1. Malaysia is a multi-religious country where people can adhere to their own religion even though Islam is the official religion. For most of the time the followers of the different religions have lived in peace with each other. We do not see the kind of violence between the followers of different religions as found in Northern Ireland, Lebanon and the Indian sub-continent.
2. Malaysians respect each others’ religions and the rights of the religious practises of their followers. We avoid commenting on other people’s religion even though we may have furious debate within each religion.
3. Unfortunately now we have this controversy on the use of the name of God, Allah. Many years ago this controversy was settled through the acceptance that the Christians of Sabah and Sarawak could continue to use the word Allah in their Malay language bible and teachings but these should not be used in the rest of the country.
4. Unfortunately because some politicians want to get the support of Malaysian Christians, the demand is made that the Malay language bible be used in the whole country. Predictably the Muslims protest and the controversy is resurrected.
5. Christians and Jews know very well that in all their bibles, the Old Testament and the New Testament, and in the King James and other versions the word Allah had never appeared as the name of God. It is only after Islam and the Quran that the world became acquainted with the word Allah for God.
6. In their effort to spread Christianity in the Malay speaking world the Christian missionaries used the word Allah for reasons best known to themselves. Whatever, the word Allah for God is not derived from Jewish or Christian sources.
7. Among Christians in Malaysia, except for the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, the word Allah for God had never been used. In any case, the need does not arise as most sermons are not in Malay. Even when they were in Malay, the word Allah was to my knowledge never used.
8. Religious confrontations can lead to very serious consequences. It can lead to violence and killings even. This peaceful country will not be peaceful anymore if we have religious violence.
9. It is unfortunate that Ibrahim Ali should suggest burning the newly-printed bibles. That may be the way we rid ourselves of unwanted publications. It cannot be done for the Bible any more than it can be done for the Quran.
10. But what Ibrahim said does not reflect the views of UMNO. Unfortunately, some politicians would like to make it so in order to gain political mileage.
11. While UMNO believes that the word Allah is exclusive to Islam, it had never advocated burning the Malay language bibles which uses this word. I regard the attempt to imply Ibrahim’s support for UMNO to mean what he says is what is subscribed to by UMNO as mischievous. Ibrahim is not a member of UMNO. He may support UMNO but he is not a spokesman for UMNO.
12. We have lived together in relative peace and harmony all these years. Our country has developed fast because of this. While we can have political differences, we should not resort to our religious differences to win elections. It is a double-edged sword and those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.
13. Let this controversy be settled behind closed doors by responsible people. Let not the extremists take over and exploit religious issues.
14 It may be a denial of freedom of speech but freedom even in a liberal democracy have limits if we really want democracy to work.
15. I would like to appeal to all parties to stop trying to abuse this issue.