Malaysia

Top cop says police will not question Herald editor again but will not drop case either

The editor of Catholic weekly Herald, Father Lawrence Andrew, will not be recalled by police for more questioning, the Inspector-General of Police said today.

This is despite an order from the Attorney General’s Chambers to carry out further investigations into a sedition report against Andrew who had said that the word Allah will continue to be used in Bahasa Malaysia masses in churches in Selangor.

IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar (pic) said police had no plans of recalling Andrew and recording his statement again.

"It is normal for investigation papers to be returned to the police with further instructions," he said, referring to the AG's Chambers returning the papers to the police yesterday.

Khalid declined to reveal the additional instructions from the Attorney General.

Asked if the police would drop its investigations on the Catholic priest, Khalid said: “No”.

This afternoon, police continued their investigations when they re-interviewed journalists from several mainstream media and The Malaysian Insider.

The investigating officer took printouts of the original stories on Andrew's statement on the Allah row published in The Malaysian Insider.

The police went back to the ground after they were instructed by the AG's Chambers to refine their investigations against Andrew.

The investigation papers were returned to the police only hours after they were submitted to the AG's Chambers.

A total of 99 statements had been recorded from various individuals including Andrew and three staff members of The Malaysian Insider.

Andrew had been reported by The Malaysian Insider as saying that churches in Selangor would continue using the word Allah during their Bahasa Malaysia services.

Andrew insisted that whatever he had said had been based on the Federal Constitution which guaranteed freedom for each religion to manage its own affairs.

However, citizens in Selangor had been prohibited from using the word Allah under a state enactment.

Andrew's statement provoked outrage and anger from some Malay groups and Muslim groups, including those from Umno.

They demanded that the Catholic priest retracts his statement and also lodged police reports against him.

Selangor Umno reportedly threatened to hold protests at churches in Selangor in retaliation to Andrew’s statement.

A church in Klang came under the spotlight on Sunday when it was reported that a protest might be held there. Instead, progressive Muslim groups and social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir turned up to defend the Christian community.

Malay rights group Perkasa later criticised Marina, the daughter of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, for showing solidarity with the Christian community.

However, Marina defended her actions and said that Perkasa was "full of rubbish".

The situation took a turn for the worse last week when the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) and the police raided the offices of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).

Enforcement officers from Jais seized more than 300 Bibles published in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban and also detained BSM chairman Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong.

In October last year, the appellate court upheld the Home Ministry's ban on Herald, prohibiting the Catholic publication from using the word Allah in its Bahasa Malaysia edition.

Christians form about 9% of Malaysia's 29 million population.

Almost two-thirds of Christians in Malaysia are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as “Allah” in their prayers and holy book.

Besides the Bumiputera Christians from Sabah and Sarawak, some of whom have moved to the peninsula to live and work, Orang Asli Christians in the peninsula also typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship. – January 9, 2014.

Comments