KOTA KINABALU – There is no government policy to compel anyone to convert to Islam, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said yesterday.
Assuring the people that the government does not practise a policy of forcing people to convert to Islam, the premier said: “From the government’s point of view, we hold to the principle that there is no compulsion in Islam.”
“In Islam itself there is a verse that says ‘To you, your religion, and to me, mine’. This means there is no compulsion in Islam. If anyone wants to convert to Islam they can, but there is no compulsion,” he said when opening the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah’s (PBRS) triennial general meeting here yesterday.
Najib was responding to PBRS president Tan Sri Joseph Kurup who had in his speech highlighted alleged conversions of non-Muslim natives in Sabah to Islam through dubious means.
“If such activities are being carried out, it is likely the work of certain individuals and those affected should lodge complaints with the state government so that appropriate action can be taken. This is not the approach nor the aim of the BN (Barisan Nasional) government,” Najib said.
There were reports earlier this year on the conversion of Christians to Islam, including one involving a 16-year-old Christian student who was allegedly converted without the parent’s knowledge.
Earlier in his speech, Najib said the BN has been able to continue to be in power irrespective of whether times were good or difficult due to its component parties’ loyalty and commitment.
“As BN chairman, I do not see too much into the size of the party. To me size doesn’t matter. What matters is your loyalty and commitment. It is on this principle that country has been able to progress.
“We have succeeded because we have been able to capitalise when the going was good as well as ride out the storms. But the BN must continue to prove that it is the party that the people can depend on to look after the interests of all the people, irrespective of ethnicity or religion. The BN umbrella is inclusive and comprehensive,” he said.
For example, he said, the government decided to eliminate the “Others” column in official government forms because the indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak did not like to be categorised so.
On another matter, he said the Opposition, which has been constantly casting aspersions and baseless accusations against the government, has never been consistent in their stand and struggle.
Najib said such inconsistency was evident, for example, when the Opposition, which had previously rejected the Goods and Services Tax (GST), seemed to have recognised the implementation of the new taxation system by listing it as part of their Alternative Budget.
Apart from that, he said, the Opposition also lied when they accused the BN of bringing in about 40,000 voters from Bangladesh in the last general election, but which until today has not proven it.
Najib added that an allegation that he had negotiated with the military to seize power if BN lost the 13th general election was also proven false, when the opposition leader concerned made an open apology to him on the matter. â€“ Bernama