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Fasting ex-minister ‘weak but resolute’

The Umno-led Sabah government has been 'oddly silent'
over claims by a former minister that Christians are
being persecuted in the state.
KOTA KINABALU: Former Sabah minister Conrad Mojuntin, who is fasting to death in protest of the persecution against Christians in his state, is weak but resolute about his sacrifice.

Into his fourth day of a “fast to death” pledge, Mojuntin told FMT in an text message that he was “weak but okay. God helps us”.

According to a doctor, the first few days of a total fast is the most difficult. He said the body gradually adapts to the lack of food and a reasonably fit person can survive for more than a month without food as long as he continues to drink water.

Mojuntin, 64, who is a devout Catholic, was the Moyog assemblyman and state culture, youth and sports minister during the Berjaya government which ruled from 1976 to 1985.

He started his “fast to death” on June 17 in protest of the mistreatment of Sabahans, especially Christians, who he claimed have been victimised and systematically marginalised by the Umno-led Muslim government.

He alleged that the government and its agents were neglecting non-Muslim natives and focusing its programmes on the Muslim community, including the offspring of illegal immigrants as long as they were Muslims.

He has also questioned the distribution of state scholarships and study loans as well as employment opportunities in the public service, saying it was biased in favour of one community.

Mojuntin, who believes that he has been victimised despite his stint in government, said that he had been a target for conversion to Islam since the 1980s.

His fast is believed to be the first such public protest aimed at government policy.

“Sabahans have quietly suffered too long…” Mojuntin said, pointing out the failure of the federal and state governments to govern fairly and instead to strip the state and people of rights guaranteed under the 20-point agreement.

Mojuntin’s protest has been met with an “odd silence” in state government circles although the Mojuntin family is well known in the community and his nephew, Donald Mojuntin, is a member of the BN government.

Pension stopped

According to Mojuntin, the final straw that led to his decision to “fast until death” was when his pension was stopped on March 1 last year several months after he was released from a six-month imprisonment for criminal intimidation following a controversial case over the death of a fishmonger.

Believing that he was “fixed”, Mojuntin said he and his family had been persecuted endlessly since he married his wife Theresa William Ali and that certain parties had “conspired to wrongfully put (him) in jail”.

“The pension money is my only income that helps settle the monthly instalments on my house mortgage and my children’s education fees.

“I have seven children, two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren to care for.

“Life in prison taught me a lot. I prayed everyday. You see, prison life is not the best experience. You do not want to go there.

“Although we have done wrong, we are just humans. I am a sinner, but who does not commit sin? You should not neglect the welfare of the prisoners… do not treat prisoners like animals,” he said.

The younger brother of revered Kadazandusun leader Peter Mojuntin who died in the controversial 1976 plane crash that took the lives of chief minister Fuad Stephens and half of the state cabinet, said he did not believe the government had any real intention of alleviating the problems plaguing the state.

Venting his frustration in a six-page handwritten statement, Mojuntin expressed his angst over how hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and their Sabah-born offspring have taken over the state to the extent that the federal government paid more attention to their needs rather than those of native Sababans.

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