Monday, March 14, 2011

Release the Bibles and avoid it turning into an "emotive and polemic" issue!

March 13, 2011

The CFM stressed that Christians “cannot be asked to change to another holy book”. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 — Bishop Ng Moon Hing, who heads the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), has denounced as lies a reported home ministry denial that it seized and locked up at Port Klang 5,000 Malay bibles shipped in three years ago from Indonesia. The imported bibles have become a source of controversy because they contain the word “Allah”, which the majority Malay-Muslim community here believes cannot be used by non-Muslims to refer to their deities.
On Wednesay, national news agency Bernama reported the ministry’s clarification that the bibles actually had been refused entry into Malaysia for not fulfilling the ministry’s requirements.
Citing the ministry statement, Bernama said a letter of refusal dated June 26, 2010 had been sent to the importer; however, the importer had yet to claim the cargo.
When contacted by The Malaysian Insider, Ng demanded to know who had made the statement.
“Who said it?” he questioned.
When told it was a statement reported by Bernama, and no name had been mentioned, Ng said: “Well, they’re lying.”
The ministry was responding to the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship’s (NECF) claim that the ministry had conducted the seizure.
NECF secretary-general Sam Ang, writing in its bulletin, claimed the ministry had confiscated and detained the bibles in Port Klang since the year before last, and continued to hold them although the Cabinet had approved the release of the consignment.
 The bishop said the CFM, the umbrella body representing over 90 per cent of all churches in the country — covering the Catholic, Protestant and evangelical segments — has documents to back their claim and called the ministry’s bluff on the issue.

Today, The Star Online reported:

Bibles issue being resolved amicably, says Hishammuddin

PETALING JAYA: The issue of the impounding of 30,000 Bibles at Port Klang and Kuching Port is being resolved amicably with the parties concerned, based on advice from the Attorney-General.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the situation was not due to the books or the material but the pending appeal by the Catholic Herald over the use of the word "Allah" in its publication.
"The appeal has yet to be heard by the court to resolve the bigger issue of content one way or the other.
"In respect of the bibles from Port Klang and Kuching Port, the ministry have since sought and obtained the advice of the Attorney-General and the two matters are being resolved amicably with the parties concerned, based on this advice, in the next few days.
"I urge all parties not to listen to wild allegations and speculations. As always, the ministry will act based on the law," he said in a statement here on Sunday.

Here I have some facts and questions:
1. The Umno-led BN government started this whole fuss about the use of the word 'Allah' in the publication of  Catholic Herald - hence does it not have the power to stop it as well?
2. In 2009, the High Court had ruled that the Catholic Church had the constitutional right to use the word "Allah". However, the ministry filed an appeal against the High Court decision in February 2010 and won a stay, until the case is dealt with by the Court of Appeal. Does not the filing of appeal against the decision of the High Court speak of the insincerity of the home ministry as well as its intention to 'win the case at all cost'?
3. The ongoing court case is Government versus Catholic Church and its publication. How can the pending appeal affect the decision to impound the Bibles or 'Alkitab'?

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