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speak up!
TO achieve greater unity
among Malaysians
TO maintain a
democratic way of life
TO create a just society in
which the wealth of the nation
shall be equitably shared
TO ensure a liberal approach
to her rich and diverse
cultural traditions
TO build a progressive society
which shall be oriented to modern
science and technology
last year. But less than two months
later the leaders were back doing
what they were doing as if March 8
didn’t happen.
Now why I say Umno can lose its
preeminence in the BN. Take 2004
for instance. A total 110 of the 117
Umno candidates won. In 2008 only
78 of its 117 candidates won. PAS
and PKR have proven that Umno
has no monopoly on Malay-majority
constituencies. If it fails in rebuilding
itself and fails to win back those who
had rejected it in 2008, it is not im-
possible for it to lose half the number
of seats it won last year.
Chong: In rebuilding itself Umno
must really take into consideration
the feelings of the non-Malays. It
can no longer ride rough-shod on
others. I am a Malaysian too, Cikgu,
Malaysian citizen first class.
Zain: Umno was given preemi-
nence and allowed to lead the
coalition because the other parties
trusted it to do the right things. But
many things done and said by many
Umno leaders in recent years make
the party to lose some of that trust.
Umno must earn that trust again.
Chong: So many things for Najib
to do when he takes over at the end
of the month.
Mohan: Yes, so many things to
do and so little time left in which to
do them. The next general election
is less than four years away. Chong,
you said Najib takes over at the end
of the month. You mean March 31
of course.
Chong: Of course. Can’t be the
next day, April Fool’s day.
Mohan: But I have heard all
kinds of dates. So many rumours
about them abound. One says that
it’s April 3. Another says that April
8 was proposed but it was rejected.
The prime minister is still busy.
Azman: All this is causing a lot of
uncertainty. And instead of clearing
the air by announcing a date quickly,
Abdullah chose to cause more un-
certainty when he said last week
that he would be announcing the
date soon. Many people are begin-
ning to be nervous already.
Zain: Tell them not to worry. The
Quran says that God gives power to
whom He pleases and strips power
from whom He pleases. It also says
that when God decides to grant pow-
er to someone, nothing can prevent
that someone from attaining power.
And should He decide against grant-
ing power to someone, nothing can
give him power.
Sticking by
Does the end justify
the means?
Mohan: So at the end
of Thursday next week
Datuk Seri Najib Razak
will be hailed as the
new Umno president,
the party’s seventh. By
convention he will also
become prime minister
when Datuk Seri Abdul-
lah Ahmad Badawi steps
down at the end of the
Chong: Considering
what happened in 1999
and 2008, I don’t think it
is far-fetched for Umno to
win fewer seats than the
other parties in the BN in
the next general election.
Sorry Cikgu to say this.
As an Umno member I
am sure you don’t like to
hear this.
Zain: On the con-
trary Chong, some of my
it, lauding the criminals for expos-
ing one’s private matter through
outraging one’s privacy.
Pointing fingers at Chua for
immorality and criminal offence
but ignoring the immorality and
illegality of the DVD on the other
is telling the public that MCA is
advocating the practice of the end
justifying the means. It condones
the unlawful production of the DVD.
only helps to propagate the action
by Zainon Ahmad
TAN Foong Luen, in the capacity of
MCA NS Legal Bureau chief, writes
on “MCA must close ranks” (March
10). Presumably, Tan speaks on
behalf of MCA Negri Sembilan.
He questions the reasons given
by party members, present and
former leaders, who lend support
to party deputy president Datuk
Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Central to Tan’s questions is
the DVD which resurfaced recently
since it first appeared last year
that led to Chua’s resignation from
government and party posts.
Tan says that those who support
Chua have missed an important is-
sue of law that Chua, according to
the illegality of the DVD.
Accepting the illegal material as
evidence is tantamount to abetting
those who have stealthily produced
Azman: Thus fulfill-
ing the long-held belief
that the first six prime ministers of
the country would come from the
letters that spell RAHMAN, one of
the attributes or names of God – the
Most Gracious. The first prime min-
ister was Rahman, the second was
Abdul Razak, followed by Hussein,
Mahathir, Abdullah and now Najib.
Zain: At one National Press
Club function close to ten years ago
where Najib was the guest speaker,
the president of the club introduced
him as the final letter making up
RAHMAN. He wondered loudly
what would happen after Najib.
Would he be the last of the Umno
prime ministers? But God has other
attributes and names.
Mohan: Sorry Cikgu, but let’s
go back to the convention where
the Umno president becomes prime
minister, a convention which has
been observed for more than fifty
Chong: I suppose for so long as
BN rules and for so long as Umno
commands the most number of seats
than the other parties in the coali-
tion the convention stays. But what
if the MCA holds the most number
of seats, will the convention still be
Mohan: How can it happen?
Every general election Umno con-
tests the lion’s share of the seats, usu-
ally in most of the Malay-majority
friends and I in the party
have been talking about
this eventuality if Umno continues
to be riven by infighting and led by
greedy leaders. And if Najib cannot
fix the many problems of the party.
Azman: You agree with Chong,
Zain: Absolutely. Let’s say the
BN wins again in the next general
election, maybe just 119 seats in the
222-seat Dewan Rakyat. Of course
it can still rule. Let’s say of the 119
seats, Umno’s share is fewer than 35
and the MCA wins all the 40 seats it
contests. Surely you can’t expect the
convention to be still observed. In
that situation, Umno has no choice
but to move a step back probably
grateful that it is still part of the
As part of the government it
still has the opportunity for it to
strengthen itself and to once again
dedicate itself to the well-being of
the rakyat instead of allowing itself
to be used by its greedy leaders to
enrich themselves. Why I say an
opportunity? Because I think Umno
outside the government will just frit-
ter away. Disappear. Gone.
Azman: You seriously think this
can happen? Surely you know that
Umno is rebuilding itself.
Zain: If it is, I see no sign of it.
There was some sadness, disappoint-
ment and even regret immediately
after the March 8 general election
him, is now being investigated under
Section 377A of the Penal Code for
carnal intercourse against the order
of nature. He further elaborates on
how if the ingredients of such ac-
tion are established then there is
of such unlawful perpetrators.
In the first place, since the sur-
facing of the DVD, showing part of
the video clip by the mass media
including TV is by itself deplorable.
The media has absolutely no right
to do so. The action of such media
immoral and illegal. They have no
prima facie case that warrants a
conviction. He, however, does not
quote his source of information,
as the police have so far not made
any public announcement on the
Whether the DVD is politically
motivated, or Chua lobbies for high
party post and government office,
or the party members have forgiven
Chua, is entirely a party matter.
Whether as Tan says, Chua’s case
does find its day in the disciplinary
hearing for causing injury to the
image of the party is again entirely
up to the party to decide. The party
has all the right to pass judgment
on Chua using its own moral and
legal yardstick.
However, of interest to the
public is, as far as the sex video
case is concerned, whether MCA,
being a political party in which
many among its party leaders are
lawmakers, live up to the expecta-
tion that as Tan says, MCA, being a
party to the government of the day,
must uphold the law.
To the knowledge of the public,
the DVD was produced illegally by
outraging the privacy of a public
figure. The DVD is still in the custody
of the police and therefore nobody
right to possess and disseminate
an illegal material. Unfortunately,
nobody has taken the media to
Tan is right in saying that nobody
is above the law. More so, the
scrutiny of a public figure by the
public is expected to be particularly
stringent. But it must be done in a
lawful way, in line with the principle
of respecting the rule by law and
following the rule of law.
Let those people who believe that
public figure who has committed
an offence, or whose behaviour is
detrimental to the public’s interest,
to come forward and report to the
police with the necessary evidence
or take him/her to court in an ap-
propriate and lawful way. Leave it
to the police to carry out the neces-
sary investigation which can lead
to prosecution and conviction and
let the person concerned face the
legal consequences and take full
responsibility for the offence and
mistake if found guilty.
While Tan reminds Chua’s sup-
porters of the supposed criminal
investigation and the severity of
the supposed crime, he elects to
ignore the illegality of the DVD and
the criminality of outraging one’s
Consistent and sensitive translations
has the right to possess, examine,
view or disseminate it.
Labelling Chua as immoral or al-
leging he had committed a criminal
offence based on an illegal material
privacy. The MCA Negri Sembilan
Legal Bureau and state MCA should
take note that by doing so they are
telling the public that after all MCA
will not uphold the law when it suits
by itself immoral and unlawful as
THE article, “Inconsistent, insensi-
tive translations of ‘Allah’” (March
11), by Tan Sri Professor Dzulkifli
Abdul Razak is most welcome. How-
ever, I beg to differ with his views for
the following reasons:
Christians should translate their
scriptures even though he displays
no knowledge of the original He-
brew and Greek languages. Biblical
no one is supposed to have posses-
sion of it. The moral issue of Chua in
this case cannot be separated from
Loh SH
Johor Baru
translators chose the word “Allah”
translate the word “God” since the

First, Dzulkifli violates Aristotle’s dictum that one should critique a text on its own terms and that benefit of doubt should be extended to the text. He does so when he rejects the Christian use of the word “Allah” to refer to God simply because he considers Christian usage insensi- tive and shows no regard for Muslim teaching about the Quranic Tauhidic concept. His judgment begs the ques- tion. But why should people of other faiths be dictated by an alien text (in this case, the Quran) in their use of their holy scriptures? It is surely an inept academic exercise to impose Islamic teachings onto the Bible or to impose Christian teachings onto the Quran. Second, Dzulkifli’s stricture is indefensible in the light of history. Indeed, if legitimacy is to be accorded to the first user of the word “Allah”, then Muslims should not be allowed

to call their God “Allah”. After all, the pre-Islamic Arabs and speakers of Arabic cognate languages (like Syriac and Nabatean) had already been calling their God “Allah” (with equivalent cognates), and the Mus- lims who came later used the term “Allah” in a sense that deviates from its historical usage. Third, Dzulkifli’s stricture is irrelevant. Christians have never pretended that the Bible is an Islamic book. Although Christians and Mus- lims both believe in the same Creator God, nevertheless they have different understandings of his attributes and his gift of salvation. Dzulkifli’s criticisms fail to carry weight because he has not undertak- en both a diachronic and synchronic analysis of lexical terms used in the original texts. Without this exercise he has no grounds to justify why he cannot accept certain translations of Biblical terms, which are based on objective principles of linguistics. Dzulkifli’s criticism of how Chris- tians use the word “Tuhan” and “Al- lah” in describing “Lord” and “God” shows that he has prejudged how

word was originally used in Arabic

as a generic designation for God. But for Christians this God has specifi- cally revealed himself as “Yahweh”,

a term that emphasises his eternal

existence and unlimited power when used in the original context. The semantic range of the word “Lord” allowed Jews and Christians to apply the word Kurios (Lord) to Yahweh in the 3rd century BC Greek translation of the Bible, called the Septuagint. A careful reading of the

Malay Bible will show that the trans- lator consistently translated “God” as “Allah” and “Lord” as Tuhan. It

is interesting to note that the Quran

also uses two words “Allah” and “Rabb” to describe God as “Allah” and “Lord”. There is then a semantic overlap and yet difference between “God” and “Lord” in the Hebrew and Greek languages. For Christians both terms

m a y apply to the Creator God and to Jesus Christ on account of the Christian be- lief that Jesus is God’s manifestation

for salvation of mankind (Titus 2:13). It is only natural that Christians, who from the very beginning understood Jesus as God, also apply the term Kurios (Lord) to Jesus. Thus Jesus is referred to as “My Lord and My God!” (John 20:28) – rendered in Ba- hasa Malaysia as Tomas menjawab Dia: “Ya Tuhanku dan Allahku!” Dzulkifli’s confusion in his read- ing of the Bahasa Bible could easily be avoided if he just follows Aristotle’s

dictum and attempts an internally coherent reading of the text on its own terms. In the light of this funda- mental error, Dzulkifli’s gripe about how other names should be used are minor issues – like Jerusalem/Yeru- salem (which is a small matter of phonetics), Torah/Taurat Musa/Hu-

kum Musa or Abraham/Ibrahim (which is a matter of transliteration and there are no absolute rules governing how languages are transliterated). It is not surprising that Dzulkifli’s criticism of Christian translation of the Bible strayed into these secondary issues since he violates the basic dictum of literary and linguistic criticism right from the start. It becomes evident that so long as Muslims like Dzulkifli insist that the meaning of words be strictly restricted to a historically contingent usage found in one particular text, they will fail to understand, much less empathise or accept that people of other faiths have as much right to address their God as they see fit.

Dr Ng Kam Weng Kairos Research Centre