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Ministry's 'advice' to church out of line, says Bumburing
Published on: Wednesday, November 08, 2017
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Ministry's 'advice' to church out of line, says Bumburing
Kota Kinabalu: Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS) criticised a recent incident where officers from the Home Ministry allegedly told officials of a church how to design a book meant for its congregation.PCS President Wilfred Mojilip Bumburing said the four officers not only inspected denominational books published by the church to be used in the church services, but also went on to instruct church officials on other things.

He did not name the church.

"I was told that these officers told the church officials not to use the four terminologies, namely Allah, Baitullah, Kaabah and Sholat.

"Furthermore, they advised the church officials on how to design a book on christian teachings and what font size to use on the cover design," he said.

Bumburing told FMT that the book was first printed in 2000 but the renewal of the permit was waived under the new amended Printing Presses and Publications Act, although the church was still required to state the last permit number issued in 2013.

The 160-page book with about 55,000 words did not use the words Baitullah, Kaabah and Sholat although there were "one or two" instances where they missed editing out the word "Allah" and replacing it with "Tuhan", which the officers noticed, he said.

Bumburing, who is also Tamparuli assemblyman, said the church officials actually did not want to make a fuss about it and intended to just go along with the ministry's directives.

"I was told that the ministry had visited the office before on routine inspection, but this was the first time the church was told about the cover design and the font size to use," he said.

The Allah controversy, which began in 2009 after the home ministry banned the use of the word by Catholic Church biweekly The Herald, had raised the fundamental question of whether freedom of religion guaranteed by the constitution is real.

The majority of Christians in Sabah and Sarawak use the word Allah to refer to God in their Malay-language prayer services.

Their Bibles, mostly imported from neighbouring Indonesia, also use the word liberally.

The government, in an attempt to appease Christians here, had said that the ban on the usage of the word "Allah" would not apply in Sabah and Sarawak.

Bumburing said although the incident looked like an isolated case, it should never be allowed to happen in Sabah.

"PCS will oppose any move by any government agency and other bodies who want to dictate how a Christian church should conduct its administrative functions.

"Based on the spirit of the Batu Sumpah, PCS will ensure that Sabah continues to enjoy freedom of religion and remains a secular state as provided in the Federal Constitution and Malaysia Agreement 1963," he said.

He also said there was no need for the religion of a citizen to be stated on their MyKad and that this practice should be discontinued.

This was because, he said, many Christians in Sabah who had Muslim sounding names or had 'Bin' and 'Binti' in their names would be given MyKad with Islam stated as their religion by the National Registration Department.

To rectify the error, these people, usually from the rural areas, would be forced to "go up and down" the Islamic affairs department and even to the shariah court to declare they were not Muslims.



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