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DPM adds to bible mess

 | March 15, 2011

Muhyiddin denies that the Cabinet okayed release of confiscated books.

PUTRAJAYA: Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin today added confusion to the bible row when he denied claims that the Cabinet had approved the release of confiscated copies of Al-kitab Berita Baik.

He said the Cabinet would discuss the matter only on Wednesday at its routine meeting, suggesting no concrete progress on the fate of the Malay-language bibles, which were seized in 2009.

“We will discuss in Cabinet this week,” he told a press conference here.

Yesterday DAP publicity chief Tony Pua claimed to have documents showing that Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein last June ordered the release of the books, currently impounded at Port Klang.

Pua’s assertion called Hishammuddin’s honesty to question.

The Home Minister had said on the weekend that there were legal reasons behind the impoundment. He said it was due to the ministry’s pending appeal against a court decision allowing a Catholic publisher’s use of the name “Allah” for “God”.

But Pua said the statement contradicted Hishammuddin’s written reply to him to a question he had posed in Parliament. According to the reply, dated June 7 last year, the government had told the importer of Al-kitab to retrieve its consignment, Pua added.

The importer, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), has claimed that it received a letter from the Home Ministry, dated June 10, 2010, that a decision had been made to release the books and that BSM could collect them before June 25.

According to BSM, when it contacted the authorities in Port Klang, it was told that there was an error in the letter, that while the books could be collected, they were to be sent back to their Indonesian exporter.

On June 28, BSM filed an appeal with the Home Ministry but is yet to receive a reply.

The organisation imported 5,000 copies of Al-kitab from Indonesia in March 2009. The bibles were impounded together with 100 copies of other Christian literature.

A similar incident happened two years ago. Another Christian group, the Gideons, had its shipment of 10,000 Malay Bibles detained in Kuching. But these were released following Putrajaya’s direct intervention.

The BSM incident has sparked an uproar among the nation’s Christian community, with many lambasting the Najib administration’s supposed all-inclusive 1Malaysia concept as hypocritical.


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