The Price of Politicizing the Word “Allah”

Khoo Kay Peng

By now, Dap leader Lim Guan Eng should have regretted publishing his Christmas message which called on Putrajaya to allow the use of the term “Allah” in the Malay language Bible. It is so unnecessary because the matter is still on trial in the Malaysian court.

The second mistake, realizing that his party may actually cause some anger amongst Muslim voters in Peninsula Malaysia his party clarified that the use should only be permitted in Sabah and Sarawak. If the use of “Allah” is allowed in Malay Bible, why should it be only confined to both Sabah and Sarawak only? It should be consistently applied throughout the whole country.

Dap should learn never to politicize religion or race for its own political benefit. Race and religion are double-edged swords. They cut both ways. Lim Guan Eng should start to accept and admit that he is not immune to silly mistakes like this one which has been blown out of proportion by his political nemesis. The bad thing is the impact may be felt by all innocent Muslims and Christians if religious tension build up.

A number of leaders in Pas, an ally of Dap in Pakatan Rakyat, supported the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims. Now, its syura council (the party’s highest decision making body) says that it is forbidden to use the term as a direct translation to God.

What appears to Lim as an easy point scoring opportunity is now turning into a nightmare for him and his party’s continuous liaison with Pas. Malay speaking Christians are not going to be happy with Pas’ u-turn and some non-Malay speaking Christians may be unhappy too because they may see it as a direct opposition to the religion. Non-Christians may see it as a constitutional issue which contravenes the right to freedom of religion.