KOTA KINABALU: Police have received 20 reports over remarks by a senior Sabah minister that a former state leader was involved in the forced conversion of people to Islam in interior Sabah decades ago.
City police chief Habibi Majinji said the reports were filed by NGOs and individuals upset by Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau’s remarks, which were uploaded on his Facebook account last Sunday.
“Investigations are ongoing. We have spoken to the seven people who lodged the reports in Kota Kinabalu,” he said after meeting Malaysian rock icon Awie.
Habibi said the remaining complainants would also be called in for their statements.
He added the other complaints came from nine other districts, namely Putatan, Papar, Semporna, Sipitang, Kudat, Beaufort, Kota Belud, Tambunan and Sandakan.
“We will be calling the DCM to record his statement soon as well,” he said, adding the case is being probed under Section 505 (c) of the Penal Code.
The Tuaran MP is being investigated “for intent to incite or which is likely to incite any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community of persons”.
Tangau received brickbats after claiming a state government leader had gone to Tambunan and forced people there to convert after threatening them that they would not be given land or allowed to work.
However, he did not name the leader.
Earlier, in the same posting, he had praised Chief Minister Shafie Apdal for approving a RM1 million donation for church repairs during a visit to Tambunan recently before comparing this to the actions of the former leader.
Pressure group Suara Masyarakat Sabah, one of those which lodged a report against the Upko president, contended his remarks had religious undertones.
Following that, two Upko members had defended their president over the remarks and dismissed notions that Tangau’s remarks were religiously charged.
Jasni Rijan and Sualim Gopog, the joint chiefs of Upko’s religion and racial harmony bureau, said the Tuaran MP had instead only wanted to state his wish that history not repeat itself.
“We believe our president had no intention at all to offend anyone with his remarks. He has family members of various faiths. Upko is also a multi-religious party.
“We understand that some might have been offended. For that, on behalf of Upko, we as the joint chiefs would like to offer greetings of unity, harmony and love,” Jasni and Sualim said in a statement yesterday.
Jasni and Sualim said what Tangau touched on was a “reality” that had once taken place more than four decades ago, adding the consequences can still be seen to this day.
“There are still those fighting to change the status of their faith stated in their identity cards. They are listed as Muslim although they are not. We sympathise with them.”