There is no basis for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to give an assurance on the court’s ruling on the use of the word ‘Allah’, said a group of Sarawak-based clergypersons.
“The Sarawak Ministers’ Fellowship (SMF) is of the view that the one-country two-laws position announced by (Najib) was without any basis in law or principle,” said the group’s chairperson Daron Tan.
He said the government was insincere in making its 10-point solution, arguing that it was made for political expediency and to win votes.
The SMF urged the government to allow for religious freedom and to review its ban on non-Muslims from using the word ‘Allah’, telling it to clean up the “mess” it had created.
“Stop-gap, temporary, emotion-soothing measures are unacceptable and not working,” Tan said.
In October last year - weeks after a Court of Appeal ruling that the Catholic newspaper the Herald may not use the world ‘Allah’ - Najib said during a visit to Sabah that the decision does not affect Christians in East Malaysia.
“...recently when the Appeals Court made its decision on the use of the word ‘Allah’, it did not at all touch on the practices of Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, in fact the 10-point agreement is still being maintained,” Bernama quoted him as saying.
The Catholic Church had appealed against the decision, but the Federal Court refused on Monday to grant leave to hear the appeal.
For this, the SMF accused the Federal Court of cowardice and said it had missed an opportunity to show that it can give intellectually satisfying decisions to questions posed to the court.
“The court had displayed cowardice in refusing to face the questions posed to it and had failed the whole of Malaysia in not giving it true legal opinion on the dispute between the Catholic Church and the Home Affairs Ministry.
“In dismissing the application, the Federal Court, which ought to have spoken as the collective conscience of the Malaysian people, had failed to uphold the spirit and intent of Article 8 and Article 11 of the federal constitution,” Tan said.
Article 8 and Article 11 of the federal constitution provides for guarantees of equality before the law and freedom of religion, respectively.
“In one stroke,” he added, “The Federal Court had made criminals of Malaysian Christians when they pray and address God as Allah Taala.”
Sarawak is the only Christian-majority state in Malaysia, and rural churches in the state mostly conducts its worship in the native or Malay languages.