KOTA KINABALU, Jan 2 ― Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew today hit out at critics for protesting a Christmas carnival held in the east coast town of Tawau on December 30.
Liew dismissed allegations that the event was an effort at proselytising Muslims and added that the event has been held for the last two decades without any issues.
“What are these people protesting? This is an annual event that we have been organising for the past 20 or 30 years without any problem. Suddenly we cannot do this anymore? Why?
“There were leaders from other parties, like Kalabakan MP Ma’mun Sulaiman who was there. There were thousands of people of all races and religions, celebrating happily with us,” she said when talking to reporters after handing over prayer mats and other necessities to a tahfiz centre here.
Liew said she was surprised when she found out that a police report was lodged against her and other co-organisers of the event.
Yesterday, a local daily reported that a group of people claiming to represent various religious and political parties, including Warisan, Umno and PAS from the Tawau and Kalabakan district issued a statement to oppose the Christmas carnival organised by Liew’s Parliamentary office.
The group said that the event, which featured a choir performance and Bishop speech, was to spread Christianity and did not respect Islam.
Liew said she hoped Sabahans would object to such mentality and lack of tolerance in a multicultural state like Sabah.
“We don’t want to be affected by this. Is there any such teaching that compels its followers to make this kind of objection? I don’t quite understand.
“Not long from now, we will have more celebrations — the Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Harvest Festival. Should we expect more protests?” she asked.
Liew also did not dismiss the possibility that the statement was an attempt to sabotage relations between PKR and Warisan in the east coast.
Sabah Umno chief Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin was reported to have said that cultural celebrations like Christmas was a non issue and hit out at critics for bringing a culture of non tolerance to Sabah.
Others like Kalabakan Warisan division chief Frank Salazar and Tawau Warisan chief Ismail Senang have also lodged police reports denying their involvement in the protest.