Saturday, March 12, 2011

Alkitab


If I am to believe what I read in The Malaysian Insider posted March 10, 2011, then the Christians in Malaysia are saying 'Enough is enough!' They have finally decided to assert themselves and publicly denounce the Najib government for what they see as a systematic move to deny their religious rights enshrined in the country’s highest law.

The Home Ministry has been regularly seizing Malay Bibles with impunity and the despairing Christians could only wring their hands in helplessness. For a long time, these church-going Malaysians swallowed this injustice, but for how long will they sanction, endure and tolerate? But spurred by the Home Ministry’s latest confiscation of 30,000 Malay Bibles that cost $26,000 (RM78,000) from Kuching port, the churches rallied together and issued a stinging rebuke on Thursday against Prime Minister Najib Razak. They demanded he “prove their (the government) sincerity and integrity in dealing with the Malaysian Christian community on this and all other issues which we have been raising with them since the formation of the Christian Federation of Malaysia in 1985”.

“The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is greatly disillusioned, fed-up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language.

“It is an affront to them that they are being deprived of their sacred scriptures. Many are wondering why their scriptures are considered a threat to national security. All these actions in relation to the detention of the Bibles continue to hurt the Malaysian Christian community,” it said in a statement on Thursday signed by its chairman, Bishop Ng Moon Hing.

They demanded the government immediately release all Bibles detained.

The CFM is the umbrella body that represents over 90 per cent of churches in the country. Malaysian Christians make up close to 10 per cent of the 28 million population; with the biggest numbers based in Sarawak and Sabah, where the main language used by the Bumiputeras in churches is Malay.

The CFM noted that the federal government has been thwarting all attempts to import Malay Bibles from outside Malaysia since March 2009, “despite repeated appeals which resulted in the prime minister making a decision to release the Alkitab held in Port Klang in December 2009.

“This is notwithstanding that the government in its attempt to justify its position against the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Alkitab, the government had given the assurance that the Bible in (Malay) will be freely available, at least in Sabah and Sarawak,” it said.

The Catholic Church had won a landmark judgment on December 31, 2009 that gives it the right to publish the word, but has effectively been barred from doing so pending the government’s appeal.

The group pointed to two separate shipments totaling 15,000 copies that had been seized by Home Ministry officials and left to languish for over a year at Kuching port and Port Klang in Selangor. CFM said officials at Port Klang have steadfastly refused to release the 5,000 copies imported by the Bible Society of Malaysia.

It added that there were other shipments of Bibles and other Christian material before March 2009 that were confiscated by ministry officials that have yet to be returned to their owners.

One such case involves Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, whose personal collection of Christian CDs – bought on a trip to Indonesia – were appropriated by Malaysian Customs officials at the airport here in May 2008 allegedly for being a threat to national security. Jill filed to sue the Home Ministry at the High Court here but her case has also been languishing in the courts.

Is the government worried that if Malay Muslims take a peep into the Bible, they might have doubts about their own faith? Or is the government intentionally trying to agitate the Christians in this country? Where is this 1Malaysia that Najib is talking about? Is it all just an illusion?

Malaysians of the Christian faith need not be powerless! Will they be willing to stand up for their Christian faith? They can let the government know they will not brook any iniquity! And they can do this by exercising their vote in the next GE. By voting against BN, they can demonstrate their unhappiness towards the government. Really, an effective lesson for an oppressive government.

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