Facebook drive on Sabah ethnicity gets rousing response
Posted on October 3, 2013, Thursday
A screenshot of the ‘I am _ campaign’ Facebook page hosted by Leiking.
Some of the photos posted on Leiking’s Facebook page by Sabahans who are proud of their ethnicity.
KOTA KINABALU: The ‘I am _______ campaign’ on Facebook initiated by Penampang member of parliament Darell Leiking’s office to counter a proposal by the state mufti to Malay-nise Muslim natives has received tremendous response from netizens in Sabah.
The campaign has struck a chord with Sabahans, who were encouraged to snap photos of themselves with placards declaring their ethnicity.
Since it started on October 1, it has gone viral with more than 700 submissions from people of all ethnicity, a statement from the member of parliament’s office said.
And the number is steadily increasing as more Sabahans hop onboard the Facebook campaign with creative shots of themselves. From Kadazan to Dusun, Orang Sungai to Iranun, Bajau to Lundayeh, Melayu Brunei to Kedayan, Murut to Rungus, and everything in between, the hundreds of pictures showed the different faces that make up the north Borneo state’s peoples.
More photos were also posted on Leiking’s personal Facebook page, all carrying the same recurring theme of ethnic and Sabahan pride.
According to the statement, the ‘I am _____ campaign’ on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/MP.Penampang) was to find out how many Sabahans cared about their Sabahan ethnicity.
It was initiated following Leiking’s open statement against Sabah mufti Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar suggesting Muslim Sabahans to abandon their ethnicity.
“The campaign is into its second day and more than 700 pictures have already been sent in by those who share our sentiments. The submissions are still coming in, from both Muslims and Christians.
“The common sentiments in the comments, mails and correspondences have been that being Muslim or Christian is a spiritual choice and that one’s ethnicity cannot possibly change when religions are adopted.
“We would like to see how the mufti and BN leaders in Sabah will respond to this matter,” the statement read.
At a Muslim symposium in Putrajaya on September 28 with the theme “Malay Leadership Crisis”, Bungsu claimed that many indigenous Muslims in Sabah refused to call themselves Malay, unlike ethnic groups like the Javanese and Bugis in Peninsular Malaysia who identify themselves as belonging to one Malay race.
In his plea to Sabahans, Leiking wrote on his Facebook wall that he wanted those who felt their heritage matters to announce it proudly with pictures and email to him so it could be shared.
“No race is more important, but all our cultures matter and must be respected, Muslim or Christian.
“I need your help to show our friends across the sea that we are different and proud of our differences,” he wrote.
Support has also come in the form of “Like” of his social networking page and messages from Sabah BN politicians as well as his critics who have given their thumbs up for the initiative.
“The response is an insight as to how ordinary people feel. There have been some bold statements made.
“You cannot touch our autonomy. It unites us,” he told fz.com, explaining that the autonomy here meant the people’s belief on how Sabah should be.
The state’s politicians across the divide have already slammed Bungsu, with Leiking questioning who the former was trying to impress by attempting to displace Sabahans.
Leiking said the response received for the “I am … ” campaign also meant that the people have taken it upon themselves to address the issue and brought people from all walks of life both “blue and white collar” people together.
“They own the cause,” the PKR deputy secretary-general said.