GPS supports High Court’s decision on Allah issue, PSB told to stop politicising for mileage

GPS logo (file photo)

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KUCHING, March 17: Describing Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) as politicising the Allah issue to gain mileage, Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Backbenchers Club reiterates Sarawak’s stance of upholding the recent Kuala Lumpur High Court decision allowing non-Muslims to use the word “Allah” in preaching and publications.

In a statement today, GPS Backbenchers Club firmly asserted its stance that the people of Sarawak and Sabah are free to use the word “Allah”, regardless of religion.

“We would like to reiterate that GPS continues the struggle of the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem who upheld religious freedom through his stand of allowing Christians to use the word ‘Allah’ in their publications, churches and prayers.

“This was echoed by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg who has time and time again spoken on the issue and condemned bigots, assuring that these groups have no place in Sarawak.

“The people of Sabah and Sarawak, regardless of religion have been free to use the “Allah” word and there has never been any restrictions — whether under State Law or Federal Law,” said the GPS Backbenchers Club.

It pointed out that not only is Sarawak a state upholding freedom in religion, but the Sarawak government materialised such a belief by setting up a unit to be of assistance to other religions.

“The concept of religious tolerance, inclusiveness and freedom of religion has been put into practice through various government policies and decision-making at the executive level and has yielded various programmes — one of it is the formation of the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) under the Chief Minister’s Department.

“Through Unifor — the only unit of its kind in Malaysia — numerous assistances (sic) have been rendered to religious groups in terms of grants for their activities and for the construction or repair of houses of worships,” said GPS Backbenchers Club.

In response to PSB president Datuk Seri Wong Soon Koh’s claim that the GPS government has been silent on Putrajaya’s decision to appeal last week’s High Court ruling that annulled a directive prohibiting Christians from using the word “Allah” in their religious education and books, the club refuted it and challenged Wong to read news reports of the past week and even past years.

“We want to make clear that the state government has been vocal and consistent on its position pertaining to unity and religious freedom all this while as well as on the recent High Court ruling.

“This has been evident through various statements made by GPS state leaders in their reactions to the matter in the past week as well as in many years past.

“Perhaps if Dato’ Sri Wong would read the news in full in the past week instead of just those which he is quoted in, he would get the full and exact picture of the position taken by GPS,” said the club.

It also pointed out that Wong has been in the Sarawak Cabinet before and knew full and well the state government’s stand on the issue.

“What he is doing is politicising the issue, using it to gain political mileage. Such, as he had said, has been ongoing during the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem’s time.”

Meanwhile, the GPS Backbenchers Club also challenged Wong to question PSB presidential council member Baru Bian of what Pakatan Harapan (PH) did before to remedy the issue when PH was in Putrajaya from 2018 until 2020.

“We ask Dato’ Sri Wong this: Has the opposition as well as the Pakatan Harapan (PH) federal government fought for more allocation for religious purposes in Sarawak?”

The GPS Backbenchers Club expressed its hope that all opportunistic politicians may stop making use of the Allah issue to gain mileage.

“To conclude, we hope that the issue is not politicised, exploited and harped on by opportunistic politicians, supporters and mouthpieces seeking to score brownie points amid the public interest in the recent High Court ruling.

“As far as GPS is concerned, it will continue to fight (for) and defend Sarawak’s rights — including religious freedom — in accordance to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63), the Federal Constitution and the Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC) 1962,” said the GPS Backbenchers Club.

On March 10, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the non-Muslim community may use the word “Allah” in their preaching and publications.

The High Court also decided that the community may use the words “Baitullah”, “Kaabah” and “solat” for teaching purposes which the Malaysian government has banned for 35 years.

Christians in Sarawak and Sabah received the decision with jubilation only to find their joy was short-lived as on Mar 12, the federal government filed its appeal against the High Court’s decision. — DayakDaily