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Speech by Lim Kit Siang at a DAP Public Forum “What’s wrong with our government” at Chin Woo Hall, Ipoh on Friday, 8th January 2010: 


Call on Malaysians – including religious bodies, political parties, NGOs – not to take part in demonstrations over the “Allah” controversy to avoid the trap of irresponsible political desperadoes out to exploit, manipulate the politicize the issue

Just before I come on stage, I received the following SMS which I believe represents the views of Malaysians inside this Hall and outside in the country:

“UMNO, esp Najib & Hishammuddin must bear full responsibility for d churches burning incidents since they failed to address d Allah issue properly, allowing people to demonstrate, thus causing it to escalate & spin out of proportion”.

Let me ask you by a show of hands whether you agree with this SMS. (Almost unanimous spontaneous show of hands from the close to a thousand-people crowd in support of the SMS).

The year 2009 ended badly for Malaysia despite having a new Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak with his new “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” slogan with setbacks on all the major priority KPIs and NKRAs, viz:

  1. Corruption – the newly-formed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) ending its first year with lowest level of public confidence ever experienced by its predecessor, the Anti-Corruption Agency, in the previous 41 years from 1967-2008 and Malaysia suffering international humiliation of worst ranking of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index in 15 years, the lowly position of No. 56 in 2009 as compared to No. 23 in 1995. The year ends with the tragedy of the mysterious death of Teoh Beng Hock at the MACC headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16 continuing to haunt the MACC, the Najib government and the nation.

  2. Crime – Police boasts of improving crime index not reflected in public confidence in the ability of the police to restore to Malaysians their two fundamental rights - to be free from crime and free from the fear of crime. Ipoh is following Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya with the emergence of more and more “gated communities” where the people pay an extra income tax to pay for their own safety and security as police has failed to deliver this most fundamental of its public responsibilities. The real measure of police success to restore public confidence in its core function to keep the streets, public places and the privacy of their homes safe is when Malaysians begin to dismantle “gated communities” and not when more and more “gated communities” are mushrooming in various parts of the country.

  3. 1Malaysia – Najib’s signature theme of “1Malaysia. People First. Performance Now” suffered a severe setback when 2009 ended with the divisive, racist and seditious Biro Tata Negara (BTN) “brain-washing” scandal and 2010 started with the “Allah controversy” culminating in the burning and attack on churches today, aggravating Malaysia’s losing battle to enhance our international competitiveness so crucial to attract foreign direct investment for our national development and prosperity.

Malaysians are entitled to question the Najib government why Malaysia is the only country in the world where the “Allah controversy” has assumed such explosive character when:

  • this has not been a problem in Malaysia in the past 52 years of nationhood, with “Allah” used by the Catholic weekly Herald before its ban by the Home Ministry in 2007;

  • Sabah and Sarawak non-Muslim indigenous people have been using the word “Allah” for God even before formation of Malaysia in 1963 – going back to as far back as 1818.

  • The word “Allah” has been used by pre-Islamic Arabs for God and Arab Christians still use the term “Allah” for their God.

  • Other religions refer to “Allah” as their God.

  • The Holy Quran and the Hadith do not prohibit the use of word “Allah” by any other religion.

Indonesia is the most populous Muslim in the world with 240 million people, 95 per cent of whom are Muslims but Indonesians do not have the “Allah” controversy with its explosive intensity.

Why then is this happening in Malaysia when we have always held ourselves as the exemplar of multi-religious living and inter-religious understanding, goodwill and harmony for the world?

The answer must be found in the failure of leadership by the Prime Minister and Home Minister and the exploitation and manipulation of the issue by extremist and irresponsible elements to serve their political ends.

Unlike UMNO, PAS has taken a very open, progressive and Malaysian approach to the “Allah” controversy with Pakatan Rakyat demonstrating that it is more capable than UMNO/Barisan Nasional to manage and resolve the thorny issues of a plural society.

DAP and Pakatan Rakyat had right from beginning advocated that the “Allah” controversy should be resolved through an inter-religious conference.

Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslims, should remain cool, calm and collected, stay steadfast on their fundamental rights, to help resolve differences in our plural society by dialogue and discourse and should not be provoked into any rash or irrational responses.

For this reason, I call on all Malaysians – including religious bodies, political parties, NGOs and individuals – not to take part in demonstrations over the “Allah” controversy to avoid the trap of irresponsible political desperadoes out to exploit, manipulate and politicize the issue.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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