KUCHING, Nov 16 — Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing asserted today that Christian Malaysians find it totally unacceptable if Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) were to translate the Bible into Malay as suggested by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais).
“They would not understand the essence of Christianity, so why should they want to write the Bible for us?” he told reporters here when responding to a recent argument in court by Mais lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla that DBP can produce the official Malay translation of the Christian holy book for Malaysian consumption.
Masing added that it would also be a mockery to Christianity if DBP were allowed to translate the Bible into Bahasa Malaysia.
“They may have some officers with doctorate degrees in religion or whatever it is, but they are not qualified to translate the Bible into Bahasa Malaysia.
“In the same breathe, I have a doctorate degree in anthropology that does not qualify me to write about other religions,” the Sarawakian said.
He said Mais should know that the word “Allah” has been used by the Arabs long before Islam emerged as a religion.
“Who gave Mais the right that they are the only ones who can use the name Allah?” he asked.
Masing said Malaysia is the only country which has a problem with the use of the word “Allah” among non-Muslims, saying other countries, including in the Middle East, had none.
He added that in his school days, he had Muslim schoolmates who sat for the Bible knowledge examination paper and obtained good results.
He said taking the Bible knowledge subject did not make them less Muslim.
During the hearing of a lawsuit by Jill Ireland Lawrence Bill against the Home Minister and the government in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, the lawyer for Mais argued that the Christian community in Sarawak and Sabah had wrongly used “Allah” for God in Bahasa Malaysia, saying that they should use “Tuhan” to refer to their God.
Jill Ireland, a Bumiputera Christian from Sarawak, is seeking to uphold her constitutional right to use “Allah” in a non-Islamic context.
In 2008, the federal government had seized eight of her compact discs containing the word “Allah”, citing a 1986 ban on the word in Christian publications.