The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) must resort to legal recourse against the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) for refusing to return the Bibles which they had seized four months ago, a lawyers group said.
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said BSM must go to court to obtain a declaration that the raid and seizure were unlawful.
“The current impasse seems to show that Jais has jurisdiction over non-Muslims and they can get away with an unlawful act,” he said.
Paulsen said the Bibles are being held for far too long, and there does not seem to be any closure to the case.
He said the BSM may have run out of time to file a judicial review to challenge the action by an administrative arm of the Selangor government but nothing can stop them from seeking the return of the Bibles through legal means.
He said Jais would have to come to court to justify its action after the BSM had exhausted its avenues to find an amicable solution to the matter.
Paulsen cited the case of Borders bookstore last year which sought to quash the prosecution against its manager, Nik Raina Nik Abdul Aziz, for selling the book “Allah, Liberty and Love” at its MidValley Megamall outlet.
Nik Raina was charged with selling the book before the book had been banned by the authorities.
The court had ruled that such prosecution was against retrospective criminal laws and repeated trials.
Paulsen said the Selangor government must take equal responsibility over the incident.
“Above all, the prime minister (Datuk Seri Najib Razak) must take the brunt of the blame for he displayed absolute lack of leadership when the religious rights of non-Muslims were violated,” he added.
On January 2, enforcement officers from Jais and policemen went to the BSM office in Damansara Kim, Selangor, and carted away 321 copies of the Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia (AlKitab) and Iban language (Bup Kudus).
BSM president Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong were detained and taken to the police station. They had to go to the Jais office a few days later to have their statements recorded.
Lee in his latest blog posting said BSM was convinced that Jais’s refusal to return the Bibles was because in doing so, it would be an admission that it had erred in both deed and manner.
He said the return of the 321 Bibles would be a massive blow to Jais’s image and prestige.
“Too many sins have been committed. It is better to hold on to the Bibles and tell the public that they are waiting for the A-G (Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail) to say something.
“Hopefully, if they hold out long enough, everybody will forget about it,” Lee had said.
By V. ANBALAGAN, The Malaysian Insider