Hornbill Unleashed

October 18, 2013

One country, two interpretations of Allah – it’s awkward, say politician and lawyers


“Why do we have one country with two interpretations of the use of the word Allah?” Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic) asked this when commenting on the Cabinet decision yesterday that the Court of Appeal ruling, which banned the word Allah in the Catholic weekly, Herald, does not apply to Sabah and Sarawak.

“I’m not comfortable with this interpretation. The assurance by the Cabinet that Sabah and Sarawak can use the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia or native language bibles, and other religious publications and in worship, but not in West Malaysia, is not satisfactory,” Masing told The Malaysian Insider, adding that he still thinks that the court ruling is faulty. “It means one nation with two religious definitions of what is acceptable. I feel awkward.”

Masing, who is the president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), also said the assurance given by the Cabinet “looks like political expediency” and would create more problems than it would solve.

“OK in Sabah and Sarawak, but not OK in the peninsula. How am I going to pray if I am in the peninsula?” he asked.

On Monday, a three-man Court of Appeal bench reversed a High Court ruling allowing the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Herald to use the word Allah. It reasoned that the word was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice. Two Cabinet ministers from Sabah – Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, and the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili – insisted that the ruling only applied to the Herald and not the Al-Kitab and other religious publications used in Sabah and Sarawak.

In 2010, in order to counter religious issues raised by the opposition during the campaign in the Sibu by-election, the Cabinet drew up a 10-point solution which allowed the word Allah to be used in the Al-Kitab. Thousands of the bibles, imported from Indonesia and seized by the Customs Department, were also ordered to be released.

Meanwhile, lawyer S. Selvarajah, who was part of the legal team representing the Catholic Church at the hearing, said the court decision was binding on the publisher of the Herald, prohibiting the word Allah in future publications. He said the ruling drove home the point that national security and public order would be threatened if non-Muslims used the word.

“Further, there will be confusion in society and the Muslims must be protected from religious threats from non-Muslims,” he said.

However, he doubted Putrajaya would act on Al-Kitab having the word as it was a pledge made in the 10-point solution.

“To do that will be tantamount to Putrajaya going back its word,” he said.

Selvarajah there would be a big backlash and this could erode support for the ruling government.

Another lawyer for the Catholic Church, Annou Xavier, told Malaysiakini that the government cannot simply decide that Christians in Sabah and Sarawak are allowed to use Allah, as the court’s judgment had already found no basis for such use.

He pointed out that this is evident as Judge Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali had said in his judgment that the word is “not integral” to the Christian faith.

“The Court of Appeal did not deal with the Herald or the Publications and Printing Presses Act, but was a very wide judgment which goes beyond the Herald,” he told Malaysiakini.

“In his judgment Justice Apandi said his ‘quick research’ found that the word Allah is not part of the faith and practices of Christianity.

“So it is not for (ministers) Joseph Kurup or Wan Junaidi (Tuanku Jaafar) to say, ‘It’s okay, because that is peninsula and nothing to do with Sabah and Sarawak, or that this is the Herald and not about the al-Kitab’,” he added.


  1. Senang saja…… Sarawak/Sabah and Independent state!

    Comment by Rod — October 18, 2013 @ 8:17 PM | Reply

  2. Bodohland = World’s most stupid nation … majority are parasites and do not pay tax … they even try to claim ownership of a stupid word “ala”..

    Comment by tigeryk — October 18, 2013 @ 4:10 PM | Reply

    • Najib is going after those parasites to pay tax via GST.

      Comment by wilfred — October 18, 2013 @ 6:18 PM | Reply

  3. The country s now split into Federation of Islamic Malaya and Federation of United Borneo.

    Comment by Edwin Bosin — October 18, 2013 @ 11:00 AM | Reply

    • The COA on the ‘Allah’ verdict is certainly storm in a tea cup. The entire politically motivated court room exercise has unleashed more problems than provide solutions to the issue itself. It tears apart the very fabric of the Federal Constitution and of our society and setting dangerous precedents in the region that is already embroiled in religious extremism.

      What is even more confusing is the government’s decision now that this verdict only applies to the Herald publication and its use of the word ‘Allah’ and that East Malaysians are free to use ‘Allah’ in their worship and propagation of faith which can only adds deeper undercurrents to the already frayed and hurt feelings of Christians and right-thinking Muslims alike.

      The UMNO government has not only shot itself in the foot and mouth but with its seemingly plausible affront has instead invited the world’s ridicule and may be just the cause for its own demise.

      Comment by wilfred — October 18, 2013 @ 6:17 PM | Reply

    • High time we have two PMs. One PM for the Federation of Islamic Malaya and one PM for Sabah and Sarawak.

      Comment by Peter Sawai — October 19, 2013 @ 8:51 PM | Reply

  4. Mr. Masing, the reason is simply the time is not RIPE yet. When the durian is ripe, just watch out what this big Bully will do to Sarawak.

    Comment by gagojackman — October 18, 2013 @ 10:57 AM | Reply


    Comment by VINCENT AK PAUL — October 18, 2013 @ 8:39 AM | Reply

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