Thursday, December 27, 2007

Francis' Open Christian Letter

Here's an interesting letter that has been published by Malaysiakini. It's a well-reasoned letter but the jury is out whether the Church will "give an inch" and later a "foot"... Personally, I like the term "Yakweh" better.

Francis sounds like someone I once knew-not personally though- who was once a well-known journalist in this region...

The ‘Allah’ issue in Herald

Much has been written and debated about the ‘Allah’ issue this week. I think this is a ‘non issue’ right from the beginning.

Unlike the ‘crucifix’ which is the supreme symbol of Christianity that all Christians should protect and uphold, using the word ‘Allah’ is something Christians can do without and easily give way if certain quarters feel offended by it.

Let me attempt a suggestion to resolve the matter as a Catholic in total loyalty and obedience to the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, to whom the Herald permit is issued to.

My fellow Catholics and some of the more vocal members of the clergy can debate and argue with the Internal Security Ministry till kingdom come over the usage of ‘Allah’. But that is not going to resolve the matter.

If everything happen for a reason, then there must be a reason why the ‘Allah’ issue came up over this Christmas season of peace, compassion and forgiveness.

Lim Kit Siang (peace to our ever vocal Mr Opposition) has urged Pak Lah to overrule Deputy Minister Johari Baharom and rescind his ministry’s order to Herald to discontinue its Bahasa Malaysia section “so that Christmas Day this year will not be celebrated under a cloud of burgeoning religious intolerance.”

But the issue does not call for a political solution. Rather than stating that Catholics are unhappy and Christmas this year is “celebrated under a cloud of burgeoning religious intolerance”, we should instead prove to others that Catholics are indeed a very tolerant people.

Here, let me exhort my fellow Catholics in the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur to heed the request of the Internal Security Ministry and refrain from using the word ‘Allah’ henceforth in its publication. Just continue with the old fashion ‘God’ and ‘Lord’ which is perfectly understood by all. Then, there is the alternative of using the Hebrew/Jewish ‘Yahweh’ or the Latin ‘Deus’.

At times, it’s better to show and prove just how tolerant Christians in this country are. It’s not an act of cowardice or fear of speaking the truth. It’s all about the true Christian spirit - “when you are slapped on the left cheek, turn to the right one if you know that you’ve done nothing wrong”.

Working as a journalist for a good part of my adult life, allow me also to advise the editors at the Herald to practise ‘sensible journalism’. I’ve come to accept long ago that ‘responsible journalism’ in this country means that editors also have to be politically correct at all times.

‘Sensible journalism’ is about toeing the line of those who think they are powerful and almighty - allow them to think so as long as we know deep in our hearts that the Herald is about serving the Heavenly Lord and continuing to bring the Good News to all who believe.

If the permit is still there and Catholics can continue to have access to news and views about the local church via the Herald, what is the point in prolonging a non issue as the usage of ‘Allah’.

Remember, 'responsible journalism' in this country means being politically correct at all times and if we cannot agree on political correctness, then the option is 'sensible journalism' which allows others to think they are powerful and almighty as long as we can continue with our religious duties which is paramount.

It’s okay to let a few holier-than-thou guys in the Internal Security Ministry win. Our greater service is to our Lord, Master and Saviour.

So Pak Lah, this is the truth from a Christian as far as these recent controversies go. You are noted as a deeply religious person - so make me, a Christian, believe in your fairness and justice, Pak Lah just as a Muslim would believe in those virtues of Allah.

FRANCIS SIAH is a RC (Roman(tic) Catholic) who finds much joy in romancing with his God, Lord, Yahweh and Deus (no Allah, never mind). He can be reached at


Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...

God who knows all
Will heed our call
Wither bounces the ball
He will not let us fall

(C) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Fri. 28th Dec. 2007.

Luke said...

What reassuring words! Thanks, Sam!