Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A ‘routine check’ after 31 years? What’s the real reason, Bible Society asks RoS

BY IDA LIM


Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) board member Eugene Yapp and BSM honorary secretary Rev. Mathew K. Punnoose giving a statement on the Registrar of Societies (RoS) Selangor postponing their visit. — Picture by Choo Choy May Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) board member Eugene Yapp and BSM honorary secretary Rev. Mathew K. Punnoose giving a statement on the Registrar of Societies (RoS) Selangor postponing their visit. — Picture by Choo Choy May
PETALING JAYA, June 30 — The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) questioned today the Registrar of Societies’ (RoS) assertion in wanting to perform a “routine check” of its premises here, saying there has been no such previous visit since its establishment in 1984.
According to BSM, RoS was scheduled to visit today, but had called it off at the last minute without giving any reason.
“BSM welcomes the proposed visit of the RoS in the spirit of transparency and accountability but we would like to know the reasons for such a ‘routine check’ under Section 63 which does not provide for it.
“We have therefore requested the RoS Selangor give us the reason for such a visit,” BSM honorary secretary Reverend Mathew K. Punnoose said in a statement on behalf of its executive committee.
“This is the first time for such a ‘routine check’ since the formation of BSM in 1984,” Mathew added.
Mathew said Selangor RoS had abruptly called him this morning to postpone the visit until an undisclosed date.
Eugene Yapp, a BSM board member, confirmed to reporters here that no reason was given for the regulator’s abrupt cancellation.
BSM said it was notified through a June 23 email notice of the planned visit today, which it was later told was a “routine check”.
Yesterday, Malaysiakini reported that RoS did not provide any reason for the visit when it notified the BSM via an email, with the regulator reportedly telling BSM to prepare its membership roll, meeting minutes and accounts for inspection.
An RoS official told Malay Mail Online yesterday that the planned two-hour visit to BSM’s office starting at 1pm today is a normal procedure that is provided for under the Societies Act 1966, denying that it is related to a recent Court of Appeal ruling against the federal government.
The RoS insisted that it is merely exercising its rights under Section 63 of the Act ― which grants the registrar power of entry and inspection of a society’s premises, books, accounts, minutes of meetings and other documents.
The particular section, however, states that such powers are invoked if the registrar “has reason to believe that any society is carrying on activities in contravention of any provision of this Act or any regulations made thereunder or any of its rules” and after notice has been given.
A BSM member who declined to be named told Malay Mail Online yesterday that the society had already dutifully sent in its minutes, membership list and accounts as required.
In January last year, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) carried out a surprise raid of BSM’s Selangor office and seized over 300 copies of the bible in Malay and Iban, using a 1988 Selangor state law that prohibits non-Muslims from using “Allah” to refer to God.
The bibles were returned to the Christian community last November, albeit stamped in red with a warning that they were not to be published or used anywhere in Selangor. 
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/a-routine-check-after-31-years-whats-the-real-reason-bible-society-asks-ros#sthash.2PgYMpnU.dpuf

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