Sabah bishop decries silence over conversion

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A bishop has condemned Sabah’s Christian political leaders for their silence over the conversion of Christian villagers to Islam through deception.

“Recently we received the sad news of the conversion of our people to Islam through deception and inducement in Pitas in the parliamentary constituency of Marudu,” Catholic Bishop Cornelius Piong said today.

He described as obvious that the extremist elements of political Islam are targeting the hardcore poor districts of Sabah for their dubious conversions.

“Right here in the Pensiangan parliamentary constituency again we recently received news that several Christian villages are being systematically converted through dubious means,” he lamented.

Bishop Piong was very upset that “elected political leaders, even though Anak Negeri and Christians themselves, have so far been silent as if nothing is amiss.”

He said this in his Mamangkis address in Nabawan, Sabah, a copy of which was distributed to the press.

Piong said that since then Sabah Chief Minister Mustapha Harun announced the “one language, one culture, one religion” policy in 1972 and an amendment to the state constitution in 1973 that made Islam the state’s official religion, indigenous people have been treated like second-class citizens.

He added that this is a violation of the 20-point Agreement, in which the first point clearly states that there will be no official state religion.

A history of a betrayed people

The agreement is a memorandum put forward by Sabah representatives during talks that led to the formation of Malaysia, and incorporated in varying degrees into the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

“This is our history, a history of a betrayed people. If we forget our history, we forfeit our destiny as a people called forth by God for His glory alone…

“We are here to raise the Mamangkis cry to rally our people to defend ourselves against encroachment against our faith.

“We are not making new demands. We are just asking others to respect what is already our constitutional and human rights to practise our faith in peace and without interference from the state,” he said.

However, Piong stressed that his address is not meant to incite hatred against the government or Islam, especially Muslims who had been living side-by-side with the Christians in harmony.

“Indeed we should continue to love one another regardless of the extremism of political Islam that threatens to poison the respect we have for one another,” he said.