Friday, October 18, 2013

Court decision on 'Allah' will affect us, says Sarawak PKR

Sarawakians should not trust Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and members of his cabinet on their claims that the Court of Appeal decision on the use of the term ‘Allah' by non-Muslims will not affect them, two Sarawak PKR leaders have warned.

"If we trust them, we will be in for a big shock, because they do not have power to override a court decision," Sarawak PKR vice-chairperson See Chee How said today.

NONESee (left), who is Batu Lintang assemblyperson, was commenting on the assurances given by the Najib administration that the Borneo states will not be affected by the decision to ban the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians.

The most recent assurances were from Human Resources Minister Richard Riot and the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Joseph Kurup, who said the ban is only confined to the Malay language version of the Catholic weekly publication The Herald.

Riot, who held a press conference on arrival in Kuching from Kuala Lumpur yesterday, said he was instructed by the prime minister to tell Sarawakian Christians that the ban would not affect them.

Similarly, Kurup said that the word 'Allah' can be used by Christians in Sabah during their worship and also in the Malay language bible, al Kitab.

Kurup was also directed by the cabinet to ally the fears of Christians in Sabah after Wednesday's cabinet meeting.

‘They only want to pacify angry Sarawakians'

See said: "They only want to pacify the angry Sarawakians, because the most the prime minister can do is to change the law. But you know that the Court of Appeal is talking about the interpretation of the constitution.

"The prime minister cannot say he wants to amend the constitution, and this to me is very naive. If we are going to accept that kind of explanation from the cabinet, believing that it can make a decision that will be binding, we will be in for a big shock.

"Firstly, such assurance will have no legal binding. Moreover, the various enforcement agencies will not listen to the cabinet, as instances in the past have shown."

See called on Sarawakians and Sabahans to use their political leverage to put a stop to religious prejudice against Christians.

"Sarawak has a very important role to play on this matter, because of its multi-racial and multi-religious background.

"Politically we are inherently forming a check-and-balance on the racial politics practised by Umno and its offsprings, such as Perkasa, which are detrimental to the whole of Malaysia.

"Actually we are the kingmaker," he added, referring to the 31 MPs from Sarawak and 26 MPs from Sabah.

The two states should use their MP strengths in Parliament as a political leverage to demand for our religious freedom, he said, pointing out that if "we don't fight for it, nobody will".

He added: "We must help our Christians in West Malaysia because what affects them will also affect us. That should be our stand, for the Allah issue is not an isolated case and the ban is not just on The Herald. 

"It will affect all Christians. If you look at the decision of the Court of Appeal, the judges even commented on the Bible, which does not say anything about Allah. I know those are very damaging remarks by the judges.

"But the most important thing said by the judges was on Articles 3 and 11 of the federal constitution. We have freedom of religion, but Article 11 clearly states that nothing can affect the teaching of Islam."

Two earlier Borneo ‘Allah' cases still pending in court

Expressing similar sentiments, Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said: "Let me say in no uncertain terms that this issue has been affecting Sabahans and Sarawakians even before the beast first reared its ugly head in court.

Hudud forum Baru Bian"For those with short memories, may I remind you about two cases on which decisions are still pending in the High Court. The first case was brought by Borneo Evangelical Church in Sabah against the Home Ministry in 2007 for confiscating its Malay language Sunday school materials containing the word Allah.

"The second case concerns the government's seizure of audio CDs belonging to a Sarawakian, which also contained the word Allah, in 2008. These two cases, without doubt took place even before The Herald case, which was filed in 2008."

Bian, who is also Ba'Kelalan assemblyperson, added: "Remeber the hold-up of the 10,000 copies of al Kitab in 2008 and 30,000 copies at the Kuching Airport in 2011?

"Remember the two conditions arrogantly sought to be imposed, that the words 'For Christians Only' and a serial number be stamped before copies of the Malay language Bible were released?

"The two shipments were subsequently released without condition, but the point I emphasise is that the seizures would not have taken place if the fervent zealots in the port authority had not been emboldened by the Home Ministry's issue of the 'ban directive' in the first place and its appeal against the High Court decision," he said.

Referring to an editorial in Berita Harian that boldly proclaimed that the court decision does not affect the Borneo states, Bian said: "How I wish the learned editor and other political leaders who echoed the same stance are the ones sitting in the Federal Court of Malaysia.

"Do not, for one instance, believe that this is the truth of the matter."

Meanwhile, Sarawak Land Development Minister James Masing described the assurance from the federal leaders that the people of the Borneo states can use the word 'Allah' as "not satisfactory".

Masing, who is the president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak, said: "The assurance that the word can be used in Sabah and Sarawak, but not in West Malaysia, is not satisfactory to me. It means one nation with two religious definitions of what is acceptable."

~ Malaysiakini

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