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Tuesday, 15 April 2014 | MYT 6:58 PM

BSM moving office from Selangor to Kuala Lumpur, says state 'unconducive' for its work

PETALING JAYA: The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) will be relocating its office to Kuala Lumpur from its current base in Damansara Kim here, as it believed the environment in Selangor was unconducive for it to carry out its work of supplying bibles to Christians and churches in Malaysia.

"BSM wishes to announce that it will be moving its headquarters and operations out of Selangor to the Federal Territories, where better protection is given by the Federal Government to religious minorities," it said in a statement Tuesday.

BSM said that it had hoped the Selangor state Exco would follow the Federal Government's example in adopting the 10-point solution, which would put to rest inter-religious tensions in the state, but this did not seem to be forthcoming.

"Unfortunately, the stand taken by the Selangor State Exco to justify and to support the actions of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), was a clear signal that the Department would continue to act freely against non-Muslim religious groups and bodies in Selangor," it said.

BSM also stated it would stop importing Bibles meant for Sabah and Sarawak through Port Klang, but would ship the scriptures straight to east Malaysia instead.

Bibles meant for Peninsula Malaysia would be shipped through Penang, which BSM said did not "have a law like the 1988 Selangor enactment".

It said that the Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia would be distributed at their outlets in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kuching, Miri and Kota Kinabalu, but warned those in Selangor that its import and use in the state was at their own risk.

Meanwhile, in SHAH ALAM, state Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said the BSM had every right to make the decision to relocate its office.

"The state government did not interfere with their decision to move out. Although we welcome everyone to the state, there are state laws and enactments that need to be followed," he said.

Asked whether the move would not reflect well on the Selangor government, Khalid said he was not concerned.

He also said that any decision to amend state Islamic enactments was a serious consideration, which only top-level state leaders could make.

On Jan 2, Jais raided the BSM premises and seized 321 Malay and Iban Bibles, citing the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, that prohibited the use of the word 'Allah' and other Quranic terms by non-Muslims.

The legal tussle over the word 'Allah' began when the then Internal Security Ministry issued a directive prohibiting the Catholic weekly the Herald from using the word in its Bahasa Malaysia section of its newsletter, failing which, its printing permit would be revoked.

The High Court on Dec 31, 2009 allowed the use, but the Court of Appeal on Oct 14 last year overturned the ruling following an appeal from the Ministry and the Government.

The case is now at the Federal Court, which has reserved its ruling over the application for leave by the publishers.

Tags / Keywords: Bible Society of Malaysia , Relocating , 10 point solution , JAIS , Khalid Ibrahim


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