BY EILEEN NG
Published: 24 June 2014
Sabah and Sarawak-based Barisan Nasional (BN) parties should reconsider their positions in the coalition following the Federal Court's decision yesterday upholding the ban on the use of “Allah” in the Herald, said former MCA vice-president Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
"This is probably the time for them to rethink their position within BN," Chua (pic) told The Malaysian Insider, adding that Christian leaders in the East Malaysian states, where two-thirds of Malaysian Christians reside, have been very vocal on this issue.
The PKR vice-president said the same could also be said for other BN component parties to reconsider their relationship with the BN-led federal government.
"Don't value ministerial posts too highly. There are more important things such as honour and the rights of the people," he said, referring to MCA and Gerakan whose presidents are to be co-opted into the Cabinet soon.
Yesterday, the Federal Court dismissed the Catholic church's leave application to appeal the ban by the Court of Appeal on the use of the word "Allah" in the Herald.
Four of the seven-member bench dismissed the church's application for leave to appeal, saying that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word in the Catholic weekly.
Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria, who led the seven-man bench, said the President of the Court of Appeal, Md Raus Sharif, Chief Judge of Malaya Zulkefli Ahmad Makinuddin and Federal court judge Suriyadi Halim Omar agreed that leave should not be granted.
Chua said the Federal Court dodged its responsibility to convene a full hearing on the matter, adding that the Federal Court should act with wisdom to defuse a very divisive topic.
He said if Putrajaya believed its statements that the Federal Court decision would affect the Herald, it would have been opened to the court to make this clear.
"Personally, I am pessimistic that the decision will only be binding to the Herald because of the judgment content at Court of Appeal.
"We must be aware that the constitutional rights of the people, especially non-Muslims, have been eroded over time.
"The broad brush sweep of this decision will be wider than what some people hope for. By evading a full hearing of the appeal, they have done a great disfavour to nation's future peace and harmony," said Chua.
He also said the 20-point and 18-point agreements for both Sabah and Sarawak provided that there should be no official religion for both states and that English be made the official language.
However, over the years, these provisions have been eroded, he said.
"If English had been allowed to be used widely in those states, the Christians there would be reading the English Bible where the usage of the word 'God' is not an issue and this heated controversy would have arisen at all," he said.
He added that with the Federal Court decision, Malaysia become the only country to prohibit non-Muslims from using the word "Allah", the Arabic word for God.
"They are denying what Prophet Muhammad and the Quran said: that the God of Abraham, Jews and Christians is also the God of Muslims and therefore, are called people of the Book.
"Now with this ruling, they are saying Allah is different from the God of the Jews and Christians.
"If I am a Malay Muslim, I'll stand up with the global Muslim community and tell the government and the judiciary that the word Allah is the name of God in Arabic and it is commonly used by the people of the Book," he said, referring to the Quranic phrase for Christians and Jews. – June 24, 2014.