Friday, January 3, 2014

BARU BIAN - 2014: RELIGIOUS PERSECUTION YEAR


Press Statement
3 January 2014

2014 has certainly got off to an ugly start.

The high-handed and aggressive raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia’s premises yesterday is a confirmation of what I have warned about all along – that the religious authorities would use the Herald judgment to extend their insidious and strangling tentacles over other aspects of Christian and non-Muslim practices. So much for the PM’s and other BN politicians’ assurances that the Court of Appeal’s flawed judgment would only apply to the contents of the Herald.

This raid and seizure was a clear breach of the 10-point solution, which was highly publicised as the answer to every Christian’s concerns about the increasing infringement of their rights. What other proof do we need that the 10-point solution is a meaningless political ploy to pacify the Christians pre-GE13? Those who presented the so-called solution had no sincere or serious intent that the points would be strictly observed by the Islamic authorities. What do the proponents of the 10-point solution have to say now? What excuse are they going to offer us this time? The Bibles seized, including the Iban Bibles, conformed to the requirements set out in the 10-point solution. What justification was there for the raid?

Bishop Paul Tan’s description of JAIS as being Gestapo-like is not far off the mark. Why do they presume that they are authorised to dictate to Christians how we practice our faith? The Federal Constitution does not give Islamic authorities any power over non-Muslims. The raid they conducted was illegal in itself, compounded by the fact that they had no search warrant and acted in an aggressive and bullying manner. If JAIS is allowed to escape any consequence for this illegal and brutal action, it will embolden other Islamic authorities to embark on similar fanatical orgies of Christian harassment and persecution. Will the PM, captain of our sinking ship Malaysia, do something to stop the madness?

The ban on the use of the 32 words in the Syariah Criminal Enactment of Selangor is clearly a violation of our rights to religious freedom as enshrined in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution. One of the banned words ‘Injil’ is an integral word in the name of the Church to which I belong, ie the Sidang Injil Borneo. There are several SIB churches in Peninsula Malaysia to cater for the many Sarawakian Christians working over there. Should the church leaders in Selangor expect to be ordered by the Islamic agencies to change the name of their church?

The education system of this country is geared towards ensuring that Bahasa Malaysia will be the primary language used by future generations. How are the future Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians going to practice their religions, to pray, and to read their Bibles if 32 fundamental words are banned from Christian scripture and worship? Some conspiracy theorists would argue that the ban of the use of ‘Allah’ and the other 31 words is part of a wider plan to obliterate Christianity in this country.

The planned demonstrations by UMNO Selangor and Muslim groups in front of churches on Sunday are potentially dangerous and explosive. The Prime Minister must not allow groups of extremists to harass people who will be performing their religious obligations, as they are entitled to under the Federal Constitution.

The government of this country has attracted worldwide ridicule and even contempt for allowing a religious group to claim sole ownership of a word that did not even originate here. In 2013, Malaysia ranked No 42 in the World Watch list of 50 countries where persecution of Christians is most severe, a leap of 8 places up from No 50 in 2012. The people are hoping against hope that the Prime Minister will bring some meaning to the words in his New Year message uttered a mere 3 days ago. Najib Razak’s call for "commitment to the peaceful coexistence",  “pursuit of unity," for the country's stability and progress, will join the other empty words in his bucket of meaningless mutterings of which we have grown so weary. Unless he takes some firm and fundamental steps to protect the rights of the persecuted minority, we are doomed to live in a country where the rule of law has broken down, to be replaced by fascism at its most odious and abominable. God forbid this would happen to my beloved country Malaysia!

BARU BIAN
ADUN N70 BA’ KELALAN





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