Malaysia

MCA man sits on fence over ‘Allah’ row

By Boo Su-Lyn
January 09, 2013

MCA deputy publicity chief Loh (centre) would not state his or the party’s stand on the matter. — File picMCA deputy publicity chief Loh (centre) would not state his or the party’s stand on the matter. — File picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 ― An MCA leader refused today to make a stand on the Selangor Sultan’s decree banning non-Muslims from referring to their gods as “Allah”.

When asked if non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah”, MCA deputy publicity chief Loh Seng Kok evaded the question by saying: “I’m not making a statement.”

He noted, however, that many state anthems contained the word “Allah”.

“Are we being barred from singing the state anthem now?” asked Loh, who is also an MCA central committee member.

Muslim-majority Malaysia has 13 states and three federal territories. More than half the state anthems contain the word “Allah” in their lyrics.

The Selangor Sultan instructed the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) and the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (JAIS) yesterday to take firm action against all groups, including non-Muslims, who continued to question the state fatwa (edict) and a 1988 state law restricting use of the Arabic word.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek was unavailable for comment.

Former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has said that the royal ban would force many states to create a “special” version of their anthems.

Christian church leaders have questioned if a fatwa could be applied to non-Muslims.

Council of Churches in Malaysia (CCM) secretary-general Rev Hermen Shastri also pointed out that the High Court’s 2009 ruling, which said that the word “Allah” was not exclusive to Muslims, was still in effect pending the Home Ministry’s appeal against it.

CCM president Bishop Datuk Thomas Tsen has highlighted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 10-point agreement, issued in April 2011, that allowed Christians in Borneo Malaysia to use the word “Allah” in their worship.