Statement by Dr. Chen Man Hin in Seremban on Thursday, 21st January 2010:
Many East Malaysian Christians living in Peninsular Malaysia pray to Allah in Bahasa Malaysia because Malay is their common language
According to Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Cabinet Minister, Sabah Christian natives have been praying to Allah in Malays since 1881. Bahasa Malaysia is their common language and they speak in Malay in their daily lives and when they go to church. They pray to Allah all the time.
According to Bernard Dompok, many East Malaysians have gravitated to Peninsular Malaysia to look for work. Many have stayed in the Peninsula for over twenty years or more. They go to church and because their language is Malay, the Christian churches have been conducting masses and services for them in the national language.
Hence there is a demand for Herald, the Catholic weekly, to print church news not only in English but also in Malay, and they have to use the word Allah. The East Malaysian Christians call the Almighty ALLAH.
It is clear therefore that the Herald must use the word Allah to keep East Malaysia Christians happy.
It is also clear that the use of Allah is not meant to confuse Muslims or to proselytise (to convert) the muslims. It is to serve the need of East Malaysia Christians to pray to Allah.
Keep in mind that Peninsula Christians are also very fluent in Bahasa, as the national language has been taught in schools these Christian Malaysians want to pray to Allah too.
Argument by the Home Ministry that the use of the term Allah by Christians might cause confusion among the Muslims is not true. Malay is the language of East Malaysia Christians and they need to pray in Malay and call the almighty ‘Allah’
The Home Minister must accept the ruling by Justice Lau Bee Lan that Christians in Malaysia can use the word Allah in their prayers.
On hindsight, it was a mistake by the home minister to rule that Christians could not use Allah in their prayers. In 2007, if the Home Minister had done his home work and consulted Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, he would not have issued the fiat to ompose a ban on usage of Allah by Christians in Malaysia.
The Home Minister should withdraw the appeal to stop the ruling that Christians can use the term Allah.
* Dr. Chen Man Hin, DAP Life Advisor