Penang goes all out to stop ‘fiery’ festival

The chief minister has asked the state police chief and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council to take action to stop the Bible-burning event. 

Athi Shankar, FMT

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng today gave an assurance that his administration will explore all ways and means to stop the Bible-burning festival from taking place in Butterworth on Jan 27.

He said that such a shameful act, if allowed to take place, would not only disgrace Penang but also the country.

“The state government will do all it can to ensure this vile and abhorrent act will not take place,” Lim, who is also the Bagan MP, said in his blog posting.

He also urged all peace loving Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, to pray together for peace, harmony, religious respect and goodwill to prevail this Sunday.

Early this week pamphlets were allegedly distributed by a little known group called Pasukan Bertindak Anti Bible Bahasa Melayu (Anti-Malay-Bible Action Force) urging Muslims to join in the Malay Bible burning festivities at the Dewan Ahmad Badawi’s municipality field in Butterworth.

Lim said he has issued a directive to Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) president Maimunah Mohd Shariff to bar anyone from entering into the field to burn Bibles or any other religious documents.

He has also asked state police chief DCP Abdul Rahim Hanafi to take steps to stop the festival and ensure that the image and dignity of Penang is protected.

Lim and the Christian Federation of Malaysia have also received the alleged pamphlets, which had emerged following Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali’s call on Muslims to burn the Malay and Jawi versions of the Bibles containing the term “Allah” and other Islamic holy terms.

Ibrahim, the Pasir Mas MP, made the call in wake of police reports lodged on alleged distribution of Bibles to Muslims pupils outside a school in Jelutong here early last week.

At a press conference held after a Perkasa convention on “Economic and Education Transformation of Penang Malays” held at UiTM campus in Pematang Pauh last Saturday, Ibrahim called on Muslims to “seize and burn” such copies of the Bible if distributed to them.

Police reports have been lodged against Ibrahim, the alleged distribution of the pamphlets and the alleged distribution of the Bibles to Muslims.

Police have recorded statements from many people, including journalists, in connection with all three cases.

Lim, the DAP secretary-general, also criticised Gerakan for joining hands with several federal government agencies to organise the Penang Run on Jan 28, which falls on Hindu grand festival, Thaipusam.