Sarawak churches tell PAS MP to apologise, withdraw claims Bible twisted

Association of Churches in Sarawak chairman Archbishop Simon Poh said the association wanted Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh to tender a public apology to all Christians. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Association of Churches in Sarawak chairman Archbishop Simon Poh said the association wanted Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh to tender a public apology to all Christians. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, Aug 29 — The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) has demanded Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh retract his remarks in Parliament claiming the Bible has been distorted from its original meaning.

ACS chairman Archbishop Simon Poh said the association also wanted the PAS lawmaker to tender a public apology to all Christians.

“His remarks that ‘Kitab Injil ini dipesongkan ataupun diubah’ (The Bible is distorted or changed) have crossed into the boundary of religious sensitivity and are deemed to be an insult to all Christians who hold the Bible as sacred and holy,” Poh said in a statement.

Nik Zawawi uttered the remarks during the debate on the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 to propose heavier fines for drink driving offenders on August 26.

Poh said the insensitive remarks with a strong allegation against another’s religion should not be allowed to stand without being rectified, calling it a violation of the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963 that guarantee the right of all citizens to religious freedom.

“ACS is committed to inter-racial and religious harmony and to contribute towards nation building through mutual respect and acceptance among people of all races, religions, and status in Sarawak and in our nation Malaysia,” he said.

He stressed that ACS considered Nik Zawawi’s remarks a direct insult against Christians regarding the Bible, which they consider the most sacred text of their faith.

The Christian leader said it was unacceptable that the Islamist party’s leaders were now permanently recorded in Parliament’s Hansard from its proceedings on August 26.

Nik Zawawi’s misrepresentation of the Bible was inflammatory and disrespectful of those seeking to live in peace and harmony both in Sarawak and the rest of Malaysia, he said.

“When this becomes an insult against religion, ACS strongly rejects such a form of religious imposition from the PAS MP on Christianity and other religions,” he said, adding that political leaders are to set the example of civility, and work for harmony for the common good of all people.

He said the association holds the Dewan Rakyat in the highest regard and believes that all issues are to be addressed in a rational and civil manner, but crossing the boundaries into religious insensitivity with insults against sacred texts and teaching of religions was wholly inappropriate.

The PAS elected representative made the remarks to support his claim that all faiths forbade the consumption of liquor.

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