SIBU, May 10 — The Barisan Nasional (BN) campaign sought today to play down the “Allah” row and instead questioned rival DAP’s association with PAS.
Sibu SUPP publicity chief Daniel Ngieng said the Sarawak DAP has not clarified why it was willing to work with PAS in the state Pakatan Rakyat (PR) despite ideological differences.
“In 1999, the Sarawak DAP did not want to work with PAS because of ideological differences,” said Ngieng at a briefing on the Sibu by-election campaign.
“But now they have come together in the Pakatan Rakyat,” he added.
In the 1999 general election, the DAP together with PAS and PKR formed the Barisan Alternatif coalition, which collapsed after two years due to PAS’ objective of forming an Islamic state.
The unprecedented co-operation between DAP and PAS then resulted in the defeat of DAP’s strongmen Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh in Penang due to non-Muslim voters’ fear of the Islamic party.
Ngieng said the Sarawak DAP had then refused to be part of the coalition because of the ideological divide.
“So I want to challenge DAP Sarawak to be clear on their stand on PAS’ ideology,” he said. “Or have they reversed their stand?”
The Sarawak PR was formed late last month, comprising the three federal opposition parties and the state’s SNAP.
On DAP’s challenge for SUPP to state its stand on the “Allah” row, Ngieng (left) said the matter was not relevant in the East Malaysian state.
“It is not an issue here. Our natives’ Bibles still contain the word ‘Allah’. That is why I said do not bring Semenanjung politics here,” he said.
Malay-speaking Christians here continue to use the word “Allah” to refer to God in the national language, even though the practice has been prohibited by the BN federal government.
The DAP candidate in the Sibu by-election Wong Ho Leng has also promised to put an end to the “Allah” issue if he is elected.
Ngieng, however, questioned this by saying: “He had said a lot of things, but can we trust him?”
Wong, who is also the state DAP chairman, is facing SUPP’s Robert Lau Hui Yew and independent Narawi Haron in the May 16 by-election.
In Election 2008, the late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew won the seat with a 3,549-vote majority, beating Wong and Lim Chin Chuang of PKR in a three-cornered fight.
Sibu has 54,695 voters, comprising 52,158 ordinary voters and 2,537 postal voters made up of 1,910 military and 627 police personnel.
According to the electoral roll, updated as of April 9, Chinese voters make up almost 67 per cent of the total number of voters, followed by Malay/Melanau (10.5 per cent) and Sarawak Bumiputeras (22 per cent).