KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah leaders have been told to stop using fear tactics and divisive politics, irresponsibly using religion in order to garner support from the people.
Donald Peter Monjuntin, the UPKO Secretary-General claimed Shafie Apdal is scare-mongering in an attempt to fan religious sentiments among the Christian community in Sabah.
He likened Shafie, the Parti Warisan president’s announcement on allowing Christians to use the word “Allah” if the opposition came to power to a salesman selling second hand goods.
“The ruling government has always upheld religious freedom, allowing us to worship in the manner we see fit in our churches all this while. It is not an issue,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
He said Upko has been steadfast in its stand over the use of the term “Allah”, adding that the party had always defended the right of the community to use the term.
“PBS and PBRS have also been consistent on this issue. Actually all Sabah State BN leaders including those from UMNO have spoken publicly that the use of the term “Allah” by the Christian community is a non-issue in Sabah,” he said.
Donald added that Shafie and other Parti Warisan leaders are using underhanded political propaganda to belittle UPKO’s efforts, and hoodwink the people into thinking that the party could not be bothered about something that was close to our hearts.
According to him, Bernard Dompok, the previous UPKO president, and Madius Tangau, the acting chief currently, have been on record advocating for religious freedom in their respective time in the Federal cabinet as well as in the media.
Donald questioned Shafie’s motive in raising the issue only now, unlike before when the country never heard a squeak from him when he was part of the ruling government.
He said the Sabah State Government under Musa Haji Aman has consistently allocated millions of ringgit annually to Chinese vernacular and mission schools as well as non-Muslim religious organizations including churches and temples.
“What has Shafie done to help the Christian communities in Sabah despite having access to billions when he previously helmed one of the most powerful portfolios in the Federal cabinet,” he queried.
He added that the people should be wary of Shafie and Parti Warisan’s brand of politics because it was divisive and dangerous, stressing that religion is a sensitive matter and should not be used for ulterior political purposes.
“Now he wants to be a hero to the Christians in the State just to fish for votes. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Beware and don’t be fooled especially those in the rural areas,” he pointed out.
On Sunday, at a Parti Warisan gathering in Keningau, Shafie said BN’s Christian leaders had failed the community as they did not reject cooperation with PAS, which advocated an extreme version of Islam.
Joseph Kurup, the PBRS president, who was also labelled as a hypocrite by Shafie, in a reply said Shafie is just trying to gain political mileage with his accusations.
However, he had no comment when asked about Umno’s cooperation with PAS.
Kurup, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s office said the question should be directed at the ruling party, stressing that it was not proper for him to comment on that.
“Issues such as Allah are sensitive, but we don’t want to get political mileage out of it, unlike Shafie. This shows that he is the bigger hypocrite,” he was quoted as saying.
Joniston Bangkuai, the Parti Bersatu Sabah’s (PBS) Kiulu assemblyman, said it was surprising that Shafie, who had been a federal minister for so long, was talking about such matters now.
“What is it, then, if he is not trying to gain political mileage?”
Shafie in Keningau had hit out at the BN Christian leaders, saying they had not rejected Umno’s cooperation with PAS, which is teaching an extreme version of Islam.
“Why are Kurup, Dompok and Pairin not saying anything to Umno. In parliament and in the BN supreme council they are not saying anything, but in Sabah they are saying things to show they are championing the religion,” he had alleged.