The order of the release came just hours after DPM Muhyiddin said the Cabinet will only deliberate on the matter this Friday.
The order of the release came just hours after Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the Cabinet will only deliberate on the matter this Friday.
With majority of Malaysian Christians coming from Sabah and Sarawak, a state which will be facing state elections soon, the instruction appears to be targeted at quelling a potential voter backlash.
The announcement was made by Minister in the Prime Minister Department Idris Jala who in a statement issued this evening said:
“After a careful and thorough review, the attorney-general confirmed that the release of the bibles in Bahasa Malaysia does not prejudice the ongoing court case of the Kalimah Allah issue. It is in this context that the government is able to release the bibles”.
He said this in line with the 1982 gazette under the ISA (Internal Security Act) which allows limited and controlled importation and circulation of the bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, which must be stamped: ‘For Christians Only’.
Christians make up close to 10% of Malaysia’s 28 million population and churches in the two eastern Malaysian states use Bahasa Malaysia to preach to the multi-ethnic congregation in light of the diverse tribal language there.
The bible 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.
Amid the furore, Idris gave assurance of the government’s commitment to resolve any inter-faith issue amicably.
“This is a reasonable compromise in managing the polarities of views between Christians and Muslims in the country,” said Idris, who is a Christian from Sarawak. He is also the chief executive of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).
The minister then noted that the Sarawak government has “categorically” expressed its view that the impounded bibles should be released.