KUALA LUMPUR: Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah expressed deep concerns over the issue of the use of the word "Allah" which he feared would become a prolonged polemic and could affect national unity and the well-being of the country if not resolved immediately.

Al-Sultan Abdullah said this considering the polemic of the use of the word Allah is not a debate about terminology and linguistics, but related to the issue of the faith of the Muslim community and any confusion will only invite disaster.

"My government must harmonise the current situation and at the same time, place the use of the word Allah in the right context by taking into account the national security, the benefit of the ummah as well as my position and the position of other Malay Rulers as heads of the Islam," said His Majesty.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong said this when gracing the investiture ceremony of federal awards and honours held in conjunction with his official birthday celebration at Istana Negara in Kuala Lumpur, today.

Also present was Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah.

His Majesty said that any polemic related to religion if it is not dealt with immediately, will only fan the fire of enmity between races.

Accordingly, Al-Sultan Abdullah said that in dealing with such a sensitive issue, all parties should take a wise and orderly approach and be imbued with a high spirit of tolerance.

The King also said that this is in line with the first principle of the Rukun Negara which is Belief in God, which among other things emphasises that the concept of religion is very important in the life of the Malaysian community and it should not be used as a basis for disputes and arguments.

Al-Sultan Abdullah added that the sanctity of Islam has been preserved for a long time in the formation of independent Malaysia and Islam is also accorded a special status as the religion of the Federation, as stated in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.

"Islam is accorded a special status in the Federal Constitution and this was achieved through understanding and agreement by all parties when the country gained independence," he said.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong said that unity requires an effective reception with an open heart, a noble soul and a spirit of loyalty to the King and the country as well as not questioning and interfering and looking down on the affairs and religious beliefs practised by other races.

"For the sake of unity and the future of the country, any religious controversy must be resolved immediately.

"The spirit of unity needs to be cultivated at home, nurtured with education and the noble values of community life at school and further strengthened at institutions of higher learning.

On May 17, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced through a statement that the Cabinet has obtained the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to submit its proposal to improve the enforcement of policies relating to the use of the word 'Allah' by non-Muslims to the Conference of Rulers.

In conjunction with the His Majesty's official birthday celebration today, a total of 839 individuals were conferred with federal awards, honours and medals.