Is religious extremism and bigotry creeping into Sarawak’s Government institutions?


Media Statement By YB Chong Chieng Jen:

Is religious extremism and bigotry creeping into Sarawak’s Government institutions?  The GPS must act decisively and quickly to stop such elements from gaining grounds and control within the Sarawak’s Government institutions.

The recent incident about TVS (TV Sarawak) rejecting the song of “O Holy Night” to be sung in its Christmas Carol program raises a very serious issue about the inherent threat to racial and religious harmony in Sarawak.

Though after the intervention from Premier Abang Jo and Deputy Premier Douglas Uggah, the Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) was then allowed to include the song in the program, it nevertheless raised the question that:

“Why in the first place would an officer under the Sarawak Government’s agency hold such a religious bigotry view of the matter,i.e. a song can’t be sung in a Christmas Carol program because it contains religious elements when a Christmas Carol program in itself is a religious event?” 

Be it a little Napolean or a high-rank officer who made the call, that is a manifestation of religious bigotry and extremism. 

Worst is this case when the TVStried to put the blame on the Federal agencies, LPF (Film Censorship Board) and MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission), when these 2 agencies had nothing to do with the TVS’ decision on the choice of song in this event.

Had the leadership of ACS been of lesser character, it would have given in to the ridiculous demands set by TVS.  It took great strength and strong faith for ACS to standup against such bigotry from the State Government’s agency.  This is especially so when ACS has on 13.11.2023 conveyed their objection to the UNIFOR and for more than 10 days no respond was given and the decision of TVS stood.

It was only after the matter was widely reported in the Media on 24.11.2023 that the Premier and the Deputy Premier quickly intervened and reversed TVS’ decision.

Therefore, beside reversing TVS’ decision, the State Government must also take immediate, stern and deterrent action against the culprit in TVS who made such ridiculous decision which has a tendency of undermining racial and religious harmony in Sarawak. 

Given that the Premier has just announced a 2-month salary bonus for all State Government servants, if no action were taken against the culprit, he/she will also be enjoying such bonus after his/her horrendous act which will definitely embolden him or even other government officers to repeat similar act with impunity.  Non-action against this officer by the State Government will be seen as the State Government condoning his act.

The GPS Government must nip it in the bud and stop the spread of religious extremism and bigotry within the government agencies.  To do that the culprit must be brought to book and held accountable for his action.