Though Troubled over Decision on Apostasy Cases, Heckling, Seca Seeks to Preserve Goodwill

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Seca committed to playing an active role to preserve unique peace and harmony in Sarawak.

Sarawak communities must not turn on each other over the commotion last week after the Federal Court declined to hear four Muslim apostasy cases, said the Sarawak Evangelical Christian Association (Seca).

The alliance of evangelical churches and organisations in Sarawak said that while it was “gravely disappointed” and “troubled” by the incident in which Catholic Archbishop Simon Poh was heckled outside the courtroom, it was more important for the state’s communities to preserve existing goodwill.

“The big question we need to answer is how could we, the people of Sarawak (in all segments of our society – religious, civil, and government – who have been zealously guarding our way of life), allow the religious tension to escalate to such a boiling point that it expressed itself in the incident in question.”

Seca said it was important to uphold the Sarawak way of life and an incident or two should not be allowed to thwart the people’s aspiration for future generations.

“No single race and/or religious group can realise this dream on its own in the multiracial society of Sarawak.

“Pursuing a course that overtly benefits one race and/or religious group over the others or at the expense of others will not bring about the harmonious life desired in our state.

“We need all the people of all races and religions to come together to work towards this dream.

“What the people of Sarawak do next in response to the courthouse incident is vital as it will determine how we and our future generations will live with one another.

Sulok Tawie

“If we need to revisit the Malaysia Agreement and consider other factors relevant to keeping our way of life, let us do so together.

“We use this occasion to make a strong appeal to all the people of Sarawak of all races and religions to come together at this critical time of our State to dialogue and find a path forward as one people. We hope religious leaders and the government will lead the way,” it said in a statement.

With regards to the Federal Court’s decision that apostasy cases should be heard in the Shariah courts, Seca has expressed disappointment

Troubled over the decision, Seca said it was a violation of the right to freedom of religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“We see the unfair and unjust treatments of the four appellants in their studious attempts to exercise their right to the freedom of religion in the state.

“Though respecting the Federal Court’s decision, we see the roadblocks to conversion tantamount to violation of the unique nature of freedom of religion, granted to the people of Sarawak as a condition for us to form the federation, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“We are alarmed by the threat to the fabric of peace-loving relationships that we have fostered among Sarawakians over centuries; and a real fear of it being destroyed by inappropriate management of emotions,” Seca said.

Since the judgment, the issue had been widely debated in Sarawak.

Earlier report: Feb 28, Muslims Protect Archbishop from Hecklers