Hornbill Unleashed

October 28, 2013

Sarawak BN leader wants home ministry officers to stop acting on their own accord

Herald AllahDESMOND DAVIDSON

Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing (pic)  has put the stop order on the distribution of Catholic weekly Herald in Sabah to Home Ministry officials making decisions in haste without consulting their political leaders.

“They have obviously taken matters into their own hands. I suggest that political leaders must be consulted first before taking action on matters which has negative socio-political impact.

“It is us, the politicians, who will bear the brunt of criticisms, not these government officers,” Masing, a senior Christian minister in the Sarawak cabinet and also president of Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), pointed out.

Masing said this today immediately after Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew announced that the Home Ministry had given its clearance for the 2,000 copies of the Catholic weekly to be distributed after its officers at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on Thursday had stopped it.

The 2,000 copies of Herald were meant for distribution to about 20 Catholic parishes in Sabah.

Andrew said the Home Ministry had informed the forwarding company this morning that Putrajaya had cleared the weekly for distribution.

However, today being a non-working day, the forwarding agent was unable to get the copies out to the churches in time for Sunday services.

“It will be distributed from tomorrow, but then Catholics go to church today,” Andrew said.

He added that the Home Ministry should explain its action.

“We need to know why they stopped it in the first place.”

Tuaran MP Datuk Wilfred Tangau hoped that such actions would not recur as incidents like these only cause unnecessary anxiety among the people of Sabah.

After the Catholic weekly’s right to use the word Allah was overturned by the Court of Appeal on October 14, Putrajaya assured East Malaysians that they could continue using the word in their worship and publications.

It was seen as an effort by the Barisan Nasional government to ensure it keeps its key vote bank in both Sabah and Sarawak where there are many Christians who worship in Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages which also use the word Allah.

The Catholic Church prints 14,000 copies of Herald every week for about one million Catholics in the country and Herald editor Andrew said Allah was used in inverted commas in the latest edition when referring to the Court of Appeal ruling on October 14.

Minister in The Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup had also earlier today said he believed the authorities stopped the publication from being distributed due to a “miscommunication”.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had said the Court of Appeal ruling that ban the Herald from using the word Allah in its publication, is not binding in Sabah and Sarawak.

Even Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had said the Court of Appeal decision was confined to the publication of the Bahasa Malaysia section of the Herald and the court had held that the Al-Kitab and the Herald are two publications of an entirely different character.

The Al-Kitab is the Bahasa Malaysia/Indonesia version of the Bible and is widely used in churches in Sabah and Sarawak.

PKR Sarawak assemblyman See Chee How in hammering the government’s assurance said “credibility is just not in their vocabulary”.

Referring to the prime minister’s upcoming trip to the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London, See said: “The PM is making yet another overseas trip, leaving it to tough guys Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz and Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to deal with the dissensions.”

Datuk Dr Thomas Tsen, president of the Sabah Council of Churches, in his reaction to the seizure said “its just very shocking, saddening and very disappointing”.

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