Kota Kinabalu: A Sabah federal minister has called on the Perikatan Nasional (PN) leadership to act against Pasir Puteh Member of Parliament Nik Muhammad Zamawi Salleh, whose recent remarks on the Bible sparked outrage among the nation’s Christians. Tourism, Arts, and Culture Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan (pictured) said the Pas lawmaker had abused his position as a Member of Parliament by making hurtful comments against Christians in the August House. “Zamawi should not have brought his bigotry to the August House, where we are supposed to uphold and defend the highest law of the land – the Federal Constitution.
“Article 3 (1) and Article 11 (1) guarantees every citizen of the Malaysian Federation the right to religious freedom, as well as to practice their respective faith in peace and free from prejudice and threats. “Article 11(5) makes exception to these rights when they threaten public order, such as making seditious statements or hurting the sensitivity of a group of people,” he said in a statement, today. Zawawi had said biblical injunctions against drinking alcohol had been “distorted or altered” during a Parliamentary debate last week on a proposal to toughen penalties for drink driving under the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020. The remark upset Christians, associations and politicians, who called on Zawawi to retract his statement and make an open apology.
The Pas lawmaker, however, refused to apologise, claiming his statement was “a fact” and that Christians should not be offended. Jeffrey stressed that Zawawi’s response that Christians have no right to be offended underscores his lack of Malaysian spirit. “As a leader and lawmaker, upholding the peace and law of the land is paramount. I had hoped to address this behind closed doors to spare Malaysians irreversible feelings of resentment and suspicion… (against other) races and religions. “This is a divisive issue… I would like to call upon our Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as President of PN to take appropriate action against Zawawi. “Lest Zawawi forgets, Sabahans and Sarawakians do not subscribe to such extremism,” he added