The detention of 2,000 copies of the Roman Church’s publicationThe Herald last Friday at the Kota Kinabalu Airport by the Home Affairs Ministry has shown that the ministry’s officials have ignored Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s assurance that the world ‘Allah’ can be used in Sabah and Sarawak, said Baru Bian, chairperson of Sarawak Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

“The prime minister’s assurance does not hold water as proved by the detention of these copies of The Herald.

NONE“Najib and his cabinet ministers were only intensely trying to mislead and pacify Sabahans and Sarawakians by saying that the ban does not apply to Sabah and Sarawak,” said Baru (right), who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyperson.

He was asked to comment on the report that 2,000 copies of the latest edition of The Herald were prevented from entering Sabah by ministry officials in Putrajaya.

In Kota Kinabalu last Monday Najib said that the Court of Appeal’s decision did not affect Christians in Sabah and Sarawak and that the 10-point agreement decided by the federal cabinet on the matter would be maintained.

Baru said: “If you are lawyers, you will understand that the decision that comes from the court becomes a precedent, more so if it comes from higher courts such as the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

“Now it is proved that the assurances are ignored. So I agree that the action of the Home Affairs Ministry is a direct slap on the face of the prime minister,” he said.
NONECommenting on the same issue, Parti Rakyat Sarawak president James Masing (right) expressed concern over the detention of copies of The Herald, especially after assurances were given to Christians in Sabah and Sarawak that the word ‘Allah’ could be used in churches and printed texts in the two states.

“This is the understanding. However, if indeed it is true that The Herald to be distributed only in Sabah has been confiscated by the authorities, then the government has a lot of explanation to do.

“If they cannot explain satisfactorily to the people of Sabah and Sarawak then it is a case of ‘cakap tak serupa bikin’ (hypocrite) and the government will lose a lot of its credibility,” said Masing, who is Sarawak’s Land Development Minister.

Masing is one of the few Dayak leaders who are very vocal against the ban as the Christian Dayaks have been using the word ‘Allah’ for over a century.

The detention of The Herald had shocked Christians in Sabah and Sarawak especially after assurances given by Najib and several other federal cabinet ministers that the ban of the use of the word Allah only applied to the peninsular Malaysia and did not apply to the Borneo states.

“I am sure the Catholics in Sabah will be greatly disturbed by this development,” said Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) general-secretary Reverend Herman Shastri in a statement.

~ Malaysiakini