March 13, 2014: It has been 70 days since the raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) by Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS). During that raid on January 2, 2014, JAIS seized 321 copies of the Malay bible, Iban Bible and the Indonesian Bible.
On January 26, Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, said that the Bibles seized by JAIS will be returned after JAIS completes their investigations. He gave JAIS 1 week after Chinese New Year to do so.
Were the Bibles returned when the time was up? Here’s the story.
Firstly, when did JAIS start their investigations? The JAIS officer who recorded my statement on January 10 told me that a JAIS officer went to BSM’s bookshop and bought a copy of the Alkitab. This was in August 2013. Therefore, we can safely presume that JAIS’ investigations into a complaint were already in existence in August 2013.
The seizure of the Bibles by JAIS on January 2 was presumably for purposes of investigations into this complaint. By the way, the seized Bibles came straight from the factory in Indonesia and were supposed to be sent to East Malaysia on order by East Malaysian churches. They were still in sealed boxes when JAIS seized them. One wonders how on earth these Bibles could be involved in any offence alleged to have taken place before August 2013.
A few days after Chinese New Year, an official from JAIS called BSM’s office and informed us that they wish to record a further statement from Sinclair Wong (who had gone with me to JAIS office in Shah Alam on January 10 to have his statement recorded). The JAIS officer said that when Sinclair’s statement was recorded on January 10, they forgotten to ask him about a few things like how Bibles are ordered by BSM and whether it complies with the 10 Points.
Thus, on Thursday February 6, Sinclair went to JAIS office where a further statement was recorded from him. It was an uneventful affair and nothing further need to be said about that.
The next day, February 7, JAIS called BSM office again and informed us that Grace Khoo, the office adminstrator, and Reverend Yau Kah Fatt, the Honorary Secretary of BSM, needs to come to their office to have their statements recorded.
On February 10, Encik Sallehen Mukyi, the Selangor State EXCO member for religious affairs made a press statement that the investigations papers have been sent to the Attorney-General for him to make a decision. Sallehen also said that the AG was abroad at that time and he would only decide whether further action would be taken when he returns.
Now why is the AG involved in all this? Well, the action taken by JAIS was pursuant to the Non-Muslim Religions (Control of Propagation Amongst Muslims) Enactment 1988 of Selangor which banned the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims. Under this Enactment, JAIS may investigate but cannot prosecute alleged offenders in the civil courts. Only the AG can prosecute. That is why Sallehen said that the investigation papers have been sent to the AG.
The interesting question is this: how can Sallehen say that JAIS had submitted their investigation papers to the AG when they were still waiting for Grace Khoo and Rev Yau Kah Fatt to come to their office to have their statements recorded. Only when all statements have been recorded would an investigation be completed and the investigation papers be ready to be sent to the AG.
On February 12, both Grace Khoo and Rev Yau Kah Fatt went to JAIS’ office and had their statements recorded by JAIS. That is the last we heard from JAIS.
Anyway, the long and short of all this is that there is still no indication whether JAIS has completed their investigations. We do not know whether they are going to record further statements from the rest of the people in BSM or not. It is well over 2 months since JAIS raided BSM and one would expect that by now there should be closure one way or the other to this episode.