Home Ministry urged to release Bibles
By STEPHEN THEN, RINTOS MAIL and ALLISON LAI
Sunday March 13, 2011
MIRI: The Sarawak Government wants the Home Ministry to release all impounded or seized Bibles immediately.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said the state government could not understand the rationale behind such a treatment of the Bible or why the Bahasa Malaysia version could not be imported into the country.
“The state government is also willing to print the Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia if the ones from Indonesia are not acceptable,” he told reporters here on the latest controversy over the impounding of 30,000 Bibles in Port Klang and Kuching Port.
Dr Chan said there never were such problems in Sarawak and he could not understand why those responsible “were being so difficult and causing unnecessary controversies and ill-feelings among Malaysians”.
“In Sarawak, we have never faced such controversies before. In this state, we have mosques and churches built side by side. In our coffeeshops, we have Chinese and Malay food sellers operating next to each other. We don’t have any problem with race or religion.”
The Home Ministry has said the Bibles were not allowed into the state and country because they did not meet the terms and conditions set by the ministry. The Bibles were printed in Indonesia.
Dr Chan said state government leaders would discuss the matter at the next state Cabinet meeting and also bring up the issue to the Federal Cabinet and to the attention of the Prime Minister.
Asked if the state government was worried about any potential political repercussion during the coming state election, Dr Chan said the state government was angry not over political reasons, but because such acts went against justice.
On Friday, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had said that allowing Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia to be printed locally by printing houses sanctioned by the Home Ministry would provide an amicable solution to the deadlock over the matter.
He said if Bibles in the national language were printed locally, then these could be allowed to be circulated in churches with proper supervision.
He also appealed to the Government to meet church groups to resolve the issue soon, stating that the fulfilment of religious needs should not be confined to selected languages, and that every Malaysian had the right to practise his religion as guaranteed and enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Other politicians have joined in the call for the release of the Bibles.
PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas said the usage of Bahasa Malaysia had increased, and that it was only natural that other religions would also use the national language in their religious literature.
DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng called for the release of the Bibles to preserve the country’s peaceful practice of cultural and religious diversity.
Parti Kesejahteraan Insan Tanah Air (Kita) head Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said the Malay language was the language for everyone in the country.
“We cannot prevent people from using the language just because (a certain group) wants to use it for its religious reasons.”
PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said since the Government had allowed Christians in Sarawak and Sabah to use the word “Allah”, it had no reason to ban the Bibles from being brought into the two states.
“Pakatan has no qualms about Christians using the word ‘Allah’,” he said at the launch of the PKR Convention in Kuching.