Christian cleric condemns Jais raid on PJ church

By Debra Chong
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 04, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — In an immediate reaction, Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) secretary-general Rev Hermen Shastri hit out at Selangor’s Islamic religious authorities for “storming” a Petaling Jaya church last night on questionable grounds.

The Malaysian Insider reported earlier this morning that some 30 policemen and enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had barged unannounced and without a warrant into a multiracial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) here last night over an unspecified complaint.

But Shastri said he understands the raid was linked to attempts to preach to Malay Muslims about Christianity.

“Apparently there was a police report by Jais on proselytising to Malays,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

“The facts of what happened are yet unclear but the Council of Churches view with great concern this development and call on the government to take whatever action necessary to curb the power of Jais to just go into the religious places of other communities and conduct their investigations,” he added.

The vocal Christian slammed Jais for resorting to such high-handed action in conducting its investigations without first checking with the church leaders.

“This is unprecedented. Should the authorities have any concern, the courteous thing to do is to contact the church for clarification,” he said.

“Before [they] enter any place of worship, they should talk to the leader. They should not storm the church. Imagine how it would look if someone stormed a mosque,” he continued, saying Jais’ act was “totally unacceptable” when various groups were trying to build a harmonious community in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unifying 1 Malaysia call.

Shastri, who is on the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Promote Harmony and Understanding Among Religious Adherents set up last year is expected to raise this issue to Putrajaya’s attention.

He co-chairs an interfaith subcommittee aimed at resolving peaceably disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

A DUMC pastor, Daniel Ho had told The Malaysian Insider last night that the church had hosted a thanksgiving dinner organised by a non-governmental organisation called Harapan Komuniti that was attended by between 100 and 120 guests of all races.

“This is a dinner for people to come in the 1 Malaysia spirit,” Ho said, adding they were mainly Christian although he admitted there were “there were about 15 or so Malays.”

On its website, Harapan Komuniti describes itself as a non-profit organisation that provides disaster relief and helps single mothers, children and AIDS patients regardless of race.

Ho said the authorities did not arrest anyone, but seized the function’s programme sheets and questioned the dinner organisers and guests.

“(They came in) on the pretext of a complaint and said somebody made a complaint,” said the pastor.

He pointed out, however, that the authorities did not explain what the complaint was.

Last night’s raid in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state came after Malaysia sealed formal ties with the Vatican last month, seen as a high point in religious relations where Muslims are the majority.

Religious tensions heightened two years ago when the Home Ministry barred Christians from referring to their god as “Allah” in a Catholic newspaper.

In 2009, the High Court allowed the church to use the word, but the case is pending a Home Ministry appeal of the decision.

Several churches across the country fell victim to arson attempts in January last year following the ruling.

Christians, who form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million-strong population, were further outraged when the Home Ministry seized 35,100 Malay-language bibles.

The bibles were later released ahead of the Sarawak state election in April on condition that copies in Peninsular Malaysia be marked with a cross and the words “Christian publication”.

  1. #1 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 2:43 pm

    They came on the mere belief as happened in the Teoh Beng Hock’s death investigations. At this rate, any authority can act on the “mere belief” about anything and launch a raid.

    Surely we must have laws to regulate all these raids as otherwise nothing will be sacred any more and the the rights of citizens will be brushed aside with impunity.

  2. #2 by sheriff singh on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 2:44 pm

    Hey, I am not moderated.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 3:43 pm

    Storming in without permit or reasons…do as they like.
    This is how Police acts upon suspected drug dealers…DVD pirators…football bookies…and any illegal trades…like prostitute dens where females are smuggled in..and few more.
    But NOW…Police storming in to find suspected Malaysian traitors to Najib’s government.
    Malaysians are reduced to nothing but as slaves..under such kind of behaviors and mentalities of a sick and corrupt government.

  4. #4 by Cinapek on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 4:01 pm

    The next time Bernard Dompok or Idris Jala organise any multiracial functions in their house, someone should make a report to JAIS that they are”…proselytising to Malays,” and sit back and watch the fun. Of course this is hypothetical but it shows how ridiculous the behavior of JAIS has become.

    The Selangor PR Govt who is responsible for JAIS should take full responsibility for this fiasco. Don’t point fingers because if you cannot even control the little religious napoleons in JAIS how are you going to run a govt? If you were so gung ho to prevent Khushairi from assuming the State Secretary post, why can’t you do likewise against JAIS if they were suspected of taking instructions from Putrajaya? Identify the culprits and get rid of them otherwise they will continue to embarass your Govt and UMNO/BN will go to town with this and make you pay for lack of action.

  5. #5 by k1980 on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 4:29 pm

    On his return from the Vatican, Jib proclaimed, “You respect us, we’ll respect you”. To keep his word, he sent JAIS to pay their respects to the participants of the multiracial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church. After that, he will pay his respects to the christians he jailed for opposing him. See, he has respect for christians.

  6. #6 by dcasey on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 4:35 pm

    Like the case of the EO6, the govt institutions still continuing to exhibit its sheer arrogance and impunity to the law by harassing innocent law abiding citizens like thugs and gangsters. One word to describe them…BULLIES. Time to get rid of all these bullies especially the top ones in Putrajaya once and for all. They don’t belong in a civilised society.

  7. #7 by asia on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 5:03 pm

    There are some follow people with narrow view without know the earth is curve shape and there are galaxy, follow their writing and condemn others are sinful

    God words and teaching are free in many form to every human beings

    Nothing can patented hold exclusive rights of God words and teaching

    Only stupid thought they hold the exclusive rights

  8. #8 by drngsc on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 5:24 pm

    This is a serious issue, almost as serious as Clean, Free and Fair elections. I hope that the Interfaith council will launch a strong protest and work with other like minded NGOs, to organise a “BEBAS” rally.This goumen must learn that they cannot do as and when they feel like they wish. This is a multi-racial, multi- religious country with laws. True, we are becoming more and more like a failed state.
    INTER-FAITH council, what do you say. BEBAS rally??

    We need to change the tenant at Putrajaya. Failure is not an option.

  9. #9 by yhsiew on Thursday, 4 August 2011 - 5:28 pm

    Jais is a big bully!

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