A SABAH-based news portal has been told to apologise and remove a “fabricated article” which allegedly painted the Anglican Bishop and Christians in Sabah as being Barisan Nasional supporters.
Sabah Anglican Bishop Melter Jiki Tais has given the news portal three days to apologise and retract the article, Majlis gereja selar president Warisan politikkan agama Kristian (Council of Churches slammed Warisan president for politicising Christianity), failing which he will take legal action.
The three-day deadline expires tomorrow.
Melter, who is also head of the Sabah Council of Churches said the article had disparaged him and damaged his reputation as a religious leader who is non-partisan to any political party or group.
The article had made it seem that he and churches in Sabah were favouring the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
The article was published on Wednesday after Melter and the organisers of the Kota Kinabalu (Gaya) Christmas celebration paid a courtesy call on Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman.
The visit was to brief the chief minister on the church’s Yuletide programme and to personally invite him for the Christmas celebration.
“After my courtesy call, I knew I had to be extremely careful on what I said to the press (waiting outside the chief minister’s office).
“I know I never mentioned the names of any political leaders or the name of any parties.
“This is because the church is non-political. I merely stated the facts of our visit,” Melter told The Malaysian Insight.
Melter added that he had also told reporters that Christians in the state had been enjoying religious freedom and had no issues in Sabah, even on the use of the word Allah.
“All other media reported correctly what I said but not this news portal,” Melter said.
“They seemed to have put words in my mouth and then fabricated news.
“I definitely never commented anything on politics. Even after listening to the recording (of the media interview) there was no mention of politics, the names of politicians or political parties,” he said.
A pro-Barisan Nasional portal uploaded the article on Wednesday night and BN cybertroopers had reportedly been spreading the link on social media.
The article reported Melter as having “criticised the attitude of Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) leaders who used religion for politics”.
“I was surprised (with the slant of the news) when someone showed it to me,” Melter said.
He was particularly “angry” with the photo that accompanied the article where a photograph of Warisan president Shafie Apdal was superimposed over a picture of him (Melter) celebrating a mass.
“I don’t know why they want to drag me into politics. I really don’t.”
Melter said of today, he has not heard anything from the portal.
The Malaysian Insight is trying to get a comment from the news portal.