THE people of Sarawak responded with shock and condemnation to the heckling of a Catholic archbishop following the Federal Court’s decision yesterday to allow the shariah court to adjudicate cases of apostasy.
Muslim youths shouted “Allahuakbar” at Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh as he was leaving the Kuching High Court complex yesterday.
“The youths had gotten carried away emotionally, and their actions showed that they did not understand the issues brought before the court,” said Kuching-based businessman William Liam.
Oil and gas worker Anthony Dylan said the heckling was “not our culture”.
“People must know that this is unacceptable. The court (decision) is not the issue but the heckling is. So, we must stand up to heckling regardless of ethnicity, gender or faith,” he said.
Sarawak online news portal Dayak Daily condemned the incident and said the police did a “commendable” job protecting Poh.
“We must be ashamed of (the incident) and we cannot tolerate this kind of behaviour, no matter what grievances we have,” the newspaper said in an editorial.
“(It) is an embarrassment to those of us who so proudly flaunt our Sarawakian way of life where Muslims and non-Muslims could share a meal at the same dining table.
“The situation could have easily spiralled out of control, but it didn’t, and for that, we must be grateful that cooler heads prevailed.
DAP youth leader Abdul Aziz Isa called for calm, in a video: “We Christians and Muslims shouldn’t be enemies and get carried away. It is not a matter of religion, but a group of people whose brain cells don’t appear to connected.”
“What I hear about is that issue of provocation on the part of the group, where they shouted Allahuakbar.”
“The issue is, do they know know what that mean when they shouted that? Allah Almighty created all the races and creeds for us to get to know one another and not to become enemies. He imbued us with a rational mind, so that we don’t rely on emotion to cause provocation.”
Meanwhile, Sarawak PKR has reported a death threat against its chairman Baru Bian, The Borneo Post reported.
State vice-chairman See Chee How, who lodged the report, said he was alerted today by a comment on a news article online. He said a person using the name Helmi Bin Abdullah Mee had commented that “Baru Bian hina umat Islam Sarawak” and “must be shot dead at all cost(s)”.
“I am concerned about the safety of YB Baru Bian,” See said.
Baru, the Ba Kelalan assemblyman, is the lead counsel for the four Muslims in yesterday’s court case.
“Further, this post is instigating violence and is most likely to arouse anxiety and hostility among those who read the article, thereby disrupting the peace and harmony between all Malaysians and Sarawakians,” See stated in the police report.
Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg is in Singapore. His spokesman declined to comment on yesterday’s incident.
Deputy Chief Minister James Masing said all the shouting was unnecessary.
“The court had decided, the shouting either in anger or in expression of joy wasn’t necessary.
“It only incited extreme emotion and created anger within the society.”
He said there could be an upside to the court decision.
“The Federal Court decision to allow the shariah court to adjudicate in apostasy cases since they involve islamic law should be viewed positively,” he said in a WhatsApp message.
“Appropriate court handles appropriate cases is a logical move. By the same argument, native customary rights land matters/disputes should be handled by the native courts as they are versed in Dayak custom and laws.
“If native court doesn’t have qualified judges, then employ qualified judges. We have so many outstanding native cases.
“Federal court shouldn’t handle NCR land cases as most federal judges assigned to NCR land cases are not versed in native laws.”