I was completely astounded and outraged by de factor Law Minister, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’ statement yesterday that it is too late for dialogue to resolve the “Allah” controversy, which had sparked a spate of arson and vandalism against churches, surau and a Sikh temple since the beginning of the year.
Nazri reiterated that it was not the fault of the government but that of the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church, Kuala Lumpur, Reverend Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam who had brought the matter to court.
If anybody is to be blamed for the Herald litigation, it is the government which had allowed the Home Ministry to violate two decades of religious equilibrium on the issue with its ban in 2007 on the use of the word “Allah” in the Catholic weekly, forcing on the Roman Catholic church the final remedy and recourse of the courts.
But it is what Nazri said about the Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Lau Bee Lan and her judgment which completely floored rational and reasonable Malaysians, as no Law Minister or a de facto one had done more than Nazri to attack the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of a judge when his first task should be to start the very difficult and arduous process to restore national and international confidence in the Malaysian judiciary after suffering more than two decades of usurpation, emasculation and rape by the Executive.
Nazri launched a most improper, unwarranted and unprecedented attack on Lau, not only saying that her Dec. 31 decision was wrong, but also maligning and besmirching her judicial competence and role by declaring that she is not a Muslim and had improperly ruled over a matter that concerned the “akidah” (faith) of the Muslim community.
This is the first time that I know of a judge being attacked on the ground of her religious credentials rather than her judicial competence and temper – and coming from the de facto Law Minister, it must be regarded most seriously as a totally unacceptable attack on the independence, impartiality, integrity and professionalism of the judiciary.
“Who is a Malay? In the Constitution, a Malay is one: a Muslim; two: speaks Malay and three: practises Malay culture. In the Constitution, there can’t be a Malay who is not a Muslim. Anything at all, any suspicion will confuse the ordinary Malays. They become so protective because Malay and Islam cannot be separate.”
What is Nazri trying to say? Is he laying down a new law that in multi-religious and multi-racial Malaysia where the Constitution recognizes Islam as the official religion but guarantees freedom of religion for all other faiths, non-Muslim and non-Malay judges must be excluded from adjudicating certain cases like the Herald “Allah” case allegedly because it concerns (i) the “akidah” of the Muslim community; and (ii)the Malay psyche?
Fifty-two years after Merdeka and 46 years after the formation of Malaysia, is the country going backwards with a further dichotomy of the judicial system where there is new division of cases which is to be adjudicated solely by judges who fulfill the two conditions of being Muslim and Malay because they fall into the category of (i) akidah of the Muslim community; and (ii) the Malay psyche?
Will the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court – should be the appeal on the Herald’s “Allah” case reach that level – be constituted solely with Muslim and Malay judges to take into account Nazri’s extraordinary objections?
These are dangerous perversion and subversion of the Constitution.
Nazri has clearly committed grave contempt of court on more than one ground. Is the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail prepared to act in the public and national interest to institute immediate committal proceedings to cite Nazri for contempt?
The time has also come for MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Sabah/Sarawak and the other Umno Ministers to declare their stand on Nazri’s constitutional perversion.
MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Sabah/Sarawak Barisan Nasional and other Umno Ministers should endorse Nazri or get the Cabinet tomorrow to repudiate Nazri’s stand that it is too late for inter-religious dialogue to resolve the “Allah” controversy.
Let them at the Cabinet meeting tomorrow either endorse or repudiate Nazri’s position that:
Reject inter-religious dialogue as the route to resolve the “Allah” controversy on the ground that it is “now too late”;
Dismiss Datuk Lau Bee Lan’s Dec. 31 decision and judgment on the ground that she is not a Muslim, had improperly decided over a matter that concerned the “akidah” of the Muslim community as well as disregarded the Malay psyche.
Implication that there must be a new dichotomy in the judiciary with a new category of cases concerning (i) the Muslim “akidah” and (ii) the Malay psyche which must be adjudicated solely by Muslim and Malay judges.
On the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility, no Minister can now keep quiet on this issue with its many far-reaching socio-economic and nation-building repercussions.
What is the use of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and other Ministers talking about inter-religious dialogue and council if the Herald controversy is to be completely excluded from any proposed religious dialogue on the ground that “it is too late”, when it should the first priority item of the agenda of any inter-religious dialogue or council to demonstrate that the government is serious and sincere to want to make them work and succeed?
In fact, it is no exaggeration to say that Najib’s 1Malaysia is now hanging in the balance, facing its most critical test – whether it could withstand the severe test of the “Allah” controversy and salvage its credibility in the first 12 months of the Najib premiership.
If the first year of the Najib premiership is to see Malaysia riven by even more new divisions at any time in the nation’s history, whether a land divided by the use of the word “Allah”, allowed to be used by Christians in East Malaysia but not in West Malaysia or a judiciary where there is a new category of cases concerning (i) the akidah of Muslims and (ii) the Malay psyche which could only be adjudicated by Muslim and Malay judges, then it is time for Najib’s 1Malaysia slogan to be given a decent burial before the completion of Najib’s first anniversary as the country’s sixth Prime Minister in April this year.
Are there any Cabinet Ministers who are prepared to resign and quit the Cabinet and Najib government on a matter of principle if the Cabinet refusesd to repudiate and dissociate itself from Nazri’s stand?