Rising racial tensions in Sabah must be nipped in the bud, says police chief

Sabah police chief Datuk Omar Mammah said that there has been a worrying trend of late where racial issues have been played up to cause hurt, provocation and racial hatred. — Bernama pic
Sabah police chief Datuk Omar Mammah said that there has been a worrying trend of late where racial issues have been played up to cause hurt, provocation and racial hatred. — Bernama pic

KOTA KINABALU, Feb 4 — Sabah police are concerned about the rising spectre of racism in the state following the scuffle between Umno Youth leader Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, better known as blogger Papagomo, and a controversial Sabah Suluk leader.

State police commissioner Datuk Omar Mammah said that there has been a worrying trend of late where racial issues have been played up to cause hurt, provocation and racial hatred.

“These things have been happening, we cannot deny it. But we are trying to stop it from spreading so it doesn’t cause any discord among the people here,” he said.

He spoke to reporters after paying a courtesy call on the chief minister here today.

Omar said that those in Sabah should realise that it is a racially diverse state and that all races should be respected.

“So don’t spread things that can cause hatred or dissatisfaction and incite sentiments of rivalry among the people,” he said.

Omar declined to elaborate on the perpetrators, saying he wanted to prevent any further escalation or provocation.

“We want to put an end to this issue and protect the existing harmony. All citizens in the state have the same rights. There’s no such thing as first or second class. I am asking everyone to put a stop to this,” he said.

Omar said that the police would not hesitate to take legal action against offenders, adding that Sections 504 and 505 of the Penal Code provide punishment for criminal intimidation, insult and incitement.

It was reported recently that a local Suluk leader Datuk Mohd Akjan Ali Muhammad had recorded a video where he is heard saying that the Suluk, followed by the Bajau Ubian, Sibutu Simunul and Kagayan are “first-class natives” according to the Sabah Constitution, whereas nothing is mentioned about the Kadazan and Dusun.

The statement also came after a fracas at the airport involving Muhammad Azri, during which Akjan’s supporters are said to have confronted the former over his aggressive behaviour and comments against Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal while campaigning for the Kimanis by-election last month.

Omar said that the police are investigating the matter impartially and will refer the case to the state attorney general.

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