On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Clear the confusion so that ban can be lifted

Shortly after the Bup Kudus, as the Iban-language Bible
is called, was banned by the ministry, quiet overtures were made to

I believe that Abdullah, who is also Home Minister, will give a fair hearing to
the appeals by the church groups.

He has said he is prepared to meet the Council of Churches to discuss the ban,
saying it will be lifted if the ministry is satisfied with arguments put
forward by the Iban community.

On Friday, Abdullah said the matter was brought up at the Cabinet meeting and
the ministers were briefed by Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak president Datuk Leo
Moggie, who is the Energy, Communications and Multimedia Minister. The council
should now let the process of appeal take its course.

Abdullah has pointed out that the translation of some of the words and phrases
in the book had created confusion.

Citing that God had been translated as Allah Ta'ala, Abdullah said he was
surprised to know this ''but if that's the meaning, we cannot object and
(cannot) ask them to change.''

To avoid confusion, Abdullah suggested that translations of the Bible should
clearly state that they were meant for that particular community. He said this
would ensure that Muslims understood the book was meant for Iban-speaking

On why the ban was imposed when Bup Kudus had been used for more than 15 years,
Abdullah said doubts over the translation had been raised.

''Many things can happen in 15 years. Suddenly people find 'errors' in the
book,'' he added.

The council should adopt an open mind to the suggestions made by Abdullah.
There should not be any problem stating on copies of the Bible that these are
meant for Christians.

As the book is merely a translation, there is also nothing wrong to state that
these are translations. After all, English Bibles are also translations and
depending on which version you own, the words used do differ.

The original Bible is in Hebrew, not English or Iban, and the churches should
be prepared to be flexible.

Once these adjustments are made, there should be no reason why the ban on the
Iban-language Bible should not be lifted.

If those phrases in question have been used for 15 years without any confusion,
then the council also has a right to point this out. They should argue along
the lines of who has been confused or confusing the whole situation, which
should never have arisen in the first place.

The Government must understand that eventually more and more Christian books
will be written in Bahasa Malaysia because the young are more comfortable with
the language as a result of the national education policy. The use of the
national language in churches, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, is only

As Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said, no one should be
paranoid when a sermon is delivered in Bahasa Malaysia.

During our chat on Saturday morning, he said the Malay language no longer
belonged to the Malays but to all Malaysians. Similarly, there is an
Indonesian-language Bible.

Zainuddin said Abdullah hoped everyone concerned could discuss the

Likewise, there should be no obstruction to applications to set up churches in
predominantly non-Muslim areas because their purpose is to fulfil the spiritual
needs of Christians, nothing more.

The Federal Constitution clearly guarantees the freedom of religious practices
among Malaysians.

The reasoning of moderate leaders like Pak Lah and Zam are reassuring. I am
sure their views will provide Christians with some comfort as we celebrate the
holy day of Easter, when Jesus Christ arose three days after being crucified on
the cross.

Malaysians should always be vigilant against extremists, irrespective of their
religion and race. At the same time, we should place our trust in the
Government's leadership of consensus and accommodation.