Let’s put Allah and Communities before partisan interests

By Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau


The coming together on March 16 of 53 federal and state lawmakers from Sabah and Sarawak, representing 11 parties and grouping, to call upon the Federal Government to withdraw the appeal against the High Court’s ruling on the Allah ban is a sign of Borneo maturity amidst the chaos in Malaysian politics.

This was done in three days despite the absence of even a single Whatsapp group for all existing 56 members of Dewan Rakyat and 12 Senators from East Malaysia, 79 ADUNs from Sabah and 82 ADUNs from Sarawak.

The success of having *23%* of all East Malaysian lawmakers can only be attributed to two factors. First, the statement’s pure and simple purpose to seek a closure for a 35-year-old spiritual pain felt by so many Sabahans, Sarawakians and Orang Asli, without attacks or swipes on any community or any political party. Second, the kind support of many colleagues such as *Dato’ Sri Richard Riot Jaem (MP, Serian), YB Christopher Gira (ADUN Tamin), YB Baru Bian (MP Selangau), YB Larry Sng (MP Julau) Datuk Willie Mongin (MP, Puncak Borneo)*, who have encouraged and/or reached out to other lawmakers whom I do not know personally or have close working relationship with. They are the key for this cross-party collaboration.

While we did not have the contact and connection of all *224* lawmakers, we certainly tried beyond the 53 who endorsed the statement. I reached out to my present and former colleagues in *Warisan, UMNO, Bersatu (?), PBS, other independent ADUNs in Sabah, PRS and PDP*. We could not reach some of them while from others, we got the tacit message that we would work towards the same goal in different capacities. We understand the constraints faced by some Federal and State Ministers and their preference to lobby from within.

While differing in tone or specificity, the statement by the 53 East Malaysian lawmakers shares the same fundamental goal of resolving the polemic by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang who said on March 12 that no one should be prohibited from using the word Allah but there must be limitations https://www.astroawani.com/berita-politik/sesiapa-pun-tidak-harus-dilarang-guna-perkataan-allah-namun-ada-sempadan-abdul-hadi-287759, Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing who rebuffed as “ridiculous” on March 12 calls for the Federal Government to appeal against the High Court’s ruling https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2021/03/11/ridiculous-to-demand-appeal-against-allah-decision-says-sarawak-dcm/ and Parti Warisan Sabah president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal who said on March 15 that Christians nationwide should be allowed to use the word Allah. https://www.thevibes.com/articles/news/20760/let-others-use-the-word-allah-says-shafie-after-govt-appeals-court-decision

We are positive that Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Noor’s government and Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg’s government too must feel the pain of Sabahans and Sarawakians, not just the Christians but also their Muslim families and friends and want the Federal Government to act reasonably, responsibly and respectfully of the Federal Constitution and the Malaysia Agreement 1963.

Datuk Haji Hajiji and Datuk Petinggi Abang Johari are seasoned political leaders who surely understand what Sabahans and Sarawakians aspire. They would know “defending and preserving religious tolerance” in Sabah and Sarawak is hollow when so many Sabahans and Sarawakians study, work and live in Malaya because of imbalanced regional development.

I call upon all Sabah and Sarawak based parties, especially (in alphabetical order) Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sarawak (SUPP), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS), Parti Demokratik Progresif (PDP), Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Parti Solidariti Tanah Airku (STAR), Parti Tindakan Demokratik (DAP), Parti Warisan Sabah (WARISAN), Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Melayu Bersatu (UMNO), together with Pertubuhan Kinabalu Progresif Bersatu (UPKO) to continue or start putting the interests of all communities created by Allah in Sabah and Sarawak before the narrow partisan interests. Let us compete on all other policies but converge on this. END

*Wilfred Madius Tangau*
Tuaran MP
UPKO President

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