PETALING JAYA: The Federal Government’s 10-point solution on the Alkitab issue remains the most pragmatic solution to manage the matter, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Idris Jala.
Addressing the issue for the first time since the seizure of Bahasa Malaysia Bibles and other Christian literature by the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) in January, Idris urged all parties to “think very carefully about jumping the gun on solutions that lead to a win-lose solution”.
“Either way, I am convinced any one-sided solution will certainly create a fault-line in the Malaysian religious and social fabric. We don’t want to go there,” wrote Idris in his Transformation Unplugged column in The Star today.
Idris reiterated the Cabinet’s position which supports the 10-point solution, but maintained that all sides must abide by existing federal and state laws.
The announcement of the 10-point solution in April 2011 by the Home Ministry has cleared the way for the distribution of thousands of Alkitab – a term collectively referring to Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia and indigenous languages – in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.
“Unless someone comes up with a better and more acceptable way forward, I think the 10-point solution remains the most pragmatic and workable compromise to help us manage this highly sensitive issue,” Idris said.
He said many people had queried him over the past two years on the 10-point solution with regards to whether it was consistent with related policies, laws and practices, which he narrowed into several key questions.
One was over how the 10-point solution could co-exist with the respective states’ Islamic Enactments that prohibit non-Muslims from propagating their faiths to Muslims.
Idris said the Alkitab is allowed for use by Christians, their churches and congregations and non-Muslims.
However, if anyone uses the Alkitab or uses words prohibited under state laws to propagate non-Islamic faiths to Muslims, then he will contravene the relevant Islamic laws.
Citing an example, Idris said that although the word Injil was another prohibited word for non-Muslims in Selangor, the Federal Government and the Selangor state has not prohibited his church, one of the fastest growing in Kuala Lumpur, from calling itself Sidang Injil Borneo KL (SIB KL).
Another question was why conditions were imposed for the Alkitab in Peninsular Malaysia when there is no such conditions in Sabah and Sarawak.
Idris said Christians in Sabah and Sarawak have long used the word Allah in their own indigenous language unlike in peninsular Malaysia, where the sensitivities of the Muslim community should be taken into account.
“However, recognising the interests of the minority Christian communities and also other communities and religions such as the Sikhs, who also use the word Allah, it is reasonable to allow them access to Alkitab and their own holy books on a conditional basis,” he said.