Badawi should immediately revoke the ban on the Iban Bible and other
harmless religious books and investigate whether such ban was the result of
overzealous officers in the Home Ministry
by John Chung
Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
should immediately revoke the ban imposed by the Home Ministry on the Bup
Kudus, the Iban version of the Bible and other harmless religious books in
order to allay the fears and concerns of the Christian community.
Although Abdullah had expressed his willingness to dialogue with the Council
of Churches on the ban imposed on Bup Kudus, he is however not being
assuring enough when he said that the "ban would be lifted if the ministry
was satisfied with the arguments put forward by the Iban community in
appealing against the ban" (NST today).
In the very first place, the ban on the Bup Kudus should not even have been
imposed considering that it had been widely used by the Iban Christian
community for the last fifteen years. What Abdullah should have done is to
direct the lifting of the ban immediately, not just on the Bup Kudus but
also on the other harmless religious books.
Abdullah should also investigate whether the ban was the result of
overzealous officers in the Home Ministry who had arbitrarily imposed such a
ban without proper guidelines and prior consultation with the relevant
As such a ban had clearly impinged on the religious freedom of the Christian
community, it is imperative that Abdullah gives full assurance to the
Christian community as well as other minority religious groups that their
freedom to worship will not be jeopardized, particularly as Prime Minister
Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad had declared Malaysia to be an Islamic
state, which had created unnecessary concern amongst non-Muslim Malaysians
as to their religious liberty in a multi-racial and multi-religious nation.
* John Chung,
DAP National Publicity Bureau Assistant Secretary