Categorised | Found in Quotation

Hark: the Herald

Corrected on 29 Jan 2009 at 11.40am

“The use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims may arouse sensitivity and create confusion amongst the Muslims in this country.”

FORMER Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin, quoted on 4 Jan 2008. He was elaborating on a cabinet decision to hold as exclusive to Islam the use of the word “Allah”. The Catholic weekly Herald, which had just renewed its printing licence at the time, was therefore barred from using the word. However, there was no restriction on the use of the Malay language (source: Cabinet: “Allah” for Muslims only, theSun, 4 Jan 2008).

“Publication in the Malay language is not allowed until a court decision on the case of the use of the utterance ‘Allah’ is reached.”

This was one of three stipulations in a letter from the Home Ministry to the Herald on 30 Dec 2008, detailing a conditional printing licence. The other two are: “This publication is to be sold in churches only”, and “The front page of the magazine has to display ‘This title is for Christians only’.” The letter was signed by Quran Publication Control and Text Division principal chief secretary Abdul Razak Abdul Latiff, on behalf of the Home Ministry’s secretary general (source: Herald, 11 Jan 2009).

On 2 Jan, Rev Lawrence Andrew, editor of the Herald, sent a letter to the Home Ministry appealing against the decision, and even threatened to take the government to court over the matter (source: Star, 2 Jan 2009).

The Herald‘s 11 Jan edition also quoted from a letter by Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, addressed to the Home Ministry, saying that their restriction was a “clear contravention of the spirit and intent of the National Language Act 1967”.

“The Home Ministry has never prohibited the use of Bahasa Malaysia in the Roman Catholic Church’s publication The Herald (sic).

“The ministry is only against the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. The correct and appropriate translation for God in Bahasa Malaysia or Melayu is ‘Tuhan’.”

The Home Ministry’s (corrected) Publications and Quranic Text Control Division secretary Che Din Yusoh released a statement on 9 Jan, responding to various quarters who had expressed regret at the ministry’s decision to stop the Herald from publishing in Malay (source: No ruling against use of BM in the Herald, Star, 10 Jan).

Interestingly, Clause 1 (a) Article 152 of the Federal Constitution provides that “no person shall be prohibited or prevented from using … any other language,” but makes no such protection of the Malay language.

“We have many organisations in this country, and we shouldn’t think that we only have the right, and others don’t.”

Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, chastising the Herald for its decision to continue using the word “Allah” in its publication without waiting for the courts to decide on the matter. He speculated that the weekly’s actions might cause “conflict, and anger Malaysian Muslims” (source: Herald cabar undang-undang, Utusan Malaysia, 22 Jan 2009).

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11 Responses to “Hark: the Herald

  1. Rancid says:

    Allahhhh…rilek lah brader…

  2. hibou says:

    All the Home Minister, et al, is really doing on this issue is to further confuse and mislead the Muslims themselves, who believe in tawhid – the doctrine of Oneness of God.

    Are the Muslims in our present government denying that Allah is the God of all of humanity?

    If anything, the Muslims should insist that Allah be used to refer to God, Creator, etc.

    What really is suspicious is the intention of some Muslim politicians in this country on this and other issues, which of late seem to be more bent towards segregation and especially racial and religious polarisation.

  3. philomena says:

    What exactly does Syed hamid Albar want? We have been using the word Allah for many years but only recently he realised that it’s very wrong to use Allah by other religions? Allah is merely GOD in Arabic. If your faith is strong you will not feel threatened.

  4. Gallivanter says:

    It’s just another step (of the thousands in the past years) backwards for our country….sigh

  5. ron says:

    Today I had a discussion with a Kiwi who said their paper recently ran an article on world famous New Zealanders. Among them were Sir Edmund Hillary, Peter Jackson, Lucy Lawless, Jonah Lomu, Neil Finn, Anna Paquin, Sam Neil, and of course, Flight of the Conchords.

    We then tried to list the number of world famous Malaysians (at least known in the Western world), and could only think of Jimmy Choo and Michelle Yeoh.

    New Zealand has four million people and Malaysia has 26 million people.

    Anyway I forget my point. It got lost somewhere in the commotion over the use of a word.

  6. Eric says:

    Zedeck, this column of yours is a gem. Found in Quotation is one of my faves.

  7. Andrew I says:

    A condescending tone doesn’t help broker a peace agreement.

    Neither do template assurances.

  8. Zedeck says:

    Hello Eric:

    It’s great that you enjoy Found in Quotation — we enjoy compiling it. I’m not usually the one to thank, though. FIQ is a group effort, you see: everyone at The Nut Graph chips in.

  9. Anne says:

    “We have many organisations in this country, and we shouldn’t think that we only have the right, and others don’t.”
    Does this man actually think before making statements that make him look like he’s suffering from foot-in-mouth disease?

  10. Jefferson Nuing Jemie says:

    Anehnya situasi keagamaan di negara kita, Malaysia.

    Baru-baru ini, saya melayari YouTube untuk mencari video “Christian Hymn”. Tanpa diduga, pencarian tersebut menemukan saya kepada “Byzantine Orthodox Hymn” dan lebih mengejutkan ada dalam antara pujian suci tersebut dinyanyikan dalam Bahasa Arab dan turut menggunakan perkataan ALLAH.

    Sedangkan di Malaysia, perkataan Allah menjadi milik kaum Melayu dan seperti kebiasaan, politik perkauman menghalalkan segala-galanya.

    Sebagai orang Kristian, saya memilih untuk tidak mengambil peduli sangat dengan kebodohan yang sudah sampai ke tahap kegilaan ini kerana ahli-ahli Kristian dinasihatkan untuk tidak terlibat dengan perkara yang membuang masa yang merupakan amalan syaitan.

    Namun saya tetap berdoa agar ahli-ahli politik yang banyak membuang masa mereka dalam isu-isu remeh tersedar sebelum terlambat bahawa ada kalanya jalan ke neraka turut berjudinkan niat-niat yang kononnya untuk kebaikan semua.


  11. Eric says:

    “FIQ is a group effort, you see: everyone at The Nut Graph chips in”

    A big THANKS to the whole Nut Graph Team.

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