Bahasa Malaysia Editon
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 22 — Penang Umno has denied lying about state Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s name replacing the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in Friday sermons, saying that it has happened in six mosques since last February.
State liaison deputy chief Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman told The Malaysian Insider that he was unsure if Guan Eng knew of the trend but disclosed that six mosques had used the term “Chief Minister” or “Lim Guan Eng” in their sermons to replace that of the King, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin.
The mosques are Masjid Jalan Baru in Seberang Prai Tengah which mentioned Lim’s name on Aug 13, Masjid Padang Menora, Seberang Prai Utara (June 25), Masjid Pengkalan Tambang, Permatang Pasir (in May), Masjid Jamek Jelutong, George Town (in April) and Masjid Permatang Binjai, Kepala Batas (Feb 26).
“And yesterday, Lim Guan Eng’s name was mentioned at the Masjid Kubang Buaya, in Butterworth by imam Ustaz Zakaria Ahmad... it was still being used despite media reports about the issue,” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
“This is not an issue that was created, it actually happened,” said Zainal Abidin, who sits on the powerful Umno supreme council.
He also criticised DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for saying Umno and its newspaper Utusan Malaysia had created stories and racial ill-feelings towards the Penang government.
“It isn’t good for Lim Kit Siang to say we created this on purpose. Now there is proof, what are they going to say,” he said, asking the PR leaders to retract their statements.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told the police and Penang Islamic Religious Council last night to conduct a full investigation into the matter, saying action must be taken against those responsible under the existing rules.
“I ask that this matter be fully investigated; who did it ... as the delivering of Friday sermons is determined by the state Islamic Religious Council and people are not allowed to use our own script,” he had said.
PR leaders have denied the Penang government had directed Guan Eng’s name be used to replace the King’s name but admitted it has been used by guest prayers leaders, who are out of their control.
Meanwhile, Zainal Abidin said Anwar had purposely defamed Umno by claimimg Penang Umno chief Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamid’s accusation was unsubstantiated as he had read the text of the sermons.
“Kit Siang should also retract his statement as this is something that happens at the grassroots,” he said, adding the practice of not mentioning the King’s name had started before Election 2008.
“Before the 2008 general elections, several mosques controlled by PAS did not mention the name of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Governor but after the 2008 general elections, it has become a normal phenomenon in Penang,” he added.
He described it as a bad act that can divide the people in the state especially the Muslims.
“It is as though we don’t acknowledge the existence of royalty and the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. This is not good,” said Zainal Abidin.
When asked if the chief minister’s name was mentioned with the knowledge of Guan Eng, Zainal Abidin said he was unsure.
“I still believe ... Umno hopes the State Islamic Affairs Council, that every order made by the head of the State Islamic Affairs Council, is not influenced or controlled directly or indirectly by the Penang Chief Minister.
“We take a serious view ... the Islamic Affairs Council must control and ensure the sermon text is read fully. They must have full control,” he said, adding people must disregard the past and follow the decision of the Penang Islamic Affairs Council.
The Sermon Writing Committee is headed by the Penang Mufti Datuk Hassan Ahmad.
Zainal Abidin also said that those delivering the sermons should get approval from the Penang Islamic Affairs Council even they were guest prayer leaders.
He said this in response to an Utusan Malaysia report yesterday which quoted the Masjid Jamek Padang Menora imam Ibrahim Ishak as admitting that a guest prayer leader had mentioned the chief minister’s name when reading the Friday sermon recently.
The prayer leader had invoked Allah to open Guan Eng’s heart to accept Islam as his faith, the imam told the Umno-owned newspaper.
Ibrahim also admitted that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s name was not mentioned and he had censured the prayer leader for his mistake.
The imam had also said the mosque has a guest prayer leader to deliver the sermons every month, which will include a prayer for national leaders.
The Sinar Harian newspaper had quoted Jelutong Umno chief Abu Kassim Ismail as saying that sermons mentioning Guan Eng’s name is not new and has occurred between two and three months ago.
Zainal Abidin said the spate of incidents showed that guest prayer leaders must get permission from the state’s Islamic Affairs Council before being allowed to work.
“Don’t use the chief minister’s name in a sermon. Don’t use it in a prayer, if it is for good, OK but what if it is used to criticise, then it will cause dissension,” he added.