Pastor: Political factions using ‘Allah’ again to score points in latest crackdown on Christian goods

Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, who chairs the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), says a political tug-of-war is afoot in Malaysia and the different factions are continuing the ‘Allah’ controversy to gain leverage against each other. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, who chairs the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), says a political tug-of-war is afoot in Malaysia and the different factions are continuing the ‘Allah’ controversy to gain leverage against each other. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — A political tug-of-war is afoot in Malaysia and the different factions are continuing the “Allah” controversy to gain leverage against each other, a senior evangelical church leader said today in the latest storm over the seizure of hundreds of Christian books and compact discs (CDs).

Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, who chairs the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), alluded to the simmering debate over the use of the Arabic word for God and added that Malaysia was gaining notoriety for creating crises that already had ready-made solutions.

“I suspect the political warring factions are at it again, using the ‘Allah issue’ to score points.

“In Malaysia, we are famous for creating problems and then having people thank them for solving the problems they created in the first place,” he told Malay Mail Online in an emailed statement when contacted today.

In the latest controversy, Customs officials seized hundreds of Christian goods  at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2), brought into the country from Medan, Indonesia last Saturday by a Christian man on his way home to Sabah.

Eu said the last thing Malaysia needs is to show the world the country’s inability to implement the 10-point solution that he dubbed a “simple” government policy.

“I appeal to all to stay focused on nation-building and help build a strong economy in Malaysia,” added Eu, who also heads the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) that represents over 90 per cent of churches here.

Minister in charge of national unity Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said earlier today efforts were being made to return the hundreds of Christian books and CDs that were confiscated from a Sabahan Christian at the klia2 last Saturday.

The Najib Cabinet had mooted the 10-point solution shortly before the Sarawak state election in 2011 to resolve the row over the seizure of a consignment of the Al-Kitab bibles that described God with the Arabic word “Allah’.

The solution allowed for bibles in Malay and indigenous languages to be printed, imported and distributed freely in Sabah and Sarawak but in the peninsula, the holy books must be stamped to indicate that they are a Christian publication.

The 10-point solution also said relevant civil servants will be briefed on a government directive on the treatment of bibles and Christian materials, with the directive saying that failure to comply could result in disciplinary action.

Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri told Malay Mail Online earlier today that the 130 Christian books and 300 Christian CDs in Bahasa Indonesia had been brought in from Indonesia by a member of the Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS), a Lutheran church based in Sabah.

The materials were meant to be used by the church, Hermen had said.

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