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Speech by Lim Kit Siang at Taiping DAP “Road to Putrajaya” thousand-people dinner at Hua Lian Chinese Independent Secondary Hall, Taiping on Sunday, 1st November 2009: 

Test for 1Malaysia – Najib should ask Cabinet on Wednesday to revoke earlier decision to ban the use of word “Allah” for religions other than Islam

Malaysia is again at the centre of adverse international publicity despite our tourist promotion of Malaysia as a harmonious and model multi-religious nation and the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s new slogan of 1Malaysia.

In the past few days, the world media like CNN and international press have been giving extensive coverage to the government seizure of 15,000 Bibles in recent months because they refer to God as “Allah” raising concerns and fears of religious intolerance in the country.

A consignment of 10,000 copies of the Indonesian-language Bibles which feature the disputed word “Allah” was confiscated in Kuching, Sarawak in September while another consignment of 5,100 Bibles was seized in March.

The root problem of the seizure of these Bibles is the earlier decision taken by the Cabinet to ban the use of the word “Allah” for religions other than Islam, although this is a most unreasonable, divisive and even unconstitutional decision as:

1. The term “Allah” was in use long before there was the religion of Islam in the world;

2. The term Allah was used to refer to God by Arabic-speaking Christians before Arabic-speaking Muslims existed; and

3. Malaysia is probably the only nation where the use of the term “Allah” by Christians to refer to their God is prohibited, whereas its use to refer to Christian God has never been prohibited in many countries in the Middle-East and the Americas.

The confiscation of the Bibles and the ban on the use of the word “Allah” for religions other than Islam is incongruous with and even inimical to Najib’s 1Malaysia objective to give top priority to foster better inter-racial, inter-religious and inter-civilisational relations among Malaysians.

This is a test whether Najib’s 1Malaysia is to be taken seriously and I call on him to ask the Cabinet to revoke its earlier decision taken under previous administrations to ban the use of the word “Allah” for religions other than Islam.

I hope all Cabinet Ministers, particularly from MCA, Gerakan, MIC and the Sabah and Sarawak component parties of Barisan Nasional can take a bold and united stand on this issue to convince UMNO Ministers to support the revocation of the previous Cabinet ban on the use of the word “Allah” for religions other than Islam, as at issue is the very credibility and legitimacy of Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan and policy.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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