By ARCHBISHOP JULIAN LEOW
STATEMENT: The Christian Federation of Malaysia is affronted by the patronising suggestion that the national language centre, the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP), can provide “an official translation” of the Al-Kitab, the Holy Bible in Bahasa Malaysia.
Having made this suggestion in court on 15 November as the counsel for MAIS, the Islamic Religious Council for Selangor, an amicus curiae in the Jill Ireland case, Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla, was then reported to hold on to his statement even in the face of an immediate outcry from the Christian community.
This is patently another attempt to infringe upon the constitutional right of Christians, as enshrined in Article 11 (3) of the Federal Constitution, to manage their own religious affairs.
The Holy Bible and the Al-Kitab in Bahasa Malaysia form part of the sacred patrimony of Christians and any attempt by any person not authorised by the Christian churches to provide an authoritative version will be firmly rejected.
This is not just an outrage to Christians and their sensibilities. It will be a most heinous form of offence against what all Christians believe to be divinely inspired Scriptures, the Word of God.
We reiterate that Bahasa Malaysia is not merely the language of a minority but in fact the majority of Christians in this country, and many words, including the word “Allah,” which we deeply revere, have been used since time immemorial by local Christians and Christians in the region as well as those in the Middle East.
As recently as 16 October His Royal Highness, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, the Sultan of Selangor, reminded all Selangor citizens to respect the main principles in the Federal Constitution for the country’s harmony and peace.
As reported by the secretary of the Royal Court of Selangor : “The Malay rulers are of the opinion that the image of Islam as the Federal religion is a religion that should encourage its followers to be tolerant, moderate, inclusive and not polluted by extreme actions.”
Malaysians were also reminded on 10 October by the Conference of Rulers that all must adhere to the core principles embedded in the Federal Constitution, that this was drafted based on the understanding that ours is a country whose citizens are of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds and that all must be respected.
All who hope for continued unity and stability in our beloved country must surely take such wise and timely advice to heart for the betterment of all who live in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious community.
• Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim is Chairman and the Executive Committee, The Christian Federation of Malaysia