Monday, November 17, 2014

BARU BIAN: RETURN OF BIBLES A WISE MOVE


PRESS STATEMENT
14 NOVEMBER 2014 

We welcome and applaud the steps taken by the State government of Selangor headed by the new Menteri Besar to return the bibles seized from the Bible Society. This is an exemplary action of the MB, who at the time of his appointment stated clearly that the bibles must be returned to the Christians as they are the rightful owners. I hope this can be taken as a lesson for future reference.

In the first place, there should not be any seizure of such a book from the premises of the Bible Society, or Christian bookshop or church premises especially where there is no evidence that these books are being used to evangelise Muslims. The seized bibles were in the premises of the Bible Society and there is no evidence of evangelization using these bibles, and therefore the seizure should not have happened.

Where sensitive issues such as this emerge, it is incumbent upon the leader of the state to take the lead, in this case, the Menteri Besar. Comparing the response of the current MB of Selangor and that of the Prime Minister, I must say that the MB’s actions have put the PM to shame. As PM, he should have exerted better influence on MAIS which is under his department, but the issue remained unresolved for a long time.

To my understanding, there is no restriction on the importation or publication of the bible as long as it is used in the church. For all the allegations by the extremist groups, there has been no evidence that the bibles were used to evangelise Muslims.

The more worrying incident for me is the occasion when bibles were seized in Kuching port in 2008 – this was more of a shock as it happened in Sarawak. It should not have happened and I hope it will never happen again.

I was informed that MAIS allowed the release of the bibles on condition that they are not used in Selangor, but are to be sent to Sarawak. What they must realize is that there are many Sarawakian students and workers living in West Malaysia, who have used the Al-Kitab all their lives. There are many Bahasa speaking churches there, including SIB churches catering for their spiritual needs. A blanket restriction of the use of bibles in Selangor is unconstitutional. The Selangor enactment considers it an offence only if the material is used for evangelizing Muslims. There is no offence if it is used in the church among Christians. The statement by MAIS is out of place and unlawful – I would say it was an attempt at face-saving on their part.

Together with the people of other faiths, we applaud the MB and also the Sultan of Selangor, who eventually understood the situation and consented to the return of the bibles.

Baru Bian
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan



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