Sunday, 24 January 2010
I was at the scenic Kionsom Waterfall, about 8km from Inanam Town, this afternoon when a friend pointed to me an `anai anai' (ant) nest on a beam (beruti) at one of the stall. View from the left the nest read `INJIL' and from right it's `Allah' in Jawi.
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
Published on: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 HERE
Kota Kinabalu: Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) is all for consultation or mediation as the best way to resolve the conflict over the use of the term "Allah" in Malaysia.
PBS President, Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, said he regretted the conflict has gone to the court in the first place, but added that he understood the circumstances behind it.
He said he also sympathised with the Prime Minister who has to make tough decisions in light of the sensitivity of the issue and the conflicting demands and expectations of various groups.
However, Pairin, who was speaking during the swearing-in of the elected and appointed PBS Supreme Council members in Donggongon, Penampang, said the issue on the use of the term "Allah" is complex and whatever position the Government takes is bound to please or diplease someone.
Due to the heightened sensitivities at the moment, he feels the best policy is to speak less so as not to aggravate situation.
For that reason, he said, in the last few days PBS decided not to make unnecessary statements.
Pairin, who is deeply concerned with the development in the case, advised all PBS members not to read too much into what they see on TV or the unfounded rumours they read from the short messaging service (SMS).
"No one can be truly sure who are the real perpetrators causing the unnecessary trouble which seems to create a climate of fear and uncertainty," he said.
Further, he said PBS leaders must refrain from making statements especially to the newspapers, which may be misconstrued and, thus, further aggravate the already tense situation.
He said after taking into consideration recent events and the various statements by individuals, some favourable and others not so favourable, PBS' stand is that the best way to resolve the conflict is through proper consultation.
He said the case is already in the court of appeal and the prospect of the plaintiffs in the court case withdrawing their case without any tangible offer to negotiate out of court is very slim, so PBS wants to see proper consultations among the parties to the dispute to reach an amicable solution.
Pairin said the prospect of success in resolving the conflict is good as the culture of the people of Sabah is to negotiate or consult one another in resolving conflict.
Pairin therefore welcomed the statement by Datuk Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, that non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak be allowed by the Federal Government to use the term "Allah" in their prayers and worship which he said is acceptable and should be seriously considered.
He said there have been suggestions that the "Allah" controversy is a uniquely Peninsular Malaysia problem, not Sabah and Sarawak.
"If viewed from this angle, then the statement by Nazri certainly offers a clue as to the possible solution to the problem," he said, urging the Federal leaders to take notice of the need for proper consultation with the relevant parties.
Pairin expressed concern that the issue now has been highly politicised since PAS and PKR have issued statements to say they accept the use of the term "Allah" by Christians in the footsteps of Muslim majority countries such as Saudi Arabia and Indonesia where non-Muslim citizens can use the term" Allah" without any restriction.
Nonetheless, Pairin expressed confidence in the leadership of the Prime Minister who recognised and understood the issue from the perspectives of both sides.
He said he was grateful both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister have given their firm assurances that the matter will be resolved amicably.
"PBS is confident the social maturity and the democratic values of the people of Malaysia will ensure the country will weather the storm of any racial or religious disputes arising out of misunderstanding," he said.
He said Malaysia must learn from the lessons of history that racial unity and religious harmony built over a period of 50 years cannot be taken for granted and should never be compromised.
KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Council of Churches has rejected a proposal by Minister Nazri Aziz that the word “Allah” can only be used by Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and not in the peninsula.
Council president Rev Jerry Dusing said it felt that Minister in Nazri’s suggestion was “illogical, inconsistent and untenable for Christian communities of both states, especially those residing in the peninsula”.
“The intended concession also goes against the spirit and intent of the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia concept of forging unity and harmony among all races and religions by mutual respect and acceptance,” Rev Dusing said in a statement.
He said the proposal also impinged on the rights of the Christian community as it “dichotomises and segregates” the rights to profess and practise one’s faith on the basis of geographical location.
Friday, 15 January 2010
‘Allah’ allowed in East M’sia
by Phyllis Wong and Francis Chan
January 15, 2010, Friday
Nazri says govt recognises two states’ traditional usage of word
KUALA LUMPUR: The word ‘Allah’ is allowed to be used by Christians in Sarawak and Sabah because the government accepts that the natives in these two states have traditionally been using it in their prayers and religious services and the Muslims there are accustomed to this practice.
This was stated by Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, in an exclusive interview with the KTS stable of dailies The Borneo Post, Oriental Daily and Utusan Borneo at his office here yesterday.
“Christians in Sarawak and Sabah need not worry over this issue because it is a common tradition there. I have been to an Iban church service and I heard the word ‘Allah’ used there,” he said.
However, ‘Allah’ is not allowed to be used by churches in Semanunjung Malaysia and Christians from the two states have to respect this ruling when they are in Semenanjung, Nazri said.
Asked why there are two sets of rules on the usage of the word ‘Allah’ in the nation, he pointed out that this is not a unique practice as Malaysia also has two sets of laws on other matters, citing the Syariah Court and the Civil Court as an example.
He explained that the situation in Semenanjung Malaysia is different as ‘Allah’ is only introduced into Christian worships and publications a few years ago.
Nazri said: “Muslims here in Semenanjung cannot accept it as ‘Allah’ was never used in Christian preaching until recently and they questioned the motive behind the substitution of ‘Tuhan’ for ‘Allah’.
“It is clearly stated in our constitution that no other religions can be propagated to Malay Muslims and this article has been enacted in all the states in Malaysia where the Sultan is the Head of State … so this excludes Federal Territory, Penang, Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah.
“In these states, for the ban on the use of ‘Allah’ to be implemented the Home Affairs Minister can use the Printing Act to enforce it.”
Nazri added that Christians should recognise that using ‘Allah’ in their worships and publications is sensitive to Muslims and that this is not an issue that can be solved by going to court.
“The government has a duty to stop acts of disrespect and provocation that inflame religious and racial feelings in the nation even if there was no law that stated these acts were wrong.
“Take for example, there is no law in the country that states stepping on a severed cow head is wrong but when a group of Malays did that in their protests against the building of a Hindu temple we hauled them up and charged them because that act was disrespectful to the Hindus,” Nazri said.
He added that on the same score, if the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians was (it certainly is, he said) sensitive to Muslims the government has to act even if courts deem it legal.
If that is the case, why does the government resort to going to the court to resolve the issue on the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians?
To which, Nazri replied that it was Archbishop Murphy Pakiam who brought it to the court and the government had no choice but to defend in court and that once the process of law on the case has started it could not be stopped.
He said the government is continuing with the case in court by applying for a stay of execution which the other party has agreed to.
Judge Lau Mee Lan, in ruling against the ban on the usage of ‘Allah’ by Christians, had said that there was no evidence to show that the use of ‘Allah’ could incite violence.
To this, Nazri said such incidents had not happened when the hearing was on and the government could not produce such evidence.
But on the other hand, he said, the attacks on churches after the ruling proved the government right.
“Banning the use of ‘Allah’ by Christians was a pre-emptive move to stop outbreaks of religious violence in the nation,” he argued. Asked how the controversy could be solved, Nazri said there had to be a solution soon and in the meantime he appealed to the people to be calm and rational.
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
On Sunday January 10th I attended a gathering of Church leaders in Petaling Jaya to express our solidarity with the Christian community where I read the following statement:
We are outraged by the tragic attacks on our Christian brothers and sisters and reiterate our unequivocal condemnation of the bombing of churches in Malaysia. Today’s attack on the oldest standing church in Malaysia, the All Saints Church in Taiping, is an attack on our nation’s heritage.
As a nation we struggle to uphold the spirit of unity that our founding fathers envisioned at independence. We must hold fast to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of religion and the right of religious groups to manage their own affairs. In such times the spirit of engagement and dialogue must transcend those voices that would seek to sow discord and enmity across our land.
The people of Malaysia must unite against those who exploit race and religion to incite hatred for political gain. We must renew our commitment to religious understanding and religious freedom.
This is a time that tests the resolve of all religions for peace and mutual respect. We must remember that the God who we worship is in fact the same God, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe.
With respect to the use of the word Allah, for example, it cannot be disputed that Arabic speaking Muslims, Christians and Jews have collectively prayed to God as Allah throughout the last fourteen centuries. While sensitivities over its usage have arisen in Malaysia, the way to resolve these conflicts is not by burning churches and staging incendiary protests but by reasoned engagement and interreligious dialogue.
Muslims must recall the memory of our own tradition’s remarkable commitment to understanding and coexistence with the People of the Book. Islam clearly grants respect to Christians and Jews. In the Quran’s second chapter, God says:
Say: O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word between us and you: that we shall worship none but God (Aal-Imran, 3:64)
And in the 29th Chapter He says:
And dispute not with the People of the Book but say “We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and that which came down to you…our God [Allah] and your God [Allah] is One, and it is to Him we bow (al-Ankabut, 29:46)
Jesus is himself revered as one of the greatest prophets whose noble example should be followed. The Caliph Umar, who visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 638 AD, was careful to ensure that the Muslims respect the sanctity of Christian places of worship. What then of our own Police’s hesitation to offer an assurance of safety and security for Malaysian churches?
Much of the blame for the recent attacks can be placed at the doorstep of the UMNO-led BN ruling party. Its incessant racist propaganda over the Allah issue and the inflammatory rhetoric issued by government controlled mainstream media especially, Utusan Malaysia, are reprehensible. Such wanton acts of provocation are indeed criminal and demonstrate the duplicity of the 1Malaysia campaign.
I am encouraged by the swift condemnation of the attacks issued by Muslim organizations and leaders. I likewise applaud our Christian leaders for their strong statements calling for calm and forgiveness and resisting revenge and retaliation.
The need for interfaith dialogue in Malaysia is an idea whose time is long overdue. We must now advance the spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood which is inherent in our religions and enshrined in our Constitution. Pakatan Rakyat will collectively take steps to ensure that the necessary dialogue and discussion take place throughout the country. Our fellow Christians must feel safe and secure in this country knowing that their freedom to worship is protected.
Thursday, 7 January 2010
Thank your very much indeed to all regular and new visitors to Aki Momogun.