KOTA KINABALU – Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) has lashed out at Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal for alleging the party’s leaders and those of other Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in Sabah were afraid to speak up for Christian rights while claiming that role for himself.
“This is plain hypocrisy and political opportunism. Clearly, the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president is trying to divide the Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) community by exploiting the sensitivities of Christians and inciting them against BN,” said PBS secretary-general, Datuk Johnny Mositun in a statement here today.
Shafie had named Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Datuk Seri Madius Tangau for failing to protect their religion and not rejecting UMNO’s cooperation with PAS.
“All those KDM leaders named by Shafie are on record as publicly defending the rights of Christians in Sabah, including the right to use the word ‘Allah’ in their Bahasa Melayu Bibles and worship. The BN Government has conceded to their demands, so what is Shafie talking about?,” asked Mositun.
On the PAS-UMNO cooperation, he said it was the right of any BN component party to cooperate with any non-BN party, as long as it was not done to oppose the coalition.
He pointed out that PAS was not a BN party and neither had it applied for membership. The party supported UMNO on some issues but also opposed it on others.
“Furthermore, that cooperation is informal and at the behest of PAS which is also opposed to the opposition front trying to topple the BN. And PAS is no threat to us in Sabah, so why should we confront UMNO for that?
“The Prime Minister has assured us that our rights will be respected and honoured, and even rights that have eroded will be restored,” said Mositun.
Mositun said PBS was opposed to the use of religion for political mileage as this would destroy the culture of tolerance, mutual respect for and acceptance of each other that Sabahans had developed and practised for a long time.
“No, PBS will not take the bait that Shafie is dangling before our eyes. He’s the hypocrite, not us. Previously, he went around insisting that BN respected the rights of Christians in Sabah, (but) now he’s saying something else.
“On our part, PBS has a clear vision of our struggle for the future of our people and the state. The economic and security challenges ahead of us are the priority, not cheap politicking,” he added.
He said Christian leaders of political parties in Sabah – both in the state government and opposition – were unanimous in preserving and protecting their religious practices and rights, and it was ridiculous for Shafie and his Parti Warisan Sabah to posture as the defenders of Christianity in the state.
“Just because he has a few KDM representatives in his party line-up and defectors from PBS joining him recently, he is trying to entice KDM support using religion.
“Datuk Jake Nointin and some of his supporters leaving PBS has minimal impact on our party. The majority of our members are still with us, and we have new members joining us all the time. It’s normal in politics.” – BERNAMA