'Allah' issue politicised in East Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR: Politicising the ‘Allah’ issue may be perceived as an attempt to win the support of Christians in East Malaysia, analysts say.


Political analyst Dr Chandra Muzaffar said the debate on the use of the term “Allah” by non-Muslims should not be exploited for narrow political ends.
“The controversy initially happened in 2010, after which an understanding was actually achieved between the Muslims and non-Muslims.”
“It was understood then that Christians in East Malaysia have been using the term ‘Allah’ in the Malay version of the Bible for over a hundred years.
“The issue has now erupted again because DAP secretary- general Lim Guan Eng is targeting Christian votes, or more specifically, the Iban, Kadazan and Chinese communities in Sabah and Sarawak,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday. 
He was responding to Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad who, on Wednesday, suggested that the issue had been brought up by opposition leaders to gain political mileage. 
Chandra said it was essential for all parties involved in this controversy to acknowledge that a mutual understanding on this issue had been reached before.   
“Until Lim brought it up, Muslims never reacted adversely because the term was used within the Christians’ private religious circle,” he said.
Secondly, he said, the concept of ‘Allah’ was a part of Islamic teachings and has been widely recognised as the Arabic word for ‘the one and only God’.
“In this multi-cultural society, one should avoid any abuse or misuse of this concept which is so closely knit to the religion of Islam,” he added.
Chandra said that Guan Eng’s act of stirring up this controversy after three years, was an irresponsible act.
Universiti Sains Malaysia senior lecturer Associate Professor Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said anything to do with religion should not be politicised.
“Evidently, this concept of ‘Allah’ has been delivered as a political message to gain the support of certain quarters.
“In this case, I believe they are looking to the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
Sivamurugan said both parties should compromise, because prolonging such an issue in Malaysia’s multi ethnic society may lead to a religious clash.
“Members of PAS themselves have divided opinions on this issue. Between them, they need to sort it out before it is brought out to the public,” he added.

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