Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim, the chairman of the umbrella body representing churches nationwide, also questioned Nik Zawawi’s honest and sincerity since he only did so after the prodding of Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan @ Harun.
“Nik Zawawi could not find it in himself to apologise sincerely and fulsomely for his appalling and unfounded charge that the Bible is distorted and altered,” Leow said in a statement.
“Instead, under the guise of a classic non-apology — and even that tendered only at the prompting of the Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat — he compounded his affront of August 26 2020 by claiming that he had then intended ‘to defend the original form of the Bible that was revealed to Jesus without any alterations’.”
Nik Zawawi had claimed the Bible was manipulated and corrupted during the previous Parliament sitting during a debate on the Road Transport (Amendment) Bill 2020 to propose heavier fines for drink driving offenders.
He had claimed to have done a comparison study of religions and argued that all creeds forbid alcohol consumption, including Christianity.
He went as far as claiming that Jesus forbade alcohol consumption, before the Bible was then “manipulated”.
In response, church leaders explained that Christianity does not forbid liquor but only condemns intoxication and debauchery.
Nik Zawawi had initially refused to apologise, saying “Christians have no right to be offended” while claiming that his remarks were “fact”.
Last week, Nik Zawawi finally apologised but only “if anyone was hurt” by his remarks, and said he had intended to “defend the original form of the Bible that was revealed to Jesus”.
Leow however said Nik still had no right to say such things in his poorly attempted apology as he was not knowledgeable enough on the matter, and has not produced any evidence to back up his claims.
He also questioned the timing of his derisive remarks as Malaysia is currently in a crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy is still struggling to cope with it.
Leow then urged more respect and for everyone in Malaysia to learn about others religions.
“That he, an elected official chose to engage in divisive discourse in the August House of Representatives at a time when our nation needs to unite to surmount the challenges posed by a deadly and destructive global pandemic is an absolute disgrace.
“CFM entreats all Malaysians to take the opportunity to study with humility and respect, the scriptures of other faiths and to promote mutual respect for the faith of the other,” Leow said.
“Respect begets respect. Let us be peace-makers and bridge-builders to each other’s communities of faith,” he added.