15 Oct 2013
KOTA KINABALU - “It‘s not the Court of Appeal ruling but the non-action and continued policies of the Umno/BN ruling regime that will cause the ultimate demise and break-up of Malaysia unless the Prime Minister and Umno/BN show a genuine and sincere all-encompassing transformation of government and politics of inclusiveness and reconciliation” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief in response to the Court decision to ban the The Herald from referring and using “Allah”.
The PM and his federal government needs to be reminded that the issue started with the then Home Minister in banning the reference to Allah arising from the Minister’s discretionary powers under the Printing Presses and Publications Act, 1984. It was an unequivocal act of the ruling Umno/BN government.
From there, the downward spiral of race relations quickened with Umno’s political strategy to play the “race and religion” card to regain its Malay heartlands. It shook the very foundation of the official “Malaysia – Truly Asia” and the PM’s own “1-Malaysia” rhetoric and hollow slogan.
It is pretty obvious that the PM and his Umno-led federal government never meant to honour the “1-Malaysia” theme which is now discarded in favour of “Endless Possibilities”. There is no other possibility other than a most probable break-up of Malaysia if the race and religion division is allowed to continue.
The Umno/BN federal government has forgotten that they are the government for all Malaysians and not only the Malays or only in the Peninsula. They have forgotten that it is not the Federation of Malaya that they are ruling but the Federation of Malaysia where the founding fathers of Sabah and Sarawak were promised religious freedom.
Religious freedom was so important that the natives in the interiors of Sabah erected a Stone Monument, known today as the Batu Sumpah in Keningau, to etch into perpetuity such freedom. If not for these promises, there is no Malaysia today.
The use of “Allah” in the Borneo States, or even in neighbouring countries, pre-date the formation of the Federation of Malaya and the Federation of Malaysia. There were no turmoil or any threat of racial disruption.
On the contrary, in Sabah and Sarawak, it was a tranquillity of racial and religious harmony without the rhetoric of “1-Malaysia”. There was no need for a Muslim-Malay NGO to declare that “Christians are our brothers and sisters” because in true life in Sabah and Sarawak, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives were Christians and Muslims and other religions.
The Umno/BN federal government have also forgotten that they are mere passers-by and trustees in their reign of government but think themselves so high and mighty to decide on banning and purportedly seeking exclusivity of the use when nowhere else in the world is any government claiming as such.
The rest of the BN component parties particularly those from Sabah and Sarawak are equally to be blamed for the quagmire and quicksand that they are now finding themselves to be in. Some are quietly contemplating leaving the BN fold but are fearful not for their parties but for themselves with the police, anti-corruption, special branch, income tax, waiting to take the next flight out to arrest them.
The situation now calls for true leadership of the PM and the Umno-led federal government and politics of inclusiveness and reconciliation for all Malaysians. The PM may be reluctant to act because of the pending Umno elections but he needs to remember that the country he is leading today is the Federation of Malaysia not the Islamic Federation of Malaysia.
Perhaps, the PM should consider the calls of the Muslim-based NGO that the Malaysian Christian community can choose to move to any country if they cannot bear to accept the sovereignty of Islam.
Lest it be forgotten, no Christian Malaysian is questioning or challenging that Islam is the official religion of the Federation. It is the treatment of the minority faiths and the actions and policies of the ruling government that is the root cause of marginalization and disenfranchisement. In Sabah, it is sad that the natives are being pitted against each other due to differences in religion when no such problems arise.
If the PM accepts the reasoning of the Muslim NGO, it is time to start dis-engagement talks and allow Sabah and Sarawak to depart Malaysia and the Peninsula can revert back to Persekutuan Tanah Melayu by itself. There is no point in retaining Sabah and Sarawak within the Federation of Malaysia when the ultra-Malays in Malaya keep trying to break it up and without any appropriate response or with the silent acquiescence from the federal government.