KOTA KINABALU, Nov 12 ― Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants to see an end to identity problem plaguing non-Muslim Sabahans whose names include the “bin” and “binti” titles commonly associated with Muslims.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) national chairman assured Sabahans that the government had no hidden agenda to furtively convert non-Muslims, adding that it was not an Islamic practice to force people to change their religions against their will.
“There is no compulsion in Islam. It’s the little Napoleans down the line that create these problems. Sometimes people interpret it wrongly,” he said in his speech during the Liberal Democratic Party congress here this afternoon.
“We must find ways to solve this problem,” he added, without elaborating how.
Najib said it was both a confusing but very unique characteristic in east Malaysia for the names to not denote religion.
“Take Idris Jala for example. People think he is a Muslim. His name is Idris Jala, after all. But he is a Christian, a Kelabit. You would not have known,” he said, referring to Sarawakian Datuk Seri Idris Jala who is the head of the government’s efficiency unit Pemandu.
Earlier in his speech, LDP president Datuk Teo Chee Kang called for a definitive resolution to the identity card issue that is still prevalent in Sabah.
Teo said that many native Sabahans have “bin” and “binti” in their names and were wrongly recorded as Muslims in their identity cards, adding that they were required by the National Registration Department to obtain a Shariah court order confirming that they are not Muslims before their records could be corrected.
“But the power of the Shariah Court is only for Muslims. It will have no jurisdiction over these people who are genuinely non-Muslims. Furthermore, they should not be expected to surrender to the Shariah court,” he said.
“There has to be a way to resolve this issue administratively. Perhaps the National Registration Department can recognise and accept a written confirmation from the state Islamic authority that a certain individual does not profess the Islamic faith, based on which the necessary rectification can be done,” he said.
On a similar note, Najib said the party will continue to be a party based on the principle of moderation and will seek more opportunities for “moments of unity”
“Wasatiyyah is a principle enshrined in Islam. It means we cannot become too extreme that you join IS or the Abu Sayyaf nor too liberal that you lose your moral principles,” the prime minister said, referring to terror networks the Islamic State and the Philippine-based Islamic militant that has been perpetrating acts of violence in Sabah.
“We stay on the middle path. We will remain a country that is at peace with itself,” he added.
He also said that Malaysians ought to search for “moments of unity” to become the way of life where people are united in their diversity.
“I wish for more moments like a while ago when Datuk Lee Chong Wei and our badminton team were fighting to achieve the first gold medal for the nation. How the country stood still and cheered them on. It was a poignant memory to me. I was at the game at Padang Merdeka and the thousands of mostly Malay crowd cheered him on as though he was their own.
“We need moments of unity like this so that Malaysia becomes a country that is predicated on strong sense of unity and patriotism,” he said.