Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein claimed the detention of 35,000 Malay-language Bibles in Port Klang and Kuching port had been due to its pending court appeal over Catholic newspaper The Herald’s use of the word “Allah” in its publications, the Malaysian Insider reported.
But the Christian Federation of Malaysia has lashed out at the federal government for what they see as a systematic move to deny their religious rights enshrined in the Constitution.
It is such ill-conceived decisions by the Government of the day that will undermine its own political agenda.
At this moment, the Barisan Nasional coalition seems to have the upper-hand with Pakatan Rakyat in tatters with its adhoc leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim drowning in problems of his own creation.
The seizure of Bibles in the Malay language by the authorities will only serve to give the Opposition ammunition to fire at will at Barisan.
Hishamuddin himself seems aware of this as he was reported to have accused "opposition parties of using the protracted Bible row as campaign fodder with an eye firmly on the impending Sarawak election, which must be called not later than the middle of the year".
So it seems rather foolish for someone who is aware of the implications of the issue to pass the advantage to the Opposition.
Sarawak has many Christians who speak the Malay language and they have been using the Bahasa Indonesia version of the Bible for quite some time.
The Bible issue will surely be exploited by the Opposition, and even Hishamuddin is expecting them to, and many Christian voters in Sarawak may be swayed by Pakatan Rakyat's stance on the issue - that it has no issues with the word "Allah" being used by Christians.
Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan is aware of the danger of the Bible issue causing loss of support for Barisan Nasional and he has called for the Bibles’ immediate release, saying the state government could not understand the rationale behind such treatment of the Bible or why the Bahasa Malaysia version could not be imported into the country.
As I said earlier, Barisan is now favoured to win the general election, but foolhardy decisions can change the situation.