Are the Christians in Sarawak really free, allowed to use ‘Allah’ as Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem repeatedly said. Not really. Here are the arguments according to Ba Kelalan assemblyman and a prominent lawyer as reported by The Borneo Post today.
Federal Court’s decision is a legal precedent to be followed
Baru said this was due to the fact that the Federal Court’s decision to refuse the Catholic Church leave to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision that banned the use of the word ‘Allah’ by Christians now stands as a legal precedent for the country.
“I do appreciate the words of our Chief Minister (Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem) that ‘this will not be a problem for us’, and I commend him for speaking up for Sarawakians. I believe he is sincere in his intention to keep his word as long as he is the chief minister.
There have been cases of Bibles confiscated, Christian bookstores raided in Sarawak
“But I remain unconvinced that Sarawakians are unaffected. There have been incidences in Sarawak, such as the hold-up of the Al-Kitab at Kuching Ports in 2008 and 2011, and the raids carried out in Christian bookshops in Sarawak by the Islamic authorities.
“Yes, I know these happened before Tan Sri Adenan became chief minister. But it happened even when there is no law in Sarawak that prohibits the use of such words unlike in other states in Malaysia.”
Adenan has the best of intentions but he is not head of Islam in Sarawak
Baru said while Adenan might have the best of intentions in making clear his personal stand, the people must not forget that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is the head of Islam in Sabah and Sarawak by virtue of Article 4A of the Sarawak Constitution.
“The members of Majlis Islam Sarawak and their administrative arm Jabatan Agama Islam Sarawak (JAIS) are appointed by the Agong and are therefore answerable to the Agong, and not thechief minister.
“Jakim, which has branches in Sarawak, is a unit under the Prime Minister’s Department, and presumably, they are answerable to the prime minister and not to our chief minister.”
Agong had said ‘Allah’ is only for Muslims
Baru said Sarawakians should bear in mind the fact that the Agong had said in his birthday speech in January this year that several words including the word ‘Allah’ were the exclusive rights of Muslims.
“Whether he said this in his capacity as the Sultan of Kedah or the Agong is irrelevant. What is relevant is the fact that he is the head of Islam in Sarawak.”
Baru said in view of the uncertainty of this matter, he would like to seek clarification from Adenan as to whether Jais and Jakim in Sarawak need to seek his approval for any action they may wish to take which may infringe on the rights of non-Muslims in Sarawak.
“If the Agong as head of Islam in Sarawak decrees that Christians are prohibited from using certain words, whose words would prevail, the chief minister’s or the Agong’s?
“At the same time, I would like Sarawak Majlis Islam, Jais and Jakim heads to make a stand on this issue. Will they back up the Chief Minister’s statement that Christians are free to use the word ‘Allah’ in Sarawak? Will they agree to leave us to read our Al Kitab in peace.”
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