Sunday, January 31, 2010

NGOs could decide election outcome: Dr Mahathir

By Sajahan Abdul Waheed

KUALA LUMPUR: Political parties should not belittle the roles played by non-governmental organisations, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

He said the voice of the non-governmental organisations could influence the results of the general election.

"In the last general election, the Malays felt their voices were not heard by the political parties be they from the government or opposition.

"So they resorted to airing their grievances through NGOs. That is why Umno did not fare well in the election," said Dr Mahathir when launching Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa), near here.

Dr Mahathir said unlike before, Malays now were not afraid to protest openly.

He also hit out at political leaders who felt that the Malays had no choice but to support them.

"These leaders gave importance to winning over the non-Malays. They also made decisions which hurt their feelings."

Citing an example, Dr Mahathir said during the 1969 polls, he was confident of being able to retain his Kota Star Selatan parliamentary seat with the support of the Malays alone, but he was proven wrong when he lost to Pas candidate Yusof Rawa.

He said non-Malays should not question the special privileges enjoyed by the Malays and the Bumiputeras.

"They must remember that it was the Malays who agreed to give them citizenship previously. Maybe the earlier generation of non-Malays is thankful of that but the present generation has forgotten it.

"I am not a racist but I feel offended when I read an article recently (in a local publication) that there are no real Malays in the world and that Malays are actually immigrants (pendatang).

"I feel sad when Malays become weak, people throw all kinds of accusations at us."

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir refused to comment on reports that during the Umno Youth meeting on Thursday, some executive council members had called on Khairy Jamaluddin to step down as head of the movement.

Friday, January 29, 2010

An Interview with Dr Mahathir

Access to information equals opportunities. With the Internet today, such access is almost limitless but only those who seize the opportunities will get ahead, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

IN a recent interview with Open University Malaysia (OUM), former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shares his views on the challenges that educational institutions face and the direction they should take. He adds that immigration policies should be reviewed, as they stop the brains from coming in, but allow the uneducated to work here instead.

Below are excerpts from the interview.
Dr Mahathir believes that a lifelong learning habit begins with a love for reading.

Q: In some countries, going back to school is regarded as the norm. What are Tun’s views on lifelong learning? What does it take to encourage more Malaysians to participate in lifelong learning?

A: We gain knowledge through many sources, among which is, of course, reading. To participate in lifelong learning, one must first love learning and to love learning, one must first love reading.

Of course, we can also acquire knowledge through television but we cannot gain an education just by watching television alone. They say a picture paints a thousand words. Sometimes when you look at a picture, you see not just one but many thousands of words. However, understanding still may not come and so you do not produce.

Reading is different. It stays in your mind longer. You learn when you read. You learn not only the knowledge contained in the book but also the language, the way the book is written.

So, reading improves communication. A person who watches television cannot learn to communicate; a person who reads books can. And communication is one of the weaknesses in human society. The ability to convey your thinking to another person is a communication skill.

Through reading, the process of lifelong learning begins. Once you start reading, you cannot stop reading. Of course, the person who starts watching television also may not be able to stop watching it, but what he learns from television may not be good for him. But when he reads, even if it is only a story book, he will, at least, acquire the skill of communication.

Reading also improves your perception of things and trains you to analyse and understand complex matters. The more you read, the more you acquire the experience of others albeit through the eyes of a skilful observer. Even if you are reading a story book, your ability to solve problems increases because you have, at least, read about it.

I started reading when I was young. Books tell me what people will do in 10 years’ time, they tell me how people think, they predict trends… If you don’t read, you will be left behind.

To encourage lifelong learning, you must instil a reading culture. Lifelong learning starts with reading, and can become a habit, just like reading.

Q: The world is increasingly becoming a global village and more of our young people are working overseas. How can we turn this increased mobility of youth and talent to our nation’s advantage?

A: Globalisation is the trend today. But it aggravates the brain drain in Malaysia. To understand this, we need to look at our immigration policies, which were formulated in the 1950s when people could not travel easily.

We did not want people coming into the country then, so our policies stopped people coming in. We believed our people would not want to go out, so our policies did not stop them going out.

But today, the world has changed. It is now very easy to travel; it only takes about 20 hours to fly to the other side of the world. With this ease in travel, physical borders can no longer stop people from entering or leaving a country. So people go out, especially those with knowledge and skills. Other countries offer them high wages and we do not stop them, so they leave and we lose our best people.

At the same time, we have a policy which actually stops brains from coming in. But we also need workers, so we allow uneducated people to come in.

So, what we get is no inflow of brain but inflow of the brainless.

All this is because we are using an outdated immigration policy. We must remember that in future, all countries will have a multi-racial population. There won’t be a single-ethnic nation anymore. Five million of the people in France today are Algerians. England has many Indian restaurants. People will be moving around, either legally or illegally, and settling down where they like.

The only country that may not change is China, with its 1.3 billion people. People who go to China become Chinese. Kublai Khan conquered China and became Chinese. The Manchus conquered China and became Chinese. There are so many Chinese; you get diluted, the Chinese don’t.

To attract youth and talent, we need to change our policy to consider the mobility of youth and talent.

Q: What is the greatest challenge that higher education faces in the next decade? What opportunities should we look out for?

A: You cannot recognise challenges and opportunities unless you understand what is happening around you. That is where learning comes in — learning helps you to comprehend, analyse and tackle problems.

Globalisation is clearly a challenge. With globalisation, your knowledge widens and you learn to deal with things you may not otherwise be able to.

Take a person born in the kampung, for example. His knowledge of things is limited to what he sees there. Once he moves to the city, he sees and learns so much more. Everywhere in the world, people in rural areas are regarded as less capable, less savvy, less sophisticated. But with globalisation, the kampung boy can cross new frontiers, embrace new values, see new ways of doing things. Globalisation gives the kampung boy a new world to comprehend, new skills to develop, new relationships to handle. Those are tremendous challenges.

Opportunities are different. Opportunities are affected by our ability to access and classify information. In the past, when we did not have much access to information, our opportunities were limited. Today, with the Internet, we have access to information and plenty of facts, but we need to know how to classify and use these facts.

So today, we have the capacity but the problem is, how do we use this capacity? The people who are able to use this capacity will see the opportunities – Google, Yahoo... In the end, seeing opportunities and seizing them, it is all up to you.

Q: Technology is said to have liberalised and democratised education and we must compete on a global platform. How successful have our local public universities been in this respect?

A: Well, they are not too bad, but they are not too good either. University authorities need to reassess their roles. It’s not just a question of giving sufficient knowledge to students so that they can pass their exams.

Knowledge must be viewed in a wider context. In the hands of some people, knowledge can bring about harm. What I notice about our public universities is that not enough attention is given to human character development and nurturing value systems which can help students become useful people in society.

Without the right values, knowledge can even make someone a criminal. But if you are shaped by the education system to become someone useful in society, then education would have fulfilled the greater need. There is a need for universities to strike a balance between producing skilled knowledge workers and people with good moral values.

Q: What is Tun’s perception of world university rankings and the role of universities?

A: Our universities today are much more aware that they are not just institutions for imparting knowledge but also institutions for researching new knowledge. Unfortunately, some still don’t have that mindset. Universities need to understand that their function is not just to transfer knowledge but also to create new knowledge through research, and to write about it, through producing papers. That is a crucial role.

Rankings should be based on the type of universities. Of course, you cannot compare an open university with conventional universities. You will get different results because the criteria are not the same. That, I think, is not important. What is important for an open university is whether it can provide education for people who have missed the boat, and for as many people as possible without compromising on quality.

When I was a small boy, my teacher only passed Standard Four. Later, a teacher had to have secondary school qualifications. Today, even that is not enough. Entry qualifications keep getting higher. Later, we will need more people with doctorates. The progress of society is such that, over time, the level of knowledge increases. So there is always a need to upgrade skills and qualifications, and OUM has a clear role to play.

Q: What is your secret for staying so young?

A: Oh, I do my usual physical exercises and I enjoy horse riding. But I also read. It is something I have enjoyed since young. My father was very strict about reading. Everyday, when he got home from work, he would cough in front of the house and I’d rush to get a book to read so as not to get scolded. Besides, I can do other things when I am reading. That is good because I don’t like to waste time (smiles).

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mahathir: Umno not doing enough

KUALA LUMPUR: Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) championing Malay issues have mushroomed of late because there is a feeling among the Malays that Umno by itself is incapable of protecting them, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“These NGOs have become more active because they seem to represent quite a number of Malay opinions,” said the former prime minister when commenting on the hardline position on Malay issues that was taken up by Pertu­buhan Pribumi Negara (Per­kasa), a Malay NGO led by politician Pasir Mas MP Datuk Ibrahim Ali.

On whether Perkasa was gaining more support, Dr Mahathir said: “They look like the biggest among the Malay NGOs. That means, it is the strongest but it is not as strong as Umno.”

Dr Mahathir is scheduled to launch the Selangor Perkasa tomorrow.

On why the Malay fight was more important than the Bangsa Malaysia fight as indicated in his talk at the National Library on History As A Learning Experience And An Invaluable Heritage earlier, he said that if the fight of the Malays were not made successful then the Bangsa Malaysia fight would also not be because the Malays formed the backbone as long as they were the majority.

“If they could not state their stand, other parties and races would also receive its negative effects,” he added.

In his talk, Dr Mahathir said many Malays did not know the country’s history and the fight of the Malays, questioning their own race by calling themselves “Malaysians”.

In responding to a question from the floor, he said that the mentality of the Malays had not changed.

“If they want to be rich, they will find the easiest way. If they can sell the country, they will, if they cannot, they will sell sand.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pakatan Rakyat Will Not Last

Says Tun Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 (Bernama) - The Pakatan Rakyat coalition is a marriage of convenience that will not last long, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad reiterated Wednesday.

"There is nothing in common between PAS, DAP and PKR. It is just a marriage of convenience and it will not last very long," he said after his visit to I-City here.

He was asked to comment on the friction between Kulim Member of Parliament Zulkifli Noordin of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad of PAS.

On the issue of a 29-year-old blogger being remanded for insulting the late Sultan of Johor, Sultan Iskandar Ismail, Tun Dr Mahathir, who is a blogger himself, said one should not unnecessarily say things that would not benefit anyone.

"Why use the blog to insult people and make accusations that you cannot back? I have more articles on my blog than most people. I don't think they will arrest me as yet," he said in jest.

Dr Mahathir said he was prepared to defend what he put in his blog.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I Am Not Anti-Christian Says Tun Mahathir

PENANG, Jan 23 (Bernama) -- Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has denied claims that he is trying to stir up anti-Christian sentiments by saying that the Sept 11, 2001 attack on the World Trade Centre in New York was staged.

"Many people may think that I am trying to stir up the matter by publicly commenting that the attack on the United States was staged but I am firm with my point of view," he told reporters after attending a dinner organised by the Penang Medical Practitioners' Society here on Saturday.

The former prime minister said there were groups of people who thought that he was trying to stir anti-Christian sentiments by commenting on the attack at this point of time.

"What do I gain from a publicity stunt? I'm not going to run for Prime Minister again."

Earlier in his blog, Mahathir said that he had watched a three-hour video showing the attack and suggested that the World Trade Center and surrounding buildings collapsed due to controlled demolition.

"A lot of people in America (the apologists will dismiss them as conspiracy theorists) questioned whether the towers collapsed because the planes crashed into them or that something else caused them to come down.

"These people have reproduced videos taken by media people showing the attack and the collapse of the towers, pointing out certain peculiar features.

"If you have seen the three-hour long video which is widely distributed you would be convince by it.

"People fear of saying anything political on this issue, especially when we are accusing the government of a very powerful country of doing something wrong.

"Don't forget they (even) told lies to go to war," he said.

On another note, Tun Mahathir said Malaysia should not solely depend on foreign direct investments (FDI) and should instead build up its own economy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

My 9/11 comment won't affect investment : Mahathir

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that his statement that the 9/11 incident in the United States was staged would not hamper Malaysia's move to attract foreign direct investment.

"I have said this many times even when I was the prime minister. I was very nasty about America and Jews. But we still have the foreign direct investment.

"However, we cannot rely on foreign direct investments alone. We must build on our own system," said Dr Mahathir after launching a book Civilisations, Nomadic Migrations, Empires and The Trail of Islam, at the Islamic Arts Museum, here.

The book which entails the history of mankind, origin and commonality of major religions, is written by Syed Salem Albukhary.

Dr Mahathir was asked to elaborate on his statement on Wednesday and in his blog where he claimed the 9/11 attacks were staged as an excuse to mount attacks on the Muslim world.

Dr Mahathir said his statement was based on what he heard and saw on television.

"It sounds logical to me. Until today, you cannot even find scraps of the plane that crashed into the World Trade Centre and there is no picture of the other plane which was supposed to crash.

"The way the tower came crashing down was also funny. People who saw it were also not ordinary people. They were professional engineers and what they say is quite credible.

"I wish some television stations would consent to show the video as it is not long and only three hours. You can then see what I saw."

Dr Mahathir said there was fear among some people to say anything critical as they would be seen as accusing government of powerful countries of doing something wrong.

"But the government of powerful countries said lies to go to war.

"I have great respect for the Arabs but for them to hijack four planes is not very Arab. Just imagine the amount of planning that would be involved.

"They are not good at planning. They tie bomb to their body and crash."

To a question on whether his statement was a publicity stunt, Dr Mahathir said: "What do I gain? I am not going to be the prime minister anymore unless you want me to be ... you propose lah."

On the sand smuggling activities, Dr Mahathir said he was stressing on the issue previously so people could take action.

"Some people are selling a little bit of Malaysia at a time. If you cannot give away one territory then you go ahead giving sand."

Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir said that Islam was the most misunderstood religion in the world.

"Often it is misunderstood as a religion of the terrorists but the fact is Islam is a very peace and loving religion."

Mahathir: September 11 is Self-inflicted by Americans

KUALA LUMPUR: There is strong evidence that the Sept 11 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 could have been “staged” as an excuse to mount attacks on the Muslim world, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Show of support: Dr Mahathir greeting Wael A. Saqqa, a participant from Jordan, at the conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

“I am not sure now that Muslim terrorists carried out these attacks. There is evidence that the attacks were staged.

“If they can make Avatar, they can make anything,” the former prime minister told a press conference here yesterday after delivering his speech at the General Conference for the Support of Al-Quds to aid the Palestinians.

He said killing innocent people to provide an excuse for war was not new to the US.

“But whether real or staged, the 9/11 attacks have served the United States and Western countries well. They have an excuse to mount attacks on the Muslim world,” he added.

Mahathir also criticised US President Barack Obama for failing to fulfil his promises concerning the country’s commitment in West Asia, including his promise to resolve the prevailing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I am a bit disappointed because so far none of his promises have been kept. He promised to get out from Afghanistan but he ended up sending more troops there instead.

“He promised to close down Guantanamo but he has not closed down Guantanamo.

“It is quite easy to promise during election time but you know there are forces in the United States which prevent the President from doing some things. One of the forces is the Jewish lobby, AIPAC,” he said.

On another issue, Dr Mahathir said he supported the plan to set up the inter-faith council as it could help promote effective understanding among religious groups in the country.

Such a council, he said, would provide a platform for people to talk about sensitive religious matters reasonably without taking it to the streets.

Earlier in his speech, Dr Mahathir spoke about the Palestinians’ claim on their land in West Asia which he said was based on legitimate grounds.

He said one of the greatest injustices done was to take Palestinian land to give to the Jews to create the state of Israel.

Later in Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir said the opinions of “powerful nations” should not deter Malaysia from continuing with its effort to help Palestine.

He was speaking at a ceremony to hand over certificates of appreciation to nine Malaysians who were part of the Viva Palestina humanitarian aid convoy to Gaza.

Mahathir criticises selling of sands to Singapore

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today lashed out at the
government for inaction over the issue of sand-smuggling throughout the

Dr Mahathir claims that this practice has been going on for some time but
corrupt officials have managed to keep a close lid on the matter.

"I read in the papers about the Works Minister saying 500 lorries delivering
sand to Singapore. No one has said anything on that, seems like they are
'agreeing' to it. Well I know it is not 500, it is actually 700 lorries,"
he said to reporters during a press conference.

"If I didn't draw people's attention to this issue, no one would speak up,
they all are too busy worried about whether they would get their Datukship,"
quipped Dr Mahathir.

The elderly statesmen maintained the validity of his facts, saying that the
main sources were the Works Minister (Datuk Shaziman Mansor) as well as a
"friend", whose identity he declined to reveal as he did not want to get his
friend "into trouble".

He claimed that Malaysia was being sold bit by bit to foreigners, citing the
sand-smuggling issue as an example.

"What these people are doing is selling a little bit of Malaysia at one
time, dig, keep digging Malaysia and give her to other people."

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Democracy is the best system: Mahathir

The Jakarta Post | Fri, 01/15/2010 10:12 AM | World

INDONESIA: Democracy is the best system a country can adopt to promote people’s welfare despite its many weaknesses, former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said during a visit to Indonesia’s province of South Sulawesi on Thursday.

Mahathir was addressing around 1,000 people at the graduate school of Hasanuddin University in Makassar about democracy, following recent religious turmoil back in Malaysia over the use of word Allah by the Christian community.

“Is there any governance system better than those provided from people, by people and to people?” he said in the seminar that also presented South Sulawesi Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo.

He also warned of the possibility of the decline of democracy as certain groups might derail it for their own vested interests.

“Even if democracy goes on well there is no guarantee that it will bring prosperity to people. Everything depends on culture and the maturity of people in carrying out democracy,” said Mahathir.

Malaysia is a country that mixes the governance system of an institutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. It is ruled by a premier elected by people, and the king has no real power.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Dr M call to resolve situation privately and calmly

SHAH ALAM: Tun Dr Mahathir Moha­mad has reiterated his call for a closed-door discussion to resolve the situation following the attacks on four churches in the Klang Valley.

He said although Christians and Muslims enjoyed a harmonious relationship, there were “immature minds” out to cause havoc.

“These people are unable to digest the matter in a rational manner and it is more important to have discussions behind closed doors,” he said, adding that while the more sophisticated or educated groups would respond positively, one could never be sure of the irrational ones.

Dr Mahathir pointed out that using the legal avenue to settle certain matters might not take into account sensitive issues, which could provoke tension.

“So, for the best interest of the nation, we must choose a better approach,” he said after attending Proton’s Family Day yesterday.

He also cautioned the Govern­ment against giving into the demands of people who were more liberal than others.

“Some people might make demands because they are mature but there are those around them who might not be. I think we should not be toeing the line of Western countries on the idea of being liberal,” he added.

In Muar, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said the rakyat should heed the Yang di-Pertuan Agong’s call to remain calm and respect all places of worship.

He said arson attacks could affect the business sector as foreigners might not want to invest in Malaysia.

Penang MCA deputy chairman Eng Hiap Boon said the attacks had created a bad impression among foreign investors and businessmen, adding that if the situation is not contained they might move out of the country.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Marina Mahathir: ‘Allah’ uproar just ‘knee-jerk reactions’

By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 5 — In a response to the uproar over the “Allah” issue, Datuk Marina Mahathir said those protesting against the court ruling obviously did not know enough about Islam as a religion.

She felt that the recent outcry over matter was just “knee-jerk reactions,” and that these people had likely not taken the initiative to actually study the legal aspects of the case, as well as the court decision.

“Maybe it’s because they do not know enough. They say knowledge is power, and the lack of it is ignorance. Holding on to the word Allah is not going to ‘convert’ anybody from Islam into another faith,” said Marina.

Marina, who is the daughter of Malaysia’s longest-serving prime minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, posted an article “Confident people do not get confused” on her blog yesterday morning.

Among other things, she highlighted a historical treaty between Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and Christians from a delegation of St. Catherine’s Monastery. The treaty showed clear evidence that the Prophet himself declared “Christians as allies and any ill-treatment of them to be in violation of God’s covenant.”

She wrote that Muslims should be “confident” in their faith, and that they should be unfazed by the issue of “Allah”, as the basis of the Islamic faith lay in the fiver pillars of Islam alone.

The article received many comments, some favourable but many were against the points raised by Marina. Some readers said they were “concerned” that the Catholics’ insistence on using the word “Allah” raised questions about their true motives.

One reader even went so far as to suggest that while “confident Muslims” such as Marina may be knowledgeable with regards to Islam, the poorer, uneducated sections of the Muslim population in Malaysia would be easily confused over the usage of “Allah” by non-Muslims, insinuating that churches have used this as an excuse to convert Muslims out of their faith.

“I think it is really insulting and patronising as some of these comments mention how churches have converted Muslims for ‘free lunches.’ Well, if all it takes is a free lunch to convert someone, I say we should do the same then.

“I think it is a self-fulfilling prophecy... if you keep saying that Muslims will get confused, then they will eventually get confused. No one is interested in clarity, in understanding,” said Marina in a phone interview yesterday.

Marina, who is known for being outspoken on issues pertaining to human rights and freedom of speech, asserted that if Muslims in the country were to always portray themselves as easily manipulated and weak, they would be doing nothing but to serve the stereotypical misconceptions of Islam being a religion of little faith.

“Why don’t we believe in the strength of our own faith? What these people are doing is giving power to the other side. By reacting like this, you are basically saying that your faith is weak. Why are you portraying Islam as a weak religion, when it is clearly not? It is a beautiful, peaceful and understanding religion,” she added.

She said this constant battle for ownership of God was in essence wrong as it is people who should be submitting to God, not the other way round.

“It is not about God belonging to you, rather YOU belong to God,” Marina said.

The government has said it will appeal against Justice Datuk Lau Bee Lan’s judgment that Catholic weekly “The Herald” had a constitutional right to use “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the national language.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have themselves come out and made reassurances to the public, telling people not to make any comments which may further fuel tension between the Muslims and the non-Muslims in the country.

Their statements came as more than 40,000 people signed up in a Facebook page to pressure the government to reverse the Dec 31 court ruling.

The Facebook page titled “Menentang penggunaan nama Allah oleh orang bukan Islam (Against the use of ‘Allah’ by non-Muslims)” plans to get a million Muslims to sign a petition against the court ruling and, judging by the comments left on the page, they seem to feel that Muslims are under siege by the Christians.

When asked on what she thought of the online battle over the issue, Marina said that it was very easy to misuse social networking services to aggravate the situation.

“Someone should complain to the Facebook administration and mark the page as offensive... the comments posted by people who wrote on my blog are that of urban people, most likely the same type of people who dragged the cow’s head in Shah Alam,” she said, in reference to the now-infamous incident in Shah Alam where 70-odd protestors dragged a severed cow’s head to the State Secretariat in retaliation towards the Selangor government’s relocation of a Hindu temple to a predominantly Muslim-majority area.

As an afterthought, Marina said that she was dismayed to see how the new year has turned out as she lamented how some Muslims were not progressing and that their mentality still remained the same.

“It is now the 21st century. What is the 21st century Muslim like? Different, or same as how we were in the past?

“Sadly, the way we are looking at things right now, I’d say we are the same.”

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Restrict how 'Allah' is used

KUALA TERENGGANU - THE Malaysian High Court's decision allowing a Catholic weekly publication to use the term 'Allah' must be governed by strict conditions, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.

'What I am afraid of is that the term 'Allah' might be used in such a way that could inflame the anger of Muslims, if they were to use it on banners or write something that might not reflect Islam,' he said.

Tun Dr Mahathir said whatever justifications offered for the approval, it would not defuse the anger of Muslims in the country.

'This is because 'God' in other religions is translated as 'Tuhan' in Bahasa Melayu or Arabic, not 'Allah'. 'Allah' specifically referred to God in Islam,' he told reporters after a function in the capital of Terengganu.

He was responding to the High Court ruling on Thursday that lifted the Home Ministry's ban on the Roman Catholic church using 'Allah' in its newspaper, The Herald.

The church had been banned before from using 'Allah', but the Home Ministry lifted the ban upon appeal. When it was re-imposed in 2007, the church took the issue to court.