Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN) has a simple message for Putrajaya and its Department of Islamic Development (Jakim): you have your religion and we have ours, don’t tell us what to do or what to believe.
PAN chairperson Pastor Esther Golingi told The Malaysian Insider that all it took was for Christians to be left in peace to follow their conscience in managing their own religion, adding this was guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
Golingi accused Putrajaya of double speak in the Allah issue, pointing out that that while it gave assurance that Bumiputera Christians in East Malaysia could use the word, Muslim authorities viewed the recent Federal Court decision as a total ban.
“On one hand they say we can use Allah, and on the other hand Jakim and others say we cannot, so who is running the country?” Golingi asked.
“You have your religion and we have ours, don’t tell us what to do or what to believe,” the pastor added.
Commenting on the recent court ruling on the Allah issue, Golingi said the “Federal Court is now on trial” for its unreasonable decision in not granting leave to the Catholic church to appeal the ban on the word “Allah” in its internal publication, Herald.
She added, however, that it was a blessing that the three judges disagreed with Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria who led the seven-man bench which denied leave based on a 4-3 decision.
She further said that PAN believed in the supremacy of the Federal Constitution, and that while Islam was the religion of the Federation, shariah was subordinate to the Constitution.
“If we respect this, then there is no trouble for anyone. We just want to be left in peace to follow our conscience, is that so hard to understand?” she said.
Golingi made a renewed call to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to “say what he means and mean what he says” on the use of the word “Allah”.
She said the Attorney-General must take a clear stand on the matter, adding that so far, Najib and Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail were saying “different things to different people at different times”.
At the same time, she said Jakim, which is under the PM’s Department, was saying the opposite of what Najib and Gani were saying.
“And to make matters worse, state agencies like Mais (Selangor Islamic Religious Council) and Jais (Selangor Islamic Religious Department) are acting like a law unto themselves by raiding the Bible Society of Malaysia and confiscating the AlKitab and Bup Kudus, which are the bibles used by the Bumiputera Christians like us.
“How would you react if someone confiscated your Holy Book and threatened to dispose it?” she asked.
She added that it was very clear that the word “Allah” in Bahasa Malaysia refers to God both for Muslims and Christians but in different contexts.
The pastor explained further that for Muslims, God is “Esa” and only one, while for Bumiputera Christians, Allah was used in the context of Allah Bapa, Allah Anak and Allah Roh Kudus (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).
“By no means we worship three Gods, ours is God as a Trinity, so where is the confusion?
“It is Putrajaya and the jihadists who are confused.”
In light of recent developments over the Allah issue, PAN will hold a gathering to keep Bumiputera Christians updated and informed on the controversy.
She said that they wanted to send them a clear message that the Constitution guarantees that although Islam is the religion of the federation, other religions can be practised in peace and harmony.
“But since 1981, the federal government has made it a crime for us to call our God ‘Allah’ in Bahasa Malaysia and started to confiscate our books,” she said.
Golingi added that they also wanted to inform their audience that Bumiputera Christians made up more than two thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia and used Bahasa Malaysia as their language.
“We have been doing this for generations even before 1963 when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia and we are peaceful people.
“But suddenly the Islamists and jihadists want to impose shariah and their will on us.
“Our message is – no way, and we have been betrayed by Putrajaya,” she stressed.
She added that their main target audience for the upcoming gathering was the “anak negeri”, meaning the first born of the land who were the “true Bumiputeras”.
“Our message is that we have the same protection and privileges as Malays under Article 153, so please don’t bully us or treat us as second class,” she added.
PAN, which was created late last year, held its inaugural gathering in Penampang after Christmas last year, Ranau in January and a third one in Nabawan in February.
The movement used the “mamangkis” cry for its gatherings, which is an old Kadazandusun war cry used by their pagan ancestors to rally warrior troops for battle. PAN has adopted it as a Christian clarion call for revival.
The Federal Court had on June 23 rejected an application by the Catholic church to challenge the ban on the use of the word “Allah” by the Home Ministry.
Herald, had been using the word Allah in the publication since 1995 until the Home Minister banned its use by the Catholic weekly in 2009.