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Dec 25, 2007

Herald permit: PM must make his stand in the national interest

herald.jpgvia Aliran

Aliran is flabbergasted that the usage of a single word ‘Allah’ could be the basis for the denial of a fundamental right guaranteed under the Federal Constitution. The Herald, a Catholic weekly, has been warned it could lose its publication permit over its use of the term in its Malay-language section.

Malaysians are truly dumbfounded that the use of a single, widely used term to refer to the Almighty could be the basis for denying a basic right – the freedom to publish.

The term ‘Allah’ has been used for centuries without any problem or confusion. It has been the common term used by Muslims and Christians alike in the Arab world to refer to God

It has also been widely used in Malaysia to refer to the Almighty. There was no problem, no confusion and nobody got upset by this common term of reference. Deputy Internal Security Minister Johari Baharum’s sudden claim to exclusivity for the usage of the word thus does not make sense.

Languages are the common heritage of humanity. Because of this, the various languages developed and grew rich in expression. They absorbed words and expressions from one another and, in the process, languages became expressive, expanded and spread across the world.

Our own Bahasa Malaysia is littered with numerous words absorbed from many foreign languages. We have even stopped using existing words in preference to newly coined terms to reflect modernity and the scientific world. If foreign countries were to claim exclusivity for all these terms, what would become of Bahasa Malaysia?

Aliran also understands that the line, “Ya Allah Yang Maha Kuasa...” forms part of the Pahang state anthem. Does that mean that non-Muslims should not sing the Pahang state anthem? Johari must state his stand in this matter.

In the meantime, Malaysians wait with bated breath for the Prime Minister, who has been preaching tolerance and promoting Islam Hadhari, to clarify this matter and state his stand. Specifically, Malaysians would want to know whether he shares Johari’s stand.

Aliran Executive Committee


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