From: John William
Sent: Thursday, April 17, 2003 10:12 AM
Subject: Please highlight this in your newspaper
Malaysian News : General
April 16 , 2003 15:30PM
Christian Community Wants Govt To Explain Ban On Iban-Language Bible
KUCHING, April 16 (Bernama) -- As Christians in the country get ready to celebrate Easter this weekend, many Iban parishioners in Sarawak attending church services want the government to clarify the Home Ministry's ban on the Iban-language Bible, "Bup Kudus". Benedict Nawas, 35, who attends Iban services at his local parish here, said the government should not only review but explain the ban as it had caused a lot of confusion and anxiety among the congregation.
"While educated Iban-speaking Christians can refer to English versions of the bible, rural parishioners in the longhouses depend on their mother tongue to understand the scriptures since most are illiterate," he told Bernama here,Wednesday.
Bup Kudus, the complete bible with the Old and New Testaments in the Iban language, has been widely used by churches in Sarawak since its first edition in 1988. It was among 35 books banned by the ministry last week.
Another churchgoer, Norma Entimok, 33, also expressed unhappiness over the ban because she was concerned that many among the Christian community might become misled due to the lack of reliable religious materials in the Iban language.
In calling for the ban to be lifted, she said the Bup Kudus had served as a guideline for worshippers as it was the only bible used by Iban-speaking Christians state-wide.
Iban churches of various Christian denominations throughout Sarawak could not conduct church services without the Iban bible following the ban.
On Thursday, the Association of Churches in Sarawak, in a joint statement, said that Christians in Sarawak did not understand why the bible was banned.
"The member churches are shocked and dismayed to read that Bup Kudus is among the 35 books banned by the Ministry of Home Affairs," it said.
The statement was jointly signed by the association chairman and Sarawak Seventh-Day Adventist Church president Lawrence Banyie, deputy chairman and Sarawak Anglican Church Bishop Datuk Made Katib, Sarawak Roman Catholic Church Archbishop Datuk Sri Peter Chung, Iban Annual Conference Methodist Church president Jonathan Jelanding, Chinese Annual Conference Methodist Church president Ting Daik Choung and Sidang Injil Borneo president Kalip Besar.
"To find Bup Kudus banned now has caused confusion, fear, anxiety and alarm among the Christian community in Sarawak," it said.