SIBU, May 11 — Sarawak police today banned political parties from using the ‘Allah’ row in the Sibu by-election, hours after DAP told a well-attended gathering for local Christians to vote for the party on May 16 as a sign of protest over the issue.
The ban was announced by Sarawak OCCI SAC II Huzir Mohamed who also threatened to take action under the Sedition Act or the Internal Security Act (ISA) against those who defied the order.
“We have been monitoring the ceramah and found that some parties have been using the khalimah Allah issue,” said Huzir.
“This is a sensitive issue. We advise all parties to stop using it once and for all,” he added.
“If any party persists in using it, we can take action under sedition or the ISA. To all parties, please don’t bring unnecessary problems,” he told a media briefing today.
Speakers at the ceramah yesterday, (right to left) Ngeh Koo Ham, Hannah Yeoh, Selangor exco Teresa Kok and former health minister Chua Jui Meng. - Picture by Jack Ooi
However, the DAP asked the police if the force would also arrest those who were responsible for allegedly igniting the issue in the first place, naming Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as one of the progenitors.
“Let the PM explain whether this was his directive,” DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said hinting that the party would not adhere to the directive.
DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said Barisan Nasional (BN) through SUPP was also responsible for bringing sensitive issues into the campaign.
“If ‘Allah’ issue cannot be raised then why are they using the Islamic state issue,” said Pua.
SUPP leaders have accused DAP of supporting the formation of Islamic state by cooperating with PAS in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
DAP has made the ‘Allah’ row its major campaign issue with the party’s candidate Wong Ho Leng vowing to solve the issue if elected.
SUPP candidate Robert Lau Hui Yew however downplayed the issue saying that national issues such as the ‘Allah’ ban does not resonate in Sibu.
The Chinese dominated BN component member has also pointed out that the ban for Christians to use ‘Allah’ when referring to God in the national language is not enforced in the Malaysia’s largest state.
More than 50 per cent of the 54,695 Sibu voters are Christians.
The Chinese form about 67 percent of the 54,695 voters while the Malay/Melanau about, 10.5 per cent.
The primarily Christian Sarawak Bumiputeras form about 22 per cent of the voters. This group continues to use the word ‘Allah’ in their worship.