Pakatan calls BN's resolution of the Al-Kitab controversy a vote-fishing tactic.
KUCHING: Pakatan Rakyat leaders today slammed Barisan Nasional (BN) for its politically motivated approach in resolving the Al-Kitab controversy.
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng called the 10-point formula a “political tactic to fish for votes” and said that the issue would still be left hanging if not for the 10th Sarawak state election.
“But of course BN will deny this,” he said at a press conference after a closed-door dialogue session between Pakatan and church leaders this morning.
“(Minister in the Prime Minster’s department) Idris Jala has asked for forgiveness from the Christian community but forgiveness can only be given if there is sincerity. And the Home Ministry which criticised the church leaders for not being reasonable has yet to apologise to them.”
Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak met with the church leaders yesterday after which Jala claimed that the Al-Kitab issue had been “completely resolved”.
However, Pakatan leaders are certain that this issue will re-emerge in the future as no reason had been given for BN’s sudden change of heart in allowing the Al-Kitab to be unconditionally distributed in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The questions that remain are, will the federal government continue upholding religious freedom in Sarawak?” Guan Eng asked. “Will the Home Ministry use federal powers to muddy the situation again after April 16?”
He also questioned why Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud had only recently deemed the stamping of the Al-Kitab a “stupid idea” when the issue had been a longstanding one.
“BN’s desire to resolve the issue shouldn’t be driven by the election but based on a principled approach,” he said. “We should be practising acceptance instead of mere tolerance.”
“Tolerating something means we don’t agree… but only put up with it. So it is better to foster mutual respect than just tolerance. This is Pakatan’s stand.”
‘Return to political sanity’
Meanwhile, PAS secretary-general Mustafa Ali called on BN to “return to political sanity” and stop exploiting the clause in the Federal Constitution that forbids the propagation of other religions to Muslims.”
“This exploitation has led to the current misunderstanding,” he said. “And the resolution of sensitive issues like this shouldn’t be politically motivated but appoached from a standpoint of sincerity.”
PKR information chief Dr Muhammad Nur Manuty attributed the Al-Kitab dispute to Umno’s failure to educate Muslims on the position of Islam and other religions in the country.
“The 1Malaysia slogan is not at all a reality when the Al-Kitab issue is being played up like this,” he said.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang agreed with Muhammad, adding that the 1Malaysia concept had instead sparked more religious intolerance.
“It is very clear that BN and Najib have failed to match their actions with the needs of the people,” he said. “Racial polarisation has emerged during the two years of Najib’s tenure. 1Malaysia is nothing more than a 1T-shirt and 1Tupperware policy.”
Kit Siang also challenged the government to prove its sincerity in resolving this issue by withdrawing its appeal of the High Court ruling allowing the church to use the word “Allah”.
The chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS), Bolly Lapuk, was among the church leaders present at the dialogue today.
PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was reportedly also present but left immediately after the session ended.