By S. Harrish
THE Pakatan Harapan government had wanted to settle the “Allah” issue out of court but it was opposed by then Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
Selangau MP Baru Bian said he and several other PH ministers made the effort to settle the issue but their attempts were thwarted by none other than the current Prime Minister.
He said that sometime in mid-2019, the Cabinet agreed that the ‘Allah’ issue should be settled outside the court and mandated Tun Daim, the Chairman of the Council of Eminent Persons to resolve the matter.
This was after he had met lawyers for the Jill Ireland and SIB Sabah cases and Senior Federal Counsel of the Attorney General’s Chambers.
By then, he said submissions had been filed in the High Court and the matter was pending a decision by the Court.
“The lawyers had indicated to the Senior Federal Counsel representing the Federal Government that they were prepared to settle the matter outside court or to work on an administrative resolution of these two cases.
“The Court was duly informed and the decision was postponed many times pending settlement,” he said in a statement.
Bian said Daim could not move forward as the Cabinet decision mandating him to resolve the issue was not officially communicated to him.
“I brought up the matter in the Cabinet on Nov 8, 2019 and a Special Committee of Ministers comprising myself, Muhyiddin, Datuk Darell Leiking, the late Datuk VK Liew and Datuk Seri Mujahid Yusof Rawa, was formed to discuss and resolve the matter.”
The former Sarawak PKR chief said the proposed solution was to amend the 1986 administrative directive which banned non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” to state that it can be used in Christian publications unconditionally in Sabah and Sarawak.
For Peninsular Malaysia, he said the proposal was to ensure that Christian publications using the word should carry a “Christian publication” stamp and stamped with a symbol of the cross.
These proposals were based on the 2010 Ten Point Solution which acknowledged the different circumstances in the Borneo states and the Malayan states.
“I was informed by the lawyer for Jill Ireland and SIB Sabah that the AGC’s SFC was amenable to the proposal but had to get the approval of the Home Ministry. The Minister disagreed with the said proposal and decided to let the court decide.”
The Special Committee of Ministers had its first meeting at the end of November 2019 but Muhyiddin was unable to attend.
He said other proposals included adding a cross on top of the word “Allah” when in printed Christian publications but it was not acceptable and the 10-point solution was deemed the most logical approach.
He added that it was also proposed that there would be a moratorium on enforcing the 1986 administrative order.
“Before the special committee of ministers and/or cabinet could make a final decision, the Harapan government collapsed at the end of February 2020.
Bian said he was making the revelations after GPS accused the PH government of not doing anything to resolve the issue.
“So for the information of GPS backbenchers, I and several ministers did try to find a solution that would not result in a win-lose situation but a win-win conclusion.
“However, the then home minister was not in favour of an out of court settlement and wanted the court to decide, for reasons best known to himself.
“Now that the court has made a ruling, he should advise the rakyat to respect the decision,” he said.
Baru said he was aware that the cases were very sensitive and therefore that was why he wanted them resolved administratively.