‘Christian Malaysia’ a distraction from BN policy failures, says Lim
KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Utusan Malaysia’s conspiracy of Christian groups plotting a takeover bid of the country is a “desperate” attempt by Umno to distract attention away from Barisan Nasional’s (BN) policy failures and economic mismanagement, Lim Guan Eng has said.
The DAP secretary-general charged that the latest conspiracy theory perpetrated by Umno was a way to shield the effect of the BN government’s announcements on a rise in petrol and sugar prices.
“The BN government’s announcement today that the price of sugar will be increased by 20 sen to RM2.30 a kilo has exposed the real malicious motive for Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia’s dangerous lies of a so-called conspiracy by DAP and Christian pastors to set up a Christian state and a Christian Malaysian Prime Minister.
“Such lies could be printed on the front page of Utusan Malaysia even though no Malaysian Christian had ever sought to be Malaysian Prime Minister,” said Lim in a statement today.
He said the establishment of a Christian state was unlikely as Christians only represent nine per cent of the country’s population.
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 di-Pertuan 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.
Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution does not position Islam as the official religion of the country.
It only states that “Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.”
The price increase of the said items, according to the DAP politician, was part and parcel of the government’s concerted subsidy cuts first announced on July 16 last year, when prices went up by five sen per litre for petrol and diesel, 10 sen per kg for LPG and 20 sen per kg for sugar. It also comes after the price of RON97 petrol was increased by 20 sen last week. “BN claims that despite the latest price increase in sugar, the government would save only RM116.6 million for development projects and still have to fork out RM283.4 million in subsidising sugar yearly. DAP rejects such arguments as not proven to be beneficial to the people,” he said.
The Penang Chief Minister said there was no point in saving RM116.6 million when corruption was still rampant and projects were not awarded on an open tender basis.
“Last week, the United Nations released a survey projecting a moderate slide in economic growth for Malaysia this year due to lack of political will in carrying out real reforms, rising food and fuel prices.
“Further, why be concerned about a mere savings of RM116.6 million when the BN government can save RM19 billion by ending gas subsidies to independent power producers (IPPs)?” Lim stressed and added that the only way to maximise saving taxpayers’ money was through ending gas subsidies for Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
“Instead of trying to save a miserable RM116.6 million, the BN government can save 163 times more, by as much as RM19 billion, by ending gas subsidies for IPPs. In the 2009 financial year, Petronas’s gas subsidy bill reached RM19 billion, while in the first half the 2010 financial year, the amount stood at RM10.2 billion.
“Cumulative subsidies borne by Petronas up till November 2010 since the gas price was fixed to the power sector in 1997 and the non-power sector in 2002 amounted to RM126.6 billion,” he said.
Lim accused Umno of taking the “easy way out” from explaining the price rises with a “dangerous lie” in which the Christian community is the scapegoat.
“By failing to punish and stop the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia from continuing this campaign of lies that Islam is under threat, the BN government is making Christians an object of hate and inciting Muslims against the minority Christian community,” he added.
Utusan carried out a front-page article on Saturday claiming that the DAP was conspiring with Christian leaders to take over Putrajaya and abolish Islam as the country’s official religion.
The report, based on unsubstantiated blog postings by several pro-Umno bloggers, had charged the DAP with sedition for allegedly trying to change the country’s laws to allow a Christian prime minister, pointing to a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday.
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 has refuted the bloggers’ allegations.
Similarly, DAP leaders have denied the report and have accused Utusan of lying. They have also lodged police reports over the matter.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has called for calm and asked for the matter to be investigated first before drawing any conclusions.