Abdullah should overrule
Johari and rescind Internal Security Ministry order to Herald to discontinue
the Bahasa Malaysia section so that Christmas Day this year will not be
celebrated under a cloud of burgeoning religious intolerance and
Media Conference (3)
by Lim Kit Siang
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should overrule Internal Security Deputy Minister,
Datuk Johari Baharum and rescind the Internal Security Ministry order to
Herald, the Catholic weekly to discontinue the Bahasa Malaysia section, so
that Christmas Day this year will not be celebrated under a cloud of
burgeoning religious intolerance and constitutional encroachments.
Johari has admitted that he had made the decision that the word ‘Allah’
can only be used in the context of Islam and not any other religion, and
to impose the new condition on this restriction on the Herald when the
annual publishing permit of the Catholic weekly is next renewed.
Although Johari said that his decision was based on a report submitted by
the publications department of his ministry, it is an indictment of the
arbitrary nature of the decision-making process and even misgovernance
that there had been no consultation whatsoever with the religious
organizations which will be affected by the decision.
Even more arbitrary and deplorable was the ministry’s decision to abolish
the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section, which is not only unconstitutional
but shows that the government itself does not give pride of place to
As the word “Allah” has been used to refer to God among Christians for
generations in many countries and is never meant to offend or confuse the
Muslims, Abdullah should intervene to rescind such retrogressive measure
by the Internal Security Ministry or it will be another signal that
Malaysia is down the slippery slope of more religious restrictions for
non-Muslim faiths, whose constitutionally-entrenched guarantees of freedom
of religion are not being honoured by the government.
The year 2007 is already the worst year for religious polarisation in the
50 year history of the nation and the country cannot afford another lurch
towards religious intolerance and constitutional encroachment of the
fundamental rights of Malaysians in the last fortnight of the year.
Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic
Planning Commission Chairman