Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 6th January 2010:
Nazri would have been arrested and charged for serious offences including contempt of court for saying what he said about the KL High Court judgment on the Allah issue if he is in Pakatan Rakyat
The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz would have been arrested and charged for serious offences including contempt of court for saying what he said about the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the Allah issue if he is in the Pakatan Rakyat.
Every informed observer, whether Malaysian or foreigner, would be struck by the sharp contrast in such treatment with the swift police action to investigate the Penang Chief Minister and DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng for sedition over his expression of the national sentiment about the death of Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam as being caused by murder as well as the unexceptional call by the DAP Selangor State Chairman and Selangor Executive Councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah on the police to stop its baseless investigation of Guan Eng.
I am not suggesting that Nazri should be arrested and charged in court for his statement about the judgment of High Court judge Datuk Lau Bee Lan but to question how Malaysia is to restore national and international confidence in institutional competence, independence, professionalism and integrity – which is a major cause of Malaysia’s losing out in international competitiveness – if the key national institutions continue to behave in utter disregard of basic national standards and international benchmarks.
Nazri said High Court judge Lau was wrong in making the ruling that Catholics could use the word “Allah” in their weekly publication Herald, arguing that the judicial review was supposed to be on whether the Home Minister had the power to impose the ban, not on whether non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah”.
He said: “The Home Minister was definitely acting within his powers in exercising the ban, in view of public interest and sensitivities in order to avoid public unrest over the matter.”
Is it proper for Nazri, who is the de facto Minister for Law whose jurisdiction covers the judiciary, to so publicly venture his views on an ongoing legal case, as it could be construed as improper attempt to influence the appellate process against the High Court judgment by a Minister having oversight over the judiciary?
As the Minister directly responsible over the judiciary, should he be suggesting to the judges how they should decide cases before them, especially those affecting the government?
Nazri’s comparison of the “Allah” uproar to the cow-head protests in Shah Alam is most unfortunate and inappropriate, as they just cannot be mentioned in the same breath.
Nazri was neither fair nor right when he blamed the Catholic church for being “irresponsible” and “looking for trouble” over the Allah controversy, claiming that “For 50 plus years after independence this issue has never cropped up before”.
He need only consult his Cabinet colleague, the Minister for Plantations Industry and Commodities, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, for the answer to his own rhetoric – that the term “Allah” had been used for a long time, even before Sabah and Sarawak decided to form Malaysia with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore in 1963.
Dompok said yesterday: “The Sabah communities have always used Bahasa Melayu as it is the regional lingua franca and Christianity has been in Sabah since 1881.”
Dompok said the Christian Bumiputra community in Sabah, like the Murut and Kadazandusun, perform religious rites in three languages – English, Bahasa Melayu and their mother tongue. In the rites where English is used, the term is God while the rites in Bahasa Melayu is Allah and the one in the mother tongue, like Kadazandusun, is ‘Kinoingan’.
Most churches in the cities use English while Bahasa Melayu is used widely in churches in rural areas in Sabah – the result of Bahasa Melayu as the national language and the medium of instruction in the national education system.
As Dompok has rightly pointed out, the younger generation in the Christian Bumiputra community from Sabah (which applies also to Sarawak) who have migrated to the peninsula to work or for further studies have also asked church authorities to have services in the national language.
The Allah controversy is not a time for one-upmanship or brinkmanship. It is a time for responsible and sober response and rational conflict-resolution.
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had more than once said that he is Prime Minister for all Malaysians, and not just for any one race or group.
This is Najib’s supreme test whether he will live up to his pledge – whether he will walk the talk of his slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now.”
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor