Sarawak DCM: Anyone can translate Bible, just not Mais

James-Masing-bible-mais-1PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister James Masing has no issue with the Bible being translated into Malaysian languages, as long as the translation is not done by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais).

Speaking to FMT, Masing said this was because he believed Mais would not be able to fully grasp and understand the nuances of Christianity.

“It can be translated into Malay or even the Chinese language. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) can also publish it.

“But I will not agree to Mais being the translator,” he said.

Masing also questioned the fear surrounding the usage of the word “Allah” by Christians.

He said the faith of Muslims was not easily shaken, especially by the use of the word “Allah”.

“The word ‘Allah’ predates Islam. There are political leaders in Sarawak who studied the Bible, but that doesn’t make them less of a Muslim.

“So why are we so scared that by allowing the word to be used by Christians, it would shake the religious belief of Muslims?

“Isn’t it better if the Christians use the word ‘Allah’? Then all of us would be worshiping the same God.”

Masing said Malaysians had been able to remain united because they accepted each other’s religions and beliefs.

“We can’t be united if we are scared of each other’s religion. But some quarters are fearful even of their own shadows.”

Meanwhile, Sabah Council of Churches president Bishop Melter Jiki Tais, told FMT that Mais’ proposal for DBP to prepare an official Malay translation of the Bible was insulting to the Christians in Sabah.

“We are indeed very much offended by Mais lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla’s statement, and demand an apology from him,” he said.

Haniff reportedly made the suggestion in court on Wednesday, saying DBP could correct the Christians’ alleged error in using the word “Allah” for God.

He claimed that the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak had wrongly used “Allah” for God in Bahasa Malaysia, arguing that they should instead use “Tuhan”, which would not deprive them of their rights.

Haniff made the suggestion while addressing the court during the hearing of a suit by a Malay-speaking Bumiputera Christian from Sarawak, Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill, against the home minister and the government to uphold her constitutional rights which she said were infringed by a local “Allah” ban in Christian publications.

“Let it be known to Haniff that his suggestion reflects his ignorance of the theology, and true and proper interpretation of the original language of the Bible.

“Let it also be known to him that we, the Christian community in Sabah, do not and will not accept any Bahasa Malaysia Bible prepared by Dewan Bahasa,” Melter said.

The majority of Malay-speaking Christians in Sabah, as well as in Sarawak, have been using the word “Allah” to refer to God in their worship as well as their publications long before the states joined to form Malaysia in 1963.

Melter said as far as the council was concerned, nobody and no party could dictate that Christians express their faith in whatever language they want.

“We will continue to use the term ‘Allah’ for God verbally or in written form until ‘Thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven’,” he said.