PENAMPANG Dec 25, 2011: United Pasok Momogun KadazanDusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok shoved off rumours that he has met up with opposition leaders recently.
“I have spent a greater part of this month and last month on missions to South Africa and Nigeria, so certainly I did not have time to meet anyone from the opposition parties. I do not know how it (the rumour) came about,” he said.
The Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister however said that he is open to any meeting, adding, “There would be no reason to deny that because I do not mind meeting people. (But in this case) It did not happen.”
Speaking to reporters after launching the Penampang District Christmas 2011 on Friday night, Dompok also reiterated his hopes that every citizen in Malaysia should be allowed to practise the religion of their own choice.
“This also means that they should be allowed to practise the cultural practices that come with the religious beliefs. These have been going smoothly before and it should remain that way,” he said.
Referring to several issues such as the call for permits to conduct carolling during Christmas and the choice of headmasters for mission schools, Dompok said that such matters should not have occurred in the first place.
“I think there have been attempts in the last one year by officers in the enforcement of laws or rather taken action contrary to the government policy and there is no given provision for such measure in the law of the country.
“We have heard objections over the call for permits and over the choice of principals for missions schools, such as the Bukit Nenas Convent. The school management should be consulted but none of this was done … we are glad that the government had taken action to resolve the issue.
“But why does it need to be acted upon, in fact it should not have happened in the first place. I want to see that there is no repeat of these issues in the new year,” he said.
Dompok gave Sabah as an example where carollers had been called to apply for permits to spread the yuletide message.
“In fact, carolling is our most awaited moments during the Christmas season,” he said.
Touching on the event, Dompok said the presence of non-Christians gave a positive sign that the people in Sabah were able to compromise and celebrate the joyous season together.
“It also reflects that we are able to live together in harmony despite our differences in religion, beliefs and cultures,” he said.
Malaysia, he added, is a unique country where all celebrations are celebrated by all, despite their different beliefs.
“Next month will be Chinese New Year, followed by other celebrations such as Hari Raya and Deepavali … celebrating the festivities together would create better rapport among the people in Malaysia,” he said.