Catholic Church may sue over ministry ‘lie’

By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

The Catholic Church of Malaysia wants the government to retract its statement denying it banned its weekly from publishing in the national language.

The editor of The Herald, the Catholic weekly, told The Malaysian Insider the Church may take legal action against the Home Ministry.

The Star yesterday quoted a Home Ministry official as saying the ministry had never prohibited The Herald from using Bahasa Malaysia.

“The Ministry is only against the use of the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God. The correct and appropriate translation for God in Bahasa Malaysia or Melayu is ‘Tuhan’,” said the ministry’s Quran Publication Control and Text Division Secretary Che Din Yusoh in a statement on Friday.

“That is a blatant lie,” said editor, Rev Father Lawrence Andrew, adding that the Church had proof.

He said the Church has written a letter to the ministry demanding that it recall its order against the use of Bahasa Malaysia when it renewed the The Herald’s annual publishing permit.

The Church had given the ministry seven days to reply or it would sue the government for going against the Federal Constitution.

“The ministry replied on Jan 7 saying they were lifting the ban,” said Fr Lawrence, adding that the full letter from the ministry is published on the front cover of the Catholic newspaper today.

He told The Malaysian Insider that the Church needed to take pre-emptive action. It will send another letter of demand to the government to stop the ministry from making such statements further.

“They cannot say that. They are telling the world a lie. It makes us look like fools,” he said.

He said he regretted the fact that the federal government and the Church could not work together.

The Herald publishes in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia to cater to its multi-ethnic faithful in Malaysia. It currently has a circulation of 14,000 copies.

The Bahasa Malaysia edition of the newspaper will return next Sunday in a special bumper issue containing the news it could not publish earlier.