KOTA KINABALU: A shariah lawyer has taken former PPBM women’s chief Anina Saadudin to task for her criticism of a billboard in Sabah showing a Good Friday greeting for Christians, calling her comments “unwise and foolish”.
Hamid Ismail, who contested for the Tanjung Aru state seat on a PAS ticket in the May 9 polls last year, said it had also created unnecessary tension between Malaysians in Sabah and the peninsula.
He said he had reservations of his own over the use of billboards for religious occasions in Sabah but maintained that Anina should not have criticised it, whether for political purposes or to gain publicity.
“What looks good in Peninsular Malaysia may not look good in Sabah, and vice-versa.
“In Sabah, billboards with messages specifically aimed at the Christian community are common. This happened even before the 14th general election,” Hamid told FMT.
Anina’s remarks, uploaded to social media on Friday, had sparked disapproval among internet users.
She said before this, such advertisements were only displayed on banners or buntings. Now, though, they had been upgraded to billboards, she added.
“If it’s not high enough, use a crane. If it’s not big enough, add more pillars so the size can be doubled. Next year, advertise on television. We are equal, right?” her post read.
Hamid said even if Anina’s remarks were based on concerns over religious issues, she should have channelled her dissatisfaction to the appropriate authorities.
“Let the authorities decide whether any rules or regulations have been breached,” he said. “I am certain that the authorities know about Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution regarding restrictions on the propagation of religious doctrines or beliefs among persons professing the religion of Islam.”
Hamid added that Sabahans live in peace and harmony despite the multi-religious and multiracial nature of their community as respect and tolerance are deeply rooted among them.
Political analyst Tony Paridi Bagang said resorting to bigotry would only increase the distrust among Sabahans of those from the peninsula.
He said the criticism of Anina as a result of her actions should send a clear signal that Sabah and Sarawak will not subscribe to religious intolerance.
“Such comments should not have been made in the first place. That only showed her naivety over the ethnic community relations and religious tolerance in Sabah.
“Her comments are not helping to promote unity in diversity. Rather, she is sparking prejudice among the people of many faiths in this country.”