Bible row: Kit Siang says Najib in Dr M’s shadow
By Clara Chooi
March 12, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — The DAP’s Lim Kit Siang mocked Datuk Seri Najib Razak today over the latter’s silence in the ongoing Bible row, claiming the prime minister is still working “under the shadow” of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and is not the master of his own house.

This, said the DAP adviser in a statement, was because Najib appeared to be holding on to a decision made over two decades ago in Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet by failing to order the release of the 35,000 Malay-language Bibles worth RM78,000 now being held at Port Klang and Kuching port.

Dr Mahathir’s Cabinet had decided in May 1986 to prohibit non-Muslims from using terms like “Allah”.

“Why has there been no action by Najib to ensure that his order to release the 5,000 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia held in Port Klang since March 2009 is complied with without any more delay or hassle?

“Instead, we have a Home Ministry official justifying the seizure of the Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia on the ground that it was based on a Cabinet decision made a quarter of a century ago, in 1986,” Lim (picture) said.

Additionally, the Ipoh Timor MP pointed out, a further 30,000 copies of the Malay-language Bible had also been seized and held at Kuching port, bringing into question the prime minister’s sincerity in promoting his own 1 Malaysia concept.

“Is the continued seizure of 35,000 copies of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia — 30,000 copies in Kuching Port and 5,000 copies in Port Klang — another example that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is not master of his own house and the hollowness of his 1 Malaysia policy?” he asked.

Lim also said that although the Cabinet’s decision had been made in 1986, there had been no problems with the import of Malay-language Bibles until recently, beginning during the tenure of former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

He challenged the religious authorities to reveal the number of Muslims who were proselytised to become Christians in the two decades from 1986 to justify the sudden move to enforce the decision.

“Are the concerns and fears that Malays may be proselytised to become Christians if Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia are allowed really valid and genuine as to justify the belated implementation of the 1986 Cabinet decision two decades later?

“It would appear that although Najib is the prime minister, he is working under the shadow of the fourth prime minister whose 1986 Cabinet decision has greater power and authority than the order from the current prime minister,” said Lim, in reference to Dr Mahathir, the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

Stressing that Najib’s silence in the matter was a “double mockery” of 1 Malaysia and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion, Lim added that the government’s continued inaction in the debacle would only serve to pour doubt over the prime minister’s authority.

He agreed with a recent statement by Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) chairman Bishop Ng Boon Hing and its executive committee on the role of “little Napoleons” in the administration whom they accused were powerful enough to veto Najib’s order to release the Christian scriptures.

The umbrella body had also expressed that it was “greatly disillusioned, fed up and angered by the repeated detention of Bibles written in our national language, Bahasa Malaysia”.

“Now, even the authority of Najib as prime minister is under question — whether he is master in his own house or beholden and subject to the fourth prime minister for a Cabinet decision made 25 years ago which should not have been made in the first place,” said Lim.

He added that the prime minister’s next move in the ongoing squabble would be a test of his authority, his commitment to 1 Malaysia and the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion in Malaysia.

“It is a test whether the prime minister can ensure the release of the 35,000 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia in Kuching Port and Port Klang without any more delay or hassle,” he said.

The Home Ministry has come under fire for its seizure of the Malay-language bibles, particularly from the Christian community in Malaysia.

Christians have lashed out at the federal government for what they see as a systematic move to deny their religious rights enshrined in the country’s highest law.

The CFM, which represents 90 per cent of churches here, as well other political parties including the DAP and PKR have demanded the immediate release of all Bibles detained.

Even Barisan Nasional component party MCA has agreed that “any restraint on the use of the Bible in the national language is tantamount to taking away non-Muslims’ right to practise one’s faith”.

In a recent statement, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek suggested that Malay-language Bibles be printed locally by government-approved printers so that they could be circulated to churches here with proper supervision so that they will not be used as a political issue during the Sarawak election campaign.