Popular Muslim preacher Ebit Lew has today claimed that he had to abandon his humanitarian plans to visit other islands around Semporna, two days into his visit amid the movement control order (MCO).
In a Facebook post, he also apologised to the Bajau Laut villagers in Semporna which he allegedly mass converted into Islam recently, saying he could no longer continue on his mission to aid the community.
“I have to postpone my intention to build schools here. This morning I was informed that I am not allowed to enter the islands of Semporna and was asked to stop giving aid around here.
“I was told I could be fined 100,000 [sic] or be jailed for three years,” he said in the post.
Lew went on to say he had only given aid from his boat and had bought wood for the schools he planned to build for the children in the area.
He did not disclose the party that had allegedly prevented him from continuing his mission.
In response to queries by Malay Mail, Sabah police said they had not issued any restrictions against Lew yet.
Its police commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali said that the police as well as the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESScom) has not stopped him in any way or form from continuing his mission.
“It did not come from us. I’m not sure where, but neither the police nor ESScom has stopped him.
“He informs us where he is going and gets clearance from the local district police chief, that’s all,” he said.
Lew had posted on his social media that he had in the last two days, allegedly converted some 490 Bajau Laut villagers, many of whom were undocumented and stateless and lived in poverty around the islands of Semporna.
The Bajau Laut community of Sabah are considered Muslims, but some still practise age-old traditions of ancestry and animism, and those who still hold close to their nomadic culture are even closer to these beliefs.
Sabah mufti Datuk Bungsu Aziz Jaafar has since told Malay Mail that the community are mostly already registered as Muslims.
Hazani said today that while the authorities have no objection to his humanitarian aid mission, he said that any charity organisation should get advice and guidelines from the respective local authorities, particularly with SOPs that should be complied with.
Lew now said he will continue with his ten-day mission, of which he is on Day Five.
“I am going to head to Tawau. Complete the contribution I promised in several areas,” he said.
His humanitarian mission here has been well-received by the public but recently courted some controversy after he announced that he converted some Bajau Laut villagers in Semporna, who may be stateless.
Lew was also criticised for travelling during the MCO as the Covid-19 still rages on and was pictured not wearing any face masks when meeting the vulnerable community.
In Malaysia, Muslim preachers and missionaries are free to evangelise and convert those from other faiths into Islam.
However, it is illegal and forbidden for other religions to preach and evangelise towards Muslims. – MMO