Brother of Malaysia's police inspector-general questioned over church cross protest

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The brother of Malaysia's inspector-general of police (IGP) spent four hours at the Petaling Jaya police headquarters answering questions about the Taman Medan church protest.

Abdullah Abu Bakar, who is Taman Lindungan Jaya Umno branch chief, had his statement taken after police said all those involved in Sunday's protest against the cross at the church will be questioned.

Selangor police chief Senior Deputy Commissioner Datuk Abdul Samah Mat said statements would also be taken from the church congregation.

"The matter will be investigated without fear or favour," he said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday that action would be taken against those who broke the law, including under the Sedition Act.

However, SDCP Abdul Samah could not specify how many would eventually be questioned.

"We are pursuing a thorough investigation, and will not rule out any possibility."

Abdullah, who is IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar's elder brother, was seen with a group of about 50 residents who claimed that the sight of the cross in a largely Muslim area "challenged Islam" and could influence younger minds.

"I am very tired. I just hope everything is going to be okay," he told reporters when he came out of the police station at 8pm on Tuesday.

"They just asked me what it was all about and I answered. They didn't tell me under which Act I was being investigated," said Abdullah, who declined to give details of his conversation with the police.

Meantime, the Sabah Council of Churches has urged authorities not to take any action against the protesters. Its president Datuk Jerry Dusing said it would be counterproductive to penalise ignorance with legal action against the protesters.

"Humiliation only breeds more hatred," said Dusing, who heads the Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB).

"Rather, we trust that if the protesters were to understand the true meaning of the cross - regardless of whether they agree with the rest of the Christian faith or not - they would not perceive it as anything other than a symbol of the love and mercy of God... (It is) not a challenge to anybody, and certainly not to Islam," Dusing said on Thursday.

"We believe the government has the greater and more onerous, moral duty to foster greater understanding among all Malaysians.

"Let us look forward to more dialogue to foster genuine understanding with our fellow Malaysians," he said, adding that unity in diversity has always been a reality in Malaysia.

Dusing said it was also the government's constitutional duty to guarantee that non-Muslims could practise their religions in peace and harmony following Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution.

He said the Council was, however, convinced that the "provocative" actions of a few was not representative of the Malaysian society as a whole.

"We believe the overwhelming majority of our Muslim brothers and sisters strongly uphold the true Islamic value of respect and tolerance towards other religions and their places of worship," he added.