SHAH ALAM – The location for which the permit to build the Church of the Divine Mercy was granted (after 25 years), was questioned by a parishioner. The church as a place of worship deserves to not be in an industrial area amidst factories and a cross should be allowed atop the building too, he said.

YB Khalid Abdul Samad agreed that "churches (like mosques or temples) should be where Christians are living in a community. As a general rule, I see no problem with a cross being erected; after all it is a church," he reiterated. "But if there are other reasons, I will find out and see what I can do."

On the issue of processions, he said there is no reason why permits should be denied and if the issue is brought up in Parliament, he assured that the Barisan Rakyat will support the request for such processions.

Another parishioner told YB Khalid it was disheartening that Shah Alam being a "city", did not have land allocated for a Christian cemetery.

YB Khalid replied that he did not see why not. "This is an unfortunate situation with our ‘passed’ government," he said. "They just want to prove that they are staunch Muslims. You don’t become good Muslims by preventing other people from practising their religion."

He added that even Muslims have been victims of BN, like when they stopped giving each student RM60 in Islamic schools.

Another parishioner expressed his concern about the use of the word "Allah" being an offence.

YB Khalid said, "in Arabic, ‘Allah’ means God. ‘Allah’ comes from the word ‘Al Illah’. ‘Illah’ means something that you worship. ‘Al’ means ‘the’. Therefore ‘Al Illah’ (or ‘Allah’ for short) simply means ‘the item of worship’. Even before the coming of Prophet Mohammed, the word ‘Allah’ was used, simply because it means God".

"So if you ask me whether you can use the word ‘Allah’, I would say ‘yes’," he emphasized. "It is even not a problem for non-Muslims to use the word ‘Assalamualaikum’ because it simply means ‘Peace’."

He then spoke of a Christian priest referring to God by ‘Allah’ on TV when he was in Jordan.

"The problem here again is the ignorance within the Muslim community itself, thanks to BN. You have to give us some time to educate the Muslims. We have 50 years of ignorance to repair."

A parishioner suggested that open spaces in Shah Alam be gazetted as there was a lot of misuse of power by developers and local council members.

To this YB Khalid stated that people appointed to the local council must have a strong sense of responsibility to look after the public interest. "I can give you my assurance that these open spaces will be protected," he said.

On the Barisan Rakyat coalition government, YB Khalid said that the three parties working together will put their differences aside as the people have given them the responsibility of governing the state. "We are now a government by consensus... it is a very good opportunity for us to show... that Malaysians deserve a good, righteous and clean government. We have started on a basis of a lot of compromise and we will find a common ground that will keep us together."

On the issue of exposing rumours of corruption, YB Khalid stated that "it won’t be too much problem to expose the corruption, but hopefully we won’t get too bogged down going after them as we have to do our jobs as well".

On the issue of the segregation of race and religion, YB Khalid stressed that "one of our policies will be that there should be no attempts to discriminate against any community or individual because they are of a particular race or community".

The issue of public morality was raised by a parishioner who said it was "plain wrong for anyone to profess their moral values on other religions" referring to people being summoned for a public display of affection.

YB Khalid simply said, "There must be a level of public morality that needs to be upheld. If couples say that it is their right how they want to display their affections, then the public also has the right not to see how you display it." He added this issue will be further discussed as a fine line needs to be drawn.

On the economy, he assured that there will be no problems as Selangor is a rich state and that the people will see a difference in the next few months. On the media, he said, "we need an official media which is accurate, reliable and responsible.

"The Internet is not the solution as it lacks accountability," he said.

He said the issue of discrimination in universities and job opportunities is due to "mismanagement and political interference" and promised to look into the facilities of vernacular schools that are lacking behind others.

YB Khalid ended the dialogue session by saying that "we need a new vision for the country.

"Maybe, in Selangor we can show the way," he said. "We must show that the variety that exists in Malaysia is a blessing. This is the challenge for us… to achieve a multi-racial, multi-religious united nation." - By Jacelyn Johnson, Herald

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