By Debra Chong | TMI
KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — Organisers of a Christian meeting in Penang denied today allegations from pro-Umno bloggers that they were conspiring with the DAP to supplant Islam’s position as the country’s official religion in a bid to take over Putrajaya.
The heated religious rhetoric from before the April 16 Sarawak election appeared to have died down immediately after, only to flare up again this week as right-wing Malay groups sounded the alarm over the rising popularity of the Chinese-dominant DAP.
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 slammed the pro-Malay rights groups for driving a further wedge to create social disharmony in multicultural Malaysia apart from being seditious.
“The organiser vehemently denies such a claim as being unfounded and totally untrue aimed at creating division and social disharmony in multi-ethnic society of Malaysia and appears to be seditious,” the Christian group said in a statement this evening.
“The so-called special convention this morning was in fact an unashamedly ethical marketplace seminar organised to discuss and address the issue of bribery and corruption in the marketplace and the Christians’ contribution in addressing such issues.
“It has nothing to do with political succession,” the organisers explained.
The group added that last night’s dinner, mentioned in the blogs, was held to honour several pastors from Sarawak who were in Penang for the meeting.
“Such fellowship dinners are common amongst Christians and are part and parcel of the Christian custom of love and fellowship,” it said.
Several pro-Malay rights blogs posted today articles charging the secular party of sedition for trying to change what the bloggers believed to be the country’s laws to enable a Christian to be prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described to be a secret pact between the DAP and pastors at a hotel in Penang yesterday.
The Federal Constitution does not expressly specify race or religious requirements for the position of prime minister. Article 43(2)(a) of the constitution states only that the Yang diPertuan Agong shall appoint as PM a member of parliament who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat
In a posting headlined “Agong under threat? DAP wants to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia?” blogger Marahku (marahku.blogspot.com) accused DAP of trying to amend the federal constitution to allow a Christian to become 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.
“In order to change the status of Islam as the official religion of Malaysia, they would not only have to change the constitution with a two-third majority but would also have to get the consent of the Agong, as head of Islam in Malaysia to demote it to second spot behind Christianity… I think the only way DAP is going to achieve this is by putting a gun to the Agung’s head [sic],” he added.
On bigdogdotcom.wordpress.com, the writer claimed to have received a message that the DAP’s Jeff Ooi had organised a dinner for pastors from Sarawak and overseas at the Red Rock Hotel on Jalan Macalister in Penang.
“Among the activities that night included the 35 pastors taking a group oath. They formed a circle and touched each other’s shoulder 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 vow 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”.
The blogger 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 on the matter”.
He called on the authorities to investigate the allegations for sedition warning that if the authorities failed in their duty, the country may be “shattered again”.
At the same time, the blogger sounded the battle cry to Malay-Muslims, urging them to “make a vow to defend the position of Islam as the official religion and the position of Malays as Bumiputra in their own homeland till the last man standing”.
He said the community must stop making excuses because “as an Islamic country, Malaysia has been tolerant of all religious views as long as it does not encroach into Islam and in Sarawak where the Christian population is significantly larger than the Muslim community, there are more churches than mosques to reflect the situation”.
Ooi, the Jelutong MP named in the articles, admitted that the picture posted in the blogs were authentic, but contested that he had organised the dinner, let alone led the Christian leaders in making a pledge to make Christianity the official creed.
“I’m not a Christian,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.
He 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 — was a usual part of their worship, and not a pledge as alleged.
He added the pastors had also prayed for his safety.
Ooi said he had told Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia the same thing when they called him for a response.
“I suspect the Special Branch has infiltrated the pastors… some of them didn’t want to shake my hand,” he told The Malaysian Insider, when asked how the photograph of the closed-door event made its way onto the websites.
“I’m not disturbed, I’m not concerned because bigdog didn’t call me names,” he added, when asked if he was worried it would be used against him and the DAP.
“But I think the Christians are,” he said.