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War cry for religious freedom by indigenous Christians in Sabah

Today, we celebrate the completion of the Jubilee Year. We give thanks in our hearts to acknowledge the goodness of God for 50 years since Sabah confederated with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore (previously) to form a new nation called Malaysia.

We rejoice by sounding the mamangkis,  the victory proclamation  by the indigenous people of Sabah in the precious name of our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus. To Him alone we give all the glory, and honour, and worship.  Let’s ring out the mamangkis now; the way our ancestors used to do. Again we say, let the anak negeri of Sabah ring out the mamangkis now!

Fifty years is a long time but it is still fresh in our memory the terms on which we agree to part of a new and bigger nation state. But we have been betrayed.  There can be no treachery greater than being betrayed by someone within the same family.

We call on Prime Minister Najib Razak to roll back extremism within Umno and the Islamic establishment.  He has the choice to be a statesman or a jaguh kampung.  He cannot be both.

Under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, as indigenous people of Sabah, we enjoy protection and preferential treatment in the same manner as Malays in the peninsula.
But today, we are worse than second class citizens, aliens and strangers in our own land, displaced by foreigners. Most of these illegal intruders slipped into our land when those in power be kept both their eyes closed since the time of Tunku Abdul Rahman, our first PM, when the Sabah state government was under Tun Mustapha. This has not stopped even till today.

Today, we are an oppressed race living under appalling apartheid conditions. Even the State Mufti has the audacity to call the rightful owners of the land, the Kadazandusun,  an “invented” race. He should be sacked for such racist remarks yet he remains in office. This suggests he enjoys protection of the federal government.

Today, we have lost our God-given freedom in every sense of the words. We are not even allowed to refer to God as Allah in our liturgical language. Worst still, we are not even allowed to teach our children and their children about God, whom they know as Allah, the almighty creator of the universe and all that is in it.

The key condition for our participation in the formation of Malaysia in 1963 was that Sabah shall continue to have complete freedom of religion. This was agreed to by Malaya, now known as West or Peninsular Malaysia.

On  27 Sept 1973, ten years and ten days later, the Sabah State Constitution was amended to read: “Islam is the religion of the State; but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the State.”

That other religions may be practised is a lie indeed. The indigenous Church in Sabah and Malaysia has been persistently and systematically persecuted by both the Federal and State governments over the long years.

At the end of 1981, eighteen years after the formation of Malaysia, the Alkitab, the Malay language Bible was banned by the Federal government. The ban, remains in force till today although in a restricted form. In Sarawak, the Bup Kudus, the Iban Bible was similarly banned in 2003 though it was subsequently rescinded.

In 1992, the Enakmen Pentadbiran Undang Undang Islam Sabah or the state enactment for administration of Islam in Sabah was passed. This was supposedly meant for Muslims but in 2003, a state gazette listed 31 words which non-Muslims are prohibited from using;  the word ‘Allah’ being one of them. Another word is ‘Injil’ for Gospel. This means that Sidang Injil Borneo Sabah, the indigenous church of Sabah cannot exist as a legal entity any longer simply because of this word in its registered name.

Since the time of the Tunku and Tun Mustapha, there were mass conversions of indigenous Christians. We hold nothing against Islam if it was embraced with free choice. But we condemn such conversions as they were done through deceit, intimidation, or through bribery.

Today, such persecutions and false conversions are still rampant even to the extent of falsifying the identity cards or MyKad of indigenous Christians by the JPN of federal registration department by changing their religious status to Islam. Our children are systematically converted in schools and hostels and even at kindergartens and children day care centres.

But there’s hope. The Jubilee Year in the Bible is one in which the people of God had the experience of being deprived of their own land and heritage but at the same time a horizon of hope, of liberation, opens up. The Hope of Jubilee.

We have come to the end of the Jubilee Year. But our pilgrimage of hope continues. Fifty years is a long time to be oppressed. The pangkis meant one of two things to our ancestors, that of a victory shout or a war cry.

Today, we say it’s time to sound our war cry. Are you ready? Again we say, are you ready?

Before we execute the pangkis, please be reminded we go into spiritual warfare in the name of our Lord and we also emerged victorious in another mamangkis in the name of our Lord. The victory belongs to Him alone. The battle of and for the Lord Is not in the flesh. It is a call to return to justice and righteousness, and most of all to holiness for God is a Holy God.

Today, if you hear the voice of the Lord, we have to decide for ourselves as Joshua reminds us: “You are not able to serve the Lord, for he is a holy and jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.” (Joshua 24:19 NLT).

Today, are we ready to pangkis with a war cry? If we are, then consecrate ourselves before our Lord, the Holy God. Tomorrow, we take the mamangkis into the interior (mangkis masuk desa) beginning with Ranau.

“The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD.”( Proverbs  21:31).

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