Tuesday, October 26

Nazri reiterates stand on ‘Allah’ issue

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KUCHING: Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz reiterated his stance that the word ‘Allah’ can only be used in Sarawak and Sabah but not in Peninsular Malaysia and that if people from these two states go to the peninsula they have to follow the customs and traditions.

Elaborating on his support for the Court of Appeal’s decision to back a Home Ministry ban on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by The Herald, Nazri said East Malaysian culture was different from that in the peninsula and the two should not be mixed.

While Christians can continue using ‘Allah’ in Sabah and Sarawak because that is a century-old practice, in the peninsula, they must mind sensitivities. “It is not practised in Peninsular Malaysia. Because of that, I protest against it (the use of ‘Allah’ by Christians). I don’t care what others are saying,” Nazri was quoted in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“So, don’t kick up a fuss. For Christians from Sabah and Sarawak, when they come here, they need to follow the customs and traditions in the peninsula,” he added.

Nazri said the difference in the implementation of the ban was not hard to accept. When Peninsular Malaysians visit Sabah and Sarawak, they had to show their passports to get into the Borneo states, but not the other way around.

Nazri obviously still maintains and is consistent with his strong views he expressed when he was interviewed by The Borneo Post on the same subject in early 2010.

He said, “We don’t care what you do in Sarawak and Sabah, but don’t bring to Semenanjung.It’s entirely different culture for us. That’s cultural. So avoid any future conflict, it is best that we go back to status quo while waiting for the decision of the court.”

When pressed on by journalists on sentiments being stirred by two sets of law on ‘Allah’ issue then, Nazri said, “If the court so decides, we must respect. I am a seeker for law. I am a lawyer, if you break the laws, I don’t care. It does not matter you are Muslim, non-Muslim, you are Malay, you are Chinese, I fight.”

His parting words three years ago was, “‘Allah’ shall continue to be used in Sarawak and Sabah. But if you come to Semenanjung Malaysia, please respect our belief and traditions.”

The full interview “Face to face with Nazri on ‘Allah’ issue” is available on Borneo Post Online.

Meanwhile, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing is satisfied with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s assurance that the Court of Appeal’s ruling is not binding on both Sarawak and Sabah.

“As a politician, I am satisfied with PM’s assurance that the Court of Appeal’s ruling on the term ‘Allah’ (to refer to God) is not binding on Sarawak and Sabah. Whether the legal interpretation of the ruling is in sync with political interpretation is not for me to judge. I am not a lawyer.

“But as long as it keeps peace and maintains religious harmony in the two eastern states, I am happy. I hope personalities from outside of Sarawak and Sabah do not poke their noses and create problems for us in these two states; we will be okay as we had done over 100 years,” Masing told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on Najib’s assurance in Sabah on Monday that Christians in Sarawak and Sabah could continue using the word “Allah” in their worship, as the Federal Government would honour the 10-point solution on the issue made in 2011.

Najib had also advised all groups not to politicise the issue “as they will be playing with fire that can eventually burn them”.

He said COA’s decision to uphold the Home Ministry’s ban on the use of term “Allah” in the Catholic publication The Herald did not affect the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak.

(Under the 10-point solution announced by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Idris Jala, Bibles in all languages can be imported into the country, including those in Bahasa Malaysia or Indonesia, and the Bibles can also be printed locally in Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. Bibles in the indigenous languages of Sabah and Sarawak, such as Iban, Kadazandusun and Lun Bawang, could be printed locally and imported.)

Najib said the people of Sabah and Sarawak should not feel threatened by this issue because whatever they had been practising so far could continue without any restriction.