Sunday, January 17, 2010

If They Want Such Ban, Change These Basic Things To Back Your Claim

Yesterday, the Malaysian Insider has published an article stating that Jakim (Islamic Development Department) was insisting that the Allah ban should extend to Sabah and Sarawak as the primary reason stated from a gazette issued by the Cabinet on 5 December 1986. The gazette was also reaffirmed twice, in 2006 and in 2008 during Pak Lah's period. Earlier on, the idea of having Allah used in East Malaysia by Nazri was deemed ridiculous and shot down by many clergymen.

This response came two days after the Selangor state religious department issued the Friday sermons calling the usage of Allah by themselves only because use by others could likely creating religious tensions. From here, I can see that tension can be created by those who misunderstood it or those who refuse to accept the stark reality of the word being used by others as being one of the other names of God.

There has been mentioned in some published commentaries that most of the state religious department features men and officials that are UMNO affiliated.

Last Friday, the judge presiding this case, Datuk Lau Bee Lan has released a 57-page judgment part of it which points out to:

1. Home Ministry (and then minister Syed Hamid Albar)'s failure to take account of previous publications, including those dating back 5 centuries ago that reveals and proves that Allah was used as the Malay-language equivalent of God.

2. There is very strong disclaimer mentioned in the cover page of the newsletter stating that the newsletter is not to be sold elsewhere apart from the Church. Therefore those who felt being offended need not to worry because you have the discretion of either buying the newsletter for your reading or you choose not to do so.

3. "All these State Enactments are made pursuant to Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution which reads “State law and in respect of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya, federal law may control or restrict the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam." This means you can control and set the limit but you cannot ban it outright.

Considering the scenario of an overrule to this judgment happening in a few months time, this means that if Islamic officials insist on having such ban, they will have to rub everything that is happening / in place of some of the systems in place and replace Allah with Tuhan if such elements are to be used together by non-other Muslims.

I wonder if they are going to back their claim with such actions in three notable elements like:

State anthems

Most of the state anthems have the word Allah in it. Irregardless whether you are a Muslim or not, everyone sings this anthem during official government connected events including Monday morning school assembly. For example, the Perak state anthem "Allah Lanjutkan Usia Sultan" contains the word Allah four times referred in lines like:

a) Dilanjutkan Allah usianya Sultan (first line)
b) Iman Yang Soleh Allah Kurniakan (fourth line)
c) Allah Berkati Perak Ridzuan (penultimate line)
d) Allah selamatkan negeri dan sultan (last line)

This is unlike the national anthem as this song precedes the national anthem and the Rukun Negara and the tune was the basis of the Negaraku. If they want to push for that, they will need to replace every Allah word with Tuhan or otherwise if it is to be sung by everyone! But doing so could break the history that was established centuries ago.

Education System

The history books that you study in secondary level also contains references to the word Allah, and this is prominently mentioned in one big portion of the Islamic History that you see in Form 4. Some people believed that one big portion of Islamic History in the syllabus is absolutely unfair and the proportion of scope is unequal given that there are other non-Malay students are studying. Also note that History is a Core subject - a mandatory subject, unlike Electives.

In Bahasa Malaysia essay writing, if this is in force, will a student be penalized for using one of the 35 prohibited, words taking into consideration that Bahasa Malaysia is a must for everyone, from reading, speaking and writing? In reference books like sample essays, they have to show something else than that given into consideration that other students from other races might be buying that book for reference.

Television Shows

One doubt I have from local television Malay-language shows is that if they wish to push for such ban, TV shows might need to include a disclaimer at the beginning and call for viewing discretion. Or they might provide instruction to the producers of the show to replace prohibited words with general words for all-race audience.

The last say

Such thing can be mind boggling at times, but we've heard the saying 'cakap tak serupa bikin' - meaning you talk but you don't walk the talk. Screaming for a ban can be simple but what if they are unable to do it? Yes, you have many levels of consideration to take into. It is not as simple as it is to be. And in long run, the ones that are actually get the worst out of it are those from the Straits States (Penang, Malacca) as well as East Malaysia. Word is that Christians in East Malaysia are very unhappy over this pushing.

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