Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sabah Christian group wants to know the truth behind the Alkitab row

The Coalition of Sabah Christians (CSC) has called for a thorough investigation into the recent episode of impounding and stamping of 35,100 copies of Alkitab (Bahasa Malaysia bibles), by the relevant authorities, to determine the true motive behind such an act, whether it was politically-motivated, or otherwise.

The Group urged this after lodging a police report at the Karamunsing Police Headquarters here, on Saturday.What was most disheartening however was the lukewarm response from the Christian Community,as compared to the huge turnout in Petaling Jaya on the 26th.March.2011.But what was most significant was the presence of Muslim supporters that turn up,in support of the Christians.

However the Group’s spokesman Ronnie Klassen stressed that this is important as, such an act was not only a gross travesty of the Malaysian Christian community’s Constitutional right to practice their religious freely, but also a form of incitement and probably political ploy to divert the people’s attention away from the real issues affecting the country.

“We must not allow any individual to get away with such an insensitive, irresponsible and subversive act that could be politically-motivated, just like what happened in the past like the “Azan issue” involving the DAP MP for Seputeh, Teresa Kok, followed by the Churches-burning, and the infamous “cow head” incident.

“Hence, we demand to know who had actually instructed on the stamping of the Alkitab, whether it was from the Almighty Allah or, the Home Minister himself, and why?”

Klassen who is also the spokesman for the ad hoc Coalition of Malaysian Christians (COMC) in Peninsular Malaysia, had also made a similar police report on 26 March 2011 at the Petaling Jaya Police Station in Section 8, in which over 100 Christians which included Priest, Pastors and Church leaders were present.

Both COMC and CSC also detested the Home Minister Dato Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein’s recent response, that the confiscating and stamping of the Malay bibles was standard practice and not meant to deface the books.

“We find his statement to be incorrect, untrue and misleading. The Christian community and its representative bodies have never agreed to any wording to be endorsed on Bibles to say that it is only meant for Christians. It is an escalation, interference and subjugation of Malaysian Christians and their right to conduct religious education and worship freely,”

Klassen who is a well-known Sabah-based blogger cum Church activist further noted that the 1982 order issued under the Internal Security Act 1960 did not state that any form of words had to be endorsed on any copy of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia.

“The latest letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs dated 15 March 2011 is therefore a set of new conditions imposed on the release of the impounded Bibles which is wholly unacceptable to us. This means that the Bahasa Malaysia Bible is now treated as a restricted item, and made subject to the control of the Malaysian Home Ministry and Government. This is wholly offensive and unacceptable to Malaysian Christians,”

“Any person who respects the Holy Scriptures of any religion would be appalled by such high-handed and disrespectful action,”

While noting that the Christian community in Malaysia has always acted in good faith and with great patience to find amicable solutions without compromising their fundamental beliefs, he regretted that such good faith has not been reciprocated by the Government.

“It is the government that has moved the goal posts over the years through a systematic imposition of unreasonable conditions and restrictions. Christians are horrified by the arrogance of the Home Ministry and its officials and the contemptuous act of defacing the Al-Kitab is viewed as a sacrilege,”

CSC also expressed regret with the recent remark of the Minister of Home Affairs Dato Seri Hishammudin Tun Hussein, asking Christian groups in the country to be “fair and reasonable” in the ongoing Alkitab row, after the CFM rejected the government’s overture to mask the Home Ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of the affected Malay bibles.

“Are we Christians in this country to be dictated by the Government in our religious faith, what happen to our constitutional right to freedom of religious practice as enshrined in the Federal Constitution?,”

He said both COMC and CSC which comprised of Christians of both Protestant and Catholic persuasions, were both outraged and hurt by the Malaysian Home Ministry’s unilateral action of desecration of the Al-Kitab (Malay bibles) stamped with serial numbers, government seals and warnings that the books are meant for Christians only.

“This is the first time in Malaysian history that Scriptures of Christians have been deemed illegal and a security threat. We view this as violation of Article 11 of the Malaysian Constitution, Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the enshrined rights of Malaysian Christians to practice their faith without restriction,”

He said both COMC and CSC fully concurred with and supported the recent firm stand taken by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) rejecting the Federal government’s overture in the Alkitab row, where it (Federal government) offered to mask the Home Ministry’s stamp and serial numbering of the affected Malay bibles.

CFC had contended that such an overture did not resolve the core issue which is the erosion of basic human rights protected by the Federal Constitution.

“We do not accept conditions that belittle Christian faith and religion and which contravene Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution and also Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948,”.

He further said the Group does not accept the views by a certain quarters on Christianity and its practice and matters of faith as normative, or link the Al-Kitab row to the Catholic Church’s court case on the right to use the word “Allah” — the Arabic word for God — in its newspaper.

“The Al-Kitab and the “Allah” court case are separate issues; and the Federal government has no right to ban the Al-Kitab under the law. Such developments as Christianity being singled out as a threat is unacceptable, as there are no such conditions imposed on the holy books of other religions, including Islam.

We in CSC are seeking a just and amicable solution to this matter. In fact, in the 20 points agreement of Sabah and the 18 point agreement of Sarawak in the formation of Malaysia, clearly states, that there is no official religion for the two states,”

Klassen also proposed that the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) to send a few copies of the defaced Alkitab to Vatican, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, as well as the United Nations, complete with an official complaint over such a gross travesty and insult on Christian faith.

In addition to this, he also urged all the Barisan Nasional (BN) Christian leaders, the Members of Parliament included, to take a firm stand on the issue and to demand for a sincere and unreserved public apology from the Government, over such an insulting act against Christians in the country.


  1. Sabah and Sarawak have no problems with the circulation of malay language bibles. Don't try to stir up religious conflicts in East Malaysia.

  2. hope this issue will be solved.

  3. Religion should never be made into an issue in the first place.

  4. isu ini harus diselesaikan dgn cara baik, tolak ansur dan saling menghormati perlu ada.

  5. i agree with most you said mr. ronnie..why other religion in malaysia except muslim being treated this way? there must be a mastermind behind all this...

  6. and what has been said by muslim NGO (PEMBELA) recently was a provocation..the NGO should be banned by the government under ISA for instigate..

  7. Harap hal ini dpat ditanggani dengan baik sebelum ia makin melarat.

  8. Hal ini harus diberi perhatian serius umpama menarik rambut dalam tepung, rambut tidak putus, tepung tidak berselerak.

  9. Sabah & Sarawak tiada masalah dalam hal ini sbb masing2 tahu akan pendirian & hak masing2.

  10. Benar..Bagi orang Sabah dan Sarawak dengan bible versi melayu ini tidak ada masalah. Biar apa pun yang penting tidak ada pihak yang mengubah maksud yang sedia ada.

  11. next time be careful before making any decisions especially related to the interests of people of various race and religion in this country.

  12. Is there no respect for each others religion?

  13. Sabah and Sarawak has religious acceptance. Don't try to stir religious conflicts.

  14. hal berkaitan agama sepatutnya tidak menjadi satu isu yang diperbesarkan dalam masyarakat negara yang bebas beragama

  15. How can I join this coalition? Any form to fill in?