Media statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 2nd August 2010:
Cabinet should make a decision to withdraw the appeal against Lau Bee Lan judgment on the Allah controversy now that Hishammuddin has admitted that former Home Minister Hamid Albar should not have banned the word "Allah" from being used by Catholic Church
The Cabinet should make a decision to withdraw the appeal against the KL High Court judgment of Lau Bee Lan on the Allah controversy now that the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has admitted that his predecessor, Tan Sri Hamid Albar should not have banned the word "Allah" from being used by the Catholic Church.
Speaking at the Fourth Annual Malaysian Student Leaders' Summit yesterday, Hishammuddin admitted that this issue will continue to haunt his ministry "for a very long time", saying: "We should have let the sleeping dogs lie."
With Hishamuddin's admission, the Cabinet should do what it had failed to do these past six months after the Lau Bee Lan judgement in January, i.e. take a policy decision that the Home Ministry should withdraw its appeal against the High Court judgement allowing the Catholic Church to use the word "Allah" in the Bahasa Malaysia sections of its newspapers, Herald, to demonstrate the government's seriousness and commitment to resolve the issue through inter-religious dialogue.
So far, Cabinet Ministers had been denied the right to consider whether the Home Ministry should withdraw its appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the "Allah" controversy.
This is the time for the Cabinet to take full responsibility for the resolution of this controversy especially as the original decision to file the appeal against the Lau Bee Lan judgment was made without reference to the Cabinet.
When Lau released the written grounds of her judgement laying out the reasons and the laws behind her ruling on January 15 this year, I had called on the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to ensure that all Cabinet Ministers were immediately given copies of the 57-page judgment so that they can individually make up their minds on whether the Cabinet should take the decision that the Home Ministry withdraw its appeal in the "Allah" controversy and focus instead on inter-religious dialogue to resolve the issue in view of Lau's well-reasoned and solid judgment, in particular:
All Cabinet Ministers must be conscious of the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility as the appeal is not just the appeal of the Home Ministry but represents the appeal by the Barisan Nasional government and Cabinet.
With Hishammuddin's admission of the mistake by the former Home Minister in creating the "Allah" controversy, undermining Malaysia's multi-religious harmony, this is the time for the Cabinet to revisit this issue to make a policy decision to drop the appeal or Cabinet Ministers would be failing in their individual and collective responsibility in continuing to drag out the controversy in allowing the appeal to remain in court, still unheard.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor