KOTA KINABALU: Former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) women's chief Anina Saadudin has drawn public ire after she questioned the use of billboards to convey well-wishes to Christians observing the Christian Holy Week in Sabah.
In a cryptic Facebook posting on Thursday (April 18), Anina wrote: "Before this, it was just banners and buntings. Now they have power, they can upgrade to billboards. Can use cranes if not high enough. If not big enough, can double the size by adding pillars. Next year can advertise it in the TV. Equality, they say."
The post which saw more than 5,000 shares and elicited more than 12,000 comments as of press time was accompanied by a photo of a billboard in Kota Kinabalu which had a special message for the Christian community in conjunction with Good Friday (April 19).
In her response to Anina's post, Facebook user Maznah Hisyam said the billboard was a non-issue in Sabah where such things were normal.
"There is no need to sensationalise small issues like this to disrupt our unity in Sabah. Please educate yourself by visiting other people's places. Don't simply make extreme statements.
"I'm a Muslim with lots of non-Muslim family members. We live in peace and harmony together. So please stop harassing us Sabahans," she wrote.
Muhd Zhafran commented: "Christianity teaches its followers to love everyone, and Islam teaches us to respect and tolerate our friends from other religions. Stop fighting, and find common grounds."
"To my Christian friends, have a blessed Good Friday especially those living in Borneo! The racial unity in Sabah and Sarawak should be emulated by peninsular Malaysia."
Facebook user Samantha Sam said it was "funny" that religious sentiments were still being used by some people to "stoke all kinds of flames".
"Most of us Sabahans are proud to be Sabahan, and we Sabahans will not let things like this cause us to fight among each other.
"To you sister, may you do many good deeds and acts of worship in the upcoming fasting month," she wrote in response to Anina's posting.
Society for Equality, Respect And Trust for All (Serata) co-founder Robert Nicholas Hii said the local NGO was against any statement that promoted racial or religious discrimination.
"East Malaysians have long acknowledged their mutual respect for one another as a principle of Malaysian society.
"Statements like those issued by Anina Saadudin risk inciting hatred out of ignorance and intolerance, as well as close people’s minds to others that exist within our shared culture.
"We believe that the key to racial unity is tied up with our mutual understanding and respect of one another," he said in a statement on Saturday (April 20).
Did you find this article insightful?