KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9 — After last week’s raid at its premises, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) is now seeking a formal endorsement from the Selangor government of Cabinet’s 10-point solution to the “Allah” row to prevent the incident from recurring.
BSM’s president Lee Min Choon told The Malay Mail Online that the proposed endorsement must be extended to every department under the state’s administration and be considered a directive from the Selangor government.
“Selangor must formally recognise the 10-point solution in a proper legal document, just like what the federal government had done by way of a letter from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and the directive to federal bodies,” Lee said.
Last Thursday, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department raided BSM’s office, seizing copies of both the Malay and Iban language bibles that contain the word “Allah”, while two BSM officials, including Lee, were also held by police.
The Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, passed by the then Barisan Nasional state government, prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases in their faith, including “Allah”, “Nabi” (prophet), “Injil” (gospel) and “Insya’Allah” (God willing).
Two days ago, Selangor’s state executive councillor in charge of religious affairs Sallehen Mukhyi said Jais had acted within its jurisdiction and in accordance with its standard operating procedures, but conceded that the authority’s operational guidelines should be revised to prevent unnecessary anxiety.
After a week long silence, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim ordered Jais to return the bibles yesterday, provided the scriptures containing the word “Allah” complied with the federal government’s 10-point solution.
“The state should have thought of this before the raid (because) this means when Jais raided BSM, they didn’t know if the bibles were brought in legally or illegally,” Lee said.
“They should have checked first if an offence was committed before acting.”
Najib’s cabinet had introduced a 10-point solution in lead up to the Sarawak Election in 2011 allowing the Christian community to print, import and distribute the Bible in Malay and other indigenous languages within the country, with certain conditions imposed on distribution in Peninsular Malaysia.
BSM has insisted that it has complied with all the conditions set out in the 10-point agreement, with the bible distributor saying that its customers are not just limited to the churches in Sabah and Sarawak, but also includes Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians, Orang Asli churches and other Malay-speaking Christians in the peninsula.
“BSM takes note that the state government is admitting that it should have applied the 10-point solution in this matter, and that is why a formal endorsement should be made and to ensure all state agencies abide by it,” added Lee.
It is necessary, said, Lee as the bulk of BSM’s imports have to pass through Port Klang, which is in Selangor, before they are shipped to East Malaysia.
In 2009, the Home Ministry impounded BSM’s shipment of 5,000 Malay-language bibles - better known as the Al Kitab - imported from Indonesia from the port,. and were released two years later after Najib’s administration stepped in.