He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.

Andrew Carnegie, American industrialist

Last Thursday, some of my colleagues in Kuching lodged a police report against the PAS Pasir Puteh MP Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh for his Bible remarks which were deemed insulting to Christians.

They represented the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and as the MoCS leader, I’m proud of their civic-consciousness in taking a stand as responsible citizens against a lawmaker who has indulged in open bigotry.

I wish to record my personal thanks to Mike Lim, Robert Ho, Edmund Lee and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How for their initiative. See, who is also MoCS legal adviser, has stood by us stoically over the past decade.

I also wish to encourage my fellow Sarawakians, whether you are a politician, a NGO activist or a private citizen to lodge police reports against lawmakers who are fond of spewing venom of the racial and religious kind in our midst.

Why? Because we, Sarawakians, do not tolerate racists and bigots and it is never in us nor in our culture to cause divisiveness, animosity and hatred in our beloved homeland by harping on racial and religious differences.

To many of us, including Sarawak politicians, our racial and religious tolerance and harmony are more important than personal or political interests and gains.

All of us cherish and value our diversities, something which we take pride in nurturing and will continue to painstakingly nurture and preserve. The known racists and extremists in Malaya should take lessons from Sarawakians.

I’m also aware that it would be difficult for the police to take action against MPs for their speeches in Parliament. Notwithstanding the parliamentary immunity, there is only as much as the police could do. I understand their limitations.

However, the police report plus the media coverage of the action taken will be recorded for posterity. This is why I think more people should take affirmative action in registering our disillusionment and disgust at such perpetrators. They must be out in their places and we, the ordinary citizens, must ensure that is done.

Let me pledge here that MoCS will continue to speak up for Sarawak and Sarawakians without fear or favour against such callous and despicable actions or words from anyone, irrespective of their social status. To MoCS, everyone is equal under the Malaysian sun.

There is no necessity for me to go into details of what Zawawi said in Parliament. It has been widely reported.

I have also digested the Pasir Puteh MP’s lengthy defence of his speech and why he did not think it was necessary for him to apologise as “Christians have no right to be offended”.

I have no intention to get into the boxing ring with Zawawi for his callous indulgence in bigotry but let me just share with him these words of wisdom from two great personalities.

“It doesn’t take a PhD to play a professional’s part. By faking emotions and feelings, people have expertised in the deceiving art. – Kashish Pawar

“Our world is not divided into race, gender, colour or religion. Our world is divided into wise people and fools. And fools divide themselves by race, gender, colour or religion. – Nelson Mandela

To Zawawi who has bragged about his studies in comparative religion, I suggest you take some moments and chew on these words. Then decide whether you wish to be with the group of wise people or fools, as indicated by the very revered Mandela.

I am glad that many political leaders in Sarawak have joined the chorus of protest against the Pasir Puteh MP first espoused by Kuching Archbishop Simon Poh who is also the chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS).

In calling on the MP to apologise to Christians, the archbishop also rightly stated that “parliament is a place to solve, not create problems”.

So far, I have read the statements from PBB’s Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas and Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, PRS’ Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing, SUPP’s Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian and DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii ticking off the PAS MP.

I also wish to congratulate Kuching DAP for lodging the police report against Zawawi.

This goes to show that whenever negative issues on race and religion rear their ugly heads, politicians from both divides will rally together.

That is the beauty of Sarawak and the deep understanding and mutual respect for each other is where we all find joy, peace and tranquillity.

Let no one tear us asunder.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. Feedback can reach him at tribunenew2019@gmail.com

*Francis Paul Siah is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’ which was recently launched. The book retails at RM40 (Sarawak) and RM42 (Kuala Lumpur) and is available from the following:

Kuching

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Bintulu

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Kuala Lumpur

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Ronald (013-3397388); Gerakbudaya (03-79578342, 03-79541335)