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No to Shariah law in pluralistic Sabah, state’s Christians say

The Sidang Injil Borneo church leader said that Sabahans once had religious freedom, but are now haunted by incidents such as the ban on the non-Muslim use of “Allah”, seizure of their religious materials, and the latest proposal to elevate Shariah law in the country.

“We will guard our shores from efforts by any quarters to elevate Shariah law in this country, which is incompatible to the Malaysian Agreement 1963.

“Further, the Shariah law simply will not work in Sabah which is inherently pluralistic in nature. We will guard our shores from injustice, unfairness and extremism,” he said in his speech during a book launch here recently.

Dusing said that Sabah has always enjoyed a harmonious community of diverse backgrounds without religious tensions, but now live in fear of having their religious materials seized.

He stressed that the the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Inter Governmental Committee Report and Cobbold Commission all agreed that Malaysia was and remains a secular state, and that Sabah entered into the federation with the understanding that this would not change.

“This was the assurance made to Sabahans. This was agreed internationally by the governments of the five sovereign nations,” he said, referring to the United Kingdom, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore who were party to the the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Dusing was speaking as the special guest at the introduction of a book, The Grand Design by Zainal Ajamain, which was launched by former Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat.

The Grand Design purports to be the first complete compilation of Malaysia’s vital records including the Cobbold Commission Report 1962, Report of the Inter-Governmental Committee 1962 (IGC Report) and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

Dusing said that such documents were not part of the education syllabus in the country and it was important to recognise the basis of the country’s formation.

“It is time that we step into maturity in knowledge and understanding of the efforts made by the British Government in relinquishing their colonial rights in North Borneo and Sarawak, the aspirations of our forefathers in forming a new nation, and the essence of the covenant made between the five nations,” he said.

Dusing, as president of the SIB church, is currently seeking a declaration that it has the constitutional right under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution to use the Arabic word for God “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia translations of the Christian bible, as well as in all other religious publications and materials.

The Christian Bumiputera communities in Sabah and Sarawak typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their holy scriptures and religious practices and have reportedly had items purchased from abroad seized when trying to bring them into Malaysia.

Peninsula-based party PAS, with the support of Umno, is seeking to introduce legal amendments that would elevate the standing of the Shariah courts and put these on par with the country’s civil courts. – themalaymailonline

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