Monday, February 10, 2014

Christians ‘divided’ over Allah?

TAMPARULI: Federal Minister Maximus Ongkili’s sudden statement distancing himself from The Herald’s court action to reclaim its right to use the “Allah” word in its Catholic bulletin appears to be irking Sabah Christians.

Sabah PKR assemblyman Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing said he was totally taken aback by Kota Marudu MP, Ongkili’s pronouncement that the Catholic bulletin’s action in challenging in court a government ruling on the matter as “something wrong” and should have not been taken.
“I have no problem with his theological discourse on the (Allah) issue but I am totally against his political stand.

“The court action by the Catholic Church was a result of the Home Ministry banning The Herald of using the term “Allah”.
“The term Allah had been used (by Malaysian Christians) for ages since pre-merdeka (1963), why ban it now?
“Maximus (Ongkili) seems to disregard the foundation of the formation of the country,” Bumburing said in a statement here yesterday.
Bumburing, who is Tamparuli assemblyman and also president of a NGO, Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS), said Ongkili’s personal statement is seen as being against the action of the church.
He said Ongkili’s stand totally contradicted his own position as a deputy president of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) when he said that PBS upholds religious freedom.
According to Bumburing the federal constitution guarantees freedom of religion and that was what initiated the court action by the church.
“I will not speculate the real motive of Maximus (Ongkili) making this statement but I and the people of Sabah can only guess,” said Bumburing who is a Catholic.
Ongkili meanwhile was initially a Catholic but has long since joined a protestant church called Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB).
Divided Christians?
Insiders told FMT that Ongkili and in fact many of SIB leaders had quietly not been supportive of the court action by the Catholic’s bulletin in challenging the Home Ministry’s infamous order for The Herald to do away with the term “Allah” in its articles, fearing it would confuse and then turn Muslims to become Christians.
Ongkili in his statement had claimed that he had no problem not calling his God “Allah” as there are still many other names for his God to be called, among them “Tuhan”, “Elohim”, “Yahweh”, “Adonai” and even “Kinorohingan” in his own Dusun dialect.
But Ongkili, it appears has “missed” the whole issue by implicitly siding with the views of Malaysia’s Islam-centric administration rather than standing up to protect fellow Christians of their freedom of religion, including to continue addressing their God as “Allah” as is in their prayers and literatures, as is the practice, including by his own denomination SIB.
“If Maximus (Ongkili) values the precious religious freedom in the country maybe he should emulate the stand by the Hindraf chief (P. Waythamoorthy) by relinquishing his post in the government and join the struggle for justice in the country if he really stands for in what he said,” pointed out Bumburing.
Sabahans in general are of the opinion that the least Ongkili can do, if he doesn’t want to help and strengthen fellow Christians, is to keep his personal view to himself and not give out a “dis-empowering” pronouncement as he had just made.
“Maximus (Ongkili) reminded me of his late brother James’ refusal to be bestowed the title Huguan Siou of the Kadazandusun years ago, suggesting the only rightful person to get the title was (then) chief minister Harris Salleh.
“That was a very dis-empowering statement by James at his pinnacle of career, and the Kadazandusuns have never really forgiven him for that.
“Now we have Maximus (Ongkili) making similar dis-empowering statement during his pinnacle, this time on a Christian right…” said one observer in Kota Kinabalu.
Bumburing meanwhile also said “Allah issue” had come to a very dangerous level and that the government must act fast before things get out of control.
“The people are also alarmed by the content of the sermon prepared by Jakim and delivered on January 31 as reported by The Herald in which the sermon said that Christians and the Jews are the enemy of Islam and that the Muslims were under ‘siege’.
“This sermon is indeed very dangerous for the country as it comes from a government body, Jakim. They must come forward with proof that the Christians are attacking the Muslim religion,” Bumburing further said.
Bumburing also pointed out that in contrast to Ongkili’s statement, comments from Sabah chief minister, Musa Aman and one of his deputies, Yahya Hussin, had a more assuring tone when they said Sabah has no problem with Christians using the term “Allah”.

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