BSM demands Selangor resolve bible seizures


(MM) – The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) today accused the Selangor state government of trying to pass the buck to Putrajaya over bible seizures by state religious authorities, and demanded the former resolve the matter directly.

In a terse statement, BSM president Lee Min Choon said the raid by Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) —  in which 300 bibles in the Malay and Iban languages were confiscated — was clearly a state action and did not involve the federal government.

“This problem was caused by a department of the Selangor State Government. It was an assault by Selangor State authorities against the rights of the Christian community in Selangor,” Lee said in his statement, posted on his website,

“It is the responsibility of the Selangor State Government to correct this unjust situation and BSM will not be party to Khalid’s attempt to dump his rubbish in somebody else’ backyard,” he added.

Earlier today, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told a press conference that the state government has decided not to interfere in the ongoing controversy over the 300 seized bibles, saying that it is up to BSM to officially write to the Attorney-General to have the holy books returned.

He said the state executive council decided that the onus was entirely on the BSM to “show their determination and desire” to get back the Malay- and Iban-language bibles, which were confiscated over the use of the word “Allah” in the translations.

Previously, The Malay Mail Online reported that Jais was expected to return “most” of the bibles, save for a few copies for further investigation, and that the Attorney-General was advising the department on whether to press charges against BSM over the use of the word “Allah” and whether to return the books to the society.

Lee today stressed that they had never had any problems with importing, printing and distributing the Alkitab – as the bible is called in Malay – under Putrajaya’s so-called 10-point Solution implemented in 2011.

Under the 10-point Solution, translations of the bible can be freely printed, imported and distributed in Sabah and Sarawak while copies of the holy book must be stamped to indicate that it is a Christian-only publication.

Putrajaya later said, however, that the arrangement was subject to existing federal and state laws.

Lee said the federal government had “faithfully honoured” its part of the deal by allowing each shipment of the translated bibles to be promptly cleared and released without delay.

“The action of Jais in raiding BSM and the Selangor State Exco (executive council) washing their hands off their responsibility today is a clear statement to the people of Selangor that the Government of Selangor rejects the Ten Points Solution and that it does not intend to accord Christians in Selangor as well as the rest of Malaysia access to their holy books in the national language,” he charged.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) took exception to Khalid’s statement that BSM needed to “show their determination and desire” to recover the holy books, criticising the state government for refusing to live up to its responsibilities.

Council president Jagir Singh said the decision was “very disappointing” and that they had expected more out of the Pakatan Rakyat state administration.

“They (BSM) met with Jais twice, and also with the state government. The desire is clearly there.

“Surely the government should have taken a stand on whether the raid is legal or illegal by consulting their lawyers. They should have discharged (with their responsibilities) in a fair and just manner,” he said when contacted by The Malay Mail Online.

Jagir argued that Jais’ raid on BSM last January was tantamount to regulating the affairs of another religion, which is in direct violation of the right of every religion to freely conduct its own affairs as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

Jais enforcers seized over 300 Malay- and Iban-language bibles from the BSM on January 2 on suspicion the Christian holy books were being used to convert Muslims.

The raid was carried out based on a 1988 state enactment that prohibits non-Muslims from using 35 Arabic words and phrases in their faiths, including “Allah”, as part of measures to stop the propagation of other religions to Muslims.

Besides Selangor, nine other states have similar enactments banning non-Muslim usage of “Allah” and other Arabic words, except Sabah, Sarawak, Penang and the Federal Territories.

BSM, however, argued that the Malay-language bibles were only meant for distribution in churches in Sabah and Sarawak and for Malay-speaking Christians in the peninsula – which includes the Orang Alsi and those from East Malaysia.

Lawyers also denounced the 1988 Selangor enactment that prohibits non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” as unconstitutional.