The Court of Appeal has decided on 14th October 2013 banning the use of “Allah” by a newspaper “The Herald” published by the Catholic Church in referring to Christian God in its Malay version.
This decision was criticized by various parties especially the Christian community in Malaysia. It has been known that more than two-thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia is a non-Muslim Bumiputera / Malay residing in the states of Sabah and Sarawak in which they have been conducting their prayers in Bahasa Malaysia.
During the last 13th General Election (GE13), Sabah and Sarawak are the two states that had contributed 47 parliamentary seats (22 seats in Sabah and 25 seats in Sarawak) to Barisan Nasional (BN). This amount is more than 35% of parliamentary seats won by BN (BN won 133 seats). Pakatan Rakyat only won nine seats in which six seats are in Sarawak and three in Sabah.
This reflects the fact that BN is so dependent on the support of Bumiputera Muslim/Malays voters in Sabah and Sarawak. Apparently, the BN federal government seems trying alleviate their anger by claiming that the decision of the Court of Appeal is only application on the Bahasa Malaysia version of The Herad and does not affect the using of “Allah” during prayer. East Malaysians Christians can continue using “Allah” in their Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible as well as in their prayer.
In short, BN government allows the use of the word "Allah" in worship places for non Muslim Bumiputera/Malay in Malay language but prohibits it in Peninsular Malaysia. Critics say that this is a sort of "one country two systems" and it has futher divided Malaysians. The problem is how do non-Muslim Bumiputera / Malay conduct their prayer using “Allah” in Bahasa Malaysia in case they are in Peninsular Malaysia?
Or what if there are Christian Indonesians who are working in Peninsular Malaysia conducting their prayers using the word “Allah”? Are they allowed to do that? If they are not allowed, does that mean their human rights has been violated?
Although outsiders see this as an impasse thinking of UMNO party and their fanatic followers, but those in UMNO party do not consider this as a problem. In fact, they love to see it happen.
UMNO for sure is happy as this issue will exist to propagate the "racist agenda" of UMNO. Compare to the past, UMNO people does not have to work so hard to incite and gain their support from Malays / Muslim. If necessary, they only have to do it during party election campaign.
What they need to do is ensure right-wing and fanatic NGOs like Perkasa continue to exist and even grow stronger. This is why Perkasa is still around and active till now though people clearly reject their narrow political ballot box in the last GE13 when their main leaders like Ibrahim Ali and Zulkifli Noordin were knocked-out during GE13.
What can we do next? Migrate to foreign country? Migration or moving to another country does not solve the problems that we are facing in Malaysia. In fact, we will be seen as coward. Perkasa for sure will be happy if that happens.
We should stay in our beloved land, Malaysia and courageously uphold the principles of truth, justice and fairness for our society. Malaysians with different ethnic and political backgrounds should mobilize forces to strengthen national unity based on the spirit of "Middle Malaysia", a medium and moderate way to bring all races together.
Dialogue between religious leaders should be carried out to bridge and close the gap between different religions. There are many community programs that can run together and if this can happen, why could not we get started? We will be blessed if we can find greater similarities among our religions.
Cooperation and relationship need to be built at the grassroot level and not among political leaders. We should not wait for the government, political leaders or community leaders to do it because we are the one that need to get started. Such is the meaning of "we have to be the change we want to see".
This is the spirit of "Middle Malaysia" which have to be upheld to avoid any villainous attempt to divide Malaysians.
Lau Weng San