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PAS respects court's decision to ban 'Allah' in The Herald

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 06:44 PM PDT

Aaron Ngui, The Sun

PAS respects the decision of the Court of Appeal to bar The Herald from using the word "Allah" to refer to God. PAS vice president Datuk Mahfuz Omar said the decision of the court was respected by the Islam-based political party.

"At the same time, PAS also respects the right of the Church to appeal the ruling," he told theSun when contacted.

However, the Pokok Sena MP declined to comment further when pressed on the issue which has triggered debate on the Federal Constitution and freedom of religion in Malaysia.

The appellate court three-men bench, led by Federal Court judge Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Alihad, on Monday allowed the government's appeal to set aside a 2009 High Court decision to allow the weekly to use the word "Allah".

The judgment comes after the Roman Catholic Church led by Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam filed a judicial review on 2010 to seek among others, a declaration that the Home Ministry's prohibition to use the word was illegal.

Also on the same page was Penang Islamic Religious Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Malik Abul Kassim who urged people to abide by the ruling.

"We have no choice but to abide by the ruling but we are closely following any future developments," he said when contacted.

Meanwhile, the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) expressed its disappointment over the ruling as it appeared that all Christian publications in the national language would be affected.

CFM chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said the court had ignored the position of Christians in East Malaysia who used Bahasa Malaysia for worship and service.

He pointed out that churches using the word to refer to God had done so before and after Merdeka, noting that it was not an issue all those years.

He said the authorities who made an issue out of the matter as well as the selective action or inaction have only fueled misunderstandings and mistrusts among the Christians and Muslims in the country.

"As Malaysian Christians we are committed to our beloved nation and our love for Malaysia remains steadfast and we continue to respond with love and not hatred," he said in a statement.

Penang Gerakan Human Rights and Legal Bureau chief Baljit Singh said such matters should have been handled by "men of the cloth" (clerics and priests) and not "men in robes" (judges).

He said the issue should not have gone to the courts for a decision in the first place as religion was a personal matter.

"God should be kept out of court and politics," he told theSun when contacted.


DAP on the warpath, warns members with “BN hearts” and BN-controlled media it will act

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 05:42 PM PDT

Rita Jong, TMI

DAP is ready to wage war against the Barisan Nasional-controlled media and against its own members who are out to sabotage the party, said its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng (pic) today.

The party has directed its national organising secretary Anthony Loke, who is also the Seremban MP, to investigate and take disciplinary action against party members who "wear the Rocket badges but have BN hearts" and try to destroy DAP.

"Loke will submit a formal complaint and if there is basis for further action, it will be brought up to the party's disciplinary committee headed by DAP deputy chairperson and Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai."

Lim also said DAP's legal bureau head and Puchong MP, Gobind Singh Deo, will also take legal action against BN-controlled media, like the New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia, who continue to defame the party.

"Gobind will study the statements published in these newspapers and decide whether to file defamation suits against them to protect the party from being subjected to further attacks that may give opportunity for oppressive action by the Registrar of Societies (RoS)," he said in a statement.

"DAP has to take firm action and protect the party from these lies of cheating to repel BN and its media, New Straits Times and Utusan Malaysia's shameless tactics of 'turning a lie into the truth by repeating it 10,000 times'.

"The public has lost count of the number of times both the media have apologised to Pakatan Rakyat leaders to settle suits out of court."

Lim pointed out that DAP had created history by being the first political party in Malaysia to appoint an international accounting firm to monitor its election process last month, from the issuance of notices, to delegates, to the counting of ballots.

DAP held a fresh election on September 29 after the RoS had directed the party to do so after ruling there were irregularities in its elections last December.



'Outright cheating' at DAP elections

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 05:36 PM PDT

MANIPULATION: 450 'observers' allowed to vote in CEC polls, says ex-veep

(NST) -  A FORMER DAP vice-chairman has alleged some 450 observers were allowed to vote in the party's recent re-election exercise of its central executive committee (CEC).

Zulkifli Mohd Noor claimed the CEC had cheated by "upgrading" the status of the observers, from 120 divisions, to allow them to manipulate the outcome of the Sept 29 re-election exercise.

"DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was aware of this and he allowed it to happen. By right, he should not be getting the 1,301 votes but he was saved by the 450 'delegates'," he told reporters here yesterday.

Zulkifli, who is also Bayan Baru DAP division chairman, said the CEC should have used the original delegates' list for the re-election exercise.

"The cheating was obvious. Lim and the CEC have brought shame to the party. This outright cheating should have never happened."

He said the party's disciplinary committee should issue show-cause letters to Lim and the other CEC members.

"The Registrar of Societies should also investigate."

It was reported that Kluang member of parliament Liew Chin Tong came up tops in the re-election exercise while Guan Eng and his father, Lim Kit Siang, dropped to second and fifth places respectively.

The Lims occupied the two top spots in the first polls last December.

However, there were no surprises in the CEC re-election results as all 20 previously elected members retained their spots.

The polls saw 2,576 members from about 1,000 branches voting at a hotel in Petaling Jaya.


Use of Allah not a Christian conspiracy to convert Muslims, says DAP

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 05:09 PM PDT

Jennifer Gomez, TMI

The court's decision banning the word Allah from the Bahasa Malaysia section of Catholic weekly Herald could have wider implications on other Christian reading materials, an opposition politician warned today.

DAP's Serdang MP, Dr Ong Kian Ming (pic), said the grounds of judgment by the three judges implied that the ban could be easily extended to all Christian publications, including the Al-Kitab, or any other material printed in native languages.

"To say that the use of the word Allah is not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity shows a complete lack of understanding of Bumiputera Christian practices as they have been using the word in their prayers, songs and scriptures for generations," he said in a statement today.

Ong also hit out at Judge Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh who, he said, had done a great disservice to the Christian community by "liberally quoting Christian sources from outside Malaysia to explain that even some Christians did not agree to the use of the word".

"In liberally quoting sources, including an opinion piece by a Brutus Balan which appeared on a website run by Daniel Pipes, a well-known right wing US academic, as well as Fox News, is a great disservice upon himself," he said.

Ong also highlighted a point in Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali's judgment, saying it implied that the use of the word in the Herald was a potential threat to the peace and harmony which exists in Malaysia.

"This is despite the fact that such a threat has never surfaced in Sabah and Sarawak where Bumiputera Christians have been using the word for generations," Ong said.



Court of Appeal judges influenced by right-wing forces in Allah issue, says PAS lawmaker

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 05:03 PM PDT

V. Anbalagan, TMI

An opposition lawmaker believes that the three Court of Appeal judges were influenced by right-wing Muslim groups when they unanimously banned the word Allah from being used in the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Catholic weekly, the Herald.

PAS's Parit Buntar MP, Mujahid Yusof Rawa (pic), an advocate of interfaith dialogue, said the decision was a setback to interfaith relations and that right-wing forces were responsible for the current predicament.

Malay rights groups Perkasa, Jalur Tiga and Pertubuhan Pembela Islam have been at the forefront of protests against the use of the word Allah in this issue.

The Court of Appeal, which allowed the appeal by Putrajaya to reverse an earlier High Court ruling that the Herald could use the word, relied on religious and political reasons to come up with yesterday's decision, said Mujahid.

A three-man bench led by Datuk Seri Mohamed Apandi Ali said the name Allah was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice.

The court said it found no reason why the church was so adamant in wanting to use the name Allah.

Apandi said such usage, if allowed, would inevitably cause confusion within the community, adding that the welfare of an individual or group must give way to the majority community.

Mujahid, who is also a PAS central committee member, said he respected the court decision but disagreed with the way the issue was handled by Putrajaya.

"There has been a lot of media coverage by the government media, representing the extreme right-wing views. These are people who are not able to understand the need for interfaith relationship. They were given attention as if they represent the whole (Muslim) society, which is not the case," Malaysiakini quoted him as saying.

The son of former PAS president Yusof Rawa said he begged to differ on the threat of proselytization among Muslims as highlighted by the judges.

He said this only went to indicate that the followers of Islam were weak.

Mujahid said Muslims should protect other faiths to ensure freedom of religion and show others that there was no compulsion in Islam.

"We should see the bigger picture. But the decision only meant that people of all faiths cannot be united if we continue to be like this," he said.



After RoS woes, DAP MP asks if agency will order fresh Umno polls

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 04:52 PM PDT

(MM) - DAP lawmaker Teo Nie Ching today challenged the Registrar of Societies (RoS) to declare Umno's junior elections last Saturday as "illegitimate" following allegations of irregularities such as missing ballot papers.

The Kulai MP pointed out today the Barisan Nasional (BN) lynchpin's polls were marred by more issues that the vote-tallying error that led the RoS to order the DAP to conduct a new round of elections for its central executive committee (CEC).

"The question is, will the RoS take action against Umno and call for fresh elections?

"If [not], it shows that the RoS is just an Umno puppet for practising double standards towards the DAP and no longer professional, impartial and independent," Teo said in a statement.

She said that Umno executive secretary Datuk Rauf Yusof had pointed out that 50 of 191 divisions experienced technical problems, which prolonged the counting process, while party secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor had said there were not more than 10 percent divisions had technical glitches in the elections, she added.

The assistant national publicity secretary cited reports that said Umno Youth Wing in Merbok and Women's Wing in Petaling Jaya Selatan had received more ballot papers than the legitimate number of delegates, six branches of the Youth wing in Seremban were qualified for voting though they were revoked months ago, and voting for Women's Wing in Baling and Puteri in Sabak Bernam was postponed due to missing ballot papers.

DAP had engaged in a long-running battle with the RoS stemming from a technical glitch in the tabulation of votes from the December 15, 2012 party elections that saw secretary-general Lim Guan Eng's political aide, Zairil Khir Johari, moving up from 39th position to 20th — the final spot on the CEC.

The RoS subsequently ordered the party to conduct fresh polls, after saying it was not satisfied with the party's explanations.

The party initially refused to comply, before finally agreeing to the directive with a special congress on September 29 that saw the same line-up of CEC leaders retaining their posts. 


Allah issue: Find solution or face communal friction

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 04:37 PM PDT

The issue, if remained unsolved, would spark a communal friction between Christians and Muslims in the country, says Tan Keng Liang.

Athi Shankar, FMT

Kedah Gerakan Youth has urged the Barisan Nasional supreme council to take a firm and fair stand on the 'Allah' issue soon.

Out-going head Tan Keng Liang wants BN leadership to reach an amicable solution to resolve the contentious matter after seeking views of all its 13 component parties.

He said this in an e-statement in response to the Court of Appeal (COA) decision yesterday to stop the Catholic weekly periodical The Herald from using the term 'Allah' in its Bahasa Malaysia publication as a reference to 'God'.

The COA reached the decision after the Home Ministry had appealed against a High Court ruling to allow the word to be used in the publication.

Tan said the debacle occurred after the Home Minister exercised his discretion under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 to impose the 'Allah' prohibition.

Pointing out that Christians from Borneo states had been using the term 'Allah" for a very long time, he said the government should have considered those facts seriously before taking legal action.

He cautioned that the issue, if remained unsolved, would spark a communal friction between Christians and Muslims in the country.

He said the government should always consult with all BN components and take into account views of all communities before endorsing a national policy or legislation.

"Such issue wouldn't have arisen if the views of all BN component parties, in particular those from Sabah and Sarawak have been sought before the decision being made," he said.

"The BN supreme council should convene a meeting at the soonest possible to resolve this issue," insisted Tan, who is vying for the position of national Gerakan Youth chief in the coming party election.



PAS: We did lose rural Malay votes but…

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 04:34 PM PDT

Party vice president Salahuddin Ayub says while they may have lost some rural votes, PAS had made inroads in states such as Johor and Terengganu.

G Vinod, FMT

PAS vice president Salahuddin Ayub attributed the party's losses at the Malay rural heartland due to lack of information dissemination.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with FMT, Salahuddin said that PAS failed to counter the negative portrayal against the party via the BN-controlled mainstream media in the last general election.

"We faced a lot of problem from mainstream media. Barisan Nasional (BN) used the race and religious card as a weapon against us.

"Having said that, we also failed to counter the negative perception. Our machinery in the rural area did not work as well as we thought it would," he said.

In the last general election, PAS grabbed 21 parliamentary seats, as opposed to the 23 it won in 2008. Its allies in Pakatan Rakyat, DAP and PKR gained 38 seats and 30 respectively.

Elaborating on that point, Salahuddin said that PAS grassroots failed to counter BN's propaganda on the mainstream media that claimed the Islamic party was only a minor player in the Pakatan fold.

"We lacked party branches and machinery to counter the negative perception in rural areas. Moving forward, we need to address this. The party will set up more branches in the rural areas to welcome more members," he said.

Salahuddin added that while they have lost some rural votes in states like Negeri Sembilan and Kedah, they managed to retain Kelantan and gained significantly in Terengganu.

"We also made inroads in Johor. I know this because I'm leading the party's post-mortem team for general election. The full report and details will be tabled in November," he said.



What’s next? The banning of Sikh Holy Book?

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 04:31 PM PDT

The Court of Appeal ruling on the Allah issue yesterday has given wide-ranging discretionary powers to the Home Minister to make pre-emptive executive decisions, says Tony Pua.

P Ramani, FMT

The Court of Appeal decision yesterday which ruled in favour of the government on the use of the term 'Allah' has also given wide-ranging discretionary powers to the Home Minister to make pre-emptive executive decisions.

The judgment read by Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali stated that the Home Minister had sufficient material before him to ban Catholic weekly The Herald from using the 'Allah' word as "such usage if allowed will inevitably cause confusion within the community".

"In a swoop, the court has empowered the Home Minister to make pre-emptive executive decisions to ban words or publications which he deems will cause "confusion"," said Petaling Jaya Utara MP and DAP National Publicity Secretary Tony Pua today.

He added that with such powers, the Home Minister will be able to rule that the Sikh Holy Book should be banned. It must be noted that the word 'Allah' is also used in the Sikh Holy Book.

"[And] should any church in East or West Malaysia be declared illegal for the widely accepted use of the term 'Allah', and the court will deem itself to have "no plausible reason for the High Court to interfere with the minister's decision"," he said in a statement.

He pointed out that the ramifications of the Court of Appeal decision to empower the Home Minister were wide-ranging.

Pua also said that the Court of Appeal had decided on who are "the majority" and what the "majority" wants.

"It is not the place of the Court of Appeal to decide who are the majority and what they want, and they certainly have no competence to do so.

"It should be emphasised again that the role of the court is to determine "legality" and not making highly subjective moral judgments on ill-defined subjects," he said.

Deciding on behalf of the church

Pua further said that the Court of Appeal judges had decided on behalf of the church on what was deemed "integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity".

The court found 'Allah' not integral to the church and hence they "find no reason why the respondent is so adamant to use the name 'Allah' in their weekly publication, he said

"The court has no role in deciding what is integral or otherwise in any religion practised in Malaysia.  Such a finding is completely irrelevant to a decision over the legality over the use of 'Allah'.

"Hence the court have clearly overstepped its boundaries into the realm of theological discourse, and more critically, breached the Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which allows for other religions to be practised in peace and harmony, and and Article 11 which states that every religious group has the right to manage its own affairs," he added.

He warned that the long-term impact of the Court of Appeal decision was well beyond the issue of the church's use of 'Allah'.



Malaysia court rules 'Allah' only for Muslims

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 12:58 PM PDT 

Florence Looi, Al-Jazeera

Nearly two-hundred members of different Muslim-rights groups had gathered outside the Court of Appeal early on Monday morning. They unfurled banners that read, among other things "Allah – Just for Muslim".

Some had travelled several hours just to lend support to the government, which was seeking to uphold a ban on the use of the word "Allah" by the Catholic Church in its Malay language newspaper, "The Herald". 

In the end, the three-member appeals court panel upheld the ban, backing the government's argument that it was necessary to preserve national security and public order. 

A lower court's ruling in 2010 allowing the Herald to use the word "Allah" led to a spate of attacks against churches and several mosques being vandalised in revenge attacks.

The court, in making its ruling, said the use of the word "Allah" was "not an integral part of the faith and practice of Christianity."

It went on to say that "It is our judgment that there is no infringement of any constitutional rights" in the ban, adding that "We could find no reason why the Herald is so adamant to use the word 'Allah' in their weekly [publication]. Such usage if allowed will inevitably cause confusion within the community."

It's a position that's highly unusual in the Muslim world and one that has surprised Islamic scholars.

Ahmad Moussalli, a professor at the American University of Beirut says "God or Allah in our language, the Arabic language is not an exclusive word. It is an inclusive word".

Moussalli, who teaches modern Islamic history, says "The Arab culture is very diverse. If you look at sermons in churches in the Islamic world, you see them using the same word Allah. There is no reason to object to that usage by Muslim clergy or institution."

In neighbouring Indonesia, a country with the world's biggest Muslim population, Christians and Muslims alike use the word "Allah" to refer to God.

The Christian community in Malaysia, which make up nine percent of the population, say they have been using the word "Allah", the Arabic word for God, to refer to God in the Malay language for centuries.

Step into a church whose congregation speaks the local language, and you'll hear the word "Allah". Open a Malay language Bible, and you'll see the word "Allah".

The fear now is that the court's decision, although at present confined to the Catholic newspaper, could have wider implications.  Already, some groups suggest that the decision could be interpreted to apply to other publications.

Ibrahim Ali, the Chief of the Malay rights group Perkasa, said "If you read the [court] decision, that the word of "Kalima Allah" cannot be used by anybody else besides Muslims, so to me it applies to anything, to any publication but it's up to authorities to address the issue, not me." 


Double whammy of Penang’s tunnel and reclamation

Posted: 14 Oct 2013 12:44 PM PDT 

( - If the trend for sales of new high-end property in Penang is anything to go by, it's not just locals that the projects are catering for; the units would very likely draw interest of foreigners and speculators who want to make a buck by re-selling at higher prices later.

When Penangites recently woke up to news that the state has sealed a preliminary agreement for a new undersea tunnel and three major roads costing RM6.3 billion, it inevitably stirred a lot of interest over how the projects would impact the local community and landscape.

Stretching some 6.5km, the tunnel would connect Gurney Drive directly to Butterworth, while the highways measuring a total of 20.8km would significantly shorten travel time between key sites on the island.

But there is one important link in this matter that has been overlooked by many.

It has to do with the distinct prospect that this mega project will be tied – financially and functionally – with another one, even more titanic in scale.

This is the Sri Tanjung Pinang Phase II, or STP2 for short, which is nearby around Gurney Drive itself.

Touted to have a whopping gross development value of RM25 billion, it would be one of the biggest single projects, in terms of size and monetary worth, in Malaysia.

The project entails the reclamation of some 891 acres off Gurney Drive – including a 760-acre island plus foreshore reclamation of Gurney Drive itself by 131 acres.

The developer undertaking it, Tanjung Pinang Development Sdn Bhd, is 78.8% owned by E&O Property (Penang) while the Penang government has 21.2%.

Unsurprisingly, there are those who fear that the tunnel would usher unwelcome congestion to the already packed roads of the island, as people with vehicles from the mainland get increasingly drawn in due to the new link.

But the crowd is bound to increase, also because of the sheer number of houses and commercial units intended to be built on the massive STP2 project.

Under the current plan, the STP2 area is targeted to have about 12,000 new homes, in addition to mixed-use commercial spaces – retail units, offices, tourism outlets and so on – occupying some 28.45 million sq ft.

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