KOTA KINABALU: The state government should ask the federal government to set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to investigate whether cases of forced conversion to Islam really happened in Tambunan as alleged by Deputy Chief Minister Wilfred Madius Tangau.
Sabah Umno Youth chief Abdul Aziz Julkarnain told reporters here today that Tangau and Chief Minister Shafie Apdal should not hide any criminal evidence such as threats in order to force people to convert to Islam if such things had happened before.
“This country has laws. If such injustice had taken place, if the people were forced to convert to Islam or risked losing their lands or got sidelined for jobs and faced other threats, then they must be defended.
“Those who committed these offences must take responsibility and face justice,” he said.
At the same time, he said as a politician and a key leader in the state government, Tangau must be responsible for his statements.
In the past, he said many leaders who made mistakes in making statements took responsibility for them by either resigning or making a public apology.
“But in Tangau’s case, he stood by his statement that had hurt the feelings and sentiments of Muslims in Sabah, especially those from Tambunan.
“The past should remain in the past. What is important now is for us to preserve the harmony and unity among our multicultural and multi-religious society.
“Sabah society is a model of how a multi-ethnic community can live in peace with one another but Tangau, who is under investigation under Section 505c of the Penal Code, does not seem to care.
“What he cares for is to be a hero and speak about sensitive issues that should not be mentioned. He even had the gall to say he has a memorandum from 2,000 signatories, including community leaders from Tambunan,” he said.
Section 505(c) of the Penal Code refers to a statement with 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.
Towards this end, Aziz said the police have the responsibility to carry out its responsibilities to safeguard and preserve the peace and harmony in the state.
Tangau received brickbats after claiming a state government leader had gone to Tambunan 38 years ago 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.
The Upko president defended the statement which he posted in his Facebook account on July 21, stating it was based on facts, adding he received a memorandum on these “acts” when he was a student leader in 1982.
Tangau was questioned by the police for four hours at his office yesterday.
A paper written by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) associate professor Mohammad Agus Yusoff in 1999 noted that large-scale Islamisation was carried out by the United Sabah Islamic Association (USIA) when Mustapha Harun was the Sabah chief minister from 1967 to 1975.
The paper also noted that as many as 95,000 conversions were recorded and although it did not mention any use of threats in the endeavour, it did say Mustapha pursued the efforts with a rather “heavy-handed determination”.