Hornbill Unleashed

October 15, 2013

ON COLLISION COURSE: Muslim groups now want Allah ban to cover Sabah, Sarawak, Al-Kitab

ON COLLISION COURSE: Muslim groups now want Allah ban to cover Sabah, S'wak, Al-Kitab Malaysia Chronicle

Just minutes after the Malaysian Appeals Court delivered a controversial judgement that is bound to rock the nation and trigger great racial disunity, ultra Malay Muslim activists called for an end to the “special” privileges granted to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak, saying that the ban on the use of the Arabic word Allah should be extended to them.

“Everyone should stick to that decision,” Nasharuddin Mat Isa, a senior PAS leader but who is expressing his opinion on behalf of his NGO and not political party, told reporters on Monday.

Nasha was referring to the decision by the Appellate judges to overturn a High Court ruling that would have allowed Catholic magazine, the Herald, to use the word Allah in its Malay-language edition.

Currently, Christians in Sabah and Sarawak are allowed to use Allah to describe God in their Malay-language Bible, which is called the Al-Kitab.

Precedent set: How far will Najib allow the Muslim ultras to go

In 2009, the Home Ministry had allowed the Herald to put the word Allah on its masthead so long as it was stated clearly the magazine was ‘For Christians Only’.

However, the then Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar U-turned on the permission order he had personally signed on, withdrawing the green light within days of having issued it.

Since then the matter has been greatly politicized and used as a tool by politicians to rally popular support from the Malay Muslims who form the bulk of voters in Peninsular Malaysia and who also dominate the membership in Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Umno party.

To what extent will Najib now push the issue remains to be seen. However, there is already deep concern he might seize on the Appeals Court ruling and use it as a precedent to force Christian groups into surrendering more of their rights whenever it was politically convenient to him.

The latest ruling will put on the spot the political leaders in East Malaysia, where a large number of the people are Christians. In Sarawak, Christians form 43% of the state’s population, and just days ago, the Church leaders there had issued fiery statements condemning the Allah ban and warned of the consequences if the ruling went against the Church.

“Two thirds of the Church in Malaysia consists of 1.6 million Bumiputera Christians of Sabah and Sarawak who use (the) Bahasa Malaysia language of worship in addition to their native languages. With the greatest respect to the governing authorities, whether they are the legislative, executive of judicial arms of government, we ask that religious bigotry, racism and extremism should not be perpetuated and allowed to fester and poison our Malaysian Nation,” Bolly Lapok, who is also the Anglican archbishop for Southeast Asia, said in a statement.

“Proscribing the use of the word ‘Allah’ would instantly turn these native Bumiputeras into law breakers in the very land of which they are sons of the soil. This is not only abhorrent but wholly unacceptable.”

Crunch time for BN Christians

Bolly, who is known to be close to Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, will now have to respond to the latest demands from the Muslim groups.

But much more than Bolly, the Christian politicians there including Maximus Ongkili, Joseph and Jeffery Kitingan will be put on test. Critics say those aligned to Najib’s Umno-BN coalition will have to speak up or expose themselves as stooges of the federal government.

“BN Christians leaders will now have to put up or shut up. Those who promised their voters the Allah issue will be resolved favorably should either resign or pull their party out from BN. The general election is 5 years from now. Umno leaders won’t stick their necks out for the Christians, they no longer see Malaysia as a multiracial state but as a Malay and police state,” veteran Opposition analyst Eddie Wong told Malaysia Chronicle.

“This is what happens when you have weak leaders at the top, especially Najib who has to flip flop on all his reformist agenda. He doesn’t even dare talk about 1Malaysia anymore. Umno members have become like a mob. He cannot control them anymore. They control him and this is the biggest retribution for playing insincere politics all these years. All that racial and religious politicking have spawned a monster. I don’t wish to be pessimistic but I can only see dark times ahead for this country.”


Meanwhile, senior Sarawak minister James Masing said it would be business as usual for his state and the Christians there would continue to use Allah in their worship.

“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? Did they have a dream that Allah said they (the Christians) can’t use the word Allah?” said James, when asked by the press for his comments.

James also said the Appeals Court’s decision would have a negative impact on non-Muslims beyond Sabah and Sarawak.

Opposition politician Baru Bian, the head of PKR Sarawak, expressed shock at the ruling.

“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 went against the Malaysia agreement.

No longer sane, mob rule has taken over: Fears of violence, jihad on the radar

While James and Baru tried to play down the demands of the Muslim ultras, it is clear there is growing fear that this issue might culminate in religious violence or even jihad (Muslim war) between the Christians in East Malaysia and the Muslims in the peninsular.

The Christians in Sabah and Sarawak are more numerous and have vowed not to yield on what they believe is their unquestionable right. Additionally, the Muslims in East Malaysia have so far not disputed the matter as hotly as the Muslims in the peninsula.

“It is hard to foresee but it looks like the Christians in the peninsula are likely to be hit the most. They are much lesser in numbers while the Muslims in the peninsula are the aggressors in this issue. I don’t think Ibrahim Ali, or Nasharuddin or Zulkifli Noordin will dare to go to Sabah and Sarawak and make the same nonsensical demands they are allowed by the Umno-BN government to make here,” said Eddie Wong.

Eddie also feared that Malaysia was no longer led by “sane” leaders but was being driven by a mob-sentiment built up through the years. He blamed Umno’s race and religious discrimination for this.

Extremists given leeway

Right or wrong, Perkasa vice-president Zulkifli Noordin certainly expressed views that appeared rather extreme.

According to Zulkifli, the Al-Kitab could continue to be distributed in Malaysia but it must not contain 32 words, including “Allah”, which he said were already prohibited to non-Muslim by Islamic enactments in some states in the peninsula.

“I have no problem if they want to publish that without those words, not just ‘Allah’, but 32 words in the Syariah Criminal Enactment,” Zulkifli told reporters after the court decision here today.

Zulkifli also wants Sabah and Sarawak churches to heed the Appeals Court judgment, which states that the word “Allah” is not an integral part of the Christian faith.

He dismissed arguments that East Malaysian Christians have been using “Allah” even before Sabah and Sarawak joined the Federation of Malaysia in 1963.

“They’ve been using it during the colonisation by the Western world on the Muslim country,” he said.

“For all these years, the white American has wrongly used the word ‘negro’ and ‘nigger’. Suddenly they found out it’s been wrongly used, so they changed. Why not you emulate that?” said the Malay and Muslim right-wing group leader.


  1. Well, zulkifli wants us Sarawakian and Sabahan to heed the ban on one word plus 32 others and can I suggest we ban them from one thing only… can we ban them from having huge plantations and planting oil palm on our Lands?

    Comment by brian — October 16, 2013 @ 3:23 PM | Reply

  2. Nashruddin and Zul Nordin are persona non grata. Nashruddin is a PAS leader who do not see eye to eye with other PAS leaders and Zul Nordin is a despicable politician, formerly from PKR and now UMNO member. He stood on UMNO ticket last election and lost. U see these peripheral politicians are vocal, just want to be heard; so fragile.

    Comment by robinhood — October 15, 2013 @ 9:35 PM | Reply

  3. Over our dead body…….

    Comment by Rod — October 15, 2013 @ 3:59 PM | Reply

    • The court of appeal judges should have consulted their no.3 boss, richard malanjum chief judge of borneo, before making a sweeping yet nonsensical statement that allah is not integral to the christian in malaysia.

      Comment by true blooded malaysian — October 15, 2013 @ 4:22 PM | Reply

    • That’s exactly what some of them want to do to us if we defy them. Just read some of their placards, the fire from their mouth makes ones shiver!…. Hehehe i meant the bad breath gives me the headache! The petai smell too strong!

      And seriously, some of them are advocating violence which is of course meant to intimidate us minorities into submission. But we just can’t submit when our rights are being trampled on. Infact, the majority are responsible for the survival of the minorities and to make sure they are well taken care off.

      Is there a GOD who is a BULLY?

      Comment by brian — October 17, 2013 @ 4:42 PM | Reply

  4. Get out of Malaysia! Sarawak and Sabah do not belong to UMNO Baru and its bigots. Malaya does not own Sarawak and Sabah. We must get rid of Taib Mahmud and PBB for being proxies of Umno Baru controlled BN.

    Comment by Awaken Dayak — October 15, 2013 @ 1:20 PM | Reply


    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — October 15, 2013 @ 12:26 PM | Reply

  6. 1.6 million Christians and all right think Malaysians in East Malaysia must stand united and decide to pull out of Malaysia. Let the bigots UMNO rule only Malaya if they can win in GE14. Sabah and sarawak shall have no further partnership with Malaya.

    Comment by Edwin Bosin. — October 15, 2013 @ 12:21 PM | Reply

  7. Meanwhile our 1Malaysia PM continue to be quiet.

    Comment by willy — October 15, 2013 @ 11:44 AM | Reply

    • A stupid PM cannot be held responsible for the unlawful court decision in Malaysia ?

      Comment by Special Branch — October 15, 2013 @ 10:40 PM | Reply

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