KUCHING: Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil said the distribution of sacrificial meat to Muslims in six Bidayuh kampungs — Mambong, Sikog, Simboh, Petang, Sitang and Bangau — along Jalan Mambong-Sarig on Sunday was without any ulterior motive.
“When the slaughtering of cows in conjunction with Hari Raya Qurban is being held in a Bidayuh area, where the majority of its people are Christians, I know there are people who will feel uneasy,” he told The Borneo Post yesterday.
“They fear that the event was aimed at luring the people to embrace Islam or vice versa, but that is totally baseless.”
Dr Jerip explained that the distribution of sacrificial meat at Kampung Mambong, some 22km from here, where he was the guest-of-honour, was never meant to evangelise Islam among the non-Muslims community or to convert Muslims to Christians.
“The slaughtering of cows signifies that the Bidayuh community has a true sense of religious tolerance, upholding the federal constitution on religious freedom,” he said.
“We are pleased to state that our community highly respects religious rights where, in certain families, the members practise different religions. While some parents are Christians, some of their children are Muslims, Hindus or Buddhists through interracial marriages.”
Dr Jerip, who is also Bengoh assemblyman, added that the distribution of the sacrificial meat was nothing more than just to give due respect and a bit of token to Muslims who were part of them, albeit from different religions.
He enthused that this was among the most unique features of the Bidayuh community which other races should emulate.
“The Bidayuhs, I should say, have a high degree of religious tolerance, and this is the culture that other races should have for the country to fully achieve a 1Malaysia status.”
He added that in Kampung Mambong on Sunday afternoon, two cows were slaughtered and its meat distributed to about 100 recipients from the six villages.
“What really impressed me was that among those who came to help during the occasion were parents of Muslim converts who are themselves Christians.”
Dr Jerip said he was thankful to Al-Mujeed Agency & ZBN Hijrah Travel for sponsoring the two cows for sacrifice and distributed to Muslim converts in the area for the first time in history.