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Brunei man’s comment on Miri churches fires up netizens

 | June 20, 2016

Claims of attempt to 'proselytise' Muslims comes under heavy criticism from fellow Bruneians.


PETALING JAYA: A social media posting by a Brunei citizen criticising the presence of churches along main roads in Miri, has come under attack from his fellow Bruneians, especially Muslims.

The posting, made in a Brunei forum on social news networking service, Reddit, accused Christians of trying to “proselytise” to Bruneians visiting the Sarawak border city.

His posting, headlined “Miri should do something about their churches”, said: “Nowadays I can see many big churches sprung up in Miri, blatantly displaying words praising Jesus. I believe this is an attempt to proselytise Bruneians. The churches know many Bruneians visit Miri and so they deliberately construct the building near the roadside and put up provocative words such as ‘Jesus is Lord’, ‘Jesus can save you’, ‘Glory to Jesus’ and more.

“I hope the (Brunei) govt can send a delegation to Miri and advise them on this matter. Even though more than 50% of Mirians are Christians they should know the limit and not overdo it. This should be one of our most pressing concerns.”

The user with the screen name “patrioticbruneian” has since deleted his account, but the comments by all those who responded to his posting are still up on the forum, www.reddit.com/r/Brunei .

User “ManokNyamanKaliahBiro” accused “patrioticbruneian” of being a detriment to Brunei’s future, saying “People like you actually hinder our progress as a country. That’s why separation of mosque and the state should be enacted right now.”

A strongly-worded comment by “ergomirawwrrr” simply said he was “ashamed and angry by this post both as a Muslim and a Bruneian”.

He added: “Mind your own business, if you are so concerned about other country trying to ‘proselytize’ our country, why don’t you try to make our country’s faith in Islam better.”

User “winstonfromoverwatch” also claimed to be a Brunei Malay and Muslim who was aghast at the comment about Miri.

“Yo, as a Muslim, Bruneian and a Malay, you are tarnishing our name. Does it say anywhere in our religion or teachings to go and judge or prevent other people’s religion. Aren’t we a religion and country of peace? The next time you go to Miri maybe go and visit a mosque and perhaps donate food, Quran, funds, instead of hating the churches.

“Perhaps visit this particular mosque,” he wrote quoting a report published by FMT on a Miri mosque sharing its car park with a neighbouring church as an example of the peaceful co-existence of the people of both faiths in Sarawak, then asking “Do you think that this would happen in Brunei?”

“DealWithIt987” demanded “patrioticbruneian” not to lump all Bruneians together, saying “Please don’t say ‘we Bruneians’ when it’s just you alone. People like you always ask for respect but give none of that in return.”

“yiksing”, meanwhile, was more direct in questioning the faith of “patrioticbruneian”, saying “Only people who are weak in faith gets enticed by a few words on a building of another religion. You should be questioning yourself now whether you are a real believer of Allah or you just love to portray the image that you are a believer.”

Other users just called for greater tolerance by those going to another country, to understand and accept the customs, culture and traditions practised at the destination.

“LMAO_ROTF” wrote: “When you choose to go to miri, u have to adapt to their way of life, their customs, their culture, their traditions, because thats where u choose to go. There are more muslims living in sarawak than in brunei, they have no problem, beside sarawak is known to have many races, religions, cultures living side by side happily.

“AnakReddit” reprimanded “patrioticbruneian” saying: “It’s their right to put whatever signs they wish, it’s their country not yours. the people from Miri are not complaining so why should you?”

User “patrix80”, a Christian from Miri, expresssed his disappointment, saying: “I am Sarawakian, Mirian by birth and Christian, I felt hurt and offended by this posting. I have seen so many Arabic and Islamic words stamped on moslem cars and I have no problem with it because I believe in human rights.”

The criticisms by Bruneians against their fellow citizen who had made the original complaint was perhaps best summed by user “LMAO_ROTF” who wrote: “By the way, why do u visit miri when u can shop locally in brunei? you should be ashamed of yourself for being patriotic but yet spending ur cash outside brunei.”

Meanwhile, Malay Mail Online quoted Miri-based Dayak Association of Sarawak (Pedas) secretary-general Bill Kayong as saying that he has not heard of any one filing reports with the police or the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) against the posting by the Brunei citizen, “patrioticbruneian”.

“Normally, for things of this nature, we will be informed first before any report is lodged,” Kayong told the news portal, adding that Pedas has no plan to lodge any report.

Utusan Borneo reported the mayor of Miri, Lawrence Lai, as saying visitors must respect how Sarawakians co-exist in harmony, regardless of race and religion.

“We welcome any foreign visitors, regardless of their racial and religious backgrounds, to come and witness how we in Miri live in harmony with one another,” he said, adding that Sarawak practises religion freedom.

“If what we practise has offended any one, my advice to them is to come more often so that they will know about us,” Lai told the Sarawak daily.


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