KOTA KINABALU: Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal’s criticism of the alleged failure of state Barisan Nasional leaders to speak up for Christian rights has kicked up a storm, with brickbats aimed at his direction.
Warisan supreme council member Martin Tommy’s defence of Shafie, by saying that the latter had always remained consistent on the rights of non-Muslims in the state, provoked an angry response from the Barisan side.
Tommy, who is Warisan’s coordinator in Keningau and Shafie’s lawyer, said: “Shafie has never wavered on the issue of religious freedom. It is not because he wanted to entice the Kadazandusun and Murut communities to join Warisan by promising to look after the interest of Christian communities in Sabah.
“He wanted to protect their interest as Sabahans in accordance with the Federal Constitution.”
Shafie’s stand on state rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 was among the factors that were drawing support from the people, added Tommy.
In response, senior Sabah Barisan leaders said Shafie was trying to spread fear and divide the mainly Kadazandusun and Murut communities by trying to stir up religious sentiments among Christians in the state.
Parti Bersatu Sabah secretary-general Datuk Johnny Mositun said Shafie was hypocritical and opportunistic by exploiting religious sensitivities.
“Clearly, the Parti Warisan Sabah president is trying to divide the Kadazan Dusun Murut community by exploiting the sensitivities of Christians and inciting them against Barisan,” he said.
Upko secretary-general Datuk Donald Monjuntin said all state Barisan parties have been consistent and even defended the right of the communities to use the term Allah in Sabah and Sarawak.
“It is just underhand politics by Shafie to undermine Upko’s efforts and hoodwink the people into thinking that the party could not be bothered about something close to our hearts,” he said.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman urged politicians not to mix religion with politics.
“Politics is politics. Religion is religion. We must respect each other’s religion. So, I ask politicians not to drag religion into politics,” said Musa.