Monday, 21 February 2011

‘Assalamualaikum

Non-Muslims can use greeting, says exco man



GEORGE TOWN: A state executive councillor has defended Kebun Bunga assemblyman Jason Ong Khan Lee who has come under fire from two assemblymen for uttering ‘Assalamualaikum’.

Abdul Malik Abul Kassim, who heads the state Religious Affairs committee, said there was “nothing wrong” if non-Muslims want to use the greeting.

“Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, who is PAS spiritual leader, has even said it is okay for non-Muslims to quote the Quran provided they do it correctly and respectfully,” he said here yesterday.

Ong was taken to task by state Opposition Leader and Penaga assemblyman Datuk Azhar Ibrahim and Seberang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Arif Shah Omar for using ‘Assalamualaikum’ when addressing a group of university and college students at the state assembly building on Thursday.

It is learnt that Ong refused to retract the word and a commotion ensued before state Assembly Speaker Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain, who was also present during the visit by the students, intervened.

Later, Ong defended his use of the greeting, saying he had used it at many functions.

Abdul Malik said non-Muslims could use the word as long as they do not misuse or ridicule it.

On another matter, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng defended the state’s move to set up a non-Islamic religious affairs portfolio, saying the same was practised in Perak which was ruled by Barisan Nasional.

He said Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir had also set up a similar portfolio which is held by the sole MCA leader Datuk Mah Hang Soon.

He was commenting on Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s remarks in a Malay daily that the setting up of the portfolio had insulted the Muslims in the country.

“Mukhriz is staging a ‘sandiwara’ over the matter. How come Umno never made any noise when Perak set up theirs then?

“Why make an issue when the same portfolio is set up here?” Lim asked at a press conference held in his office at Komtar here yesterday.
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Lim also said the state would be organising a concert featuring artiste Ning Baizura to celebrate Penang’s success in attracting the most investment in the country.

He said the concert would be held on March 12 at the Penang International Sports Arena at 8pm.
Entrance to the concert is free.

Penang attracted RM12.2bil worth of total capital investments last year, the highest in the country.

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