Malaysia

DPM warns MCA over ‘Allah’ appeal

The Deputy Prime Minister said that MCA must accept the decision of the government and should not trigger another debate on the word “Allah.”

Muhyiddin also questioned MCA’s intention in sharing the same platform with DAP.

“Component parties must accept so there would not be a debate that will set off another situation which is already calm. I am not sure why DAP and MCA have the same stand in this matter. We know this issue became a heated debate which led to an unhealthy environment.

“So that situation should not be triggered again, let the matter be solved in a proper manner. The comments made must consider the interests of the general public and not the interests of certain groups, be it political or from the Administration,” he told reporters after chairing a committee meeting on youth development at Perdana Putra here.

Hishammuddin said his predecessor in the Home Ministry should not have banned the word “Allah” from being used by the Catholic Church and added that the decision will continue to haunt his ministry “for a very long time.”

“In this Ministry, it is a zero-sum game.  We are [now] in an uncharted landscape which will haunt us for a very long time.

“We should have let the sleeping dogs lie. It was triggered by those that believe that the word ‘Allah’ should not be used in Sabah and Sarawak,” Hishammuddin said during the Fourth Annual Malaysian Student Leaders Summit.

Yesterday, MCA urged Hishammuddin to use his authority to rescind the ban on the non-Muslims use of the word “Allah” and said that Barisan Nasional (BN) must stop the “Allah” ruling from further polarising the public.

MCA added that that nobody can claim monopoly over the word “Allah” and added that “no confusion arises when one’s spiritual conviction is strong.”

The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang also called on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to end the long-drawn out court dispute and said that dropping the appeal would “demonstrate the government’s seriousness and commitment to resolve the issue through inter-religious dialogue.”

The Barisan Nasional (BN) deputy chairman said that the word “Allah” is an old issue and the government will stand by its decision.

“The case is still in court and I am not sure if the comments made can be considered as prejudicial. I think we want to avoid politicizing the issue. I hope that there is no party that will try to trigger this into a new issue because this is an old issue and we know the stand of the government.”

Former home minister Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar had imposed the word ban on the Church’s newspaper, The Herald, two years ago.

Syed Hamid had temporary allowed the conditional use of the word “Allah”, only to rescind the government gazette later.

He had then cited fears that the use of word outside an Islamic context would confuse Muslims.

The Catholic Church has since taken the home minister to court early last year, challenging the ban slapped on its weekly newspaper.

The Herald, after the ministry threatened to revoke its annual publishing permit.

In a landmark judgment last New Year’s Eve, High Court judge, Datuk Lau Bee Lan ruled the Catholic Church has the constitutional right to use the word and that it was not exclusive to the religion of Islam, as the ministry had claimed.

But the home ministry filed an appeal against the High Court decision in February and won a stay, preventing the Church from using the word until the case is dealt with in the Court of Appeal.

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