Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sabah Christians reject ministry’s ‘intrusion’ in religious materials

Published: 30 May 2015 4:24 PM

Christians in Sabah are worried over the Home Ministry’s Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division and its new proposed standard operating procedure on bringing the Alkitab into the peninsula. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015.

Christians in Sabah are worried over the Home Ministry’s Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division and its new proposed standard operating procedure on bringing the Alkitab into the peninsula. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015. 
Christians in Sabah are alarmed by what they term the “highly insensitive and bizarre intrusion” of the Home Ministry's Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division into their religious affairs in the wake of the new proposed standard operating procedure (SOP) on bringing the Alkitab which contains the word Allah into the peninsula.
In an open letter to Sabah federal minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup who unveiled the proposed SOP to Christian leaders in Sabah and Sarawak last month, Sabah Council of Churches president Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing described the proposed guidelines as a gross bureaucratic overreach which must be checked.
He added that the import of Christian materials was the constitutional right of Christians.
He said it would had been equally intolerable if one day, for the sake of argument, the Quran was subject to regulation by the Christian text division.
"The incredulity of this exercise is twofold. Why are Christian materials subject to regulations and processes under the guise of a standard operation procedure and why is the Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division prescribing regulations and processes in relation to Christian practices?
"Such an act would only be deemed as interfering with Christian religious rights and practices," Dusing said in the letter published in the latest issue of Christian publication Herald.
He added that it was still  incomprehensible to Christians how – by using the term Allah in Christian publications written in the national language to refer to God would cause confusion to any person – given that the publications were obviously by and for Christians.
Dusing, in rejecting the SOP, said that it was unacceptable for Christian materials to be subjected to regulations of any kind, as if they are some sort of contraband or dangerous items.
"We, therefore firmly object to, and hereby request that the federal government withdraw the proposed draft SOP.
"Indeed, we view any misguided perception that there is any necessity to impose such attempts to regulate as a symptom of the federal movement’s failure to discharge its legal and moral duties to promote interfaith harmony and understanding," he added.
He urged Kurup, as a Christian from Sabah, to convey the views of the community to the federal government and to withdraw the draft SOP.
Under the new guidelines being proposed by Putrajaya, Malay-language Bibles with the word Allah could be barred from the peninsula, going against the pledge by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in April 2011 to allow the holy books to be distributed nationwide.
The general principle in the new rules is that Christian publications with the word Allah cannot be imported into Peninsular Malaysia, and if brought in, can only pass through with Sabah and Sarawak as their final destinations.
The draft rules also state that Alkitab, the Malay-language Bible, can be brought into the peninsula from Sabah and Sarawak but only for personal use, possibly in recognition of the many Bumiputera Christians from the two states who live, work or study in the peninsula.
This draft, if made effective, would mean that Alkitab cannot be imported directly into the peninsula, and can only be brought by Christians from Sarawak and Sabah for their private use.
It recommended that any person bringing such materials into the peninsula must obtain a letter of permission for import from the Publication and Quranic Texts Control Division. – May 30, 2015.
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/sabah-christians-reject-ministrys-intrusion-in-religious-materials#sthash.m4mbkeuq.NXQm9rvd.dpuf

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