PETALING JAYA: Federal officials have met Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) leaders to resolve the issue of Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) raid on its office and seizure of publications.
BSM general secretary Dr Rev Simon Wong declined to identify the officials but said they were from the Prime Minister’s Department.
“They promised that they would do their best to resolve the issue. We are leaving it to them to do so,” said Wong.
He said as the 10-point agreement on the printing, import and distribution of the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bibles in peninsular Malaysia was a Federal Government initiative, the Government should find a solution.
It was reported yesterday that the bibles seized by Jais had the Christian cross and the words “Christian Publication” printed on the covers, as required under the agreement.
The Bibles were imported and were vetted by the Home Ministry before they were released to BSM.
BSM president Lee Min Choon was also tight lipped over the identity of the officials who met them for an hour.
“They are from the Federal Government, while Jais is a state body not under their jurisdiction. They need to resolve it according to their procedures,” he said.
Lee said BSM had not heard anything official from either the Selangor Government or Jais.
Christian Federation of Malaysia Rev. Dr Eu Hong Seng condemned the raid.
He said the seizure of bibles and questioning of two BSM’s officers were violations of the right to freedom of religion, as set out in Article 11 of the Federal Constitution.
“We call upon the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet to uphold the word and commitment of the Federal Government to ensure the rights of the Christian community,” he said.
Council of Churches of Malaysia general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri urged Christians to pray for a peaceful resolution.
“The CCM calls upon the churches in the country to stay calm, and pray that the proper authorities will act with wisdom and sensitivity and protect religious rights,” he said.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism president Jagir Singh said it viewed the raid as illegal.
“The highest law in the country is the Federal Constitution. Article 11 (1) specifically allows all religious persons to practise and propagate freely without restriction subject to clause 4, which prevents the propagation of our faith to Muslims,” he said.
All religious parties, he said, must abide by the rule of law, adding that it was for the police to act on an offence and not religious bodies.