Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim used the church as a political platform and pandered into the anti-Constitutionalist minority’s game, as a systematic provocation against the Federal Constitution, Selangor Constitution, the sensitivities of the Malay-Muslim majority and decree of His Majesty Seri Paduka Yang DiPertuan Agong.
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Anwar impresses congregation during visit to Holy Family church in Kajang
BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
FEBRUARY 16, 2014
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim speaking at the hall of the Holy Family church in Kajang. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli,
February 16, 2014.Rebuffed by keepers of his own faith when he tried to preach at a mosque last month, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was welcomed with open arms at the church of the Holy Family in Kajang after the English and Mandarin masses today.
Parish priest Father George Harrison welcomed the opposition leader as “our brother” before he gave the floor to Anwar, who vowed the 1,200-strong crowd with his 25-minute speech on various issues.
But it was Anwar’s bold and direct approach to answering the questions from the congregation that impressed the crowd.
When he was asked about his stand on the religious issues currently affecting the country and the rights of Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians to use the word Allah, Anwar said that even international Muslim scholars thought it was a subject unworthy of debate.
“When I asked an international scholar about it, he asked me what kind of question that was.
“I told him it was Umno’s question, so he explained that Muslims recite five times a day: “Praise be to Allah, Lord of Heaven and Earth.
“So, if Allah is Lord for the entire universe, how can there be limitations?” Anwar pointed out.
He also stressed that for Umno, the Allah issue was clearly not about faith.
“If it was, then their stand must be binding on all. But in this case they are saying Sabah and Sarawak can use the word but not in the peninsula,” Anwar said to loud cheers.
He then joked that this meant that a person who boarded a flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur will say “Insyallah I’m going to KL” when he gets on the flight but when he lands, he will have to say “Alhamdu Lord”.
Anwar’s meeting of the Catholics at the Holy Family church hall comes amidst religious tension between Muslims and Christians which was reignited last year when the Court of Appeal had ruled in October that the Catholic weekly Herald could not use the word Allah in its publication.
The church is appealing the decision.
Herald had won a High Court decision in January 2009 that had overturned the Home Ministry’s ban on the use of the word Allah in its publication.
The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) further stoked the tension when it raided The Bible Society of Malaysia’s premises in early January and seized more than 300 Bibles, including the Bup Kudus, because they contained the word “Allah”.
The term Allah is used by Christians who worship in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban, such as those in Sabah and Sarawak.
Two-thirds of Malaysia’s 2.9 million Christians are from Sabah and Sarawak.
Mindful of the possible consequences of his visit to the Holy Family Church, Anwar said if Umno-controlled media would use his church visit against him, they should take note that he had been speaking at churches since his activist days in the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) in the 1970s.
He added that he continued giving his views at church events even as a government minister.
“So to the Umno-controlled media here, note that I have been going to church, I’m here now, and Insyallah,I will continue to do so.”
In an obvious response to critics who had chided him for standing as an assemblyman, after he was once acting prime minister, Anwar admitted that he had gone from one extreme to the other and his experiences would help him.
“I was right up there as acting PM and then went to prison, so I’m wiser and have benefited from all my life’s experiences,” he said.
Anwar’s visit to the Holy Family church is part of his meet-the-people programme ahead of the Kajang by-election, which he is contesting as a PKR candidate.
His “rock star” appeal was obvious with parishioners excitedly waiting for nearly three hours to catch him in action.
When Anwar appeared just before noon, there was thunderous applause and everybody tried to capture the moment with the cameras on their handphones.
The multi-purpose hall was packed, with many having to stand.
Dressed smartly in a light pink striped shirt and brown pants, the crowd cheered when Anwar spoke about how he had brought international fame to Kajang.
“The international media mentioned me in their news, saying that my decision to stand here in ‘Kay Jang’ shocked my friends and foes,” he said to rapturous applause.
Beaming from ear to ear, a 72-year old parishioner, who wants to be known only as Alex, said: “I have heard him speak many times, and I wouldn’t want to miss this.
“We totally support him and want to hear what he has to say, especially on the Allah issue,” he added.
Alex said that during the 8.30am mass, their priest had told the congregation to welcome the opposition leader as “he is our brother”.
Alex said that to address the concern among a small group of parishioners who had questioned the wisdom of allowing Anwar to speak at their parish for fear of a backlash from Muslim extremists, Harrison had told his congregation “not to be afraid”.
“I believe the church’s stand is to accept everybody, so even if it was an Umno politician who wanted to speak in our church, we are not going to say no,” Alex said.
Debbie, a housewife, agreed, saying that she and her friends were eager to hear Anwar’s plans.
“As Christians we are taught never to resort to violence, and we stick to that.
“But the country needs a change of political power because what we want is unity not just in talk, but in action.”
Another parishioner Andrew Loh agreed, saying that Christians were concerned over the Allah issue and wanted to hear what Anwar had to say about it.
“The Allah case is in court because that is the only avenue for us. As Debbie said, we will not resort to violence, but it is our right to go to court,” he said.
Bernard, 45, agreed, saying that the case was about principles and the “rights of Christians”.
Marcel, 50, said he fully backed Anwar as Selangor menteri besar as it was necessary for the latter to get back into mainstream politics.
Also present were Centre for Reform, Democracy and Social Initiatives director Datuk Seri Dr Edmund Santhara and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali.
Others include his party colleagues comprising Subang MP R.Sivarasa, Batu MP Tian Chua, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming,Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, PKR vice president Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
The Election Commission has set March 23 as the polling date for the Kajang by-election, the country’s third since the general election last May, while nomination is on March 11.
Early voting has been fixed for March 19.
PKR”s Lee Chin Cheh won the Kajang state seat in Election 2013 with a 6,824-vote majority in the constituency that is 48% Malay, 41% Chinese and 10% Indian.
Lee had garnered 19,571 votes followed by Lee Ban Seng of the BN with 12,747 votes. Mohamad Ismail of Berjasa obtained 1,014 votes.
The three independent candidates who contested the seat were Mohd Iwan Jefrey Abdul Majib (249 votes), Ong Yan Foo (85 votes) and Mohd Khalid Kassim (83 votes).
The latest to indicate his intention to contest the seat is former minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.
Zaid is the third independent candidate with former PKR links to join the Kajang by-election, after Anwar’s former tennis partner Senator Datuk S. Nallakarupan and Anwar’s former legal assistant Yuktes Vijay.
The Barisan Nasional has yet to indicate its choice of candidate but MCA vice-president Datuk Paduka Chew Mei Fun is widely tipped to be the party’s choice. – February 16, 2014.
It is grossly insulting as four week ago in Alor Setar commemorating his 88th birthday, His Majesty Seri Paduka Baginda Yang DiPertuan Agong XIV explicitly state that “Allah is exclusively for Muslims only” and cited the 1986 National Fatwa Council decree on the matter.
Anwar is manipulating the circumstance as the controversy had never been about using bibles in Malay language for Sabah and Sarawak. It was when Catholic Church publication The Herald was banned by Home Ministry from using kalimah “Allah” in the Malay edition, editor Father Lawrence Andrew took the Home Minister and the Federal Government to court.
The matter affecting the Christians pertaining kalimah “Allah” controversy was actually discussed when National Fatwa Council met for the 82nd time 5-7 May 2008 and decreed that “Allah is exclusively for the Muslims”. The matter has been explained over and over again, which include Malaysian Islamic scholars and experts.
Look how Anwar deflected the kalimah “Allah” issue:
What Anwar would not admit publicly especially to an audience comprises of mainly Non Malays is that there is no reason for bibles in Malay language is made available in Semenanjung Malaysia as the Malays, who are the majority in this part of Malaysia are Muslims. Except for the purpose to prosetylising Christianity to the Malays.
That, has been proven happening in Semenanjung which include Selangor. Even HRH Sultan Selangor Tuanku Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah as the Constitutional Head of Islam and patron for JAIS acknowledges this fact, in the case of the JAIS raid on Damansara Utama Methodist Church on 3 August 2011.
Former Selangor Exco for Religious Affairs and Selangor PAS Commissioner Dato’ Dr Hassan Ali also attested to the fact that “Churches have specific units to prosetylise Muslims”. This repeated challenge was never refuted by Anwar.
After High Court Judge Lau Bee Lian awarded the judgment to the plaintiffs on January 2009, the case was appealed by the defendants. On 14 October 2013, Court of Appeal unanimously over-turned the judgment and awarded to case to the appellants.
The PKR Adviser also defied the several provisions enshrined in the Federal Constitution pertaining to position of Islam such as Articles 3(1) where Islam as the Religion of the Federation of Malaysia and prohibition to prosetylise Christianity to Muslims such as in Article 11(4) and the 1988 Selangor Enactment on the Propagation of Non Islamic Religion to Muslims.
Supporting the Catholic Church’s quest to use kalimah “Allah” especially in the context of a Malay-Muslim majority areas such as in Semenanjung Malaysia is violating the law and challenging if not provocating into the sensitivities of the Malays, which include HRH Rulers as the Constitutional Head of Islam.
HRH Sultan Selangor Tuanku Sultan Sharafuddin already sounded out in two titahs on the “Allah is exclusive for Muslims only and Non Muslims are prohibited from using it”. His Royal Highness also cited the Selangor Religious Council Fatwa, gazetted in 2010.
There is no need for the game of global interpretations on kalimah “Allah” as the demarcation is very clear. Islam is the religion of the Federation of Malaysia and it is enshrined in the Federal Constitution is the initial bit where the Federation of Malaysia is defined.
The sanctity of Islam in Malaysia shall take precedence whenever there is a dispute. It is one of the fundamental basis when this nation is born. It is one of the points where Tunku Abdul Rahman obtained the agreement of HRH Rulers for the soon to be given birth new nation called Federation of Malaya to be ruled under the Constitutional Monarchy system.
The rule of law provided that this political circus stunt in Holy Family church in Kajang, should warrant that Anwar be arrested and investigated under Sedition Act.
Make no mistake about this development. This political circus stunt by Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim is actually more than meets the eye. It is the evidence that he is a political stooge of DAP, which is flexing its muscle in Selangor and demonstrating to the Chinese that Anwar is a very obedient political and takes ‘instruction’ well.
It is also a test whether the Federal Government is willing to put aside political expediency, in the name of righteousness upholding the Federal Constitution.