Sarawak Christians expressed unease today over the pile-up of unresolved religious cases affecting them three months after the state announced the set-up of a non-Islamic affairs unit.
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) president Cobbold John Lusoi urged Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas not to delay naming the head of the Non-Islamic Affairs Unit.
“It has been quite a long while since we heard of any progress with regards to the announcement by Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem on the setting up of the unit last June,” he told Malay Mail Online.
He said there were many issues affecting non-Muslims that needed to be resolved, and cited the usage of the word “Allah” by Christians as an example.
While not a problem in Sarawak, Lusoi said native Christians feared they may court trouble if they use the word in the peninsula.
More pressingly, he said Christians and followers of other non-Islamic faiths in Sarawak have expressed concern over Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private Member’s Bill to amend the Shariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 which the PAS president and Marang MP said he plans to retable at next month’s Dewan Rakyat sitting.
“They believe that the Bill, if passed in Parliament, could affect their freedom to practise their religions,” Lusoi said.
He also urged Uggah, who is also the minister in charge of the non-Islamic affairs, to appoint a Christian to head the unit since they form the majority in Sarawak.
Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) secretary general Ambrose Linang said the association is anxiously waiting for Uggah to name the head of the unit.
“Honestly, we do not know when the deputy chief minister will appoint the head of the unit as well as its organisational structure,” he said, adding that ACS has not been called for a meeting to discuss on the appointment and proposed structure of the unit.
Linang hoped that the head of the unit and its organisational structure would be announced soon to take care of the concerns of the non-Islamic followers.
Adenan announced the formation of the Non-Islamic Affairs Unit in the Chief Minister’s Office in the State Assembly’s sitting in June this year, with Uggah as the minister-in-charge.