Sabah 20-Point Agreement: Religion

Colonial passport for the colonised people of North Borneo

For the previous installment on the background, please click here.

In his book on Page 101, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan wrote that although there is no objection to Islam being the religion of the Federation there should not be a STATE RELIGION in North Borneo.  Therefore, anything pertaining to Islam in the MALAYAN CONSTITUTION cannot be applied to NORTH BORNEO.

His grouse on this matter came about as a result of the late Tun Datu Mustapha expelling Christian priests from Sabah and accused both Tun Datu Mustapha and Datuk Harris Salleh of acting in such manner to strengthen their political position with the Federal government, therefore Islam should not be the religion of the state of Sabah.

The above controversial statement goes against the agreements reached as recorded by the Cobbold Commission, the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee (MSCC) , and the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) in 1962.

According to the memorandum of the MSCC that was chaired by Donald A Stephens (later Chief Minister of Sabah, Tun Fuad Stephens) with representatives from Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak and North Borneo, the MSCC found that the acceptance of Islam as the religion of the Federation does not endanger religious freedom as evident on Page 120 of the MSCC memorandum dated 3 February 1962:

MSCC Memorandum dated 3 February 1962 PP 120
MSCC Memorandum dated 3 February 1962 PP 120

The MSCC had scrutinised the position of Islam in respect of states other than the Malay States and found no objection was made against the then-present arrangement for Pulau Pinang and Melaka to also be adopted by North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

Each of the states above would have its own constitution to address the requirement with Yang DiPertuan Agong as the Head of Islam in those states.  The respective State’s Assembly will enact laws to govern Islamic affairs and form a Board to advise the Yang DiPertuan Agong on matters pertaining to Islam.

On pages 120 and 121 of the memorandum mentioned it is stated so:

 

MSCC Memorandum dated 3 February 1962 PP 120-121
MSCC Memorandum dated 3 February 1962 PP 120-121

In the Report of the Commission of Enquiry (Cobbold Commission), North Borneo and Sarawak, dated 21st June 1962 found that there was everywhere agreement that as the Muslims are minorities in North Borneo and Sarawak, there should be no restrictions on complete freedom of other religions in those states.

Cobbold Commission Report dated 21 June 1962 PP 39
Cobbold Commission Report dated 21 June 1962 PP 39

In relation to that, the Inter-Governmental Committee, headed by Lord Landsdowne produced a report in 1962 and made the following recommendations on religion on Pages 5 and 6 which have been passed by the Sabah (and Sarawak) state assembly as follows:

IGC Report 1962 on Religion PP 5-6
IGC Report 1962 on Religion PP 5-6

The IGC, which has representation from the Federation of Malaya representing the states in the Federation, Singapore, North Borneo and Sarawak, recommended that Article 3 needed no amendment.  However, the provision of financial aid to Muslim establishments should only come with the concurrence of the states of North Borneo and Sarawak.  This has since been provided for via Section 3 of the Sabah Islamic Laws Administration Enactment, 1992 where the Yang DiPertuan Agong is the Head of Islam in Sabah, and a Council (Majlis Agama Islam Sabah) was formed to manage and administer the Islamic affairs in Sabah. This has also been provided in the Sabah State Constitution (Articles 5B(1) and 5B(2)).

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, Dr Jeffrey Kitingan was angered by Tun Datu Mustapha’s action to chase out Christian missionaries from Sabah in 11972.  Dr Jeffrey used this as the basis of raising the religion issue that was presented as part of the 20-point memorandum for the inclusion of Sabah into the Federation of Malaysia.

Having understood the reason for his raising the issue again, we must also understand the events that had taken place after Tun Datu Mustapha’s ousting of the Christian missionaries.

Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) won the state elections and formed the Sabah state government in 1985.  From that point up until 1991, the Sabah state government built 825 churches compared to only 216 suraus and mosques.

The state government’s refusal to entertain a request by the Sabah Islamic Council made on the 2nd August 1986 and again on the 12th August 1986 to amend the state’s Shariah Law (Administration) Enactment No.15/77 to accord to the Yang DiPertuan Agong the power to administer Islam in the state of Sabah as required by Article 3(3) of the Federal Constitution (as amended on the 12th August 1976) and Article 5B of the Sabah State Constitution (as amended on the 28th December 1985) clearly denied the Yang DiPertuan Agong His Majesty’s prerogative that was agreed by the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Council, the findings of the Cobbold Commission as well as the Inter-Governmental Committee, and the wishes made by the Muslims of North Borneo in 1962.

The ousting of the Christian missionaries in 1972 was made because the nine missionaries who were foreigners abused the work permit given to them to work in Sabah, not to conduct evagelical missions.  They were Roman Catholics, Anglicans, the Basil Mission and from the Borneo Evangelical Mission.

As Immigration affairs is a Sabah prerogative as accorded in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, the first act by the Sabah state government under Tun Datu Mustapha was to deny them an extension of their work permit.  They were then given a 14-day special pass to enable them to make arrangements to leave Sabah.  However, the missionaries refused to obey the 13-day order.

Consequently, they were removed from Sabah through a Removal Order issued by the Sabah Immigration Department made under Section 32 of the Immigration Ordinance 12/59.

The Federal government had no role whatsoever in the removal of these missionaries.  It was purely a state decision that was made based on a sound reason – the people of Sabah, regardless of race or religion had been living harmoniously.  However, these missionaries have been sowing the seeds of hatred among the Christians of Sabah towards the Muslims by telling them to fear the “Islamisation” of Christians through forced conversions, a claim the missionaries themselves could not substatiate.

There was a plea made by the Christians in Sabah to the then-Prime Minister for the missionaries to be allowed to remain in Sabah.  Tun Abdul Razak however recommended to the Christians of Sabah to instead allow priests from the Peninsular and Sarawak to replace the nine missionaries.

In his book, Jeffrey Kitingan had profusely spoken about alleged digressions from and breach of the Federation of Malaysia Agreement but avoided on the issue of the Sabah state government of 1985 breaching agreements made by the MSCC, findings of the Cobbold Commission, the IGC as well as the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

On the contrary, the Federal government has been fulfilling its end of the agreement by allowing the freedom for other religions to be practiced by its followers as per the agreement.

At no point was there any intrusion made by the Federal government in the affairs of Sabah, and that the removal of the missionaries from Sabah for violating the conditions of the work permit was totally a state issue, made using the powers accorded to the state of Sabah, as agreed by all parties that had agreed on the formation of the Federation of Malaysia.

In the next installement, we shall talk about the second point – LANGUAGE.

Allah: The Son and the Crescent

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I wrote a posting early November 2013 on the issue of evangelism and the evangelical efforts to bring Muslims to accept the Trinity concept ( The Herald of Glad Tidings: Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa ).

Discovered on the Internet today is this article on Christian Today that speaks of the Allah issue and how Christians have made headway in getting Muslims to accept that Allah, or God, that is worshipped by the Muslims, is the same as the Trinitarian god worshipped by the Christians.

Go back to my article above after you have read this one and decide for yourself if subtle evangelism is not real:

Christianity Today: The Son and the Crescent

The Herald of Glad Tidings: Messianic Muslim Followers of Isa

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I write this as a warning to my Muslim brothers and sisters. No matter how you conduct your life, you should never compromise your attestation to Allah being the True One God, and that Muhammad is His Messenger through whom His message was delivered to complete what started millenniums before.

The issue of the use of Allah in the Herald has been resolved…well, more or less. I still see on my timeline some people still tweet about it, or have it as part of their Facebook status. I see the occasional Christian politician from Sabah still trying to flog a dead horse by crying foul over the issue although the ruling does not affect Christians of Sabah and Sarawak; while many others who do not understand the history and reason behind the permit to use of Allah in Bibles and Christian literatures in Indonesia, Sabah and Sarawak but not in the peninsular should read my previous writings on this issue:

The Case For God

I also wrote about the word to describe God in Malay in The Case For God Part 2, and I wrote on the subtle ways to undermine the faith of Muslims in the peninsular. You may say that the issue of faith is petty, but if you have met, as I have, Muslims whom have proselytize, you would be shocked to see the numbers and where they are originally from, and with what background.

If I mention the name Joshua Massey I am sure many Malaysian Muslims do not know who he is. I don’t know who Massey is either but that is the pseudonym of a Christian missionary who has written many articles on how to minister Christianity to the Muslims. Among the articles he has written include Should Christians Use Allah In Bible Translation?

In this article, Massey concluded that it is necessary to use Allah in Bibles and not to discard such easily redeemable terms, but to fill them with Biblical meaning. The more a Muslim’s understanding of Allah is informed by the Scriptures, the more Biblical their theology of God will become. Filling familiar words with new meaning, rather than tossing them aside as irreparable, is something the church has wisely done from the beginning.

Of course, in a non-Arab speaking Muslim country, it would be a lot more difficult to penetrate the Muslim community to spread the gospel. Enter the C5: the so-called liberal Muslims who, amongst us, have been saying that it is a small matter for others to use Allah to refer to God. C5 is a category among a spectrum of Christians ranging from C1, referring to those missionaries who set up churches and conduct masses and prayers in the missionaries’ original language, to C6 – those who still retain their Muslim identity and never reveal their faith to Muslims. This spectrum was introduced by a missionary who writes under the pseudonym John Travis. Like Massey who lives amongst Muslims in Asia, Travis too has spent a large portion of his life living amongst the Muslims.

C5 Muslims do not call themselves Christians. They call themselves the Followers of Isa al-Masih, or Jesus the Messiah. They are the Messianic Muslims who reject any unbiblical Muslim practise, and dare to label Muslim practices barbaric, or against human rights, or restricting women’s rights. Anything and any platform they could use to attack the sanctity of Islam, they would. Do not get me wrong: C5 Christians still go to the mosque to pray, still attain their identity as Muslims, but they will back their Christian friends when attacked by other Muslims, not literal attacks though.

Massey knows that Muslims will not attack, as it is unIslamic to be the belligerent, but will defend to their death their land and faith. So you get the C5s to do the attacks for you, therefore the defenders will then be labelled racists, extremists and other labels already thrown by these liberals. In the words of Travis:

“Some C5 believers adopt Samuel Zwemer’s approach toward Muhammad by affirming all the truth Muhammad brought and never speaking disrespectfully of him. They emphasize that Muhammad was a great statesman and religious reformer, bringing Arabs from pagan polytheism to Abrahamic monotheism. They are quick to add that Muhammad spoke of Isa the Messiah (his virgin birth, miracles and sinless- ness) and acknowledged that the Torah, Zabur and Injil are God’s Word and must be obeyed. When it becomes clear that the Muslim listener is ready for more, they, like Zwemer, share Jesus as Lord and Savior. My observation is that over time, without dictating how new MBBs should view Muhammad, he becomes less and less important to them as they grow in their love and obedience to Jesus”.

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The above is taken from John Travis’s article in the International Journal of Frontier Missiology, telling how a Muslim was befriended by a Christian friend, not to accept Christianity, but to also accept the other Books: a concept not unfamiliar in Islam. Working on this and the other concept mentioned in the Quran that Allah does not make any distinction between His Prophets, they work towards undermining the Shahadah.

Similar modus operandi have been seen here in Malaysia. In one case that involved a friend of mine putting a stop to it, a Muslim factory worker was befriended by a fellow male worker, a Christian. She got pregnant and was shunned by her family. With nowhere to go, her boyfriend brought her to see a priest who showered her with compassion. Her roommate managed to sniff the method and alerted an agency my friend was with, and rescued her. In fact, among the DUMC attendees whom I had met last year all spoke of similar subtle methods. Some had converted over a few pair of jeans, some money, rice, so on and so forth. For me, I blame the Malay/Muslim society for failing to help the needy, or for driving away family members who are in need. I remember one Pusat Pungutan Zakat officer who argued intensely with me, insisted that there were no poor people in Petaling Jaya, until I showed him a squatter village.

But that is the fact of the matter – we Muslims in Malaysia are not caring enough. And Muslims are oblivious to threats, not just from the outside, but from the inside as well. Muslims always think that they are strong, and at the same time allow every attempt to chip away at the foundations of Islam in this country, namely the Federal Constitution, and the institution of the Malay Rulers as custodians and protectors of the religion of Islam and the Malay customs. Every attempt to defend these institutions are being portrayed as acts of racism and oppression of the minority, when in essence it is the 60.4 percent Muslim population is the minority. They are split into three: two one thirds that have nothing better to do but claw at each other, while the other third collude with the evangelists to attack the other two thirds.

I leave you with an extract from a missiology website about the one third that is helping to destroy us, and urge all you Muslims to pause for a moment and think:

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Addendum: 5th Nov 2013

For all those who remember my previous posting on the Allah issue (The Case For God – Part 3, I wrote on Christian publications in Malay in the 19th Century, and how similar publications have made their way into modern-day peninsular Malaysia. One must be wary of religious books bearing Arabic terms that may be representing Christianity but with an Islamic image. I was also informed that in some mosques in this country, as mentioned in Massey’s and Travis’s articles, Arab Christians or Christian Malays have begun preaching to youngsters. Dressed as pious Muslims, they confuse the youngsters using the modus operandi mentioned above.

And I will also be meeting with a Christian friend, who has told me how some of his family members and friends have been actively proselytising needy Muslims in the south of the peninsular. Hopefully this time, I will get to learn more of their modus operandi.