Freedom of Religion; even at election time

Wednesday 27 April, 2016


On today’s show, we remember how we celebrated a month ago for Rooney Rebit as he was allowed to return to his original religion and his religion of choice – clear respect for the freedom of religion that Sarawak negotiated at the formation of Malaysia. But now the news is out that the National Registration Department, instead of respecting the decision and his right to choose is instead choosing the appeal the case. His lawyer Kuan Ching tells us that the grounds for appeal are not yet out but she presumes that they will be asking for such cases to be heard by Syariah court. But it gives a glimpse at the current policy direction – they certainly don’t want to make it easy for him or, in fact for any of the countless Sarawakians who are facing similar issues. We speak to Naimah bt Kamri who, despite the name, is an Iban Christian to the core. Interviewed at JPN where she is trying to change her status, she tells us how her father was converted by BINA when she was a child but without any proper instruction to bring him into the faith, so he continued unchanged. Now, so many years later, she wants to undo what her father did without her consent and she is not alone – many in Balai Ringin face the same problem. Rooney’s precedent would certainly help, if only they would let it stand.

Our Jako Kenang with Ayak Bujang Tuai makes a plea for Sarawakians to vote for the right reasons. This is not a popularity contest for one man, this is a decision on the issues of the day and who will best solve the problems of the state. After all, the issues of the day will still be there tomorrow unless we solve them for our future generations.

One of these problems is the often mentioned but sometimes misunderstood enemy Gerrymandering. Political analyst Wong Chin Huat tells us that the election in Sarawak is unfair and the delineation is unconstitutional with some constituencies as low as 7,000 and some over 30,000. But, in Malaysia, there is another aspect to the gerrymandering which, sadly in the 21st Century, is a racial one, where the division of seats by racial profile does not reflect the population or the demographic profile of registered voters. Last week we heard Annuar Rapaee exhorting Malay voters to return BN in order to maintain a Muslim leadership, a sentiment expressed by Adenan himself back in the 2011 campaign. And no, we are not making it up – we have the audio to prove it, as did the Malaysiakini reporter who is now being intimidated by the threat of criminal charges. Simon Tiong, Annuar’s opponent in Nangka, comes back at him hard. Anyone of any race can be Chief Minister in Sarawak if he has what it takes and can still be fair to all races. In this notoriously harmonious state, it is sad to see that one religious minority is led to believe that they would not be fairly treated by the rest for the sake of winning an election. We are all Sarawakian first, after all.

Christina Suntai warns us of the ‘calon bebas’ or independent candidate as a vote for them might come with a price. They rarely win, she says, and generally lose their deposit. But, in a close run race, they can split the vote and spoil the chances of legitimate candidates. Often, they are disgruntled party members who are angry because they were not nominated to be their party candidates or some of them are opportunists hoping to get paid to stand aside by other party candidates. Even if they won, what can one person do to represent you in the Dewan Undang Undang Nengeri? So please, do not waste your votes on spoilers known as “calon bebas,” she advises.

Tune in for all this and more, plus our Borneo Bulletin.

Semoa kitai tau bejako!

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