteed to the people of Sabah.

Upsetting judicial decisions, unclear Government policies and aggressiveness of certain parties in promoting restrictions to our freedom of religion have caused uneasiness to Sabahans.

In Sabah and particularly in the interior, aggressive Islamisation activities are being carried out by both covert and overt means to convert especially natives through intimidation, deception, or inducement particularly targeting remote and poor villagers.

We Sabahans know that at the heart of it all is an exercise to suppress the voice of the majority genuine non-Muslim Sabahans, and to degenerate our native population and our freedom of religion.

Government departments and religious bodies have been asserting authority beyond their powers for far too long and such unlawful and oppressive practices simply must cease immediately.

Extreme and misguided actions in the name of Islamisation and religious intolerance is nothing but a threat to our national peace and stability.

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FULL TEXT OF THE OPEN LETTER

THE STAR 8 April 2015

Fulfil Intentions of Founding Fathers

WE, a group of concerned Malaysian citizens in Sabah, would like to express our deep concerns at the Government’s response to the violations of religious freedom occurring in the context of misguided and extreme actions undertaken in the implementation of what is claimed to be policies for the inculcation of Islamic values.

We speak against the violation of our fundamental right and freedom of religion that has been promised and guaranteed to the people of Sabah.

On Sept 16, 1963, Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah covenanted to unite together to form the Federation of Malaysia, each component state being an equal partner in the Federation (Singapore was expelled from the Federation on Aug 9,1965).

Sabah and Sarawak agreed to this unity strictly on 20-point and 18-point conditions respectively. Of all these conditions, the first was the assurance that Sabahans and Sarawakians will continue to enjoy their freedom of religion.

While Islam will continue to remain the religion of the new Federation this does not make the enlarged nation any less a secular polity.

For Sabahans, the covenant for the preservation of this freedom was of such great significance that it was carved in the Oath Stone located in Keningau and officiated by the Federal Minister of Labour, V. Manickavasagam on Aug 31,1964, witnessed by state officials, political and community leaders and members of the public.

This guarantee is found in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. It calls for freedom to profess, practise, propagate and manage our respective faiths, including establishing and maintaining institutions for religious and charitable purposes, without interference and intervention by the state.

It is found in Article 12 which guarantees parental rights over the religion, the religious upbringing and the religious instruction of their children. It is found in Article 8 which guarantees equality of all Malaysians without discrimination on the grounds of religion. Therefore, we strongly oppose actions, policies and laws that violate our guaranteed religious freedom.

After more than five decades of the formation of Malaysia, it is sad that today racial and religious polarisation in this country have reached an alarming level.

The proliferation of oppressive laws that violate our fundamental civil liberties continues unabated.

Upsetting judicial decisions, unclear Government policies and aggressiveness of certain parties in promoting restrictions to our freedom of religion have caused uneasiness to Sabahans.

In Sabah and particularly in the interior, aggressive Islamisation activities are being carried out by both covert and overt means to convert especially natives through intimidation, deception, or inducement particularly targeting remote and poor villagers.

Conversion ceremonies are being carried out under the guise of providing “financial assistance” to poor natives and native school children especially those living in government hostels.

The National Registration Department, despite its denials, is also labelling native Christians with “bin” or “binti” in their names, as Muslims in their MyKad without their knowledge or consent.

We are not against conversions out of free will but we condemn conversion activities done through deceit, intimidation and bribery.

The drive to increase the Muslim population of Sabah by the granting of MyKad to illegal Muslim immigrants has been a long standing bone of contention of genuine Sabahans against both the state and Federal Governments.

We Sabahans know that at the heart of it all is an exercise to suppress the voice of the majority genuine non-Muslim Sabahans, and to degenerate our native population and our freedom of religion.

Government departments and religious bodies have been asserting authority beyond their powers for far too long and such unlawful and oppressive practices simply must cease immediately.

Extreme and misguided actions in the name of Islamisation and religious intolerance is nothing but a threat to our national peace and stability.

After more than 51 years of being one nation, we consider that this nation has regressed far from its intended destiny.

We, genuine and patriotic Sabahans, want the restoration of the original national vision and intention of our founding fathers of building a rainbow nation of Malaysia.

She is multi-cultural and multi-religious. The colours in a rainbow signify diversity and each and every colour in Malaysia has an equal part to play in the development and growth of this nation.

In our pursuit of building this nation, there must be mutual tolerance and respect for one another’s background and beliefs.

Ideologies promoted by political parties and especially their leaders must be based on fairness, tolerance and respect for others. Politicisation of a particular religion for narrow partisan gains simply has no place in this pluralistic society of Malaysia.

We are compelled by our loyalty to the nation and our sense of responsibility for the people of Sabah and our future generations to assert these concerns in this letter.

In this way we can together confront the challenges which erode national unity and pose a risk to our national integrity.

We, like many other concerned Malaysians, call upon the Prime Minister, Chief Minister of Sabah, and both Federal and state ministers, to take on the full mantle of leadership and to take steps to restore the aspirations and intentions of our founding fathers in 1963.

1) Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, former State Secretary of Sabah and vice-chairman of Suhakam; 2) Datuk Hj Mohd Noor Mansoor, former Finance Minister of Sabah; 3) Datuk Wilfred Lingham, former Permanent Secretary, Tourism Ministry, Sabah; 4) Datuk Joseph Voon, former Member of Parliament of Tanjung Aru; 5) Datuk Stephen Foo Kiat Shim, former state Attorney-General of Sabah; 6) Datuk Gregory Joitol, former deputy State Secretary of Sabah; 7) Datuk Christine Tibok Vanhouten, former Senator and Advisor to the Society for Sabah Heart Fund; 8) Reverend Datuk Jerry Dusing, president of Sabah Council of Churches; 9) Dr Chong Eng Leong, surgeon/activist; 10) Datuk James Hj Ghani, advocate and solicitor; 11) Datuk Dr Lawrence Thien Shin Hing, advocate and solicitor.

12) Datuk John Sikayun, former president of Sabah Law Association; 13) Datuk Patrick Sindu, consumer activist; 14) Datuk Dr Beatrice Baikan, consultant of Coral Triangle Initiative – Southeast Asia; 15) Datuk Justin Stimol, president of the Standard Kadazan Language Society; 16) Francis Ariffin, ex-chairman, MTUC, Sabah Division; 17) S.M. Muthu, environment activist;18) Dr Benedict Topin, activist; 19) Dr Mercian Anselmus, environment activist; 20) Daniel John Jambun, president of Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation; 21) Jannie Lasimbang, former Suhakam Commissioner; 22) Narawi Ahmad, president of Sabah People Right Movement; 23) Esther Golingi, chairperson of Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah; 24) Oswald Supi, freelance reporter.

25) Nicholas Punai, activist; 26) Dr David Fung Yin Kee, advocate and solicitor; 27) Christopher Chong Ket Huang, advocate and solicitor; 28) Marianne Ghani, advocate and solicitor; 29) Gayle Jokinin, advocate and solicitor; 30) Emmeline Paitin, advocate and solicitor; 31) Jan Chow Yee Fah, activist; 32) Chester Pang Thien Fook, activist; 33) Joanna Andereas, activist; 34) Bernice Lau Kam Mun, activist; 35) Bernard Tai Khiun Mien, environmental advocate; 36) Chin Chi Kiong, Native leadership advocate; 37) Dr Anthony Tibok, agricultural consultant; 38) Chris LaBrooy, retired pilot-captain; 39) Clive Jubilee, advocate and solicitor; 40) Anne B. Lasimbang, Partners of Community Organisation; 41) Adrian Lasimbang, executive director of Tobpinai Ningkokoton Koburuon Kampung; 42) Yee I-Lann Maria, artist/activist; 43) Chaw Thien Huong, activist; 44) Chin Min Chan, pastor; 45) Ranendra Bhattacharyya, activist; 46) Lim Yin Yen, activist; and 47) Yuen Che Wui, activist.

 

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47 Prominent Sabahans Send Open Letter Urging Govt to Act on Growing Threat

THE STAR 8 April 2015
KOTA KINABALU: A group of prominent Sabahans is urging the Federal Government to stem the tide of extremism in the nation.

The open letter is signed by 47 individuals and lawyer Gayle Jokinin said the letter came about after a group of 25 eminent Malays spoke out against extremism as well as the growing religious and racial divide in the country.

Gayle, who drafted the letter, said a major concern was how the country was tilting towards extremism.

“Our founding fathers did not agree to any religion or race to be supreme over others,” said Gayle, who added this was being seen in some policies.

“We felt that it is only right to speak up,” she said.

The signatories included former Sabah state secretary and Suhakam vice-chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, former Sabah Finance Minister Datuk Mohd Noor Mansor, former senior civil servants Datuk Wilfred Lingham and Datuk Gregory Joitol and former state Attorney-General Datuk Stephen Foo, as well as a handful of politicians, environmentalists, trade unionists, and lawyers.

In their letter, the Sabahans said there there must be mutual tolerance and respect for one another’s background and beliefs.

“Ideologies promoted by political parties and especially their leaders must be based on fairness, tolerance and respect for others,” they said.

“Politicisation of a particular religion for narrow partisan gains simply has no place in this pluralistic society of Malaysia,” they added.

The group said they were concerned over the “aggressive” Islamisation in Sabah, whether covert or overt, targeted at the natives.

“Conversion ceremonies are being carried out under the guise of providing ‘financial assistance’ to poor natives and native school children especially those living in government hostels,” the group said.

Another worry among Sabahans was the National Registration Department’s move of labeling native Christians carrying words “bin” or “binti” in their names, as Muslims in their MyKad without their knowledge or consent.

“We are not against conversions out of free will, but we condemn conversions through deceit, intimidation and bribery,” the group said.

“We Sabahans know that at the heart of it all is an exercise to suppress the voice of the majority genuine non-Muslim Sabahans, and to degenerate our native population and our freedom of religion,” the group further claimed.

The signatories also allege that government departments and bodies have been asserting authority beyond their legitimate powers for far too long, and such unlawful and oppressive practices must cease immediately.

“Extreme and misguided actions in the name of Islamisation and religious intolerance is nothing but a threat to our national peace and stability”.

 

 

 

 

 

 


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