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Media statement by Teresa Kok Suh Sim in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 25th March 2011:

Joseph Salang's statement that Sarawak Christians "should not make fools of themselves" reveals the arrogance typical of Barisan Nasional leaders drunk with power

Parti Rakyat Sarawak Vice President Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum's statement that Christians in Sarawak "should not make fools of themselves" over the impounding of the al-Kitab is appalling but not surprising. He merely demonstrates the arrogance typical of Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders who are so drunk with 53 years of unbroken power that they have become completely cold and oblivious to the suffering of the people on the ground.

According to The Malaysian Insider, Joseph Salang made that heartless statement with regard to Sarawakians attending prayer rallies organised by Sarawak Ministers Fellowship to pray for the release of the al-Kitab. The first rally held at the Christian Accumenical Worship Centre in Kuching on 23 March 2011 drew nearly 3,000 Christians, which indicates the gravity of this issue.

In making that statement, Joseph Salang shows that he couldn't care less about Malaysians' constitutional right to freedom of religion and that he has absolutely no sympathy for Sarawak Christians' grievance. Their al-Kitab has been impounded by the Home Ministry for over two years, defaced with a "For Christians" stamp and then a "For Christianity" stamp, and until recently threatened with being stamped with serial numbers as well.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein even had the gall to mock the Christians when he said, "You (Christians) can even say the Bibles are smelly after being kept for so long," during his press conference on 17 March 2011.

As for Joseph Salang, his statement reveals himself to be lacking in culture despite being the Deputy Minister for Information Communication & Culture. If he had any culture, he would be able to appreciate that the al-Kitab, in whatever language, is the holy book for Christians. Human decency tells us that holy books must be accorded due respect, regardless of what one's personal religious convictions may be.

Thus, the oppressive manner in which the Government has restricted access to and defaced the al-Kitab exposes 1Malaysia for the fraud that it is. No amount of justification by the Government can make this transgression right. Joseph Salang's cruel statement only adds salt to the wound.

I urge Joseph Salang to wake up from his stupor of BN power, recognise the pain that BN is causing Christians throughout the country, and apologise unreservedly for his most arrogant statement.

I further urge all the BN component parties in Sarawak - Parti Rakyat Sarawak, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu, Sarawak United People's Party, Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party - to wake up from their coma, denounce outright the impounding and defacing of the al-Kitab, call for their immediate unconditional release and the removal of all restrictions upon future imports of the al-Kitab, as Pakatan Rakyat leaders have done.

Failing which, the people of Sarawak will plainly see that the BN component parties in Sarawak have yet again kowtowed to BN leaders in Putrajaya and sold out their fellow Sarawakians for political gain.

* Teresa Kok Suh Sim, DAP National Organizing Secretary, Selangor State Senior EXCO for Investment, Industry & Trade & MP for Seputeh



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