Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Thursday, 7th January 2010:
Najib and Hishammuddin would fail as 1Malaysia leaders if they take the easy way out to court popularity in the “Allah” controversy and fail to effectively represent all ethnic and religious groups in the country
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the Home Minister, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein would fail as 1Malaysia leaders if they take the easy way out to court popularity in the “Allah” controversy and fail to effectively represent all ethnic and religious groups in the country.
Hishammuddin said yesterday that the government does not prohibit the people from expressing their views over the use of the word “Allah” by the Catholic weekly magazine Herald, but on the condition that their actions do not undermine national security.
Najib today defended Hishammuddin’s stand on plans by several organizations to stage a demonstration on Friday tomorrow to protest the use the word “Allah” by other religions.
Would Najib and Hishammuddin be so benign and tolerant if demonstrations are organized to support the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s Dec. 31 judgment that the Herald may use the term “Allah”?
Both the Prime Minister and Home Minister’s stance are in direct contradiction to the rationale for the urgent “stay” application on the KL High Court’s “Allah” judgment made by the Attorney-General on behalf of the Home Ministry on the ground of “national interest” and agreed to by the Catholic Church also in the national interest.
Why has the “national interest” and concerns of national security prompting the extraordinary speed with which the application for stay for the KL High Court judgment of Dec. 31 was made, a hearing date fixed and application granted – all within a week – suddenly disappeared from the radar of the powers-that-be immediately after the granting of the “stay” with the consent of the Catholic Church?
Was the government decision to appeal against the KL High Court judgment made in the name of “1Malaysia” –receiving the Cabinet’s approval and not just at the instance of the Home Minister?
Malaysians of all faiths and the world are watching how Malaysia – Najib and his government in particular – are handling the “Allah” controversy, whether in line or totally in disregard of the Najib policy and slogan of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now”.
There had been responsible and rational responses as well as irresponsible, irrational, emotional and even extremist responses.
The “Allah” controversy is not a time for one-upmanship or brinkmanship. It is an acid test as to whether the Najib administration is capable of responsible, sober and just response and rational conflict-resolution in plural Malaysia.
On its handling of the “Allah” controversy, Malaysians and the world may be making a conclusive judgment whether Najib’s “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” policy is to be taken seriously or is just an empty slogan.
I had suggested that the Cabinet should convene an inter-religious conference to reach an out-of-court settlement of the “Allah” controversy to demonstrate that Najib’s 1Malaysia policy has meaningful application in conflict-resolution and creating inter-religious understanding, goodwill and harmony in Malaysia.
Why is Najib and his Cabinet shy in responding to this proposal?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor