KUCHING: The recent seizure of Bibles in Selangor will affect the Visit Malaysia Year 2014 campaign as the country will be perceived as being intolerant to religious freedom.
State PKR chairman Baru Bian said he believed the tourism campaign as a whole would be affected even though Sarawak observed and practised religious tolerance.
“It is a reality that people in other countries know that religious freedom is not tolerated in Malaysia. What happened (in Selangor) is very oppressive,” he told reporters covering his Christmas cum New Year Open House at his residence in Tabuan Laru here yesterday.
The Ba Kelalan assemblyman said this when asked about the implications of the incident in which Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) personnel and the police seized 350 Bibles from the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia in Damansara.
The confiscated materials comprised 310 copies of Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia or Al-Kitab, 20 copies in the Iban language (also known as Bup Kudus) and 20 copies of Luke’s Gospel in Bahasa Malaysia.
Baru said he took pride that Sarawak “is a better place for people to understand” how much the community respected one another and upheld religious tolerance.
“I am happy that Sarawak has proved to have a deeper understanding on religious freedom,” he added.
Last Friday, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said the state government would not seize Holy Bibles as Sarawak “really appreciates the spirit of tolerance.”
“Christians in the state have been using Bibles for more than a century, and the government has never seized them,” he said, hoping Christians in Sarawak would not be influenced by what was happening in Peninsular Malaysia.
Calling on the opposition not to stir the issue for political mileage, Daud said “Bibles seizure taking place in Peninsular Malaysia does not involve the state government.”