Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Dayaks back call for crusade against ‘Islamic influences’

KUCHING: Independent assemblyman George Lagong’s open call to Christian law-makers in Sarawak to band together to guide the “moral and religious values” of Dayak youths in the face of adverse influences has received the unanimous support of a Dayak-Iban association.

Lagong’s brazen crusade-like call comes in the wake of simmering discontent in Sarawak over perceived Islamic influence infused into the state by the Umno-led federal government.

Impressed by Lagong’s unprecedented call, Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) president Sidi Munan lauded his proposal, saying that it was “timely and significant”.

“It’s fresh air because such a move is not normally made in the State Legislative Assembly.

“In fact, elements of Christianity together with those of other religions ought to have been made vital ingredients of a public policy (by the government).

“It takes a brave man to initiate such a move in the state assembly.

“For that reason, we support the proposal and we would be happy to participate in the programme if we are taken on board,” Munan said in a statement yesterday.

He, however, suggested that the proposal by Lagong, who is Pelagus assemblyman, should also cover Christian Dayak youths in the urban areas.

“Why confine it to young Dayaks in the rural areas? This is a good proposal and must include the youths in urban areas.

“The older generation of Christians must set a good example and guide young Dayaks to be resilient in the face of temptation and other forces of evil,” Munan said, adding that Lagong’s proposal should also seek to invite the views of “church leaders, clergy and lay workers” who will make “excellent advisers and instructors”.

Simmering discontent

During the debate on the state 2012 budget last Friday, Lagong had mooted the proposal “to create a programme that would enhance and sustain religious values and moral conduct among young Christian Dayaks in the rural areas”.

Lagong had also praised his Muslim counter parts who he said took time to organise activities and monitor Muslim youths in their respective constituencies to ensure they stayed true to their faith and were not easily influenced.

He urged his Christian peers to imbibe the practices of these Muslim representatives in dealing with Christian Dayak youths.

Since 2009 Sarawak has been feeling the brunt of the Umno-led federal government’s covert Islamic overtures, which are threatening to tear apart the state’s socio-cultural fabric.

Christians are incensed over the seizure of thousands of Malay bibles, the ban on the word “Allah” and alleged rampant conversions in rural Sarawak.

Most recently, Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian raised the concerns of parents in rural areas whose children frequented the government-run Kemas pre-school.

Bian told State Legislative Assembly that parents complained about teachers in Kemas kindergartens who taught Islamic prayers and practices to their children who in turn were reciting them at home.

In May this year, senior minister James Masing, along with several other quarters, had voiced concerns over religious teachers from Peninsular Malaysia being imported into Sarawak.

Last week, Sarawak Dayak National Union, which has well over 100,000 native members, responding to Bian’s disclosure, demanded that the Taib Mahmud-led state administration intervene and solve the problem or face public wrath.

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