By Heng Seai Kie
Wanita MCA criticises groups of people who showed up at the Federal Court hearing on the case of apostasy for 4 Muslims and had taunted the Metropolitan Archbishop of the Kuching Archdiocese, His Grace, the Most Reverend Simon Poh. Such unruly acts are unMalaysian and reek of harassment. The situation was aggravated as the intimidation was carried out against a man of cloth.
Simultaneously, we praise the few Muslims who were reasonable and civic minded and rushed to quickly surround the Archbishop, by holding their arms out to surround Rev Simon Poh, to ensure he had a safe passage way to his vehicle. These Muslims certainly reflect their religious upbringing of protecting another of a different faith, by fending off the hecklers who were jeering aloud, one noticeably seen trying to get physical with the Archbishop.
Meanwhile, we urge the police to step up patrols around churches in Kuching, in particular, the residence and office of the Archbishop to prevent any elements of untoward incidents befalling them.
The Federal Court hearing did not involve pitting religions against each other. We should heed the wise words of the Archbishop himself:
“this case is not the Church vs Islam but on the dispute of who has the jurisdiction on allowing a Muslim to murtad, either the Mahkhamah Syariah or the Civil Court. Naturally, since we have the Syariah Court to govern the Muslims, the Syariah Court has the power to grant the Muslims the leave from Islam according the Law.”
As the Federal Court has now ruled that Muslims in Sarawak seeking to renounce their faith must refer to the Syariah Court, the next course of action is up to the four appellants.
Stern action should be taken against the hecklers
Why should the hecklers try to rattle the Archbishop? He is there as a member of the public no different from the hecklers.
Therefore, the Sarawak state government, the religious authorities in the Land of Hornbills as well as the state government should take the commotion seriously as it may jeopardise racial and religious harmony, thereby tarnishing the image of the state.
Sarawak is well known for its harmony and mutual respect among all the different races as well as the indigenous groups. Such troublemakers are unwanted neither in Sarawak nor Malaysia as they could easily stir up disquiet even among other Malaysians not residing in Sarawak, considering that the photos and videos of the heckling and trailing of the Archbishop had gone viral on social media and caused distress or disquiet among viewers and readers.
Datuk Heng Seai Kie
Wanita MCA Chairman
Adviser on National Unity & Integration in the Prime Minister’s Department