KOTA KINABALU, Feb 2 — The Sabah government said today it has no objection to Muslim preacher Ebit Lew visiting far-flung areas in the state, but said that certain regions deemed high-risk are subject to curfew conditions.
Its Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Masidi Manjun said the state government has neither objected to Lew’s mission following the latter’s claim that he is being threatened to back out, nor directed the police or Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) to do so.
“We are very happy and appreciative of what Ebit Lew is doing. We welcome all the help. But only thing is it should be within time stipulated in the area.
“The area, the east coast is a high-risk area, so there is a curfew at night. That’s only limitation. Other than that, by all means,” he told reporters here.
The dawn-to-dusk curfew has been in effect since 2014 to prevent night-time movement at sea which enabled security forces to carry out border control and prevent cross border crime, including kidnapping.
“The islands off Semporna present a security risk and our security forces take it seriously and do not want to endanger members of the public,” he said.
Masidi said that the state had never placed restrictions on non-governmental organisations and individuals from carrying out aide distribution, but urged them to do it within the non-curfew hours.
On non-compliance of Covid-19 Standard Operating Procedure during his visit, Masidi said that those in positions of influence should know to lead by example.
“Leaders, those with positions in government, need to show a good example. It is incumbent upon everyone to comply with the SOP. I cannot judge what other people do, but I can only urge them to be a good role model to others,” he said.
He said that the public look to those in power and if they are shown to be flouting the rules, the public will follow, to a worse extent and exacerbate the problem.
“So please, help us to ensure there is compliance. I know sometimes in desperation, there is scrambling and crowding, so I know it’s easier said than done. But we have to set an example and show we mean what we say,” he said.
After two days of travelling around the islands of Semporna, Ebit today claimed that he had to abandon his humanitarian plans to visit other islands, telling his social media following that he was not allowed to enter the islands and was asked to stop giving aid around here.
He said was told he could be fined RM100,000 or be jailed for three years, but did not specify who had told him that.
His humanitarian mission here has been well received by the public but recently courted some controversy after he announced that he allegedly converted hundreds of Bajau Laut villagers in Semporna, who may be stateless, into Islam.
Lew was also criticised for travelling during the MCO as the Covid-19 still rages on, and was pictured not wearing any face masks when meeting the vulnerable community of Bajau Laut, also known as Pala’u.
Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hazani Ghazali also told the Malay Mail that they had not issued any directive to Ebit but said that he should have asked for advice of the local authorities before reaching out to some of the outlying areas, particularly those involving stateless communities.
In Malaysia, Muslim preachers and missionaries are free to evangelise and convert those from other faiths into Islam.
However, it is illegal and forbidden for other religions to preach and evangelise towards Muslims.
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