Shhh…Don’t Let the Neighbors Know of Our Child Abuse! We are a Respectable and Religious Family
Child abuse is not only wrong. It is repulsive. How scandalous then if the neighbors get to know that children in the house are being abused! Of course, the children have been warned with threats of punishment should they leak out the dirty family secret. After all, we are one family…ahem, I mean… 1Malaysia. The abuse becomes more hurtful and the injustice more unbearable if one child is favored while the rest of the children are abused.
In the past, the abused children were thoroughly intimidated. They bore the abuse in silence. But now they act as grownups. They protest. Unfortunately, their protest is to no avail. The head doesn’t care. But now he resorts to more sophisticated measures. He knows outright abuse no longer works. So, he cajoles the abused children to give up their belongings while the favored child seizes them. He expects the abused children to keep silent since the favored child is supposedly special – he is of special descent. The head promises that abuse will be less frequent if they cooperate, and if they don’t believe him, he will abuse them even more. The favored child joins in to abuse the other children.
Sounds painfully familiar if you belong to one of the abused children, I mean the minority religious communities in Malaysia that include Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and dan lain lain. The favored child is obvious. No need to mention name-lah.
For years Christians have suffered silently the abuse by the government. They have been denied permits to build churches; they are not given proper burial grounds while the favored child gets burial ground in prime land around town. And to cap the abuse, the government banned and seized the Alkitab (Malay Bible) used by the Bahasa speaking churches (which comprises 1.7 million or 67% of the total Christian population in Malaysia).
Of course, Malaysian Christians are peaceful and respectful citizens. So they resorted to quiet and humble diplomacy. They appealed behind closed doors and urged the authorities to rescind the ban and release the Bibles that have been seized. The Christians have been assured by the authorities that the Bibles will be released only to find out time and again that these promises are not carried out. There comes a point in time when the Christians just can’t take it anymore. So…
The Christian Federation of Malaysia that has always been mild-mannered finally released a press statement which The Malaysia Insider (10 March 2011) [see below] reported, “Christians Say Fed up With Najib Administration.”
Hopefully, the abusive parent now realizes that the mild-mannered long-suffering child is actually a grownup who will not take the abuse any more. Unfortunately, loud protests come to no avail. Christians know from experience that the government will simply ignore the protests, especially if the neighbors remain ignorant and silent.
It is heartening that some neighbors have come to know about the abuse and are expressing their concerns, especially since these neighbors have the same blood as the Prophet that the parent reveres. The Malaysia Insider (14 March 2011) [see below] reported, “Arab Christians Express Concern About Malaysian Bible Row.”
How embarrassing to be exposed as hypocrites. Shame! Shame! The neighbors do know about the child abuse. The Arabs, the Indians, the EU…the whole world knows! There is only one way to regain respectability. Stop the abuse. Treat the children equally. Do the right thing.
Christians say fed up with Najib administration LINK
Malaysia Insider By Debra Chong March 10, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Christians in Malaysia say they are angry and fed up with the Najib government for what they see as a systematic move to deny their religious rights enshrined in the country’s highest law.
Spurred by the Home Ministry’s latest seizure of 30,000 Malay Bibles that cost US$26,000 (RM78,000) from Kuching port, the churches rallied together and issued a stinging rebuke today against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
They demanded he “prove their (the government) sincerity and integrity in dealing with the Malaysian Christian community on this and all other issues which we have been raising with them since the formation of the Christian Federation of Malaysia in 1985”.
“The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is greatly disillusioned, fed-up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia.
“It is an affront to them that they are being deprived of their sacred scriptures. Many are wondering why their scriptures are considered a threat to national security. All these actions in relation to the detention of the Bibles continue to hurt the Malaysian Christian community,” it said in a statement today signed by its chairman, Bishop Ng Moon Hing.
They demanded the government immediately release all Bibles detained.
The CFM is the umbrella body that represents over 90 per cent of churches in the country.
Malaysian Christians make up close to 10 per cent of the 28 million population; with the biggest numbers based in Sarawak and Sabah, where the main language used by the Bumiputeras in churches is Bahasa Malaysia.
The CFM noted that the federal government has been thwarting all attempts to import Malay Bibles from outside Malaysia since March 2009, “despite repeated appeals which resulted in the prime minister making a decision to release the Alkitab held in Port Klang in December 2009 which was reported to CFM leaders by several Cabinet ministers and their aides.
“This is notwithstanding that the government in its attempt to justify its position against the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Alkitab, the government had given the assurance that the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia will be freely available, at least in Sabah and Sarawak,” it said.
The Catholic Church had won a landmark judgment on December 31, 2009 that gives it the right to publish the word, but has effectively been barred from doing so pending the government’s appeal.
The group pointed to two separate shipments totalling 15,000 copies that had been seized by Home Ministry officials and left to languish for over a year at Kuching port and Port Klang in Selangor.
CFM said officials at Port Klang have steadfastly refused to release the 5,000 copies imported by the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).
“In absolute disregard of this decision, the 5,000 copies of the Alkitab remain detained,” CFM said.
It added that there were other shipments of Bibles and other Christian material before March 2009 that were confiscated by ministry officials that have yet to be returned to their owners.
One such case involves Sarawakian Christian Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, whose personal collection of Christian CDs — bought on a trip to Indonesia — were seized by Malaysian Customs officials at the airport here in May 2008 allegedly for being a threat to national security.
Jill filed to sue the Home Ministry at the High Court here but her case has also been languishing in the courts.
Her lawyer, Annou Xavier, told reporters in Putrajaya that the case was fixed to be mentioned today, but no hearing date was given.
CFM questioned if the government was powerless to act against these “little Napoleons” who substitute their own interests and agenda in place of the prime minister’s directives”.
“We would ask how the government’s transformation programme can be successfully implemented if civil servants can blatantly refuse to obey the prime minister’s order?”
Ng told The Malaysian Insider today that he had personally raised the hold-up of the Bibles with the prime minister during a Christmas open house last year.
“He said he was surprised and told me ‘I need to go back and check but I’ll look into it’,” Ng said, relating his conversation with Najib.
He added that the PM was likely told that the Kuching shipment has been released without knowing anything about the Port Klang shipment.
The Malaysian Insider understands that the first consignment of 10,000 copies seized at Kuching port was released on Christmas last year after the prime minister stepped in.
Ng said the churches would continue to apply pressure on the Najib administration.
“We will not stop appealing. If we give up, it means the end of our religion,” the head of Malaysia’s Anglican church said.
CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA
(PERSEKUTUAN KRISTIAN MALAYSIA)
Address: 10, Jalan 11/9, Section 11, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Telephone: (03) 7957 1278, (03) 7957 1463, Fax: (03) 7957 1457
10 March 2011
MEDIA STATEMENT BY CFM
DETENTION OF BAHASA MALAYSIA BIBLES YET AGAIN
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) is greatly disillusioned, fed-up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language,
Bahasa Malaysia. This time yet again at the Port of Kuching in Sarawak.
30,000 copies of the “Perjanjian Baru, Mazmur dan Amsal” i.e. the “New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs” are currently being withheld.
This is notwithstanding that the Government in its attempt to to justify its position against the use of the word “Allah” in the Alkitab, the Government had
given the assurance that the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, will be freely available, at least in Sabah and Sarawak.
Since March 2009, all attempts to import the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, i.e. the Alkitab, whether through Port Klang or the Port of Kuching, have been thwarted.
The previous consignment of 5,000 copies of the Alkitab imported in March 2009 is still being held by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Port Klang. This is
despite repeated appeals which resulted in the Prime Minister making a decision to release the Alkitab held in Port Klang in December 2009 which was reported to CFM leaders by several Cabinet Ministers and their aides.
In absolute disregard of this decision, the 5,000 copies of the Alkitab remain detained. The Prime Minister when told about the continued detention of these
5,000 Bibles at a hi-tea event last Christmas expressed surprise that the order to release the same held in Port Klang had not been implemented. However,
nothing has been done by the authorities to ensure their release.
Prior to March 2009, there were several incidents where shipments of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia were detained. Each time tedious steps had to be taken to
secure their release. It would appear as if the authorities are waging a continuous, surreptitious and systematic programme against Christians in
Malaysia to deny them access to the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia.
Malaysian Christians, many of whom have grown up with Bahasa Malaysia as their principal medium of communication as a result of the Government’s
education policies, must have access to Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia in order to read, comprehend and practise their faith.
The freedom of religion guaranteed as part of the fundamental liberties under our Federal Constitution is rendered meaningless if adherents to a religion are
denied access to their religious texts in a language that they can understand.
It is an affront to them that they are being deprived of their sacred Scriptures. Many are wondering why their Scriptures are considered a threat to national
security. All these actions in relation to the detention of the Bibles continue to hurt the Malaysian Christian community.
We would ask how the Government’s transformation programme can be successfully implemented if civil servants can blatantly refuse to obey the Prime
Minister’s order? Is the Government powerless to act against these “little Napoleons” who substitute their own interests and agenda in place of the Prime
We call upon the Government to act now and prove their sincerity and integrity in dealing with the Malaysian Christian community on this and all other issues
which we have been raising with them since the formation of the Christian Federation of Malaysia in 1985.
As an immediate step, we insist upon the immediate release of all Bibles which have been detained.
Bishop Ng Moon Hing
Chairman and the Executive Committee,
Christian Federation of Malaysia
Banning BM Bibles Destroys Sarawak Christians’ Goodwill, says Bishop LINK
Malaysia Insider By Debra Chong March 15, 2011
KUCHING, March 15 — Banning the Malay-speaking natives of Sarawak from using the word “Allah” is the best way to destroy goodwill and peace with its majority Christian population, Anglican Bishop Bolly Lapok said last night.
He said the word “Allah”, which has been used in their holy book for centuries, has become part of a Sarawak Christian’s racial DNA. The issue is expected to be a hot topic in the coming state elections widely expected to be held next month.
The newly-elected chairman of the Associated Churches of Sarawak (ACS) is the first east Malaysian Christian cleric to weigh in on the ongoing uproar over the Home Ministry’s seizure of 35,000 Malay Bibles — or Al-Kitab as they are locally called — imported from Indonesia and meant for the Bumiputera Christian market here.
“Even such issues as fundamental to our faith — as the Holy Bible, the Bahasa/Iban Bible; and the use of the word ‘Allah’, which we have been using for centuries and is already in the DNA of our vernacular — are being banned for the exclusive possession of a certain race,” Lapok said in his speech at the first ACS biennial meeting here last night.
A copy of his speech was emailed to The Malaysian Insider.
“It is restrictions such as these that provide a perfect recipe for murdering the spirit of goodwill and peace among neighbours,” he added, noting that Sarawak is also the state with the biggest Christian population.
Lapok told the congregation of Catholic and Protestant church leaders that, he said, represented nearly half the state’s total population that religious tension has been on the rise, “which had tested the very fabric of our society and resulted in the stoning of a church and a desecration of a mosque”.
He said that he was recently told that a church’s building plan had been rejected, ostensibly because the cross — the symbol of Christianity — on its rooftop was “too showy”.
Lapok described the present situation as a “crossroad” for Christians in Malaysia.
“I call it a crossroad because never before have the churches ever encountered, [been] rattled and stunned by the events that occurred during our tenure of office,” he said.
The Anglican bishop remarked that while the churches have received government aid, “it is a fact that they were given in a rather ad hoc manner and come far in between”.
He said that in the long term, the government had done little to lessen the Christian community’s unhappiness or respect their religious rights.
The bishop called on his fellow clerics to pressure the federal government to set up a special portfolio to take care of non-Muslim affairs.
Lapok’s idea is one of several that have been put forward to pressure the Najib administration into releasing the Al-Kitabs locked up by the Home Ministry since March 2009.
His counterpart in the peninsula, another Anglican bishop, Ng Moon Hing, had last week issued a scathing rebuke against the prime minister for the Home Ministry’s continued refusal to release 5,000 Al-Kitabs shipped in by the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), which have been stuck in Port Klang for two years.
Ng disclosed too that the ministry had instead seized another 30,000 books worth RM78,000 from Indonesia from the port here.
In the statement, Ng, who heads the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), said that Christians are “fed up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language”.
The ministry is currently facing immense pressure from Christian groups and political parties to release the 35,000 Malay-language Bibles impounded at Port Klang and Kuching Port.
According to Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, the books were detained due to a pending appeal on a 2009 High Court judgment allowing Catholic weekly The Herald to publish the word “Allah”.
Hishammuddin said the ministry was waiting for advice from the Attorney-General on whether to release the detained books.
However, official letters from the ministry to its importer, the BSM, show the Cabinet decided on the matter in June last year.
DAP MP Tony Pua called Hishammuddin’s bluff, pulling out the latter’s written reply to Parliament on the same issue last year, stating that the ministry had already issued a notice to BSM to take back its shipment.
Despite this, BSM has claimed that its attempt to collect the books had been thwarted by the Port Klang authorities.
Hishammuddin’s statement yesterday conceding to the detention of the holy books and announcement that the ministry was now awaiting the A-G’s advice on what to do with the shipment has further added to confusion over the government’s actual stand on the matter.
The Sarawak government has also asked for the ban to be lifted, noting that the Bibles have been imported without any trouble previously.
Arab Christians Express Concern about Malaysian Bible Row LINK
Malaysia Insider By Clara Chooi March 14, 2011
PETALING JAYA, March 14 — The lengthy row over Bahasa Malaysia Bibles and the “Allah” controversy has sparked off international concern among the Arab Christian community, triggering them to urge the Najib administraton for a quick resolution to the issues.
Religious leaders from the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), led by its president, Bishop Munib A. Younan, met with unity affairs minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon last Thursday, where both issues were discussed extensively.
Younan also urged Koh to initiate the release of the 35,000 Malay-language Bibles currently held by the government in two separate ports in the country.
In the discussion, Younan had also told Koh that the tussle over the word “Allah” between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities here has baffled the Christians of the Arab world who have been using the word for over 2,000 years.
“Something we cannot understand in the Arab world and the whole world is when Malaysia prohibits Malaysian Christians from using the name of Allah because we have used it for 2,000 years and until this moment, no one has stopped us.
“If we, the Arab Christians are using it in the heart of the Muslim and Arab world, then why can’t the Malaysian Christians use it?” Younan told reporters in Armada Hotel here yesterday.
Younan, who is also the bishop for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), added that it would be good for Malaysia to show a pluralistic nature by allowing non-Muslims to use “Allah” in their prayers as the country’s constitution provided for religious freedom.
“It is not a challenge to others or a cause for confusion… on the contrary, every religion has the right to use the name of God in any way that they want,” he stressed.
In rejecting the government’s move to detain 35,000 Malay-language Bibles, Younan pointed out that the holy books merely promoted love and moral deeds.
“I said (to Koh) that it does not give a good indication to this whole issue. I think it is very important that people have their own Bibles and to read them because it is better to have the Bible than to have something else because the Bible teaches you love of God and your neighbour,” he reasoned.
Younan added that he had also expressed hope to Koh that the Malaysian government emulated the move by the Jordanian King in allocating 5,000 square metres of free land to churches to allow them to build their respective houses of worship.
“The King gave every church 5,000 square metres of land free on the baptism site along the River Jordan. My Lutheran Church received this precious land, we got a permit and duty-free and tax-free materials to build it.
“We hope Malaysia can follow in these footsteps because it is important to help complete this freedom of religion in Malaysia,” he said.
Younan claimed that upon hearing the views during the over two hour meet, Koh promised that he would raise the issues up with the administration.
“I spoke to him in my capacity as the LWF president and he promised to do something. He has received our message and we will continue to write each other on this,” he said.
The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition founded in Sweden in 1947. It presently has 145 member churches in 79 countries across the globe, including four in Malaysia, and represents some 70 million Christians worldwide.
The Home Ministry has come under fire for its move to impound the Malay-language Bibles and is presently facing extreme pressure from the local Christian community and numerous political parties, including those in the Barisan Nasional (BN), to release the holy books.
Despite this, the ministry announced that it had passed the buck to the Attorney-General to decide, reasoning that the detention of the books had been due to the pending appeal over Catholic newspaper The Herald’s use of the word “Allah” in its publications.
Younan also disagreed with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent assertion that Islam rejects pluralism, arguing that the religion in itself was pluralistic.
“Islam is a pluralistic religion. It has many trends, four schools of thinking and within these, many more trends of thinking.
“And if political leaders say Islam is not pluralistic, to me, this is unacceptable because then you would similarly have one party in politics and this works nowhere. You have to allow people of different understanding and conception together,” he said.
In a statement recently, Najib had warned Muslims against religious pluralism, saying that putting Islam on an equal footing with other faiths was unIslamic.
Religious pluralism is sometimes used as a synonym for interfaith dialogue or promotes understanding of different faiths with the objective of reducing conflicts.
Critics of religious pluralism however see the concept as a threat to the supremacy of Islam and claim that it would result in the religion to be equated with other beliefs.
Younan however voiced his understanding that in a multi-religious society such as Malaysia, misunderstandings between religions were bound to happen.
Citing his experiences as a son to two Palestinian refugees born in Israel and today a minority leader in the thick of the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict, Younan said that the best method to resolve conflict was through dialogue sessions between the different religious communities.
Younan recalled that during the international controversy sparked off by an offensive caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in 2009, he had called for the signing of a “code of conduct” among religious leaders in the Middle East.
“So 48 Christian and Muslim leaders alike signed this code where we said that we have to respect each others’ traditions, symbolism, prophets, cultures and holy places. Freedom of expression does not mean insulting other religions.
“We were clear on these and together, we made this public. I believe that there are enough values in Christianity and Islam that are common like the acceptance of one another, justice and peace. It is enough for us to share a common ground,” he said.
Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard had invited heavy criticism from the Islamic world over his caricature of Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb in his turban.
In another experience of interreligious dialogues in his home nation, Younan revealed that religious leaders of various faiths had independently formed a council of religious institutions in Jerusalem, known as the Holy Land, some five years back.
“We had the chief rabbis of Israel, the head of the Islamic Syariah court in Palestine, and the heads of the churches — the Catholics, the Orthodox, Anglicans, Lutherans, all… and we are focussing on three objectives,” he said.
The council, he explained, had set up a special hotline to monitor any derogatory remarks made by one religion against the other.
“We monitor what the imams and the rabbis and the clergy are saying,” he said.
Secondly, Younan said, the council was now in the process of studying some 700 textbooks used in the school curriculum of Palestine and Israel to weed out discrepancies in any religious information.
“We have a team now reading about what these books are teaching about and once we are done, we will urge the government to change the curriculum to ensure that the books teach what they are suppose to teach about the various religions,” he said.
The council’s third objective, said Younan, was in developing a paper to compile the views of all religious leaders — the Muslims, Jews and Christians — on Jerusalem.
“The core of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is about Jerusalem and we believe that Jerusalem should be shared… for the Christians, Muslims, Jews, the Palestine, Israel, and only in such a way will there be peace in the Middle East,” he said.
He added that religious leaders in Malaysia should take similar initiatives to engage one another in dialogue independently in order to solve any religious crises in the country.
“But I cannot teach them what to do here, only offer these examples. Being an Arab Christian, we can help anytime if we are asked to because we have a long experience in this,” he said.
Younan admitted however that many often misconstrued dialogues as methods of proselytisation but stressed that it was the best way to promote moderation and reject extremism.
“When we dialogue, we speak on doctrines and we get to know each other’s teachings. The dialogue table should not be a battlefield for conversion but for the sake of being a good neighbour.
“We do not convert one another in dialogue, or work to convince one another of each person’s point of view… it is to present your point of view and if there are common values where Muslims and Christians can speak in one voice against injustices, then the dialogue is very powerful,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the Christian leaders of Malaysia were ready to engage in interfaith discussions with other religious leaders.
“And I believe that there are many Malay Muslim groups who want to do the same. For those who refuse, it is okay. We bring the moderates to the table. It must start from somewhere,” he said.