Backlash feared from politics over ‘Allah’

6 01 2010

Negative comments and reactions on use of the term ‘Allah’ will be a severe setback to relations among the various races and faiths, and could poison ties between both halves of Malaysia.

This is the stark warning from United KadazanDusunMurut Organisation president and federal minister Bernard Giluk Dompok.

“Soon after the issue was brought to court, I appealed to all quarters to respect and give the court full freedom to carry out its responsibility,” said Dompok.

He reiterated that the perspective of Malaysian Borneo must be taken into consideration and that there is no running away from history on the matter.

merdeka statement launch 020807 bernard dompok“(Kuala Lumpur) High Court Judge Lau Bee Lian, in the decision on Dec 31 last year, had taken into consideration all historical aspects and constitutional rights on the issue,” said Dompok (left).

“Everyone in Malaysia has been given the right and freedom to practise the religion of their choice in a peaceful situation.”

Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have been using the term ‘Allah’ from the 19th century, long before the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963.

In Sabah, for example, the term ‘God’ is used in English, ‘Allah’ in Malay and ‘Kinoingan’ in Kadazandusun, as religious services are conducted in the three languages to cater to the respective congregations.

Dompok opined that the new generation is more comfortable with mass being said in Malay, having been educated in the language. The practice was carried over when Christians from Sabah and Sarawak transmigrated to Peninsular Malaysia to study and work.

“They are requesting that mass in Peninsular Malaysia be conducted in Malay for them. The use of Malay as the medium of instruction in the education system has further expanded the influence of the language among the communities in Sabah.”

He said the role of the church in promoting and preserving the national language must be recognised and given due importance.

Traditionally, churches have played a pioneering role in keeping alive the various languages and dialects used by Christian Malaysians.

Dompok’s statement has struck a unanimous chord in sections of society in Sabah. They fear that the Court of Appeal will sit on the appeal and “jam the process”, citing the Goddess of the Sea (Mazu) case which is still to be heard by the Court of Appeal after several months.

Umno endangering national security’

PKR vice-president Jeffrey Gapari Kitingan said he wants Umno to “stop playing politics with the ‘Allah’ issue and endangering national security”.

He urged Umno to take a leaf from PAS which practises ‘Islam the Faith’ instead of ‘Islam the Politics’.

Former Sabah PKR secretary-general Kanul Gindol said more effort should be made in Peninsular Malaysia to explain the historical rights of the people of Sabah and Sarawak as the controversy over the use ‘Allah’ by Christians as just the tip of the iceberg.

“There are many other issues which have been swept under the carpet and are just waiting to explode,” he claimed, without elaborating.

Sabah PKR deputy head Christina Liew (below) described the use of ‘Allah’ as a non-issue in Sabah and Sarawak.

NONE“If the Home Ministry has any doubt, they should have referred to the federal attorney-general for the interpretation of the relevant law under sections 10, 11(4) and 12 of the federal constitution,” said Liew, a senior lawyer.

She said Malaysia must be the only country that is trying to outlaw the use of ‘Allah’ among non-Muslims. Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation, has never made it an issue.

She went on to blast the BN government for its “hypocrisy and high-handed tactics” and questioned the relevance of the 1Malaysia theme propagated by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

Sabah Council of Churches chairperson Rev Jerry Dusing noted that the High Court ruling has taken cognizance of provisions in the federal constitution on freedom of religion, and rights in respect of education and freedom of speech.

“We are a multiracial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation. This has found expression in the 1Malaysia theme,” he said, highlighting the danger of ignoring the rights of any individual.

In Tenom, the Catholic church pastoral council deputy head, Jimmy Jawatah, said he hoped the High Court ruling will be accepted by all with an open heart.

“The decision proves that justice and democracy exists, as enshrined in the federal constitution,” said Jawatah who is also Sabah Progressive Party vice-president.

The use of the Malay language by the church, without interference by the authorities, will help Christians increase their religious knowledge and understanding, he said.

“This is in line with the country’s mission of instilling religious values for the creation of a caring society.”

Joe Fernandez
Jan 6, 10



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