Isnin, 14 Oktober 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

DAP re-election a "drama", says former party vice-chairman

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 06:30 PM PDT

(Bernama) - Former DAP national vice-chairman Zulkifli Mohd Noor has described the re-election of the party's Central Executive Committee (CEC) on Sept 29, as a "drama".

He said the re-election was "crafty and worse than the CEC election on Dec 15 last year."

Speaking to reporters here today, he said the re-election of the CEC last month should have been based on the status quo of delegate and branch lists on Dec 15.

"The CEC also has no authority to approve or upgrade the status of a 'B' certificate branch into an 'A' certificate this year, as the CEC was not recognised by the Registrar of Societies (ROS)," said Zulkifli.

Therefore, he is calling on the ROS to investigate the attendance and balloting of 450 delegates from 120 new branches at the CEC re-election last month.


Catholic Church to challenge ‘unrealistic’ decision

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 06:03 PM PDT

(MM) - The Catholic Church today said it would contest the Court of Appeal's decision to overturn an earlier High Court judgment allowing its weekly publication the Herald to use the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said they cannot see how the government can reconcile its position against the use of "Allah" in the Catholic weekly, when it concurrently promised to continue to allow the Christian community to freely use, import and distribute the Malay version of the Bible, known as the al-Kitab, which uses the word extensively.

"We are greatly disappointed and dismayed by the decision of the Court of Appeal by allowing the home minister's appeal and by setting the High Court judgement aside," he said when met outside the court after the judgement was delivered.

Lawrence argued that there is no evidence to support the government's claim that the use of the word "Allah" by Christians in the country is a danger to public order and safety.

He added that the appellate court's decision was "unrealistic" as the word "Allah" has been used by the Malay-speaking congregation and indigenous groups, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, for generations.

"We have not caused disharmony. For the 18 years of Herald's publication, we have not caused any inconveniences.

"It is also a retrograde step in the development of the law on the fundamental liberties of religious minorities in this country," he said, referring to the Court of Appeal judgement

The Catholic Church has 30 days from now to file an application for leave at the Federal Court to appeal against today's judgement.

Lawyer S. Selvarajah, who is acting on behalf of the Catholic Church, noted that the appellate court's position on upholding the safety of the public and state was not applicable in this case as they have yet to see any evidence to support the claim that such a threat existed when the home ministry imposed the ban in 2008.

Selvarajah said the spate of attacks on houses of worship, which followed the High Court's 2009 decision to allow the Herald to use the word "Allah", was not reflective of growing public disorder as it only accounted for a small number of cases.

"We are concerned with what transpired when the decision was made," he said, referring to the ministry's ban on the use of the word "Allah" by the Herald.

"You cannot use what happened after the judgement to justify the decision," he added.

Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri said the Court of Appeal's judgement failed to take into account the protection of minority rights in the country, and will only make Malay-speaking Christians unsure of whether they may still use the word.

"Right now, it looks like there will be 1.6 million Christians in Sabah and Sarawak who will be confused," he said.

The Allah case returned to the courts last September, over three years after Putrajaya filed an appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's decision in favour of allowing Catholic weekly the Herald to continue using the word "Allah" in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The Catholic Church had in July this year moved to strike out the government's appeal after patience ran out with the lack of progress in the government's challenge on the decision, that has contributed to festering interfaith ties in the country.

The Allah row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke the Herald's newspaper permit, prompting the Catholic Church to sue the government for violating its Constitutional rights. 


Borneo churches insist on using ‘Allah’, slams appeal ruling

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:55 PM PDT

(MM) - Sabah and Sarawak churches maintained today that they will continue calling their god "Allah", despite the Court of Appeal ruling today that the Arabic word was exclusive to Muslims.

Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok, chairman of the Association of Churches in Sarawak, said it was "utterly irresponsible" and "grossly demeaning, to say the least", for the appellate court to rule that the use of the word "Allah" was not integral to the Christian faith.

"In the meantime, Christians in Sabah and Sarawak continue to reverently worship their Allah until the Kingdom comes.

"What are you going to do about it?" said Lapok in a statement today.

Bishop Datuk Dr Thomas Tsen, president of the Sabah Council of Churches, also said separately that Bumiputera Christians in Sabah will keep using the word "Allah" in their worship and in the Al-Kitab.

"We'll still do what we've been doing all this time," Tsen told The Malay Mail Online today.

"'Allah, bapa di syurga' (Our Father, who art in Heaven) — that's our Lord's prayer. You cannot ask me to change the way I call our Father," he added.



Politicians, corporate leaders Syiah followers

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:43 PM PDT

(Bernama) - Stringent prevention laws are needed to curb the spread of Syiah teachings in the country, which is currently said to
have reached between 200,000 and 300,000 followers.

When making the proposal, Home Ministry Security and Public Order assistant secretary Zamihan Md Zain Al-Ghari said there was an immediate need to stop the teaching following involvement from politicians and corporate figures.

Their involvement is dangerous as it could subtly influence the community through the spread of ideologies and products, he said when presenting a working paper titled 'Modus Operandi Gerakan Syiah dan Ancamannya kepada Kestabilan Negara' at the 'Confronting the Syiah Virus' Seminar in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), here yesterday.

He also urged state religious authorities to intensify operations on Syiah headquarters, which should be done more consistently.

"Since the Syiah was gazetted as illegal by the National Fatwa Council in 1984 and 1997, not much enforcement was done," he said.

Zamihan, who has 13 years of experience in dakwah and has written more than 20 books on the dangers of Syiah understanding, also suggested that Article 3 in the Federal Constitution, which states Islam as the official religion, be amended to only recognise Islamic teachings based on the Sunnah Wal Jamaah. 


No ‘Allah’ for Herald

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:38 PM PDT

The Court of Appeal overturns a High Court ruling that allowed the word 'Allah' to be used by a Christian publication.

K Pragalath, FMT

The Court of Appeal today upheld an appeal from the government to bar Christian publication, The Herald, from referring to God as 'Allah'.

The panel of judges – Federal Court judge Mohamed Apandi Ali, Appeals Court judges Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim – were unanimous in their decision.

"We allow the appeal by the Home Ministry. All orders by High Court is set aside. There is no infringement of constitutional rights as claimed. We can find no reason why the respondent are so adamant."

"Allah's name is not integral to the (Christian) community here," said Apandi.

Apandi also said that the Home Minister had acted within his jurisdiction to ban the usage of Allah by The Herald.

"We are satisfied that the minister had discharged his function within the powers as provided under the Publishing Presses and Printing Act," said Apandi.

The ruling today means Catholic weekly The Herald will not be allowed to use 'Allah' in its Malay edition

The ruling was read out in the presence of about 60 people in the courtroom, including representative from NGOs such as Perkasa and Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA).

Archbishop Emeritus Soter Fernandez, The Herald editor Lawrence Andrew and priest Clarence Dass from the Christian church were the few Christian community representatives present in court.

Last month, the Court of Appeal withheld their judgment after hearing submissions from the Home Ministry, the Catholic Church, various state Islamic religious councils, Muslim NGOs and several non-Muslim groups on the issue.

The hearing today was result of the Home Ministry's decision to challenge a High Court ruling made in 2009.

Four years ago the High Court gave the green light to an application by Catholic Church Archbishop Murphy Pakiam to use the word 'Allah' to refer to as God in The Herald following a ban made by the Home Ministry.

Then High Court judge, Lau Bee Lan allowed the usage of 'Allah' by The Herald, a weekly, in its Bahasa Malaysia section on the grounds that it was their constitutional right.

Controversy over Allah's name arose after the Home Ministry decided to uphold a fatwa that prohibited the usage of Allah's name by non-Muslims. In the process it did not issue a permit to The Herald.

Church to appeal

Counsel for the church, Annou Xavier, today, confirmed that they would appeal against the judgment at the Federal Court by filing a leave application soon.

Council of Churches Malaysia general secretary Hermen Shastri who was disappointed with the ruling, quoted Surah al-Ankabut verse 46 when asked for a comment.

"We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

"Regardless of the decision we'll continue to use the Malay bible that contains the word Allah. The (Malay) Bible is not banned," he added.

Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew said that he cannot understand how Allah can be used in the Malay bible but not in the Herald.

"How can the church be allowed to print the Al-Kitab and yet prohibit the use of Allah in the Herald on the grounds that it is exclusive? It is a retrograde step to religious minorities," he said.



Lee’s sacking douses anti-Chua movement?

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:27 PM PDT

Even though he's been sacked from the party, ex-MCA central committee member Lee Hwa Beng believes the anti-Chua fire he's stoked within the party will continue to smoulder.

Leven Woon, FMT

Former MCA central committee member Lee Hwa Beng's aim to start Anthing But Chua (ABC) movement to oust party president Dr Chua Soi Lek has been nipped in the bud.

His sacking by the MCA central Committee on Oct 3 put paid to his ambition to start a movement from within the party to eject Chua.

The party reportedly sacked him because he had invited DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang to his book launch "PKFZ: A Nation's Trust Betrayed" last year.

Speaking to FMT recently, Lee admitted that Chua had effectively crippled the ABC movement by sacking him.

"Now I am no longer a MCA member, so it is not nice for those who hate Chua to come to see me.

"This will even jeopardise Liow Tiong Lai's fight against Chua," he said, referring to the MCA deputy president who was also at loggerheads with Chua.

But Lee believes his alleged "unconstitutional" dismissal would further stoke the anti-Chua fire that is growing in size and strength within the party.

"I have created the fire, and people will now carry it on. In fact Chua has made me more vocal. At the beginning I didn't know where to go, now I can go to the media," he said.

'Chua is shameless'

The former three-term Subang Jaya assemblyman claimed that Chua was a "shameless" man who would resort to all tactics to stay in power.

He said this was reflected in the MCA extraordinary general meeting on Oct 20 that was brought by Chua's supporters to overturn a 2010 decision not to accept any government post.

The all important meet, apart from proposing MCA takes-up all appointed government positions, will also be asked to give its green light for the party to accept senatorships, local council appointments and other posts in government linked companies.

The EGM also contains a motion to censure Liow for refusing to accept a collective decision made on government posts and for failing in his duty as the General Election Preparation Committee chairman.

Said Lee: "He (Chua) is a very smart man. He doesn't care that the party or the community suffers as long as he can continue to become president."

"This has never been done by the past MCA presidents such as Lee San Choon, Ling Liong Sik, Ong Ka Ting or Ong Tee Keat.

"You are saying Liow has contributed to MCA defeat. How can the number 2 man take responsibility (for the party election results)? Because they (Chua and his supporters) don't care…they (CEC members) engineer a show to make Chua a hero in his own eyes.

"In the end who will suffer? The party will suffer. My sacking was against party procedures."

Lee claimed that Chua has such a bad reputation in the eyes of public to the level that "you cannot find anyone from your family or your relative who says Chua is good".

Chua's public image was partly shaped by his previous involvement in a sex scandal with a young woman, and his combative style defending the ruling BN government despite a boiling anti-establishment mood in the Chinese community.

"You can still find people who like Liow Tiong Lai, Ong Ka Cuan or any others, but just not Chua. That's why I say anything but Chua," he said.



‘Christians would be confused as well’

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 05:24 PM PDT

Their concept of God as symbolised by the Trinity is absolutely and completely dissimilar to the concept of Allah in Islam, says Justice Zawawi Salleh.

K Pragalath, FMT

Even the Christians would be confused over the usage of Allah's name since there is a different understanding of God in Christianity and Islam, said Court of Appeal judge, Zawawi Salleh in his written judgment today.

The Cout of Appeal today unanimously over-ruled a Kuala Lumpur High Court decision in 2009 which had allowed Catholic newspaper The Herald to use 'Allah' to refer to the Christian God.

In his judgment this morning, Zawari said there was potential for ambiguity if Allah was allowed to be used in The Herald.

"If the word Allah is to be employed in the Malay versions of The Herald to refer to God, there will be a risk of misrepresentation of God within Christianity.

"This is because the Christian concept of God as symbolised by the Trinity is absolutely and completely dissimilar to the concept of Allah in Islam.

"The potential for confusion is not confined only to Muslims but also to Christians," said Zawawi.

Apart from Zawawi, the two other judges who heard the appeal were Federal Court judge Mohamed Apandi Ali and Appeals Court judge Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim.

Zawawi also pointed out that the Indonesian, Malay and Middle Eastern Bibles erred by using the word Allah to refer to God in the Bible.

"This Islamic deity called Allah is never found in the Hebrew text of the Bible. It is antithetical to the Biblical God, Jehovah-Elohim," he said.

Religious freedom

He added that the non-Arabic speaking Christian community did not translate the Hebrew word, Yahweh as Allah.

"It is translated as Yahweh or rabb," he said, adding that only the Malay translation in 1912 and 1988 used Allah for Yahweh.



Najib Sees Malaysia Escaping Fitch Rating Cut

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 08:53 AM PDT

(Bloomberg) - Prime Minister Najib Razak said he believes that Malaysia can avoid a cut to its 
credit ratingwhile the government will try its "level best" to prevent a breach of its self-imposed sovereign debt ceiling.

"We will manage it," Najib said in an Oct. 11 interview in Putrajaya, the country's administrative center near Kuala Lumpur. "We're very closely monitoring how we manage our macro position as well as our fiscal and debt to make sure that we will not be downgraded."

Najib raised subsidized fuel prices for the first time since 2010 and said he'd delay some public projects after Fitch Ratings cut Malaysia's credit outlook to negative in July, citing rising debt levels and a lack of budgetary reform. The country, which has a long-term foreign-currency denominated rating of A- at Fitch, has run annual budget deficits every year starting in 1998.

At 53.3 percent, Malaysia's debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is the highest among 12 emerging Asian markets after Sri Lanka, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Moody's Investors Service said last month the budget gap may exceed Najib's target of 4 percent of GDP this year and warned fiscal targets will become "increasingly out of reach" unless further measures are taken. Moody's rates Malaysia government bonds A3 with a stable outlook.

The government will further cut state subsidies, broaden its tax base and manage spending "prudently," said Najib, 60, who is also finance minister, without elaborating. Cabinet will meet before the 2014 budget is released Oct. 25 to decide if there's enough public support to introduce a goods and services tax, he said.

Taxing Challenge

"We are quite positive on Malaysia," Enrico Tanuwidjaja, a Singapore-based economist at Nomura Holdings Inc., said by phone yesterday. "They are on a fiscal consolidation path and they will boost the revenue base if the government can push through the GST in the coming budget. A sub-3 percent fiscal deficit could happen in 2016, if not in 2015 as per the official aim."

The ringgit has fallen 3.8 percent this year, the fifth worst performer among 11 most traded Asian currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The currency could gain over time if the nation's fundamentals remain strong, central bank Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz said in an Oct. 12 interview with Bloomberg News in Washington.

"We believe that, over the medium term, yes, it should reflect underlying fundamentals, and if the underlying fundamentals remain strong, then over time it should be an appreciating trend," said Zeti, predicting stronger economic growth in 2014.

The government earlier planned to introduce a 4 percent GST by 2011. It hasn't said what the rate may be if it now goes ahead.

'Level Best'

"We are one of the very, very few countries in the world which doesn't have a GST," said Najib, who was returned to power in a general election in May with a reduced majority as his coalition lost the popular vote for the first time. "But there are challenges. Anything to do with any new form of tax, like consumption tax in Japan, carbon tax in Australia, these are big issues that cannot be easily decided."

The government will "try our level best" not to go beyond its debt ceiling of 55 percent of GDP, said Najib, a U.K.- educated industrial economics graduate. If Malaysia can achieve 5 to 6 percent GDP growth "we should be able to manage the debt ceiling," he said. "The weakening external global economy is of concern to us."

Southeast Asia's third-largest economy withstood faltering overseas demand in the past year as Najib gave handouts to voters and boosted investment ahead of the May vote. GDP expanded more than 4 percent in each of the 15 quarters through June 2013. \


Court to decide on church's usage of 'Allah' today

Posted: 13 Oct 2013 08:22 AM PDT 

Qishin Tariq, The Star

The Court of Appeal will decide today if Catholic weekly The Herald can use the term 'Allah' in its Malay edition.

The Court of Appeal had reserved judgment on the Government's appeal after the conclusion of submissions on Sept 10.

It had heard submissions from lawyers for the Home Ministry and the Government, interested Muslim groups and the Catholic Church.

The three-man panel, comprising Justice Mohamed Apandi Ali, who was elevated to Federal Court on Sept 30, Justice Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim, is expected to deliver its decision today.

The dispute on the use of 'Allah' by non-Muslims started when the Home Ministry prohibited the publication to use the word as a condition for permit renewal issuance in 2007.

In February 2008, the Church filed for a judicial review of the ministry's decision and, on Dec 31, 2009, the High Court declared the decision by the ministry was illegal, null and void.

The court also ruled the term 'Allah' was not exclusive to Muslims and use by the Christians was protected under the Federal Con­stitution as long as it was not used to preach to Muslims.

The Home Ministry and Government then appealed against the decision.

A rash of attacks against Churches – from vandalism to arson - broke out in the aftermath of the decision, a reaction believed to stem from certain groups that believed that the word should only be used to refer to the Muslim God.

The Herald editor Rev Father Lawrence Andrew said the publication had not used 'Allah' in the interim as the Government had been granted a stay against the execution while the appeal was still ongoing.

"Should the decision favour the Church, it would be a recognition of religious freedom, as enshrined in the Federal Constitution. In fact, the Constitution is being tarnished by such limitations," he said.

On July 9, the Roman Catholic Archbishop filed an application to strike out the Government's appeal, arguing that a 10-point solution signed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak on April 11, 2011, allowed the importation and publication of Bibles in all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia with the word 'Allah' without restriction and, by extension, The Herald, which quotes the Bible, too, should be allowed to use the word.

This was disallowed by the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the subject of the appeal was still a live issue and that the controversy had yet to be resolved.



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