Call on Cabinet on Friday to withdraw the appeal against the KL High Court judgment on the Herald “Allah” case to demonstrate government seriousness and commitment to promote 1Malaysia and inter-religious harmony

While the government’s decision yesterday to release the 35,000 copies of Bahasa Malaysia Bible detained in Port Klang and Kuching Port is to be welcomed, questions must be raised as to why it had been allowed to become an issue aggravating Malaysian unity and nation-building problems for such a length of time.

The country seems suddenly to have a very powerful Minister, who is not elected but appointed – Senator Datuk Seri Idris Jala. Is this really the case?

The announcement was not made by the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein or the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who had earlier commented on the issue, but by an unelected Senator Minister. Why was this the case?

In fact, six hours before Idris’ announcement, Muhyiddin had announced that the Cabinet had not made any decision to release the 35,000 Bahasa Malaysia Bibles and that this subject would be discussed in the Cabinet meeting on Friday.

But six hours later, Idris announced the release of the 35,000 copies of Bahasa Malaysia Bible, with the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail even saying that their release would not prejudice the ongoing appeal of the Herald “Allah” case.

What really happened? Why suddenly there is not need for any Cabinet decision to resolve this long-standing issue of the detention of the 35,000 Bahasa Malaysia Bibles?

It is clear that the decision to suddenly release the 35,000 Bahasa Malaysia Bibles was not because of any respect for the principle of constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion or national unity considerations, but solely because of the impending Sarawak state general elections.

This is not responsible governance and goes against the principle of :Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1Malaysia policy of creating an united Malaysian nation transcending race, religion, geography or socio-economic status.

Religious harmony should not be made a political football or a vote-getting bait if the government is serious about 1Malaysia as an inclusive policy to embrace all races and religions.

Many observers have warned that in the two years since the launch of Najib’s 1Malaysia policy, national unity, race and religious relations have worsened.

Academician Farish Noor for instance had given the warning in a recent forum on public governance organized by Perdana Leadership Foundation and National Professors’ Council that Malaysia is dangerously close to absolutely breaking down if racial politics is not kept in check.

He said: “I’ve spent more than 10 years studying dysfunctional countries and I believe that we are going down the path of countries like Pakistan, Indonesia and Bangladesh. I have seen enough race and religious riots to see that Malaysia is close to going down that path.”

Similar observations and warnings had also been made by others including a former US Ambassador to Malaysia.

The Prime Minister must demonstrate leadership and example to unite Malaysians by putting an end to fractious and divisive disputes especially over religion.

The Cabinet can take one such important step in its meeting of Friday – to withdraw the appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the Herald “Allah” case to demonstrate government seriousness and commitment to promote 1Malaysia, inter-religious harmony and national unity.

[Speech in the Royal Address debate on Wednesday, March 16, 2011]

  1. #1 by DAP man on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 4:12 pm

    No way kit.
    The government will make an about turn as did with the 30% magic figure of the NEM.
    Malay demands is all that matters. Non Malays can go to hell.

  2. #2 by Jeffrey on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 5:09 pm

    1986 Gazette prohibits use “Allah” in non Muslim including Christian religious literature.

    Ostensibly it is to prevent Muslims from being proselytised to other faiths, prohibited by the Constitution.

    That is the basis of Government’s appeal against Justice Lau Bee Lan’s Dec 31st 2009 High Court decision favouring The Herald.

    That is conceivably also the basis of the confiscation of 35,000 copies of Bahasa Malaysia Bible (Alkitab) detained in Port Klang and Kuching Port in first instance.

    The official action in both cases is based on same rationale ie to eliminate risks of proselytisation of Muslims, however remote.

    If the embargo on the 35000 Alkitab is revoked, the same reasons for this revocation – even if based on purely political expedience- should apply equally to the withdrawal of the Govt’s appeal against Justice Lau’s decision.

    It is not that Idris Jala is the most powerful minister. It is just expedient because he is Christian and is showcased to show how Christains’ feelings are respected by such revocation of the ban – never mind it does not stand to reason why the ban was imposed at first instance. The other Muslim ministers have to be seen by their predominantly muslim constitutency to be distanced from such a revocation of the ban that may be misconstrued as subordinating Islamic concerns.

    Which underlines the challenges to building nationhood here. The political culture is based simply on race and religion and each decision based on exigencies of political convenience from race and religious perspectives.

    Multi racial/religious/cultural diversity is not tapped as an asset to unite. Instead Multi ethnic, religious/cultural anxieties are consistently being leveraged against, heightened and played up by a relatively small elite group of politicians for their political capital ascedancy and thereafter maintenance of power, without concern of the dire consequences for the nation – and the good of all.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 5:45 pm

    Kit, there is no need to waste your time and breath to tell the Cabinet to withdraw the appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the Herald “Allah” case to demonstrate government seriousness and commitment to promote 1Malaysia, inter-religious harmony and national unity. Come Sarawak elections, just tell the Sarawakians that PR promises them RELIGIOUS freedom if they give their support to PR.

  4. #4 by sheriff singh on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 6:02 pm

    My Christian friends tell me that they, the Christians, ARE ALREADY using the word “Allah” in their prayers, hymns, church services and activities.

    Whatever the outcome of the Court case, it is NOT going to stop them for using this word.

    If the government wins the appeal, will it send its enforcers to all the Christian services and activities to ensure that the “Allah” word is not used? Will they arrest any Christian who uses the word? What will be the penalty? Cut off the tongue?

    It is ridiculous that something that is granted by our Constitution has to be ‘restricted, limited and controlled’ by the government and conditions imposed.

    Is this what 1Malaysia boils down to?

    If Muslims wish to claim exclusivity to the word ‘Allah’, then they should give up words like “Amin’, ‘salaam’ etc and also many of their names as all these originate from Hebrew and the Jews could claim ‘exclusivity’.

    But thank Eloi (Allah) the Jews are not easily confused nor do they want exclusivity.

  5. #5 by Loh on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 9:36 pm

    The government decision to ban the use of the term Allah by Christian amounts to denying Christians worshiping Allah. Question is whether the government of Malaysia owns Allah. If it does then everybody outside Malaysia cannot use that term, and I suppose the government needs to take up a patent right to the term Allah, if not intellectual property right. If Malaysians can be restricted to access what people outside the world are free to use, and that Muslims in the country are allowed to access, it is discrimination.

    Article 11 rings hollow if the government removes Allah from Christians. That amounts to stopping Christians choose who they want to worship. If government gazette announced laws that goes against the constitution, the constitution takes precedence.

  6. #6 by AhPek on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 9:47 pm

    On what grounds can Muslims in Malaysia claim ‘exclusivity’ to the word ‘Allah’? Don’t they know that Allah is of the many gods of the pagans during a time when paganism reign supreme throughout middle east? And paganism predates all the Abrahamic faiths!

  7. #7 by Loh on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 10:13 pm

    ///Hours after learning that Putrajaya had agreed to release their shipment of the Alkitab — as the Malay bibles are called locally — yesterday, the importers each received a notice from the home ministry’s Publications Control and Quranic Text Division secretary, Datuk Zaitun Ab Samad, informing them of two conditions for the release.

    The first requires the importers to directly stamp on the cover of each of the 35,000 copies the following words: “Peringatan: ‘Al Kitab Berita Baik’ ini untuk kegunaan penganut agama Kristian sahaja. Dengan perintah Menteri Dalam Negeri.”

    [In English: “Reminder: This ‘Al Kitab Berita Baik’ is for the use of Christians only. By order of the Home Minister.”]

    The cover of the Alkitab would be stamped with the department’s official seal and dated as well.

    The second condition requires the importers to stamp a serial number on each copy, as if to demarcate copies from the released shipment and to enable the book to be traced back to the port of import.///–Malaysian Insider

    Did Najib asked for the conditions to be imposed? Or the Home Ministry official has the final say on the release?

  8. #8 by assamlaksa on Thursday, 17 March 2011 - 12:20 am

    Meanwhile The Star had been reprimanded by Home Ministry for highlighting the case in its publication as “owners of printing presses are suppose to comply with directives from the ministry, as stipulated under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984″ specifically “Under items six and seven of the conditions of printing permits issuance, permit holders are required to observe instructions released by the ministry from time to time”

    Does that mean the Home Ministry had given instruction to cover up the case?

  9. #9 by boh-liao on Thursday, 17 March 2011 - 12:25 am

    No 3rd condition meh? Sure aah? All copies must b stamped “Allahu Akbar & Ini Satu Lagi Projek Kerajaan BN, Undilah BN” No meh?

  10. #10 by boh-liao on Thursday, 17 March 2011 - 12:26 am

    No 3rd condition meh? Sure aah? All copies must b stamped “Al la hu Ak bar & Ini Satu Lagi Projek Kerajaan BN, Undilah BN” No meh?

  11. #11 by k1980 on Thursday, 17 March 2011 - 8:06 am

    A example of “Berita Baik”—–

    The slave master aboard a Spanish Galleon comes down into the hold where the galley slaves are painfully rowing the oars — stroke, stroke, stroke…

    He says,”Listen up everyone! I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. The good news is, everyone gets a double ration!”

    The slaves cheer.

    “The bad news is… the captain wants to go water skiing.”

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