Church still waiting for Putrajaya to explain Herald episode in Sabah

The Catholic Church is still waiting for an explanation from Putrajaya over the temporary seizure of 2,000 copies of the Catholic weekly, Herald, in Sabah last weekend.

Herald editor Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew (pic, left) said he had yet to hear from the Home Ministry on the incident.

Yesterday, the Home Ministry said it allowed Herald to be distributed to churches in Sabah after it found the word Allah was not used in it, in keeping with the October 14 ruling by the Court of Appeal. However, Sunday being a public holiday, the copies could not reach Sabah churches on time.

This was followed by a statement by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that Herald cannot use “Allah” even in Sabah and Sarawak.

"No explanation was given why the Herald was initially not allowed to be distributed in Sabah," Andrew told The Malaysian Insider.

Barisan Nasional Tuaran MP Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau agreed, and said he hoped to meet Ahmad Zahid for clarification.

Tangau says a meeting with Ahmad Zahid could clear the air over the Herald's seizure episode. - The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, October 29, 2013.

"I want to speak to Datuk Seri Zahid, I want to find out where they were coming from," he said.

When asked on whether Herald should continue using the word Allah, Tangau replied, "This whole situation is quite strange for the people in Sabah and Sarawak, irrespective of religion and race, where we have been living in harmony with each other. This is because even in one family, members belong to different faiths.

"For instance my wife's brother is a Muslim and she has cousins who are Muslims", explained Tangau, a Catholic.

He said there was a need to abide by the court decision, but pointed out that a meeting with the Home Minister could help shed light on the incident at the Kota Kinabalu airport last week, when copies of Herald were held back by Home Ministry officers.

According to Tangau, East Malaysians cannot comprehend the need to segregate the people, what more over a word.

He confirmed being contacted by Catholic Archbishop Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam on Saturday night to help secure the release of some 2,000 copies of Herald, after which he spoke to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

Tangau said he later sent a text message to Ahmad Zahid - who was abroad - over the issue. He was then contacted by a Home Ministry official informing him about the release order.

Adding to the responses over Ahmad Zahid's statement about Herald in Sabah and Sarawak is Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Idris described the order to stop the distribution of the newsletter over the weekend a case of a "misunderstanding", and recalled the 10-point agreement between Putrajaya and East Malaysia.

The 10-point solution announced in 2011 by Idris, among others, allows bibles in all languages, including Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia, to be imported into the country. It also states that the Christian holy book can be printed locally in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. - October 29, 2013.