KUCHING, Nov 17: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing has lambasted Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS) for its ‘strange suggestion’ to have Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) translate the Bible into Bahasa Malaysia.
He said it was strange because it was encroaching into the religions of others while Malaysia is supposedly a country of religious freedom where no one should interfere with the religion of another.
“They don’t really understand Christianity, do they? And if they are not even Christians, what makes them able to understand the essence our faith?
“The Christians do not even allow a regular Christian to be involved in the translation of the Bible. We get experts in Christian theological studies, Christian historians and language experts who are Christians to do it, not (any_ Tom, Dick and Harry among the Christians.
“And if we don’t even allow regular Christians to do it, would we allow non-Christians to do is for us? This is truly a strange idea that Selangor Islamic Religious Council has,” Masing told DayakDaily yesterday.
Masing further pointed out that the DBP translators might be experts in Bahasa Malaysia, it did not means that they are experts in other matters.
“I have a doctorate as an anthropologist. It does not mean that I can translate the Bible because I am not an expert in the Hebrew Language or the Greek Language which the Bible is originally written in.
“I am neither a Bahasa Malaysia expert nor an expert in Hebrew or Semitic cultures. So I am not qualified.”
On the use of the word ‘Allah’, he said the word was used in the Middle East a long time ago, before the founding of Islam.
“Who gave Selangor Islamic Religious Council the sole right to use the word? Is it trying to say that the rest of the Christians in the world who are using a similar language to Bahasa Malaysia such as Bahasa Indonesia should also not use the word ‘Allah’?”
Masing said Sarawakians would never agree to this suggestion by Selangor Islamic Religious Council.
He was responding to the case of Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill against the Home Minister and the government of Kuala Lumpur where the lawyer for Selangor Islamic Religious Council asserted that the Christian community in Sarawak and Sabah should not use ‘Allah’ but ‘Tuhan’, to refer to their God.
Jill Ireland, a Bumiputera Christian from Sarawak, is seeking to uphold her constitutional right to use ‘Allah’ after the federal government seized her compact discs on the grounds that they contained the word ‘Allah’.
Masing said it is the constitutional right of all Malaysians including Sarawakians to have freedom in worshiping their own God.
“It is also our constitutional freedom to call our God by any name as our own religious authorities deem right and acceptable.
“On the other hand, it is unconstitutional to impose what we think about others’ religion on them,” said Masing. — DayakDaily