LETTER | The Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue (ACID) welcomes the decision by the unity government to withdraw its appeal against the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on the “Allah’ issue.
This is about the ruling which said that Christians can use the word “Allah” and the three other Arabic words in the publication of their religious material for learning purposes. It is the right decision in given circumstances.
Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has said that persisting with the appeal in the “Allah” court dispute with a Sarawakian Christian would have been futile – given the 1986 cabinet decision.
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Besides, the Conference of Rulers had decided that non-Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak could use the word under certain conditions.
The prime minister is basically taking a balanced approach which has a factual basis for a long-term solution in the context of Malaysian realities.
This is also to stop the polemics revolving around the usage of the word “Allah”, besides preventing a win-lose adversarial legal battle.
Taking an adversarial route in the court of law through appeals where a win-lose approach is sort could be detrimental to inter-religious harmony in the country.
When one takes a reasonable discourse, the grievance among the Muslim community is the possible misuse of the word “Allah”.
However, in a nation where there is a mixture of politics and religion for vested political interest, the usage of the word is seen from a dominant majoritarian view - which is contrary to principles of equity and justice.
In this context, the minority communities would always be on the losing end since the majority dictates what constitutes justice.
Power and dominance are not the way in resolving a conflict and certainly, an adversarial legal approach would be detrimental to the complex inter-religious ties of the country.
If the appeal is continued where one community wins and the other loses, it will create a situation of chasm which could be detrimental to the safety and security of Malaysians as a whole.
The real solutions lie in dialogue where understanding and trust are built. Political and religious leaders should play an authentic role in creating trust by bringing the communities together to dialogue.
Therefore, the approach taken by the unity government on the matter is a step in the right direction that would help create a context for dialogue, reasoning and resolution.
And it should be supported by all Malaysians for the sake of justice and reconciliation.
Ronald Benjamin is the secretary for Association for Welfare, Community and Dialogue
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.