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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Monday, 18th January 2010: 


All Cabinet Ministers should study the 57-page judgment of KL High Court judge Lau Bee Lan to decide whether Home Ministry should withdraw the appeal on the “Allah” controversy and focus instead on inter-religious dialogue to resolve the issue

The Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin should not be so hasty and even trigger-happy to declare that the government will not withdraw its appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment allowing the Catholic Church to use the word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its newspapers, Herald.

By doing so, Muhyiddin is unfairly and undemocratically denying the rights of Cabinet Ministers from considering whether the Home Ministry should withdraw its appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment on the “Allah” controversy to demonstrate the government’s seriousness and commitment to resolve the issue through inter-religious dialogue.

I had in Ipoh yesterday made the proposal that the government withdraw the appeal and to focus on resolving the controversy through inter-religious dialogue, as certain Umno Ministers and leaders had given the impression that when they speak about inter-religious dialogue, they were not talking about an open, full and free discussion and inter-reaction among the different religions to reach a lasting and satisfactory solution but using the inter-religious dialogue to achieve a pre-determined outcome - in the case of the “Allah” controversy, to achieve the same objective as the 2007 Home Ministry ban on the Catholic weekly Herald from using the word “Allah”.

This impression has been strengthened by Muhyiddin’s hasty rejection of my proposal that the government withdraw its appeal against the KL High Court judgment on the “Allah” controversy and his accompanying reasons.

Muhyiddin said today that the government will not withdraw its appeal against the KL High Court judgment but will instead wait for the judgment of the appeal.

He told reporters after launching the MyID and Heads of Public Sector Conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre this morning: “We will wait for whatever the judgment is based on the appeal that has been submitted.”

This is clearly a change of stand as Umno leaders including the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Muhyiddin himself as well as former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, had publicly indicated support that the solution of the “Allah” controversy should not lie in the courts but through inter-religious goodwill, understanding and dialogue.

So is Muhyiddin saying that the government now supports the idea of an inter-religious council, so long as this is not the means for the solution of the current “Allah” controversy?

This is all the more the reason why the Cabinet should revisit the issue to decide whether it should resort to inter-religious dialogue instead of an appeal to the Court of Appeal to resolve the current “Allah” controversy, which has catapulted the country to adverse international attention since the beginning of the year with the spate of arson and vandalism against churches and other places of worship, including surau and Sikh Temple.

There is another potent reason why the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday should give top priority to the issue as whether the Home Ministry should withdraw its appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court judgment and to focus instead on inter-religious dialogue to resolve the issue.

This was because the decision to file the appeal against the ruling of Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Lau Been Lan handed down on Dec. 31 was made – filed in High Court on the first Monday of the year, January 4, 2010 – without Cabinet consideration, decision or approval as the first Cabinet meeting of the year was on Wednesday January 6, 2010.

Last Friday (15th January), Lau released the written grounds of her judgment laying out the reasons and the laws behind her ruling.

I call on the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to ensure that all Cabinet Ministers are immediately given copies of the 57-page judgment by Lau so that they can individually make up their minds on whether the Cabinet should take the decision on Wednesday that the Home Ministry withdraw its appeal in the “Allah” controversy, and to focus instead on the inter-religious dialogue to resolve the issue, in view of Lau well-reasoned and solid judgment, in particular on:

  • the 22 grounds why the Home Ministry’s ban on Herald on the use of the word “Allah” is illegal;

  • why the Home Minister’s ban is unconstitutional;

  • on the seeming conflict between the Federal Constitution and the state enactments to control and restrict the propagation of religious doctrine among Muslims;

  • on the claim that the Home Minister’s ban was to safeguard public security and order; and

  • on claims from Muslim groups that “Allah” cannot be challenged in court.

I call on all Ministers to ensure that they get copies of Lau’s 57-page judgment and to spend the next two days to study it (burning the “midnight oil” if necessary) and understand its implications and to demand that the Cabinet at its meeting on Wednesday should decide whether the Home Ministry should withdraw its appeal and to focus instead of inter-religious dialogue to resolve the issue.

Muhyiddin should not deny and deprive Cabinet Ministers from deciding on the issue for two reasons:

(i) 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; and

(ii) he should be reminded that all Cabinet Ministers have the right and duty to decide on this issue, and not to forget that the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister are only “primus inter pares” and Cabinet Ministers are puppets or dumb followers of the PM and DPM!

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



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