KUALA LUMPUR: The court battle for the right to the word ‘Allah’ raging now between the Catholic Church and the Home Ministry is an example of Putrajaya’s ineptitude in making public policies, a former de facto law minister said on Sept 10.
Taking to Twitter as the Court of Appeal heard arguments from the Home Ministry and several Islamic groups to reverse a 2009 High Court ruling that the Arabic word is not exclusive to Muslims, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim suggested the religious dispute could have been settled peaceably if the government had taken more care in formulating its public policies.
“Getting the Court to solve the mess when it requires political solution, is not legal. This is an example of a silly policy made without care,” said the one-time minister tasked with reforming the law during the Abdullah administration.
The outspoken lawyer-turned-politician has grown more prolific on the micro-blogging site recently in speaking out against a perceived spurt of creeping Islamisation in Malaysia’s bureaucracy.
Religious and racial issues are inseparable in Malaysia where the dominant Malay community is also constitutionally defined as Muslims.
Apart from the ‘Allah’ case, Zaid has also blamed the government for crafting “Arabic” leaning education policies, which have led to a racial imbalance among the student population in national schools as more Chinese and Indians opt to send their children to vernacular or even international schools.
The Kelantan-born lawyer who has been following news reports of the ‘Allah’ court case appeared to disagree with the government lawyer who had argued that the Home Ministry’s decision to ban the Catholic Church from publishing the word for god in a non-Muslim context was to pre-empt widespread public disorder.
“Banning of a word by the Home Minister is not a preemptive but an emotional strike,” Zaid said on his Twitter handle @zaidibrahim.
He added, “Before the ban, the word was used for years without any problem.” Here he is adopting the same point the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the country’s largest church group, had made in a fact sheet on the ‘Allah’ row, to show historical evidence of its use among non-Muslim native believers.
According to CFM, Malaysia’s indigenous Christians who regularly use the word in the national language and their dialects for worship make up some 60 per cent of the creed’s 2.6 million followers.
Apart from Christians, Malaysians of other faiths have also claimed that their holy books contain the word ‘Allah’ to refer to their gods, a point Zaid noted.
“Decision binding on HERALD, but nothing to prevent Others from using. Karpal as a Sikh can use it he is not party to proceeding,” he tweeted, referring to DAP national chairman Karpal Singh, a prominent lawyer and lawmaker, who is a believer in Sikhism.
“If Court says ‘Allah’ only for Muslims, that will not prevent usage by Christians, for how do you enforce it?” Zaid asked. --themalaymailonline