Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s silence over the Penang Islamic Religious Administration Enactment 2004 ban on 40 words for use by non-Muslims, has irked the Sensible, Ethical Malaysian United Team (Semut).
Semut chairperson Huan Cheng Guan said the ban – enforced in 2010 – is a serious matter, and Lim must answer as it affects all Malaysians, especially non-Muslims.
“The enactment was enforced during Pakatan Rakyat’s governance so Lim needs to answer to this. He has to make his plan clear but there is only total silence from him,” said Huan, at a press conference today.
“Except for DAP national chairperson Karpal Singh (right), Penang leaders have not said a word,” added Huan, who also heads the Centre for Political Awareness Malaysia.
“Do not have double standards. DAP used to say former CM Koh Tsu Koon has no ‘balls’ (guts), but it looks like Lim has lesser ‘balls’ (guts)” he noted.
Huan said he was amused by Penang’s total silence on the issue in the state when DAP “makes a lot of noise” in issues happening in Selangor and Sarawak.
He also disputed PKR de facto Anwar Ibrahim’s remark that there is “no problem” pertaining to the issue in Penang.
“His comment does not carry weight. The enactment is already in force and can be applied to anyone,” Huan replied, when asked.
Yesterday, Anwar also said the law – which was passed to prohibit usage of the words for propagation to Muslims – must not be used to oppressed others.
Karpal had earlier urged the Penang government to seek legal advice on the use of the word ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims in the state before a conviction occurs.
‘More serious than kangkung’
To date, no one has been convicted under the law, where wrongdoers face a RM3,000 fine or maximum two years’ jail term or both.
The issue came in the wake of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department’s (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), where more than 300 copies of the Bible in the Malay and Iban languages were seized, and two of the BSM’s staff were detained by the police.
Huan said he would not be seeking answers from Lim if he were not chief minister, adding that the issue of the word ban was more serious than “kangkung”.
He often acts as a “hero” in many issues, issuing countless statements and implementing various policies in the state since he took over the Penang government in 2008.
“He is even more popular than Jackie Chan. But why is he so quiet in this issue?”
According to the enactment, the words deemed exclusive to Muslims in Penang, other than ‘Allah’, include ‘Masjid’, ‘Surau’, ‘Haji’, ‘Mufti’, ‘Sheikh’, ‘Khutbah’, ‘Akhirat’ and ‘Ulama’.
Similar enactments banning words from use by non-Muslims are found in some others states, but not all.