Earlier this month, Prime Minister Najib Razik of Malaysia was welcomed to Canberra by our Prime Minister.
In Malaysia Bibles are treated as a threat to national security.
An appeal for tolerance from the Christian Federation of Malaysia was published on the Anglican Diocese of Singapore website. We republish it for our Australian readers:
CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA
PERSEKUTUAN KRISTIAN MALAYSIA
17th March 2011
HOLY SCRIPTURES DESECRATED – CFM MEDIA STATEMENT
The Christian community in Malaysia is deeply hurt that the Government has desecrated and defaced the Bible.
Initial news that the Government had agreed to release copies of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia which had been impounded in both Port Klang and Kuching was greeted with joy.
However, this joy soon turned into grief and mourning when it was discovered that the release was subject to certain conditions. Each copy has to be stamped with a serial number, the official seal of the relevant department of the Bahagian Kawalan Penerbitan Dan Teks Al-Quran, and the words “by order of the Minister of Home Affairs”.
This means that the Bahasa Malaysia Bible is now treated as a restricted item, and the Word of God has been made subject to the control of man. This is wholly offensive to Christians. Any person who respects the Holy Scriptures of any religion would be appalled by this action.
The Christian community in Malaysia has always acted in good faith and with great patience to find amicable solutions without compromising our fundamental beliefs. But that 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.
We have never agreed to any wording to be endorsed on Bibles to say that it is only for Christians. 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. We will never accede to any desecration of the Bible since the Word of God to us is sacred.
We also wholly reject the Government’s contention that the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia is prejudicial to the national interest and security of Malaysia, and treated as a subversive publication.
As Christians we wonder how our Holy Scriptures can become a national security threat where countless number of us find it helpful in bringing hope and healing to broken lives and homes which we can testify to. Besides it commands us to be better citizens of our beloved nation.
We therefore insist that the Government withdraw the conditions imposed on the release of the Bibles impounded in Port Klang and Kuching. Given that copies may already have been endorsed, we will NOT take delivery of those endorsed copies.
We call on all Malaysians, from Semenanjung and in Sabah and Sarawak, and from all walks of life, to come together in unity to reject any attempt to restrict the freedom of religion in our beloved country.
We invite all Christians in Malaysia to remain calm and to continue to pray for a dignified and respectful resolution of this issue. As Sunday 20 March 2011 marks the 2nd anniversary of the impounding of the Bibles at Port Klang, we call on all those in Malaysia and elsewhere to dedicate themselves to a day of prayer and quiet reflection.
Bishop Ng Moon Hing
Chairman and the Executive Committee,
Christian Federation of Malaysia