I have commented in a blog that out of respect to Muslims sensitivities, I do not engage in issues raised by my fellow bloggers in matters concerning Islam.
That will always be my position.
I have openly and strongly voiced my disagreement in the action taken by the Catholic Church, the faith of which I profess, in the Allah issue.
My reasoning is simple. It does matter from when, where and who are using Allah to describe their creator. In Malaysia, Allah is the creator for the Malays and therefore should be be respected and accepted as such.
It would be different if there was no other word to describe my creator in the Malay language, there is, it is Tuhan. It would be illogical in the absence of an alternative translation of God in the Malay language for this to become an issue.
What about Sarawak and Sabah my detractors may ask, "they have been using Allah to describe God in the bible for ages!"
I will deal with that later.
At this point I will declare that from the Allah issue, which has led to the present Alkitab controversy, politics has been the overriding cause for the assent and dissent.
My Church might beg to differ but I will stand by my statement. The church has no business in political affairs and the catalyst was it's intended coverage of the Permatang Pauh by-election by The Herald.
Blame must also be squarely placed on the weak and bungling Pak Lah, for the political motivation as the timing suggests 1) pre GE 12 and 2) pre Permatang Pauh, for all subsequent events.
Why bungling? The circulation of The Herald firmly suggests that it would not impact in any election especially in Permatang Pauh.
It all began in 2007 with trademark flip flop fashion when The Herald were issued show cause letters on the prohibition of the use of Allah and then being allowed, The Star, December 30 2007
As to the circulation of The Herald in the same report
"The paper has a circulation of 12,000 among the Catholic community."
Fast forward 2008 post GE12 disaster and circa Permatang Pauh.
The Home Ministry, warned the Herald of political connotations, after a series of show cause letters had been given to that effect. The Star reported August 13 2008
An official with the Home Ministry’s publication control and al-Quran text division said this was because an editorial on the by-election was a topic under current affairs and politics.
“This clearly goes against the conditions of their permit which should only centre on their religion and religious activities. It will earn the Herald another warning letter and probably, even a suspension,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
The defiance of the Church is adequately supported by the words Father Lawrence Andrew in the same report.
"Its editor, Father Lawrence Andrew, has denied the allegations and said that its next issue would carry an editorial on the Permatang Pauh by-election."
The next day the Christian Federation of Malaysia issue this statement.
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE
CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA
(PERSEKUTUAN KRISTIAN MALAYSIA)
Address: 10, Jalan 11/9, Section 11, 46200 Pctaling Jaya,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Telephone: (03) 79571278, (03) 7957146, Fax: (03) 79571457
Email: cfmsia @yahoo.co.uk
PRESS STATEMENT ON THE "SHOW-CAUSE" LETTER ISSUED TO THE HERALD
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) regards the three warning letters sent by the Home Affairs Ministry to the publishers of the HERALD as unjustified and an infringement of the right to circulate news within one' own religious community, a right guaranteed by our Federal Constitution (Article 11).
Christians believe that all of life, in its political, economic, social, cultural and religious aspects, come under the sovereignty of God. Therefore, Christians have a duty to educate its members to discern God's will and purpose by writing and publishing articles in church newsletters.
Furthermore, the weekly news contained in the Herald is intended for Catholic Christians who are regular Sunday worshippers, in order to help them to relate their faith to wider concerns, and to pray effectively for God's blessings and guidance in one's life, nation and the world.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) calls upon the Home Affairs Ministry to unconditionally withdraw the "Show-cause" letter and grant the HERALD their renewable publishing permit. Should there be matters for clarification it should be resolved rationally and reasonably through face to face dialogue.
Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing, SJ
Chairman, Christian Fcdration of Malaysia
Dated: 141h August 2008
I have already stated that the Church has no business to be involved in political matters and out of respect to my Church elders I will not comment on that press statement. But one would be advised to scrutinise it closely.
I will only say "cuius regio, eius religio".
This time the flip, we all know what the Permatang Pauh result was, turned to flop with the High Court decision favouring The Herald.
I do not know what the exact line of defence the AG office put forward but the reason for the prohibition of the use of Allah because of proselytisation by Christians or confusing Muslims, is flimsy. In fact it insults Muslims. It implies that Muslims are weak in their faith and gullible.
Here too I must ask my Church to admit that propagation is an intrinsic function in the Catholic faith, a Christian attribute embedded over time, hence it proselytises. Please do so within acceptable boundaries in the Malaysian context and of the law.
I have read somewhere about certain Christian sect going about disguised in Jubah for the purpose of proselytising Malays. This is unacceptable. Clandestine proselytisation is deceitful and abominable deserving condemnation.
If my Church will take cognizance of where the Catholic Church was and yet survived and flourished before it became the Roman Catholic Church, then they will have to admit that they are being politically manipulated knowingly or otherwise in their devil may care action, to legitimise their use of Allah.
I have seen with my own eyes and heard enough to state categorically that the Church sympathizes with the opposition since Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's sacking and even now condones opposition activity within the confines of the Church.
Yes, it is a constitutional right and declared by the court to be so, albeit creating negative consequences in the aftermath of a pyrrhic victory. Arson and disharmony. It is right for wrong reasons.
Now, here is where Sabah and Sarawak comes into the picture because the ban on The Herald would have a significant impact in these States. In these States, Allah had been the word to describe God in their bibles.
Banning the word would also mean banning bibles. Which would really be an infringement of the Constitution.
Which brings us to the present Al-Kitab issue.
The present Home Ministry is falling all over it's self in handling matters at hand. Conflicting statements and indecisions seem to be the order of the day.
The bibles should have been released unconditionally as otherwise would be deemed defying an order of the Court.
It has incurred the wrath of Christian adherents especially in Sarawak where the State elections has been called. Federal issues has rarely been factors determining election results in East Malaysia, this now will.
Stamping the bibles arbitrarily is another faux pas. That the Home Ministry took it upon themselves to stamp thousands of bibles without informing the owners and interested parties shows a total lack of courtesy much less professionalism, never mind that it could arguably be against the law.
As for the Christian community, they seem heaven and hell bent and insistent to get things their way, no matter what. Fueling further antagonism. It is unbecoming of any religious fraternity. Instigation can only be the true cause.
The recent police report by them is taking advantage of the upcoming Sarawak State Elections to leverage decisions in their favour. Only politicians do that, opportunistic opposition politicians. It's all a sham and dishonest act.
These opposition politicians are exploiting this situation to the hilt to sway the Christian votes away from the BN in the upcoming elections, no thanks to the incompetence of the Home Ministry.
The most ridiculous is their cry of desecration. What utter rubbish. Yes, it was ill conceived for the Home Ministry to stamp the bibles. Damaging property, sure, but desecration? Its not as though they smeared all the bibles with paint or something more unsavoury.
I call upon my Christian brothers and sisters to stop and sit back for a moment and not let anyone influence you into actions that will further aggravate what is already a combustible situation.
It's a Christian thing to do.
While the High Court decision has gone your way, what a selfless and noble act it would be to give a sincere assurance that Allah will not be used in Christian publications. That the bibles for Sarawak and Sabah. within a given time frame, will not refer to God as Allah.
The flock has always been obedient to the shepherd, surely the flock will accept unhesitatingly such a magnanimous deed for the sake of peace and harmony.
We will not be surrendering our rights. We will be winning admiration and respect.
THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS
PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS
POPE PAUL VI
ON OCTOBER 28, 1965
"Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom"
Priests Do Not Have a Political Mission
General Audience â€” July 28, 1993
Nevertheless, Jesus never wanted to be involved in a political movement, and fled from every attempt to draw him into earthly questions and affairs.(cf. Jn 6:15).
The 1971 Synod of Bishops especially stressed that the presbyter must abstain from all political activism: "Leadership or active militancy on behalf of any political party is to be excluded by every priest unless, in concrete and exceptional circumstances, this is truly required by the good of the community, and receives the consent of the bishop after consultation with the presbyteral council and, if circumstances call for it, with the episcopal conference" (Ench. Vat., IV, 1197). Thus it is possible to derogate from the common norm, but this can be justified only in truly exceptional circumstances and requires due authorization.