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Thursday, January 7, 2010

KU LI.....NAK TUNGGU APA LAGI?


By Leslie Lau
Consultant Editor
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah lashed out at Umno today over its strident position on the “Allah” controversy, pointing out that the party was bent on fanning communal sentiment and digging itself into an intolerant hardline position with no parallel in the Muslim world.
He also suggested that racially-based parties should no longer be allowed to contest elections in multiracial Malaysia.
Speaking in Singapore today at the ISEAS regional outlook forum, his scathing remarks comes as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak shored up Umno and the government’s position over the Allah controversy by backing the right of Muslim groups to hold a public demonstration tomorrow.
Umno and a number of Muslim NGOs have been in an uproar over the recent High Court ruling allowing the Catholic church’s Herald newspaper to use the word “Allah” to refer to God in its Bahasa Malaysia section.
The government has filed an appeal against the ruling and yesterday it won a stay of execution.
The Islamist PAS, however, has backed the court’s ruling by pointing out that the word “Allah” can be used by those of the Abrahamic faiths — Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Tengku Razaleigh suggested today that the rejection of Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) communal politics model by large swathes of voters in Election 2008 had led the Malay nationalist party to pursue racial issues more stridently.
“They think this will shore up their ’base’. They are mistaken about the nature of that base. As they do so, they become more extreme and out of touch with ordinary voters of every race and religion whose major concerns are not racial or religious identity but matters such as corruption, security, the economy and education.”
He cited as an example the “Allah” controversy.
“In a milestone moment, PAS, the Islamic party, is holding onto the more plural and moderate position while Umno is digging itself into an intolerant hard-line position that has no parallel that I know of in the Muslim world.
“Umno is fanning communal sentiment, and the government it leads is taking up policy lines based on ‘sensitivities’ rather than principle. The issue appears to be more about racial sentiment  than religious, let alone constitutional principles,” he said in his luncheon address.
He said Umno’s response to the “Allah” controversy was “short of leadership and moral fibre.”
Tengku Razaleigh’s latest attack on Umno and the government is not likely to go down well with the hardline conservatives in his party.
But the Umno veteran has been unrelenting in his call for reforms in Umno. Recently, he also slammed the BN government’s position in refusing to give oil royalties to Kelantan, which is ruled by PAS.
On the “Allah” issue, the former Finance Minister is particularly scathing in his remarks.
“Sensitivities is the favoured resort of the gutter politician. With it he raises a mob, fans its resentment and helps it discover a growing list of other sensitivities. This is a road to ruin. A nation is made up of citizens bound by a shared conception of justice and not of mobs extracting satisfaction for politicised emotional states,” he said.
Tengku Razaleigh said that when the government began speaking the language of sensitivities, it was a mark of the country’s decline.
He said the controversy over the use of “Allah” should not be about managing sensitivities but about doing what was right.
“This is what government sounds like when a political system and its leadership have come unstuck from the rule of law. It goes from issue to issue, hostage to the brinksmanship of sensitivities. Small matters threaten to erupt into racial conflict.
“The government of a multiracial society that cannot rise above sentiment is clearly too weak or too self-interested to hold the country together. It has lost credibility and legitimacy. The regime is in crisis.”
Tengku Razaleigh said that while the prime minister had made what he called “helpful gestures” towards freeing up the economy and pursuing multiracial policies, Malaysia was still in need of fundamental reform.
He urged an overhaul of the political system to rule out racially exclusive parties from directly contesting elections; a restoration of the independence of the judiciary and the media; and an all-out war against graft.
dari The Malaysian Insider

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