Sarawak will never bar Christians from using ‘Allah’, CM vows


(MM)) – As groups championing Malay-Muslim rights seek to deepen their toehold in Sarawak, its Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem assured Christians his administration will never pass a law forbidding them the use of the Arabic word for God, “Allah”.

“There is no law in Sarawak that says you cannot use the word ‘Allah’, and I will not permit such a law in Sarawak as long as I am the chief minister,” he was reported as saying by The Borneo Post on its website today, during a meeting with the people at the Catholic Centre in Mukah yesterday.

He gave further assurance that he would uphold the country’s highest law, which provides for religious freedom.

He also reportedly said Sarawakians had been living in peace for hundreds of years without religous discord, and added that peninsular Malaysians could learn lessons from their Borneo counterparts in religious tolerance.

To illustrate his point, he pointed out that there were Melanau families who were able to live under one roof even though the parents and children followed different faiths.

“That is the way it ought to be. You are at liberty to practise your religion in your own way,” he was quoted saying, with reference to the Federal Constitution.

Since taking control of Malaysia’s most Christian state this month, Adenan has openly warned right-wing groups he will use his discretionary power to boot them out from Sarawak should they cause any trouble.

On March 21, he said he will invoke his discretionary immigration authority and boot out non-natives including from Peninsular Malaysia who attempt to rouse racial and religious sentiments from Sarawak.

He added that the state will deny entry to non-Sarawakians or deport those already in Sarawak at the first sign of trouble.

“This is to prevent peaceful Sarawakians from being infected by racism and religious bigotry.

“This is done only in the best interest of the peaceful people of Sarawak who are known to be hospitable and moderate in their views and actions,” he said in a statement issued just hours after peninsula-based Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali held a news conference here to announce the latest developments concerning its Sarawak chapter.

Sarawak leaders have voiced their strong objections to Perkasa’s presence in the state, saying its brand of racial politics was unacceptable to the diverse tribes there.

Ibrahim had invited much flak from community leaders in Christian-majority Sarawak for allegedly saying Malay bibles containing the Arabic word for God, “Allah” should be seized and burned.