Saturday 7 May 2011

Anwar dubs Utusan shameless ‘Umno tabloid’ for Christian Malaysia report

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim accused Utusan Malaysia of lying and confusing the public in its report today claiming Christian leaders were conspiring with the DAP to abolish Islam as the country’s official religion in a bid to take over Putrajaya.

In a hard-hitting statement posted on his blog today, Anwar accused the Umno-owned daily of spreading lies and slander, raising concerns that such an article could create further confusion among Malaysians. “Utusan has way over the line, they have sacrificed their responsibility as media practitioners to bow before their masters. It is a sad day for Malaysians who love peace and justice when they are being force-fed lies and slander,” the PKR de facto leader said.

“The issue of the official religion for the country has become the latest target for the country’s rulers, Utusan has shamelessly twisted facts to confuse people,” explained the opposition leader. The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) defacto leader said the front page headline of Utusan today proved that the paper was nothing more than an “Umno tabloid” carrying out the orders of its bosses. “It’s sad to see the newspaper founded by our forefathers who had fought for the country’s freedom chained and shackled by those in power today,” Anwar added.

Utusan had carried out a front-page article today titled “Malaysia, a Christian country?” (Malaysia, negara Kristian?), based entirely on blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers. The bloggers had charged the DAP of sedition for trying to change the country’s laws to enable a Christian to be prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described to be a secret pact between the DAP and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.

The Federal Constitution does not expressly specify race or religious requirements for the position of prime minister. Article 43(2)(a) of the constitution states only that the Yang diPertuan Agong shall appoint as PM a member of parliament who in his judgment is likely to command the confidence of the majority of the Dewan Rakyat.

In a posting headlined “Agong under threat? DAP wants to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia?” blogger Marahku ( accused DAP of trying to amend the federal constitution to allow a Christian to become prime minister. “The whole point of changing the official religion is to allow a Christian to become prime minister of this country,” the blogger said.

On, the writer claimed to have received a message that the DAP’s Jeff Ooi had organised a dinner for pastors from Sarawak and overseas at the Red Rock Hotel on Jalan Macalister in Penang. “Among the activities that night included the 35 pastors taking a group oath. They formed a circle and touched each other’s shoulder and vowed in English to make Christianity the official religion of Malaysia and put a Christian Prime Minister in office,” the anonymous writer said in his blog under the headline “Making Christianity the official religion?”

He also pointed to the same grainy picture he posted at the top of his blog page, which he had captioned “Partying pastors or pastors doing the party do and vow to have a Christian as Malaysian Prime Minister”.
The blogger further alleged that the DAP had labelled the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as an “anti-Christ agent” in the run-up to polls in Sarawak, showing the opposition party was “openly against BN on religious grounds and they are now making it their clarion call, their rabble rousing horn”.

The blogger said it was a seditious and religiously-divisive statement that was never investigated by the police “or at least they did not tell us about any investigations on the matter”.

He called on the authorities to investigate the allegations for sedition warning that if the authorities failed in their duty, the country may be “shattered again”. The National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), together with partners Global Day of Prayer, Marketplace Penang and Penang Pastors Fellowship, said the claims against their community were lies and have already denied the bloggers’ allegations last night.

Similarly Ooi said the dinner had been organised by the Christian pastors, in recognition of the DAP team who had visited them while in Sarawak for the state election and that the prayer sessions — one before dinner and one at the end — was a usual part of their worship, and not a pledge as alleged.

In response today, Anwar reiterated PR’s commitment towards upholding Islam as the official religion of the country.
“It has been said before, even an official statement signed by all Pakatan leaders that Islam will still remain the country’s official country even if Pakatan Rakyat takes over federal power,” stressed Anwar.
Utusan Malaysia has been at the forefront of attacking PR leaders over various issues even as its owners Umno restarted moves to court PAS to BN.

It is understood its report today has prompted Malay rights group Perkasa to lodge a police complaint later this evening.

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