PETALING JAYA, April 16 — Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim should have taken a tougher stance and intervened in the bible seizure row to ensure a fairer outcome for Muslims and Christians in the state, Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.
The PKR advisor said the Khalid administration could have returned the 300 Malay language bibles confiscated by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) in January to the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) with the condition that they would not be distributed to Muslims.
“The MB should have taken a tougher stance… the state government must take measures to appease the situation. You could return the bibles but give a strong condition that the bible cannot be distributed to Muslims,” Anwar told a press conference here.
He said that as Mentri Besar, Khalid should have acted firmer in protecting both Muslim and non-Muslim rights in the country.
Yesterday BSM announced its decision to relocate its headquarters from Selangor to Kuala Lumpur, citing its disappointment with the state government’s decision not to interfere in the seizure of its bibles.
BSM president Lee Min Choon said the federal government has given “better protection” to the society’s operations, and has even upheld the Cabinet’s 10-point solution to the “Allah” row by allowing free movement of its bible shipments.
Selangor, on the other hand, has continued to refuse to help the society recover the over 300 Malay and Iban language bibles that were seized by the state’s religious authorities earlier this year, Lee said.
Khalid later refused to comment on the decision or respond to suggestions that his administration’s inaction in the conflict would reflect poorly on his leadership, but merely wishes BSM “all the best”.
This drew immediate criticism from Puchong DAP lawmaker Gobind Singh Deo who blasted Khalid for his alleged apathy in the matter and described him as an incapable leader.
Anwar, however, said the criticism was “a bit strong” but noted that Gobind’s frustration reflected a prevailing sentiment in Selangor.
He argued, however, that Khalid should not have handed the matter over to the Attorney General due to the latter’s alleged questionable credibility.
“We know that the AG cannot act responsibly in this matter so the state government should try and act,” he said.
But Anwar added later that Khalid should not shoulder all the blame for the fiasco, pointing out that JAIS comes under the purview of the Selangor Sultan instead of the Selangor government.
Earlier this month, Khalid said the state government has decided not to interfere in the ongoing controversy over the 300 seized bibles, saying that it is up to BSM to officially write to the AG to have the holy books returned.
He said the state executive council decided that the onus was entirely on the BSM to “show their determination and desire” to get back the Malay- and Iban-language bibles, which were confiscated over the use of the word “Allah” in the translations.
JAIS had raided the BSM offices here on January 2, during which it seized over 300 bibles under the state’s anti-proselytisation law.