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.