Who next after Christians, questions non-Muslim interfaith council

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
Mar 25, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — A fever has broken out over Putrajaya’s handling of the Alkitab row that appears to have split multicultural Malaysia into two distinct camps — Muslim and non-Muslim — as the nation readies for crucial polls in Sarawak, its biggest Christian state.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) issued a strongly worded statement today accusing the Najib administration of riding roughshod over religions other than Islam when it imposed conditions for the release of 35,000 Malay bibles seized from Port Klang and Kuching.

“This means that the Alkitab (Bahasa Malaysia version) is now considered a restricted item and ‘the Word of God’ has been made subject to the control of man,” it said, citing the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) in the latter’s previous attempt to free the bibles.

CFM is the umbrella body that represents over 90 per cent of churches here.

In a series of news statements that started earlier this month, the Christian organisation denounced the Najib administration for defacing its holy books with the home ministry’s official seal, an act it said amounted to desecration.

“Does our current prime minister wield any authority? And if he does not, who does?” the interfaith council demanded of Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“We also vehemently oppose the present line of action being pursued,” it said in solidarity with the Christian community.

About one in 10 Malaysians is Christian.

The MCCBCHST said the authorities seemed to want Malaysians to believe that the Alkitab conflict is solely a tussle between two creeds, Islam and Christianity; and affects only Muslims and Christians.

“After the Christians have been ‘fixed’, who next?” the MCCBCHST questioned.

The council — which represents five out of the country’s six main creeds — reminded the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition of its founder’s words uttered shortly after Independence in 1957.

“Let freedom be secured for all the law-abiding people. There shall be freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of movement,” it said, citing first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.

“The political leaders definitely do not have a finger on the pulse of the nation. They are definitely wrong in what they are doing,” it added, in a thinly veiled dig at Najib’s 1 Malaysia slogan aimed at uniting the different communities.

The MCCBCHST further accused Islamic leaders of not knowing their own religion despite dipping their fingers into the controversy.

“In the face of what has been alluded to the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the narrative about ‘The Promise to St Catherine’, it is highly suspect that the Islamic high officials in our country do not even know their own religion!” it said.

Prophet Muhammad was said to have made a promise to a delegation of monks from the monastery near Mount Sinai over 1,400 years ago that Muslims will always protect Christians and their way of worship.

An English translation of the promise as published in the Islamic web site, Muslim.net, can be read here (http://www.muslims.net/news/newsfull.php?newid=318549) .

The Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.

Christians, however, have argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, for centuries in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.

The tussle is still trapped in the courts after the ministry won a stay of the 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The ongoing bible row started in January and came to a head last week after the home ministry stamped the two separate shipments with its official seal before ordering their release.

The Christian importers have denounced the Najib administration for the act, which they say is a desecration of their holy book.

Two days ago, the government backed down and offered to paste over the marked Alkitab with labels that simply read “For Christianity”.

In a media statement to national news agency, Bernama, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala said Christian donors have also volunteered to ship in a new replacement consignment so long as the importers agree to have the same words “For Christianity” stamped on their covers in font type Arial size 16.

“No other words or serial numbers will be stamped on the bibles,” Jala added.

CFM is pondering accepting Putrajaya’s offer and has said will give its decision after consulting with all Christian leaders next week.

With Sarawakians going to the polls on April 16, the twin issues are expected to weigh on the minds of Christians who make up close to half of the hornbill state’s total population.

  1. #1 by wanderer on Friday, 25 March 2011 - 9:42 pm

    When a cake is crowded with hungry maggots, they need to destroy each other to survive. In the Muslim community, the obvious choice are Indians claiming to be Muslim Melayu!…

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Friday, 25 March 2011 - 10:20 pm

    ///that appears to have split multicultural Malaysia into two distinct camps — Muslim and non-Muslim///

    This is exactly what UMNO wants to see – the legacy of Mahadir being continued. UMNO knows full well that the party can only survive if it plays the race card and religion card to unite the Malays. Without Malay solidarity, the party will crumble and that also spells the end of the NEP.

    Najib’s 1Malaysia is only a gimmick to fish non-Malay votes (this is not just my opinion but also that of some 46% of the respondents under survey). Should 1Malaysia become a reality, UMNO will feel very uncomfortable. That may well be the reason why many of its leaders are reluctant to admit “Malaysian first, Malay second”.

  3. #3 by jus legitimum on Friday, 25 March 2011 - 10:41 pm

    ‘1 malaysia’ is BS,’malay first,malaysian second’ is in the hearts of the umnoputras.

  4. #4 by tak tahan on Friday, 25 March 2011 - 10:49 pm

    With Sarawakians going to the polls on April 16, the twin issues are expected to weigh on the minds of Christians who make up close to half of the hornbill state’s total population. by Debra Chong

    To those christians,if you stil vote BN,you better change your fate!It’s because by my assumption,your current god couldn’t reach out to you.As to say,your Lord will not reach out to you for your sheer ignorance and negligence for your countrymen.If you have fate,you will conscientiously do the right thing as you do seem supposedly preaching about day in day out.Be firm and steadfast in your very own faith.No offence intended but we got to mean exactly what we say.Jangan cakap tak serupa bikin right?5 decades of faith in bolehland should be long enough to actually enlightened your spirit and soul.Amen.

  5. #5 by hallo on Friday, 25 March 2011 - 11:31 pm

    Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka.

    Feel it how the people dreaming of the moment shouted the Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka at the stadium 1957 August 31st.

    Proud, Honour, Joy, Tears, Hope, Glory, Future, Nationality.

    These are all how the people feel among Malays, Chinese, India and others the moment.

    The proud of being have nation call their own.

    The Independent Father, royal and our ancestors look forward building a strong nation with justice, fairness, corruption free nation.

    But in 1969, the robbers, corruption politicians cheated and stolen our ancestors hope, our independent dream for the nation.

    Our independent father was helplessly being left alone, painfully, sadly seeing the nation he dream of fairness, justice, equity for all loyalty citizen, was destroyed by the corrupted politicians surrounded all the government administrations.

    Corruptions, in-equity for loyalty citizen is not what our Independent father dreaming of independence

    Corruptions, in-equity for loyalty citizen is not what our ancestor dreaming of for independence

    The Tunku, royal, our ancestors dreaming of independence of a nation be equity for loyalty citizen, corruption-free, justice nation.

    They, the corruption politicians have destroyed their dream, our ancestors dream, our dream.

    Ask your and your friends, do you want fairness, justice, corruption-free nation for your children.

    If yes, use your hands do the right vote.

    Let us pursue our independent father dream, our ancestors dream, a fairness, justice, corruption-free nation for you and your children.

    Believe it, you can do it, it is in your hands.

    Use your rights to vote and fight the in-justice, corruption politicians who have destroyed Tunku and our ancestors dream.

    It is in your hands.

    Believe it, you can do it, it is in your hands.

    Vote for a CHANGE

    Vote for our Tunku and our ancestor DREAM

    Believe it, you can do it

  6. #6 by dagen on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 9:56 am

    Well at least PAS on a number of important issues has taken a sensible official stand. And a lot of muslims out there too do not approve of umno’s actions.

    So I guess the equation must be re-drawn. It is more like muslims jenis-umno vs non-muslims jenis-umno.

  7. #7 by k1980 on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 11:20 am

    After winning the sarawak polls, umno will stamp “Approved by umno for personal use only” on all the bibles.

  8. #8 by burn on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 11:48 am

    young time, when in college!
    i, orang melaka from the 5th generation, saw changes, whereas, other malaysians were being treated differently. thought it never hinder me from moving forward, yet i saw unfairness happening in many things and ways that the gomen have done. sabahans and sarawakians should wake up now! do not let bn umno destroy the harmonies of living together you have. if not, soon it will become like semenanjung!

  9. #9 by dagen on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 11:53 am

    Hey k1980, it could well be this:

    “Approved for personal use strictly within the premises stated below:

    Premises (address): …………………………………


    Dated of Approval: …………………….
    Expiry of Approval: …………………….
    Extension of Approval: ……………….. *
    * Further extension(s) will be subject to the absolute discretion of umno and if granted, the extension(s) may be upon such terms or conditions which umno may appropriate.”

  10. #10 by Bigjoe on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 12:30 pm

    Its not that the PM don’t wield the authority but he basically is a stereotype ne’er do well – a screw-up, cannot be counted on for what is fundamental challenges of the country at this stage in history..The wrong man for the job basically..

  11. #11 by k1980 on Saturday, 26 March 2011 - 12:30 pm

    *upon such terms or conditions which umno may appropriate.

    *Including a licence fee of RM1,000 for a yearly extension.

    So each year umno can get a whopping 2 million christians x RM1,000 each = RM2 billion. Enough to pay Rm 50 each to the poor ibans and dayaks to vote for bn on April 16.

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