My words were not political, says Sabah church leader

Bishop-Melter-Jiki-Tais-My-words-were-not-political-1KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) president Bishop Melter Jiki Tais has denied that he was playing politics when he commented on freedom of religion in Sabah.

Speaking to FMT, he said the church was apolitical and should not be used as a political tool by any one side.

“I was merely saying that Christians in the state had been enjoying freedom to worship and that we have no issues here, even on the use of the word ‘Allah’.

“I was saddened when I was informed that a news portal had misinterpreted my words as being directed at an opposition party.”

Melter said not only had the portal put words in his mouth, it also used his picture together with a photo of an opposition party leader on its website.

“Because of the damage it has done, I demand an apology from the said news portal and for it to remove the article from its site within three days, failing which legal action will be taken against it,” he said.

The article in the Malay-language Sabah-based news portal, titled “Majlis Gereja Selar Presiden Warisan politikkan agama Kristian” (Council of Churches slams Warisan president for politicising Christianity), was uploaded on Wednesday night.

The article said Melter had “criticised the attitude of Parti Warisan Sabah leaders who used religion for politics”.

On Tuesday, following a courtesy call to Chief Minister Musa Aman at the Sabah state legislative assembly building, Melter said that Sabahans had always lived in harmony despite their religious differences.

He added that it was a privilege and a blessing to live in Sabah where freedom of religion was guaranteed and people of different faiths lived like brothers and sisters.

Melter, who is also Anglican bishop of the Sabah diocese, had used the occasion to thank Musa for the continued financial support from the state government to non-Muslim bodies and schools in the state.

“For the record, I never commented anything on politics during the meeting,” he said.

“I did not mention any political party. The article made it look like the president of the SCC or churches in Sabah is favouring one political party over another.”