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Quibbling over God's name, Malaysia-style
Published:  Dec 21, 2007 12:10 PM
Updated: Jan 29, 2008 10:21 AM

That two distinct faiths, both belonging to the Abrahamic tradition, should refer to the one ‘God’ by the same term, is hardly cause for scandal.

On Catholic weekly in quandary over permit

Rita Camilleri: Malta, a tiny, strategically-placed island in the centre of the Medierranean Sea, boasts a history which has been indelibly touched by many cultures - Arab to its south and European to the north. Not surprisingly, the Maltese language derives from an Arabic base with many other ‘grafted’ influences, in particular Italian.

Many commonly used phrases incorporate words from Arabic and Italian roots, side by side (eg ‘a beautiful day’ is ‘giornata sabiha’). The word for ‘God’ is unambiguously ‘Allah’, used in the Maltese/Catholic spoken and written form. To my knowledge, this has never posed a problem. Communities from both sides of the Mediterranean would be aware of the use of this word as for centuries people from the two worlds have interacted.

As an Australian of Maltese origin with a keen interest in Malaysia, I am somewhat surprised by the reported stance of the Malaysian authorities in objecting to the use of the word ‘Allah’ for ‘God’ in the Catholic newspaper Herald. That two distinct faiths, both belonging to the Abrahamic tradition, should refer to the one ‘God’ by the same term, is hardly cause for scandal.

On Hindraf 31: AG drops attempted murder charge

Meenachi Indian: I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the headlines of a Tamil vernacular daily a day after the attempted murder charge was dropped against the Batu Caves 31. The paper's headlines congratulated MIC president S Samy Vellu for a job well done.

The article which followed claimed that Samy Vellu had successfully bargained for and obtained the AG's Chambers to drop the charges. In their desperation to prop up Samy Vellu's flagging popularity, his spin doctors had made the AG come across as a Samy Vellu lackey.

And of course they have also successfully managed to make the senior politician appear to be a clueless imbecile. Anyone worth his or her salt would know that the charge cannot stick as no one knew who threw the rock which cracked the policeman's head.

It is hard to understand as to why Samy Vellu's spin doctors ran the article even after AG Abdul Gani Patail had clearly stated that his decision was strictly based on a point of law and that he was not doing anyone any favours.

On Miba president: What I told the PM

Peter Ooi: Miba president must be commended for enlightening the PM on woes of Indian communities. It fact many people are not aware of the pathetic plight of the poor Indians. And Miba president did a very good job in this aspect. I thank you for the information because they are really news to me.

For Pak Lah to be not aware of the problems is really amusing. He had at his disposals all the advisers, secretaries and economist to update him on all happenings in the countries. He thanked Miba president for telling him the truth which I hope he will at on it.

More surprising is that he needed Miba president to brief him on the truth. So what is Samy Vellu doing all the time? I really wonder. But, from the report, I can safely say that Pak Lah should appoint Miba prsident P Sivakumar to advise him on Indian welfare.

On Hindu Sangam calls on gov't to uphold freedom

Paul Warren: I would like to congratulate all the various Malaysian Indian NGO representatives who met up with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi for all that they were able to say. I am particularly taken up by what Dr Vaithilingam of the Hindu Sangam had to say and Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) president P Sivakumar's ‘speech’ according to Malaysiakini's report. I did not realise you could actually meet up with any prime minister or any head of state and actually give him a speech!

But anyway, what I would like for these gentlemen to do is now to get an official transcript from the Prime Minister's office, if not the minutes of the meeting that they had with the prime minister. If one is not forthcoming, I am certain they would be able to employ their collective minds and recall to put together the minutes of what happened and go get the prime minister if not his office to stamp it as accepting that the minutes reflect what was said at the meeting.

Once they can produce that, I hope they would be able to let Malaysiakini present it to us with the prime minister's official stamp on it. Maybe then we can then sit down once again and relish reading what these gentlemen now claim that they had said to the prime minister directly.

On Linguistic divide results in racial divide

HL Too: I refer to the above letter by Dr Nav Sidhu and wish to make a comment on one of his statements concerning Saudi Arabia being “a modern, dynamic Islamic country”.

Surely, you jest! A woman who was gang-raped was recently sentenced by the court in Saudi Arabia to be given 200 lashes. If it wasn’t for the international outcry, the sentence would most surely be carried out. In case Dr Sidhu is unaware, they still behead people in this modern, dynamic Islamic country. I sincerely hope that Malaysia never become as modern and dynamic as Saudi Arabia.

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