APRIL 21 — Media attention has been focused in recent days on two public events of an Islamic religious nature about to take place in the city of Kota Kinabalu in the state of Sabah, involving a speaker who has been described as a convert from Christianity and a former chief or head priest of an Episcopalian/Anglican church in Germany.
We have verified with the leadership of the church in question in Germany, and have received written confirmation that this speaker has never held such a position whatsoever. Nor is he known to the Episcopalian/Anglican community in that church or religious community, whether in Germany itself or in Europe.
We view with deep concern the fact that those responsible for inviting this speaker and for organising these events appear not to have sought to verify his background, and that this misrepresentation has been repeatedly made in publicity relating to these religious forums.
This can only suggest more sinister motives on the part of either the speaker, the organisers of the public events, or even the media that have chosen to highlight him or them. We also seriously call into question the basis on which he was allegedly given the Maal Hijrah award for converts by the religious authorities in Sarawak in 2005.
While freedom of religion (including the freedom to change one’s religion) and freedom of speech are fundamental liberties under our Federal Constitution and ought to be respected, we reject the use of misrepresentation or deception in attributing to a speaker in such religious forums any semblance of authority and experience that he fraudulently claims and does not actually have.
It is an act of wrongful aggrandisement that falsely seeks to highlight the views of a speaker. It also tarnishes the good name of the very religion in whose name he seeks to speak. Such actions are mischievous and harmful in a multi-religious society.
We call on the organisers immediately to correct the grave error to which they have contributed and the utterly false impression that has been given about the speaker. We also call on the relevant authorities to investigate this matter thoroughly in order to prevent the perpetration of such forms of fraud on unsuspecting members of the public.
* Statement issued by Melter Tais, Bishop of the Diocese of Sabah; Datuk Bolly Anak Lapok, Bishop of the Diocese of Kuching; and Datuk Ng Moon Hing, Bishop of the Diocese of West Malaysia and Archbishop of the Province of the Anglican Church in South-east Asia on April 21, 2016 in response to claims by Islamic scholar Ayub Abdul Rahman.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.