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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Tangau breaks silence over his ‘forced conversions’ FB posting

Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau (seated centre) showing a copy of the memorandum on which he based his Facebook posting. With him are his officers and party members.
KOTA KINABALU: Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau today broke his silence over the uproar caused by his remarks on forced conversion of people to Islam in interior Sabah decades ago, saying he had no intention of disrespecting any religion.
Tangau, who is also Upko president, said what he posted on his Facebook account on July 21 was based on facts, adding he had received a memorandum on these “acts” when he was a student leader in 1982.
The Tuaran MP spoke to reporters after spending four hours from 10am being questioned by police at his office here today.
Tangau received brickbats after claiming a state government leader had gone to Tambunan 38 years ago and forced people there to convert after threatening them that they would not be given land or allowed to work. However, he did not name the leader.
Earlier, in the same posting, he had praised Chief Minister Shafie Apdal for approving a RM1 million donation for church repairs during a visit to Tambunan previously and compared this to the actions of the former leader.
Pressure group Suara Masyarakat Sabah, one of those which had lodged a report against him, had contended that his remarks had religious undertones.
Tangau said what was important for him was to emphasise that the intention of the posting was only a reminder “for us all on the regretful action of individuals and never about any other religion”.
“It is also a posting for us all to appreciate that currently, we have a chief minister who has shown his concern and care for the well-being of churches.
“The police have already taken my statement in response to the various police reports lodged against me concerning the posting that I had made,” he said, adding that he found out that 33 complaints had been made against him.
Expressing his confidence that the police will investigate the matter fairly and professionally, he said he had also forwarded the relevant documents to explain his posting.
“The documents that I am referring to is the memorandum given to me many years ago when I was a student leader at UPM (Universiti Putra Malaysia).
“I personally submitted the memorandum to Anwar Ibrahim who was then the newly-appointed minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for him to act upon,” Tangau said.
He added the memorandum contained the signatures of 2,000 people in Tambunan, including the assemblyman at the time.
“I have explained to the police what had transpired at that time and the action I had taken after receiving the memorandum.
”However, as this is still a police investigation, I therefore cannot share the contents of the memorandum,” he said.
Tangau also dismissed calls demanding that he issue an open apology, saying his remarks were based on facts. “So how can I (issue an apology)? Secondly, I was referring to the act, not any religion.
“I have always believed in, supported and promoted harmonious relations between the different faiths and races in this country,” he said.
“I am proud that Sabah has always been looked up to as a fine example of such respect and tolerance between people of different faiths.

“It is therefore my hope that we can now move on from this episode and to always remain true to ourselves in protecting the uniqueness and special bond that binds us all in Sabah through mutual respect and understanding.” - FMT

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