Friday, October 25, 2013

Activist on a mission, Haris Ibrahim says bent on serving truth to bottom 40%


OCTOBER 25, 2013
Activist Haris Ibrahim (pic) has made it a personal mission to take the "40%" truth to the masses in the heartlands in the next general election.
“I serve the 40% (of people) who are marginalised and if they are prepared to wait it out, then I will serve them to wait it out. If they cannot sustain their daily lives having to wait out four years, I’ll (also) serve them,” he said in an interview with Australian Broadcasting Network’s Radio Australia in Sydney yesterday.
Haris is a member of the ABU – Anything But Umno – movement. He has been fighting to change the government and one of the reasons he gives is that 40% of Malaysians live below the poverty line.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Status quo in Umno is good for Pakatan Rakyat

Anisah Shukry

 | October 22, 2013
Umno’s disconnect with the general public, as evident in the party elections last weekend, will be its downfall, says PKR’s Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
PETALING JAYA: The recent Umno elections which saw the likes of Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Shahrizat Abdul Jalil retain their power shows the disconnect between the Malay ruling party and the Malaysian public, said PKR’s Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
That Umno members and the general public do not see eye to eye is one of the many problems that Umno is facing, paving way for it to be eventually replaced by the opposition coalition, the optimistic Seri Setia assemblyman told FMT in an exclusive interview.
“There were no major changes, it was the same lineup of leaders… people like (Home Minister) Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who takes such a hardline stand, ended up getting the highest votes (in the race for vice-presidency),” said Nik Nazmi, who is also Selangor state assembly deputy speaker.
“And then there’s Shahrizat, who was embroiled in the [National Feedlot Corporation]. Not only did she win in the Wanita elections, but before her win she was basically given an endorsement by the prime minister as his advisor on women’s affairs.”
In contrast, he pointed out that Saifuddin Abdullah, who is popular among the public for being Umno’s “voice of reason”, had failed to garner enough votes to enter the Supreme Council.
“So I think this shows that Umno’s rank and file is not interested in anything beyond following what the president wants and preserving the status quo,” he said.
The former PKR communications director also rubbished claims that Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s victory in retaining the Umno Youth chief post signalled a new, “progressive” era of Umno and the end of Mahathirism.
“Khairy did not win because of his supposed liberal or progressive views. He won because he had the endorsement of the leadership and because he’s an incumbent, and now he also has the benefit of being a minister.
“That’s why to say that the liberals have won in Umno is truly a mistaken view.”
Taking the middle ground
Nik Nazmi stressed that at this rate, Umno was going downhill, especially as it had succeeded in the past because of its “moderate” image – an image Malaysians would unlikely be able to reconcile with the party now, given the faces leading the charge.
“Umno was able, through BN and the Alliance, to galvanise support from all sections of society. But today, with what we have, Umno is increasingly becoming the sole dominant party within BN.
“The Umno model of power sharing, of galvanizing support from all races is deteriorating and is slowly being overtaken by Pakatan.”
Pointing to the recently concluded general election, Nik Nazmi said that there was no opposition coalition in the world that could win 51% of the votes in the face of restricted access to the media, a “weak” Election Commission and irregularities in the electoral process.
“Having said that, I accept that we must not be carried away, that we must be introspective. We need to deal on getting more Malay support, on Bumiputera support in Sabah and Sarawak.
“So that’s a big issue to address for us to win the next election. I think we must not get carried away in moving away from the centre.
“Why did we succeed in Election 2008 and 2013? Because we were very firm in staying in the centre. Why did Umno suffer? Because they veered away from the middle-ground,” he said.

Award-winning American Muslim scholar on Allah ruling: “We are laughing at you”

OCTOBER 22, 2013
Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. - Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College, October 22, 2013.Reza Aslan says Christians using the word Allah do not pose a threat to Islam. - Pic courtesy Wikimedia Commons / Roanoke College, October 22, 2013.A well-known American Muslim theologian has joined a long list of critics over the recent Court of Appeal ruling on the use of the word Allah, saying it was a "political decision more than anything else".
"This notion that Malaysian Muslims need to be protected by the court because you can't think for yourself, you can't make decisions on your own. We are laughing at you," said Reza Aslan, speaking on BFM Radio's Evening Edition programme yesterday.
"That you can control people's ideas, their behaviour, their faith and their minds simply by trying to control the words that they use, is absurd. It is an embarassment to a modern, constitutional, democratic and deeply Muslim state like Malaysia," he added.
Aslan insisted that Christians using the word Allah - which means God in Arabic - were not a threat to Islam.
"A Taliban put a bomb in the Quran and took it to a mosque in Pakistan, where Muslims were slaughtered on one of the holiest days in the Muslim calendar. You want to talk about threats to Islam? That's a threat to Islam," he said, in dismissing the argument that allowing Christians to use the word in their worship was a threat to Malaysian Muslims.
He was referring to an incident during the Aidiladha holidays, in which Afghan governor Arsala Jamal was killed while scores were injured after a bomb placed in a copy of the Quran went off in a mosque during the Eid sermon.
Aslan, who wrote the international bestseller No God But God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam, said he was mystified by the court ruling on October 14, stressing that the word Allah was merely an Arabic term for God, "any God".
"Allah is constuction of the the word al-Ilah. That's what the word is," he explained.
"Al-Ilah means 'The God'. Allah is not the name of God. Frankly, anyone who thinks that Allah is the name of God, is not just incorrect, but is going against the Quran itself. It is almost a blasphemous thought to think that Allah has a name.
"And this is not an interpretation. It is a historical fact," Reza added.
In its judgment, the Court of Appeal's three-man panel ruled that the word Allah "was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice and that such usage if allowed, will inevitably cause confusion within the community".
The decision sparked a debate among local clerics and scholars, while several editorials in Muslim countries expressed their surprise over the issue.
Pakistan's Daily Times questioned the ruling, asking why Malaysia would deny people of other faiths to "own God in all His attributes". The United Arab Emirates's The National called the court ruling "wrong", and said the word Allah was never exclusive to Islam but used by both Christians and Jews to refer to God even before the advent of Islam.
Aslan poured scorn on the court verdict, asking, "How can you read that and not laugh?"
Soon after the court ruling last week, he had taken to Twitter and remarked, "How stupid has Malaysia just become? In honor of Malaysia banning the word Allah by non-Muslims I suggest US ban the word 'twerking' by anyone over age of 17," he said, referring to a type of sexually provocative dance.
Much of Aslan's interview yesterday was made available on Podcast.
In it, he slammed those who argue that the faith of Malaysian Muslims can be undermined if Christians use the word Allah.
"This idea that not only should Christians not be able to use this word, but that using the word is somehow a threat to Islam... that Malaysian (Muslims) are so stupid if they hear a Christian use the word Allah, they will accidentally become Christians. I mean, the idiocy of that statement speaks for itself," he said.
Echoing many other Muslim scholars and writers, Aslan said Christians and Jews in the Arabian peninsula since before the time of the Prophet Muhammad had been referring to God as Allah.
"Why? Because they spoke Arabic... that's why. Not because Allah meant a specific God but because that it is nothing more than the Arabic word for God. It is not an opinion. It is a fact," he pointed out.
"Any Imam that tells you God has a name, is blasphemous. It is as simple as that. Allah is not God's name. Muslims do not own the word itself," said the 41-year-old Iranian-American, who is Visiting Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Iowa. - October 22, 2013.










Friday, October 18, 2013

Allah ban all about “Malay pride”, says critic in Australian daily

OCTOBER 18, 2013
The ban on the use of the word Allah in Catholic weekly Herald is ultimately about the "maintenance of Malay pride", wrote a columnist in an Australian daily.
The Sydney Morning Herald's Waleed Aly, in a scathing commentary on the issue, pointed out that Putrajaya's decision to prohibit the word was a symbolic gesture of "ethno-nationalism", to defend against the threats to Malay supremacy.
"And that whole issue is becoming increasingly radioactive in Malaysian politics and society," Waleed Aly warned.
On Monday, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use the word Allah. It reasoned that the word was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice.
Waleed likened the situation to national car maker Proton's "absurd" decision to develop an "Islamic car" – the first of its kind.
"This immediately reminded me of Proton's Islamic car: strip both these stories of the pious language that decorates them, and they're ultimately about the maintenance of Malay pride," he said of the Allah ban.
The "Islamic car" would have compartments for storing a headscarf and the Quran as well as a compass to indicate the direction of Mecca.
"If you're in any doubt about how thin this Islamic veneer is, consider that Proton was considering a 'secular' version for non-Muslim markets," Waleed went on, adding that there has been no news of the car since its announcement in 2007.
He, however, said that the Allah issue was far more serious, but nothing short of strange as the "Islamic car", as the word predates Islam and it was "hardly surprising" that Malaysian Christians used the word as Bahasa Malaysia incorporated lots of Arabic words.
"Why should this suddenly be a problem? The fear, apparently, is that Muslims will suddenly start practising Christianity if both faith groups refer to God by the same name.  Malaysian Muslims therefore need a form of protection from their own ignorance that no Muslim community has needed anywhere at any time," he said.
But the deeper issue, Waleed argued, was that the Malays actually feared losing the "privileged position" that they have held since independence, referring to the Malay special rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
"Now they're lashing out, as if trying to resist the death throes of their own supremacy. The ruling party, Umno, is a great defender of this privilege. For decades it has served them well.
"But that edifice crumbled in 2008, when it lost an astonishing 58 seats and barely carried the popular vote. This year it lost even that, and clings to power only thanks to a brazen gerrymander," he added.
The government's only solution then is to "divide and conquer".
"To sell the image of a Malaysia where Malay supremacy is threatened by insurrectionist minorities – and, indeed, where its own power is falling victim to a 'Chinese tsunami'," said Waleed.
The columnist also said that young, educated and urban Malays are rejecting Umno's politics and were more inclined to be sceptical of their privileged status.
"Special access to government contracts has simply meant that Malays with good (often familial) government connections get rich, while the majority watched on from their scarcely adequate dwellings. What began as empowerment ended in corruption." – October 18, 2013.

Putrajaya trying to divide Christians, say church leaders, politicians

OCTOBER 18, 2013
Putrajaya has come under heavy fire from church leaders and opposition MPs for saying that the controversial Court of Appeal decision barring the Catholic weekly Herald from using the word Allah will not affect Christians in Sabah and Sarawak.
Calling the stream of statements from Cabinet ministers Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili (pic) "hurtful, nonsensical and ridiculous", they said it was an attempt by Putrajaya to divide Christians in the country.
Council of Churches Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Herman Shastri said he was disappointed that the government was trying to divide the Christians in the country with such talk.
"How can there be one rule for Christians in East Malaysia and another for those of us in Peninsular Malaysia, it makes no sense,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
"For them to think that the Christian community would accept this arrangement is hurtful."
In separate comments made over the past few days, Kurup, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and Ongkili, Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, both insisted that the court ruling only applied to the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Herald.
They had further stated that there would be no restrictions on Christians in Sabah and Sarawak from using the word Allah in their worship and in the Bahasa Malaysia and native bibles.
Kurup (pic) had said that following a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, it was decided that Putrajaya will stick to the 10-point solution, which allows the word Allah to be used in Al-Kitab, the Malay translation of the bible.
Another church leader, Datuk Reverend Ng Moon Hing, former chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, labelled the statements from the two Sabah ministers as "ridiculous".
"How can we as Christian leaders tell our people in Sabah and Sarawak it is alright for them to use the word, but tell the rest in West Malaysia they cannot do so?" he asked.
The churchman also pointed out the glaring reality that many Christians from East Malaysia had moved to the peninsula for various reasons, including to find employment.
"That means when they are back home they are free to use the word but when they are here they must remember not to?" he asked.
Rev Ng said that the two ministers had obviously "forgotten about the East Malaysians who live here".
"They think they are giving assurance to their people, but they are just proving how short-sighted they are," he added.
Earlier yesterday, several politicians had also weighed into the issue when they criticised Umno's Kota Belud MP, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who suggested that Putrajaya come up with two separate rules on the use of Allah for East and Peninsular Malaysia.
He said Putrajaya should revisit the proposal to have two laws, which was first brought up by the then de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz in 2010.
Sabah State Reform Party (STAR) chairman Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan asked, "How are you going to prevent Sabah and Sarawak Christians now living in the peninsula from using the word Allah? It is ridiculous."
Also calling Abdul Rahman's proposal “ridiculous” was DAP's Bandar Kuching MP, Chong Chieng Jen, who questioned the rationale behind the suggestion.
"Christians in Peninsular Malaysia and Christians in East Malaysia are the same. Why different laws for them?
"This is a political solution to rationalise a ridiculous decision," Chong argued, referring to the court's ban on the use of the word Allah in the Herald.
International Islamic University Malaysia academic Datuk Seri Dr Syed Arabi Idid concurred, adding that what is right in East Malaysia should also be right in Peninsular Malaysia.
"One country, one law. How can one country have different sets of national laws?" he questioned.
Political scientist Dr Jayum A. Jawan from Universiti Putra Malaysia was more biting in his comments.
"We can't have double standards. It is one law for the whole of Malaysia.
"He (Abdul Rahman) is speaking like a politician and trying to please all sides but it won't work," Jayum insisted.
Malaysia, he said, was formed with the fundamental principle that freedom of religion would be respected and this was what East Malaysians had been concerned about back then.
"The court's decision went against the spirit of that promised freedom," added Jayum. – October 18, 2013.

Pakatan Rakyat supports non-Muslims over the use of Allah

OCTOBER 17, 2013
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) maintained its stand today that non-Muslims can refer to God as Allah, despite the Court of Appeal’s Monday ruling that banned the Catholic weekly, Herald, from using the word.
"We remain consistent with what we said earlier," said opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) at a press conference at the PKR headquarters in Tropicana today. Also present were DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and Datuk Mustafa Ali from PAS.
The opposition pact had in January this year said they supported the non-Muslims' use of the word Allah in their publications and worship.
"We ask everyone to remain calm while waiting for the judiciary process to continue and the appeal to happen," Anwar said.
Anwar had previously said that Allah can be used by anyone as long as it was used in a proper manner and with good intentions.
PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had also maintained that there was nothing wrong with non-Muslims using the term in their faiths provided it was not misused or misinterpreted.
On Monday, a three-man panel of the Court of Appeal reversed a High Court ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use the word Allah. It reasoned that the word was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice.
Anwar criticised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's silence on the issue, noting that it reflected on his "poor" style of leadership.
“The PM never seems to be around for this issue so I think it reflects on poor leadership in this country. The country is like running on auto-pilot," he said.
Anwar also pointed out that there was no need for those who supported the Court of Appeal's decision to condemn those with deferring views.
"The general consensus is for calm and discourse on the subject and not curse those who may have different views with us," he said, referring to the statement by the former mufti of Johor, Datuk Noh Gadut, who warned that Muslims who questioned the Allah ban could be regarded as infidels.
PAS secretary-general Mustafa said he hoped this issue will not be used by Umno in the Sungai Limau by-election.
"I think Umno will use it to campaign but it is a sensitive issue that will cause a lot of confusion," he said. – October 17, 2013.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Court of Appeal’s findings on Allah issue “unnatural”, says Malaysian Bar

OCTOBER 16, 2013
The Malaysian Bar expressed deep concern over the Court of Appeal's ban on the word Allah in the Catholic weekly, Herald, notably in the way the court interpreted the provisions on the status of Islam and other religions in the Federal Constitution.
The Bar also questioned the court's quick research on the Internet in coming to the conclusion that the word was not integral to the Christian faith.
In a strongly-worded statement, Bar president Christopher Leong (pic) highlighted among others the "unnatural" way in which the three-man bench interpreted Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution on the status of Islam and other religions.
He pointed out that the finding of the court was that the words "in peace and harmony" in Article 3(1) is to protect the sanctity of Islam and also to "insulate against any threat".
"The court found that the purpose and intention of the words 'in peace and harmony' was to protect the sanctity of Islam as the religion of the country and to insulate it against any threat.
"This is an unnatural reading," Leong argued.
"The words simply mean 'the  right of other religions to be practiced unmolested and free of threats'."
The Bar also took issue with the court's finding that the word Allah in Herald would cause confusion among Muslims.
Instead, Leong explained that it was unreasonable for a person's fundamental liberty to be denied on the basis that it might cause confusion to others.
He stressed that the decision of the court did not address or resolve this so-called confusion.
"Instead, the effect of the decision would be to encourage a perpetual state of confusion or ignorance as justifiable grounds for denying the rights of others.
"A better way would have been to educate those who might be confused, instead of restricting the rights of others," he opined.
On the finding that use of the word could threaten public order, Leong said that this served the notion that the use, or threat, of violence, would "win its day in court".
"It is unacceptable that citizens are denied their right of religious freedom and expression on the basis that others who disagree or who are confused, would resort to aggression," Leong noted.
Lastly, the Bar also expressed concern that the court had conducted its own Internet research in coming up with the finding that the word Allah was not integral to the Christian faith.
"There appears to be no basis for this finding, other than what has been described in the written judgments as 'a quick research' and research conducted on the Internet," Leong pointed out.
Leong also noted there was no prohibition on the use of the word by people of different faiths in the Arab world and other countries.
"It is difficult to understand how we are able to declare exclusivity of a word over which we do not have proprietary rights."
The Bar, in calling for calm and maturity to prevail, stressed that the Herald publisher's right to appeal to the Federal Court should be allowed to be carried out without threat or intimidation. - October 16, 2013.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


2013-10-16 09:34

該篇報導名為“Bumi, not booming(不蓬勃發展的土著社群)”,副題是“The ruling party returns to it sold habits of race-based handouts(執政黨返回到種族政策的舊習慣)”。
《經濟學人》“Bumi,not booming”發佈於9月28日,指出首相拿督斯里納吉是倒退回種族政治的“主要損失者”;在大選前,他被視為一個偉大的改革家,然而為了從巫統保守派的衝擊下生存下來,納吉現在被迫突然走回頭路,信譽大受打擊。

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Academic, religious scholar knock ruling on ‘Allah’ ban

By Boo Su-LynOctober 15, 2013

Malay rights group Perkasa said in response that the word 'Allah', and 31 other words prohibited to non-Muslims by Islamic enactments in some states, should subsequently be removed from the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian bible. — Pictures by Choo Choy May

Malay rights group Perkasa said in response that the word 'Allah', and 31 other words prohibited to non-Muslims by Islamic enactments in some states, should subsequently be removed from the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian bible. — Pictures by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — An academic and a religious scholar reacted with incredulity today towards the Court of Appeal’s ruling that the word “Allah” was exclusive to Muslims, saying the decision was un-Islamic and portrayed Malaysia as “stupid”.
Dr Faisal Hazis, a political analyst from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), said that the appellate court as well as Malay and Muslim groups should not sow “fear and hatred” among Muslims against “our Christian brothers and sisters for wanting to exercise their religious freedom”.
“This itself is not Islamic. There is no compulsion in Islam,” Faisal told The Malay Mail Online today.
“Why are we worried that the Muslims would be confused over the use of ‘Allah’ by other religions? I would blame the Muslims themselves for being confused. Obviously, they lack knowledge about their Creator if they are confused,” he added.
Faisal also pleaded other “moderate and level-headed Muslims” today to speak up against “this fear-mongering and chest-thumping Islamic supremacy”.
“I fear for my children and the future of Malaysia... we should not let these minority groups speak on behalf of the majority of moderate and level-headed Muslims in this country,” added the academic.
The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday against a High Court decision allowing the Catholic Church to refer to the Christian god with the Arabic word “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia section of its weekly paper, the Herald.
The court adjudged the usage of the word “Allah” as not integral to the Christian faith and said that allowing such an application would cause confusion in the Muslim community.
Malay rights group Perkasa said in response that the word “Allah”, and 31 other words prohibited to non-Muslims by Islamic enactments in some states, should subsequently be removed from the Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Christian bible.
Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin also said that Sabah and Sarawak churches, which have been using the word “Allah” in worship and in the Al-Kitab for centuries, should emulate white Americans who had “changed”, after wrongly using the derogatory words “negro” and “nigger” to refer to African Americans for years.
Another Muslim group, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, told Christians yesterday to emigrate if they could not accept the sovereignty of Islam and the king in Malaysia.Another Muslim group, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia, told Christians yesterday to emigrate if they could not accept the sovereignty of Islam and the king in Malaysia.Another Muslim group, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA), told Christians yesterday to emigrate if they could not accept the sovereignty of Islam and the king in Malaysia.
Iranian-American religious scholar Dr Reza Aslan also weighed in on the controversial court verdict, pointing out the folly that it attaches to Malaysia in the eyes of the world.
“How stupid has Malaysia just become? This stupid: Malaysian court bans use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims,” Reza tweeted early this morning, referencing an Al-Jazeera news report on the court case.
“In honor of Malaysia banning the word Allah by non-Muslims I suggest US ban the word ‘twerking’ by anyone over age of 17. Your suggestions?” mocked the religious scholar and author of two books on Islam and one on Christianity.
Aslan, who has a PhD in the sociology of religions and a degree on the New Testament, shot to fame last July when an interviewer with US channel Fox News repeatedly ignored his credentials and focused on his motivations, as a Muslim, for writing a controversial book on Jesus Christ.
The interview by the US news channel was based on his latest book titled “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth”.
The Allah row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald’s newspaper permit, prompting the Catholic Church to sue the government for violating its Constitutional rights.
In 2009, the High Court here upheld the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah”, shocking Muslims who considered the word to only refer to the Muslim God.

Allah decision against Constitution, gives Home Minister more power, says DAP

OCTOBER 15, 2013
The decision by the Court of Appeal on the usage of the word Allah by non-Muslims has given the Home Minister wide-ranging discretionary powers to make pre-emptive executive decisions, said DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua (pic).
"The court argued that 'such usage if allowed would inevitably cause confusion within the community... so the Home Minister had sufficient material before him to ban the Herald from using the word'. With this, the court has empowered the Minister to make pre-emptive executive decisions to ban words or publications which he deems will cause confusion," Pua said.
"With such powers, the Home Minister will be able to rule that the Sikh Holy Book should be banned, as such any Bahasa Malaysia church material in East or West Malaysia should be declared illegal if they use the term Allah. The Court will deem itself to have 'no plausible reason for the High Court to interfere with the minister's decision'," he added.
In a statement, Pua highlighted several key points which he had deduced from the judgment read out yesterday by appellate court judge Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali.
He said the Federal Constitution clearly stated that other religions could be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation and every religious group has the right to manage its own affairs.
"But the court had decided on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church on what was deemed an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity," he said, arguing that the court's only role was to decide on the legality of the use of the word Allah by the church and nothing more.
"The court has no role in deciding what is integral or otherwise in any religion practised in Malaysia. The court has clearly overstepped its authority into the realm of theological discourse and also breached the Federal Constitution," he said.
Another key point, Pua said, was that the appellate court had defined the rule of law as the "wishes of the majority" and ruled that the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community. He said the court had neglected its role to protect and defend the rights of the minority.
"Article 8 of the Federal Constitution clearly states that 'all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law'. But the court has made a decision which is based purely on the wishes of the majority," Pua pointed out.
He quoted the third United States president, Thomas Jefferson, who proclaimed in his presidential address that "All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable, that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression”.
Pua added, "In ruling that the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community, the Court of Appeal should define the community or the majority and their needs and wants. It is not the place of the appellate court to decide who the majority are and what they want.
"It should be emphasised that the role of the appellate court is to determine legality and not make such highly subjective moral judgment on ill-defined subjects," Pua argued.
Pua said the far-reaching consequences of yesterday's ruling meant that the appellate court has given itself the authority to make discretionary judgment which are not based on the Federal Constitution and the laws passed by the Parliament, but based on the judges’ own personal viewpoints and bias.
"Secondly, the appellate court has trampled on the rights of the minority by endorsing the oppression by the majority. The court has also given discretionary and absolute pre-emptive powers to the Home Minister to take action against anyone who is deemed to be wrong," he added.
Pua said the argument by the Court of Appeal in delivering its judgment on the usage of the word Allah was clearly unreasonable and must be challenged in the Federal Court.
It was not because of the usage of the word Allah, he said, but because of the implied powers of judges and the executive branch of the government to mete out punishment without legal or factual basis. - October 15, 2013.

Monday, October 14, 2013

It’s worship as usual, Sarawak Christians will continue use “Allah” - state Minister

OCTOBER 14, 2013
Sarawakians attend Bahasa Malaysia mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching, in this file picture dated April 2011. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 14, 2013.Sarawakians attend Bahasa Malaysia mass at St Joseph’s Cathedral in Kuching, in this file picture dated April 2011. – The Malaysian Insider pic, October 14, 2013.Sarawak will continue to allow the use of the word Allah in Bahasa Malaysia and native language Bibles and church publications, said State Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing, following the Court of Appeal's ruling today not to allow Catholic weekly The Herald to use the term.
Masing described the ruling as “not genuine”, saying the use of the word Allah predated Islam.
“We (Christians in Sabah and Sarawak) have been using the word Allah for over 100 years. Why suddenly we are now told we cannot use it?" he asked, adding that the court's decision would have a negative impact on non-Muslims beyond Sabah and Sarawak.
“Did they have a dream that Allah said they (the Christians) can't use the word Allah?” he asked, referring to the opposition by some Muslim groups in West Malaysia on the usage of the word in Christian texts.
Referring to Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak as "brothers", Masing said they had no qualms about Christians using the word.
Masing reminded Christians in the state that Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud had in the past weighed in on the issue by giving assurance that he would not stop them from using the word Allah.
PKR Sarawak chief Baru Bian, saying he was stunned by the decision, said churches and Christians in Sabah and Sarawak would continue using the word Allah.
“I am stunned by the decision.
“We have produced very clear facts that we were promised a guarantee by our forefathers when Sabah and Sarawak helped form Malaysia.
“The ruling appears to go against the fundamental rights that were promised," said Baru, adding that the decision goes against the Malaysia agreement.
Baru, a church elder of the Kuching Evangelical Church for over a decade until he joined politics, said the ruling went against Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which allows people to profess and propagate their religious beliefs.
Believing that the Catholic church would appeal today's decision, Baru appealed to Christians, who are majority in the two states, to remain calm and “look at the whole issue rationally”.
“There will be an appeal to the Federal Court so the decision is not final.”
Christian churches grouped under the Association of Churches in Sarawak have refrained from making any statements, saying they would wait for more details on the ruling.
“We need to consult with the other churches first,” the association's secretary-general Ambrose Linang said when contacted.
Its chairman Datuk Bolly Lapok said on Saturday that the association “finds it completely unacceptable that what have been common practices of the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak for generations, more than 100 years before the very idea of Malaysia was conceived, are now held as unlawful by the government”.
He said to stop using Allah in the practice of their faith would amount to a curb on religious freedom.
Outside the court today, Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin said that Al-Kitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible, could continue to be distributed in Malaysia.
However, Zulkifli insisted that the holy book must not contain 32 words, including “Allah”, as the words are prohibited for use by non-Muslims, as stated in Islamic enactments in several states.
“I have no problem if they want to publish the Al Kitab without those words, not just ‘Allah’, but 32 words in the Syariah Criminal Enactment,” Zulkifli told reporters after the verdict.
Former PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa said the appellate court ruling clearly indicated that the word “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims.
“So, everyone should stick to that decision,” Nasharuddin told reporters. - October 14, 2013.

Court of Appeal quashes ‘Allah’ judgement

Members of Perkasa hold a rally outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on October 14, 2013 before the court ruling on the ‘Allah’ appeal. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Members of Perkasa hold a rally outside the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya on October 14, 2013 before the court ruling on the ‘Allah’ appeal. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 14 — The Court of Appeal today ruled unanimously against allowing the Catholic Church to use the word “Allah” in its weekly publication The Herald, saying that the government did not impugn on the Church’s constitutional rights in banning the use of the word.
Justice Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who read out a summary of the judgement, said the home minister had acted well within his powers to disallow the Herald from using the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
“It is our common finding that the usage of the name ‘Allah’ is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity.
“From such finding, we find no reason why the respondent is so adamant to use the name ‘Allah’ in their weekly publication. Such usage, if allowed, will inevitably cause confusion within the community,” he said before a packed courtroom. 
The Allah case returned to the courts last September, over three years after Putrajaya filed an appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s decision in favour of allowing Catholic weekly the Herald to continue using the word “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section. 
The Catholic Church had in July this year moved to strike out the government’s appeal after patience ran out with the lack of progress in the government’s challenge on the decision that has contributed to festering interfaith ties in the country. 
The Allah row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald’s newspaper permit, prompting the Catholic Church to sue the government for violating its Constitutional rights. 
Apandi, who sat on a three-member bench with Justices Datuk Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh, said they were satisfied the home minister had considered sufficient material before exercising his powers under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 when he banned the Catholic Church’s newspaper from using the word “Allah”. 
“Although the test under the written law is subjective, there is sufficient evidence to show that such subjective decision was derived by considering all facts and circumstances in an objective manner,” he said. 
Apandi also cited legal maxims that place the safety of the public and state above all else and that “the welfare of an individual or group must yield to that of the community”. 
The Court of Appeal also ruled that the earlier judicial review at the High Court only considered the manner in which the home minister came to his decision and not at the merits behind the decision. 
Apandi noted that when a decision involves the use of discretionary powers, as in the Allah case, the “determinable issues” would depend on the facts of the case. 
The Catholic Church will have 30 days from now to file an application for leave at the Federal Court to appeal against today’s judgement. 
The 2009 High Court decision upholding the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah” had shocked Muslims who considered the word to only refer to the Muslim God. 
It also led to Malaysia’s worst religious strife, with houses of worship throughout the country coming under attack. 
Christians are the third largest religious population at 2.6 million, according to statistics from the 2010 consensus, behind Muslims and Buddhists.