By Yow Hong Chieh | TMI
KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — Putrajaya must “apprehend” those behind the baseless Utusan Malaysia report of a Christian plot to supplant Islam or risk losing its credibility among the public, an ex-senior civil servant said today.
Former Transport Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said the Malay daily’s “highly irresponsible” and “inflammatory” claims not only bordered on seditious but ran counter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept, which stressed national integration and unity.
“Therefore, I now urge the government to take urgent action and apprehend all those responsible for all these extreme statements and hold them wholly accountable for these baseless and sensitive allegations,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
The former Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president warned that if the government did not act swiftly against the perpetrators, it would alienate the public and open itself up to accusations of double standards in administering justice.
Umno-owned Utusan carried a front-page article yesterday titled “Malaysia, a Christian country?” (Malaysia, negara Kristian?) based entirely on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers.
The bloggers had charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.
In a posting headlined “Agong under threat? DAP wants to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia?” blogger Marahku (marahku.blogspot.com) accused the DAP of trying to amend the Federal Constitution so that a Christian could assume the post of prime minister.
“The whole point of changing the official religion is to allow a Christian to become prime minister of this country,” the blogger said.
On bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com, another blogger claimed to have received a message that DAP’s Jeff Ooi had organised a dinner for pastors from both Sarawak and abroad at Red Rock Hotel on Jalan Macalister, Penang.
“Among the activities that night included the 35 pastors taking a group oath. They formed a circle, touched each other’s shoulders and vowed in English to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia and put a Christian prime minister in office,” the anonymous writer said in his blog under the headline “Making Christianity the official religion?”
He also pointed to the same grainy picture he posted at the top of his blog page, which he had captioned “Partying pastors or pastors doing the party do and vowing to have a Christian as Malaysian prime minister”.
The blogger further alleged that the DAP had labelled the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as an “anti-Christ agent” in the run-up to polls in Sarawak, showing the opposition party was “openly against BN on religious grounds and they are now making it their clarion call, their rabble rousing horn”.
He said it was a seditious and religiously divisive statement that was never investigated by the police “or at least they did not tell us about any investigations into the matter”.
The blogger called on the authorities to investigate the allegations of sedition, warning that if the authorities failed in their duty the country may be “shattered again”.
The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies, and refuted the bloggers’ allegations last night.
Similarly, Ooi said the dinner had been organised by the Christian pastors in recognition of the DAP team who had visited them while in Sarawak for the state election and that the prayer sessions — one before dinner and one at the end — were a usual part of their worship, and not a pledge as alleged