DAP dares Lau on ‘Allah’ issue

By Adib Zalkapli (Malaysian Insider)
Muslims protest a High Court decision allowing The Herald to use the word “Allah”. — file pic
SIBU, May 8 — DAP today sought to bring the controversial “Allah” ruling into the Sibu campaign, telling Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew that he has no legitimacy to represent the Christian-majority Sibu if he refuses speak up on the issue.
“If Robert Lau intends to be a Member of Parliament that speaks up for a Christian-majority constituency, Sibu, then he has the moral duty to declare his stand on this thorny issue, so that the voters in Sibu can decide whether they can count on him to speak up on this issue,” said DAP organising secretary, Teresa Kok, in a statement.
“Lau cannot continue to sidestep this issue by merely saying religion is a personal thing,” she added.
Yesterday, Lau said the “Allah” row should not be made into an election issue so as to avoid mixing religion with politics.
The issue started in 2007 after the Home Ministry, invoking a 1986 Cabinet directive banning non-Muslims from using certain Arabic words, refused to renew the publication permit of the Catholic newspaper, The Herald.
The Catholic Church later challenged the government’s decision, and on Dec 31 last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that The Herald had a constitutional right to use the word “Allah” for its Malay section.
In January, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had assured the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak that the ban on the non-Muslim use of word “Allah” would not affect them.
“The Umno-led BN government has been making Christian [worship] difficult by banning the import of religious materials and bibles from Indonesia in the past decades, on the grounds that the Indonesian Bible and Christian materials used the word ‘Allah’ to address God,” said Kok.
“As a Christian candidate, Robert Lau should make his stand on the ‘Allah’ issue, he should tell us whether he supports the BN government’s actions, and whether he will be another robotic BN representative in the Parliament, if elected, and will [be] just another rubber-stamp in every decision of the BN government,” challenged Kok, who is also a Selangor executive councillor.
About 53 per cent of the 55,000 voters in the Sibu constituency are Christians. The Chinese form about 66.6 per cent of the voters, the largely-Christian Ibans 16.3 per cent, and the Malay/Melanau approximately 16.2 per cent.
Meanwhile, Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen said Lau was not fit to be a federal lawmaker if he refuses to discuss national issues such as the “Allah” row.
“The scope of responsibilities of an elected Member of Parliament does not only include raising important constituency issues, but he or she has to be concerned with the nation’s political and economic development in order to defend the welfare and constitutional rights of the people,” said Chong, who is also DAP’s Sibu by-election director.
“It’s obvious that SUPP’s role in Parliament is solely to be a ‘yes-man’. Under the control of BN, SUPP leaders will never have the courage to question the government and its policies,” he added.
Lau is facing DAP state chairman and Bukit Assek assemblyman, Wong Ho Leng, and independent, Narawi Haron in the by-election.
Campaigning began today, while polling has been set for May 16.