CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 9 December 2017

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Government translation of bible!

KUALA LUMPUR (UCAN): Christians in Malaysia are calling a decision by the government in Kuala Lumpur to place the translation of the bible into Malay in the hands of a public service department a heinous breach of the constitution.
 
The chairperson of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, Archbishop Julian Leow, said the constitution guarantees Christians the freedom to manage their own religious affairs.
 
“The holy bible and the Al-Kitab (online translator) in Bahasa Malaysia (Malay) form part of the sacred patrimony of Christians and any attempt by any person not authorised by the Christian Churches to provide an authoritative version will be firmly rejected,” he said in a statement.
 
“This is not just an outrage to Christians and their sensibilities. It will be a most heinous form of offence against what all Christians believe to be divinely inspired scriptures, the word of God,” the archbishop continued.
 
Haniff Khatri Abdulla, the counsel for the Selangor State Islamic Religious Council, made the suggestion on November 17 during a hearing over the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.
 
Jill Ireland, a Christian from Sarawak, has launched a suit against the government over the constitutional right to use the word Allah for God in Christian publications and teaching material, including CDs.
 
The Christian Federation of Malaysia’s opposition to the proposal echoed that of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship which said on November 18 that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, the language agency, lacked expertise in such matters.
 
Archbishop Leow explained that many words in Bahasa Malaysia, including the word Allah, had been in use by local Christians and those in the Middle East from time immemorial.
 
He added that the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, had reminded all his citizens to respect the constitution for the country’s harmony and peace on October 16.
 
Archbishop Leow also cited a statement by the Conference of Rulers in October saying all must adhere to the constitution, as it was drafted based on the understanding that Malaysia is a country whose citizens are of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds.
 
Lim Heng Seng, the lawyer representing Ireland, pointed out to the Kuala Lumpur High Court that the use of the word Allah by the Christian community in Sabah and Sarawak had been in place for over 400 years.
 
Lim said there should be no limit on its use and the importation of prayer material from overseas which uses the word, on the grounds it upsets public order and security.
 
In 2013, the prime minister, Najib Razak, tried to calm misgivings by Christians in the two Malaysian-Borneo states, by assuring them that they could continue using the term Allah in their worship despite a court ruling to the contrary.

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