Saturday, November 1, 2014

Sarawak leader says Christian items grab reflects rising religious extremism

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON

Pastor Maklin Masiau (in red shirt) serves the rural areas of Sabah and Customs seized 574 books and 419 CDs containing the word ‘Allah’. The move has angered leaders in Sabah and Sarawak who claim that Putrajaya is ignoring the 10-point solution on the use of ‘Allah’ in Christian literature. – Facebook pic, November 1, 2014.

Pastor Maklin Masiau (in red shirt) serves the rural areas of Sabah and Customs seized 574 books and 419 CDs containing the word ‘Allah’. The move has angered leaders in Sabah and Sarawak who claim that Putrajaya is ignoring the 10-point solution on the use of ‘Allah’ in Christian literature. – Facebook pic, November 1, 2014.
While the latest seizure of Christian materials containing the word “Allah” at klia2 in Sepang last week appears to be resolved, Sarawak's outspoken minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing views the episode as ominous and portends growing religious extremism in the country.
The seizure is not the first in Malaysia, despite the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government's pledge in 2011 to allow such materials in states where Islamic law was silent on the matter.
“Moderation and religious tolerance and respect have been cast at the wayside,” he said in reaction to the seizure of hundreds of books and CDs from Sabah pastor Maklin Masiau by Customs officials last Saturday.
“The seizures showed religious extremism is gaining ground in Malaysia,” said an uneasy Masing, who is Sarawak's Land Development Minister.
He said it would be most unfortunate if Malaysia is heading towards becoming an Islamic state “where tolerance for other religious practices are ignored or banned”.
Masiau said in a Facebook posting that the books and CDs he was carrying were Christmas gifts for a church in Sabah.
He was returning to Kota Kinabalu from Medan, Indonesia, and was on transit at klia2.
Masiau is active in the area of Pitas, considered one of the poorest areas in Sabah and where poor Christians are allegedly often induced to convert to Islam with offers of money.
Masing (pic), who heads the second largest BN party in Sarawak, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), said in order to thwart fundamentalists and extremists, it was imperative that non-Muslims stand together and uphold the spirit of religious freedom as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.
Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, the minister in charge of unity, said yesterday that efforts were being made to return the seized books and CDs to Masiau as the Cabinet has unanimously pledged its support for the 10-point solution on the use of "Allah" in Christian literature.
Kurup also said the Cabinet wanted civil servants to comply strictly with the 10-point solution.
The 10-point solution drawn up before the Sarawak elections in 2011 provided for Bibles in all languages to be imported, including those in Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia which contained the word “Allah”.
The 10-point solution also allowed for the printing, importation and distribution of the Alkitab, the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian said such seizures only tested the patience of people in Sabah and Sarawak.
He believed the actions of the civil servants concerned amounted to “a calculated intimidation”.
“Are little Napoleons deliberately stirring trouble or have the relevant authorities not learned from the episodes we went through on this issue? “Whatever it is, I hope the minister in charge (Kurup) will do the right thing this time.
“We in Sabah and Sarawak have been very patient all this while,” he said, adding that if such actions continued, the people would run out of patience and “we don't want this to happen.
“Don't simply seize and confiscate without proof that these goods are to be used for unlawful purposes.”
A PKR branch leader, Boniface Willy Tumek, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak must not only show himself as the moderate leader that he claimed to be, but as the prime minister, he must also show that he was in charge.
“He must order the immediate release of the books and the CDs and revoke the order that caused these problems.
“Failure to do that will bring dishonour to Malaysia as a member of the United Nations Security Council and more disrepute to Malaysia in the eyes of the international community,” he said.
Social media users have also reacted to the seizure of the books and CDs, with Facebook user Alex Asing saying the Customs’ action as “really not a sensible thing to do”.
“Much has been said regarding the issue. At the end of the day, who gives a damn how you call your god,” he said.
One of DAP's Dayak leaders, Leon Jimat Donald posted “It's getting worse” on Facebook.
Another Facebook user, Apai Nyanggau (Father Nyanggau) asked if the Court of Appeal decision to uphold the ban on the use of the word “Allah” in the Catholic weekly Herald applied to CDs and books.
The Home Ministry said the seizure of the materials had nothing to do with their containing the word “Allah”, but because Masiau did not have an import permit, which is required by the ministry when foreign publications were brought into the country.
Hashimah Nik Jaafar, the ministry's publications and Quranic text division head told The Malaysian Insider yesterday evening that if a person was carrying one or two books, Customs would usually just let the person through.
“But he was carrying 574 books and 419 CDs in five to six boxes, so naturally the Customs officers checked.
"And it was just procedure for them to seize it for the purposes of referring the publications to us because they were brought in from another country in bulk without an import permit.
"It had nothing to do with the materials containing the word ‘Allah’," she said. – November 1, 2014.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sarawak-leader-says-christian-items-grab-reflects-rising-religious-extremis#sthash.tQAGXSrF.dpuf

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