ORIENTAL HEARTS AND MIND STUDY INSTITUTE (OHMSI) demands that the Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Razak, as Chairman of BN, make a clear stand on the recent raid by Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) on the Bible Society of Malaysia’s (BSM’s) premises. They confiscated more than 300 copies of the Al Kitab (the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia)and the Bup Kudus (the Bible in the Iban language) and wrongly arrested the President and Office Manager of the Bible Society of Malaysia without any charges being made to date. This is tantamount to criminal intimidation, if no charges are then preferred.
OHMSI is an NGO guided by biblical teachings and promotes among other things: integrity, good governance, reconciliation/unity and good public policy in Malaysia.
The raid alarmed, shocked, hurt and upset all in the Christian community and most moderate citizens in the country, as can be seen from the several statements by various groups including prominent lawyers and many Muslims.
Malaysia is now becoming infamous over such irrational, inconceivable and illogical action without parallel globally. Even a UN Commissioner and different Islamic Scholars have made public statements on the matter.
OHMSI condemns the raid on the following grounds:-
c)Trespass/violations of basic human rights of personal faith;
d)High handed and aggressive;
e)Blatant disregard to the 10 point solution made by the Federal Government in April 2011 and reiterated by the Prime Minister in October 2013. (We therefore demand that disciplinary action be taken against the Supervising Office in the raid as per the 10-point agreement);
f)Insensitive to the followers of the Christian Faith;
g)A blow to the inter-religious harmony in Malaysia;
h)Not the way towards moderation, justice and peace; and
i)It makes the PM’s Global Initiative on the Movement of Moderates merely political rhetoric.
JAIS has acted in the most despicable manner as it ought to know that their actions, on behalf of Islamic jurisprudence, are unlawful and that the issue in question is still to be resolved by the Federal Court. Nevertheless, even later, MAIS (the oversight body) has issued a statement to defy the Selangor Government directive of compliance to the State Executive Committee. This is blatant disregard of due political process and proper governance and oversight.
We therefore find the Prime Minister’s silence on the raid equally disturbing as it could mean that:-
a)There is an admission of guilt on his part and that of the Federal Government;
b)He does not want to take full responsibility for his Government’s initiated and mediated solution;
c)He is still indecisive although nominated and elected as President of his party uncontested;
d)His silence indicates his silent support and collusion with the repulsive action of JAIS; and
e)His promised protection and justice for minority groups is in question again.
OHMSI therefore questions whether the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 that was cited as the authority for the raid and arrest was correct. The said enactment relates to propagation of non-Muslim religions to Muslims, and in this instance, there is no shred of evidence to show that this had occurred. This is the second time the said action has been taken by JAIS against the Christian community with no evidence.
OHMSI reiterates that JAIS has no power and/or authority to regulate and/or enforce its ideas or laws on ALL non-Muslims. The Bible Society of Malaysia has not contravened any laws and certainly has not propagated Christianity and apostasy among the Muslims. The Bibles were meant for Christians as it was explicitly stated on its cover.
If the Prime Minister is sincere about national reconciliation and harmony towards achieving unity, he and the State Government must now caution JAIS and other religious bodies from interfering in the religious beliefs and administration of other faiths.
These acts are contrary to our Federal Constitution which guarantees religious freedom. No religion can enforce their beliefs, regulations, and interpretations on another religion!
OHMSI also questions whether there is the possibility of similar act/s against others’ faiths for example: Shiism, or even the Sikhs or now, the Bahai’s. There appears to be no basic safeguard for ordinary citizens in terms of Article 11. JAIS should therefore return the seized bibles to the Bible Society of Malaysia immediately.
OHMSI reiterates Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution which reads as follows:
3(1) Islam is the religion of the Federation; but other religions may be practised in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.
It is the right of every Malaysian citizen to practice their faith as a personal matter and any public adherence must resort to good values or as a cultural trait but should not be enforceable by force!
KJ John, PhD, Chairman of Board and Executive Committee of OHMSI, Malaysia.