Human rights man calls on Premier to ‘choose alliances carefully’


Peter John Jaban

KUCHING (Nov 21): Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) vice-secretary Peter John Jaban has called upon the Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Open to ‘consider his alliances carefully’ when it comes to forming the next federal government.

Peter also calls for the rejection of Islamic extremism that could make Malaysia ‘a pariah state’.

He said this in a statement yesterday, issued in relation to Abang Johari’s announcement on Sunday about Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) going to work together with Perikatan Nasional (PN), Barisan Nasional (BN) and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) in forming the next federal government, with PN chief Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated as the state coalition’s preferred choice for prime minister.

It is known that apart from Muhyiddin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) is also a component of PN.

In this regard, Peter viewed a partnership with PAS as ‘an affront to the Sarawak Christians and moderate Muslims’.

“Any partnership that involves PAS is unthinkable. Sarawak can and should work towards greater autonomy, but it cannot pull up the drawbridge completely. There are too many government departments that still hold sway over the lives of Sarawakians, Christians and Muslims alike.

“Can our Premier prevent the forced conversions on marriage? Can he control the actions of Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) against these unwilling converts? Can he stop the world from seeing the increasing extremism in Malaysia as a reason not to invest in our futures?

“The PN is PAS-dominated. There is no other way to see this and therefore, a prime minister from PN is unacceptable,” he said in the statement.

Peter said Muhyiddin himself had shown that he was unfit to be a prime minister for Sarawak.

“His anti-Christian statements on the eve of the election showed, at worst, his own religious intolerance, and his own willingness to use extremist sentiment to either placate his coalition partners or to drive an election win.

“Words have consequences, and this kind of platform empowers the worst members of the Malaysian society.

“The majority have voted for moderate multi-culturalism (and) Sarawak has put its trust in GPS to deliver this. Do not betray us now in a rush to sign a deal that all Malaysians will have to live with for the next five years and beyond.

“Malaysia has shown both its willingness to control and punish corruption in the last few years.

“It has jailed one of the scions of Malaysian political society. There is now a mechanism in place to deal with this and we are on the right track.

“But little is being done to address religious extremism. This is the new battleground for Malaysia,” he said.

Peter believed that the majority of Malaysian Muslims were tolerant and reasonable people who would want religious freedom, social balance and economic growth. At the same time, he said the majority of Sarawakian Christians would expect to conduct their lives undisturbed.

In this respect, he said Sarawakians and the GPS must choose an alliance that would strongly support this.

Peter also recalled a recent press conference where the Premier of Sarawak had talked about upholding the right of religious freedom as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

“Our Premier himself promotes multi-culturalism. He supports our harmonious Sarawak identity of religious freedom and tolerance.

“But he risks allowing this kind of extremism to taint us all.

“Sarawak would not be the thought leaders in this equation – Kelantan would be instead.

“Better a manageable and chastened Umno than an empowered PAS.

“I call upon him (Abang Johari) to stand by his values and allow the whole of Malaysia to grow into a socially inclusive country for all,” stressed Peter.