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Friday, January 31, 2014

Separation from Malaysia not an option, warn Sarawak leaders over ‘treasonous’ online postings

Sarawak leaders are seeking to allay simmering anger in Borneo states over anti-Christian and anti-East Malaysian sentiments in the peninsula but have cautioned against demanding separation from Malaysia, saying it can be considered treason.
Senior Sarawak cabinet minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic, left) said there should not be any talk of separation, which has been a conversation piece on Facebook pages set up by Sabahans and Sarawakians.
“Don't talk about cessation. Any movement at cessation is wrong,” he said when asked to comment on the calls for separation, as well as the virulent anti-Sabah and Sarawak sentiments from the peninsula.
“The government can tolerate almost anything but don't incite, be seditious or treasonous,” he warned.
Wan Junaidi (pic, right) said incitement would lead to dissension and friction between races and religions, which he said the government will not tolerate.
“We do not want the multi-racial, multi-cultural and religious society of ours that is very brittle, to be broken.”
Masing and Wan Junaidi were referring to, among others, a Facebook page titled “Sarawak Goes For Referendum”, which carried a posting in reaction to a photo with the caption “Take back our country”.
Applauding “courageous” Sarawakians, the posting read: If you think you can, you will achieve it. Maybe Sabahans will learn from your success.”
Another Facebook posting was on the date of independence day: “West Malaysia always celebrate August 31 as their Independence Day, and never really treats September 16 as Malaysia Day.
“Maybe it is time that Sarawak and Sabah leave Malaysia and have our own Independence Day like what Singapore did in 1965. If Singapore can do it, Sarawak and Sabah can do it!”
Masing, who is Sarawak's Land Development Minister, admitting he was sometimes critical of the federal government, said “it is to make the federation better, not tear it apart”.
“That (cessation) I don't agree. I have sometimes been critical of the federal government's handling and policy on the Allah issue.
“But it was not to bring down the federation,” Masing said when met at a Chinese New Year open house in Kuching hosted by Sarawak United People's Party (SUPP).
Wan Junaidi, who was also at the open house, said people should not abuse freedom of speech and expression.
“You go ahead and say what you like, talk what you want to talk, all those anti, anti things in your Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other media.
“Just don't cross the line,” he reminded. “You cannot have it both ways.”
He said his ministry was aware of the goings on in cyberspace and, together with the police, was monitoring them.
“Whatever is going on in the country, we are informed. We are aware.
“We monitor, collect information and evidence.”
Wan Junaidi, however, said police have yet to make any arrest.
“Not all things warrant immediate arrest, seizure or imprisonment.”
He said sometimes the police would haul in administrators of an offensive Facebook page or blog to tell them “to tone down a little bit”, adding that too tough action displayed by the police would be resented by the people.
“If the police are given so much power, people will start screaming and say we are draconian.
“So we give a little leeway. But don't cross the line.”
Two days ago, Sabah PAS lodged a police report over a Facebook page set up by "Semenanjung Malaysia Anti Sabah and Sarawak" which mocked Christianity and East Malaysians.
Photographs mocking Christianity, including one of a frog nailed to a cross, had angered many Sabahans and Sarawakians.

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