By John Isaac
CHIEF Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has reiterated that non-Muslims in Sarawak are free to use the word ‘Allah’ in their prayers and religious publications.
“In Sarawak, you can use (the word) ‘Allah’, while for some they won’t allow and quarrel (over it).
“We in Sarawak, anytime if you want to use (the word) ‘Allah’, there is no problem. Everyone has their own beliefs,” he said as reported by New Sarawak Tribune.
He has reassured Christians, especially the Dayaks that he has no problem with them continuing to use the word ‘Allah’ in their prayers and in churches.
“We don’t see it as a problem for the Christians in the state to use the word,” he said during the state-level Gawai dinner in Kuching on June 20, 2017.
He has continued to give the assurance whenever the issue reemerged and the latest was on March 18 where he said Sarawak would continue to defend and preserve religious tolerance.
Unfortunately, the chief minister’s assurance was obviously ignored by certain quarters for reasons best known to themselves as they persistently harp on the issue.
The Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) chairman pointed out that Sarawak was inclusive, united and there was no division among its multi-racial people.
“Sarawak is the only state that provides special allocation to help the other religions under Unifor (Unit for Other Religions),” he said.
He pointed out that the state has helped to build churches under Unifor when Belaga assemblyman Datuk Liwan Ligang requested for it, including allocating RM10,000 for BEM to build their church in Kuching.
“All of us trust in God and our religion teaches us not to lie, slander and to look after those around us.
“All religion (teaches us these), and I hold on to that… After all, it is between you and God. Only God knows what you want…. and when we do good, God will help us,” he said.
Acknowledging that Sarawak is a very peaceful state, the chief minister also said the same peacefulness is seen in the political scene here.
“In Malaya, they are busy calculating the numbers of who they support as the prime minister in the country. When they are busy with this kind of issue, they don’t have time to think for the people.
“But for me, I don’t need to count (on who supports me). We in Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) are united as one, if we are not, then I will be worried sick and would be concerned that I will fall.
“However, that is not the case. I still can come here today to listen to your needs and you want to have the Mulu Mini Township, and I approve of it,” he said.
The Satok assemblyman said with the State Legislative Assembly’s (DUN) term ending soon, and if GPS is not in power then the development projects cannot continue to be carried out.
“So, continue to give the mandate to Mulu assemblyman Datuk Gerawat Gala and ensure that he wins big so that he can bring more development projects for the benefit of the people.
“Therefore, we pray that God will help us, our state is peaceful, we are united and we continue to develop Sarawak so that we can be an exemplary state to others by the year 2030,” said Abang Johari.