PJ deputy mayor: No malice in MBPJ visit on BSM

The Bible Society of Malaysia's premises in Petaling Jaya, January 7, 2013.. — Picture by Choo Choy May
The Bible Society of Malaysia's premises in Petaling Jaya, January 7, 2013.. — Picture by Choo Choy May

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PETALING JAYA, Jan 7 — The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) had no ill-intentions when it visited the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) today, city deputy mayor Puasa Md Taib said in an attempt to calm the bible supplier’s anxiety.

He added that the local authority was merely making checks in an effort to be “proactive” to obtain a building report for the Selangor government should it be asked to provide it.

“We just want to have a record, in case people ask for the status,” Puasa told reporters at MBPJ’s headquarters here today.

He stressed that neither the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) nor other parties had requested for BSM’s building report.

“The mistake was that they didn’t inform BSM via letter or phone first,” he said in a joint news conference with Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Pua apologised on behalf of MBPJ, and admitted the authorities could have handled the matter better.

“What happened is standard operating procedure for MBPJ. If there’s a controversy in PJ, they must have full information when asked by the government,” said the Selangor DAP chief.

“This is a sensitive issue, so MBPJ’s action was misconstrued as being malicious and intending to victimise BSM. It’s a misunderstanding.

“On MBPJ’s behalf, I apologise for the misunderstanding,” he added.

Earlier today, BSM general-secretary Rev Dr Simon Wong told The Malay Mail Online that two MBPJ officers had visited the society’s premises at Damansara Kim in the morning for a building inspection.

The visit came in the wake of a raid by Jais officials last Thursday and resulted in the seizure of over 300 bibles in the Malay and Iban languages.

Wong pointed out that BSM has occupied the three-storey building since 1986 without problems.

He labelled MBPJ’s action an act of “harassment”.

He also said that BSM did not allow the MBPJ officers entry as no letter of authority or advance notice was provided.

Pua said that he would set up a meeting between BSM and MBPJ as soon as possible to resolve the issue.

“The MBPJ officers are very willing to meet. They have no ill intent,” said the DAP publicity chief.

Jais had seized copies of BSM’s Malay and Iban bibles, both of which contained the word “Allah” in reference to the Christian God, reportedly under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

The state law forbids non-Muslims from using a list of 35 words, including “Allah”, purportedly because they are exclusive to Islam.

Following the controversial raid, three Selangor DAP assemblymen - Yeo Bee Yin (Damansara Utama), Rajiv Rishyakaran (Bukit Gasing) and Lau Weng San (Kampung Tunku) - said they will seek to amend the state law at the next state assembly sitting to be in line with the Federal Constitution.

The Bar Council and lawyers have questioned the constitutionality of the 1988 enactment, noting that it was too general and did not limit the blanket ban on non-Muslims from using “Allah” and 34 other Arabic words and phrases to instances of propagation of other faiths to Muslims.

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