Sarawak, Sabah MPs urge government to withdraw appeal


KUCHING: Sarawak and Sabah federal and state lawmakers have urged the federal government to withdraw its appeal against a High Court decision that allows Christians to use the word “Allah”.  

They said the withdrawal will not only end the 35-year-old polemic and the “pain” felt by Sarawakians, Sabahans and the Orang Asli, but it will also leave a positive legacy for Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“The High Court decision is merely correcting an injustice suffered by Sabahans, Sarawakians and the Orang Asli caused by some insecure, ignorant Malayans. It will not cause proselytisation and apostasy of Muslims, a false fear some Malayans try to monger.

“The High Court decision is a victory for Bahasa Malaysia as a national language and all its speakers, and a respect for the speakers of Bahasa Iban, Bidayuh, Lun Bawang, Lun Dayeh and Kelabit, languages of heritage in the land of Borneo,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement today.

It said the 1986 Federal Cabinet decision to deny non-Muslims the right to use the word “Allah” was an oversight caused by political pressure from some insecure Malayans who were both ignorant of Sabah and Sarawak and arrogant that Malayans could decide how Sabahans and Sarawakians, both at home and in the peninsula, should live.

“Christians who use ‘Allah’ and other common religious words shared with Muslims are predominantly Borneans and Orang Asli, who speak Bahasa Malaysia as their second or first language, just like Christian Bataks, Dayaks, Ambonese, Timorese in Indonesia who speak Bahasa Indonesia as their second or first language. In Sarawak, Bahasa Iban uses ‘Allah Taala’, Bahasa Bidayuh uses ‘Tuhan Alla’ while the Lun Bawangs, Lun Dayehs and Kelabits use the term ‘Tuhan Allah’ for God.

“In Sabah and Sarawak, the popularity of Bahasa Malaysia amongst Christians is the outcome of the National Language Act 1967, the National Language Policy and the National Education Policy which reversed the decline of Bahasa Melayu during the colonial years,” it said.

It noted that Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak are supportive of and never feel threatened by their Christian siblings, cousins, and friends using the word “Allah”.

“Borneans genuinely believe that humans are made differently to know and love each other, not to disparage and discriminate against each other, and that the presence of diverse religious communities is Allah’s will for He who is almighty could have made all humans in one faith.

“Muslims and Christians using the word ‘Allah’ in mosques and churches (respectively) will not cause apostasy of Muslims. The best evidence – Muslims constitute nearly or over 90 percent of the population in the Arab countries and Indonesia, despite Muslims and Christians sharing ‘Allah’ and other religious terms for respectively 1,442 years and 476 years,” the statement said.

The lawmakers urged political parties not to exploit the High Court decision for narrow political mileage.

“Let this be a closure for all and a step forward in national reconciliation,” they added.

The joint statement was signed by:

Sarawak and Sabah federal and state lawmakers. (from clockwise) Madius Tangau, Vivian Wong, Richard Riot Jaem, Alice Lau, Anyi Ngau, Martin Ben, Wilson Nyabong Ijang and Dennis Ngau.

Dewan Rakyat

1. Datuk Seri Panglima Wilfred Madius Tangau (P170 Tuaran)
2.      Chan Foong Hin (P172 Kota Kinabalu)
3.      Datuk Darell Leiking (P174 Penampang)
4.      Noorita Sual (P181 Tenom)
5.      Vivian Wong Shir Yee (P186 Sandakan)
6.      Datuk Christina Liew (P190 Tawau; N20 Api-api)
7.      Mordi Bimol (P192 Mas Gading)
8.      Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (P195 Bandar Kuching)
9.      Chong Chieng Jen (P196 Stampin)
10.    Datuk Willie Mongin (P198 Puncak Borneo)
11.    Datuk Seri Sri Richard Riot Anak Jaem (P199  Serian)
12.    Datuk Masir Kujat (P202 Sri Aman)
13.    Wong Ling Biu (P208 Sarikei)
14.    Larry Sng (P209 Julau)
15.    Alice Lau Kiong Yieng (P211 Lanang)
16.    Oscar Ling Chai Yew (P212 Sibu)
17.    Baru Bian (P214 Selangau)
18.    Anyi Ngau (P220 Baram)

Dewan Negara

1.      Senator Adrian Lasimbang
2.      Senator Alan Ling Sie Kiong
3.      Senator Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin
4.      Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew

Sabah State Legislative Assembly

1.      Datuk Ewon Benedick (N11 Kadamaian)
2.      Peto Galim (N18 Inanam)
2.      Tan Lee Fatt (N19 Likas)
3.      Phoong Jin Zhe (N21 Luyang)
4.      Jannie Lasimbang (N25 Kepayan)
5.      Datuk Peter Anthony (N42 Melalap)
6.      Calvin Chong Ket Kiun (N55 Elopura)
7.      Frankie Poon Ming Fung (N56 Tanjong Papat)
8.      Justin Wong Yung Bin (N69 Sri Tanjong)

Sarawak State Legislative Assembly

1.      Datuk Ranum Mina (N1 Opar)
2.      Datuk Henry Harry Jinep (N2 Tasik Biru)
3.      Violet Violet Yong Wui Wui (N10 Pending)
4.      See Chee How (N11 Batu Lintang)
5.      Miro Simuh (N18 Serembu)
6.      Martin Ben (N22 Kedup)
7.      John Ilus (N23 Bukit Semuja)
8.      Datuk Snowdan Lawan (N30 Balai Ringin)
9.      Dr Johnical Rayong (N33 Engkilili)
10.    Gerald Rentap Jabu (N36 Layar)
11.    Rolland Duat (N48 Meluan)
12.    Alexander Vincent (N49 Ngemah)
13.    Allan Gramong (N50 Machan)
14.    Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling (N51 Bukit Assek)
15.    Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh (N53 Bawang Assan)
16.    David Wong Kee Woan (N54 Pelawan)
17.    Christopher Gira (N59 Tamin)
18.    Wilson Nyabong (N61 Pelagus)
19.    Jefferson Jamit (N63 Bukit Goram)
20.    Kennedy Chuk Pai (N66 Murum)
21.    Chiew Chiu Sing (N68 Tanjung Batu)
22.    Majang Renggi (N70 Samalaju)
23.    Dennis Ngau (N77 Telang Usan)

Political parties

1.      Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP)
2.      Progressive Democratic Party (PDP)
3.      Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)
4.      Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB)
5.      Malaysian United Indigenous Party (PPBM)
6.      Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS)
7.      Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB)
8.      Democratic Action Party (DAP)
9.      Sabah Heritage Party (Warisan)
10.    United Progressive Kinabalu Organisation (Upko)
11.    Independent Party.

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