CFM Statement on the latest fire-bombing of a church in Penang

The Christian Federation of Malaysia has released a statement in response to the recent fire-bombing of a church in Penang.

CFM Statement - Fire Bombing Churches In Penang

27th January 2014

Comments below are made by CFM chairman Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng on the latest fire-bombing of a church in Penang.

  1. CFM denounces the heinous act of the fire-bombing of a church in the early morning of Monday in Penang. This follows another act of mischief by the placing of banners with provocative statements in five churches on Penang Island and in Butterworth as was reported in the media.
  2. We are happy to note that the police are on top of the situation.
  3. These acts of provocation to cause chaos and ethnic enmity are aimed at the
    self-interest gains of those who have organised it.
  4. CFM advises Christians and the general public not to be alarmed by nor over-react to such acts. Should these attacks be politically-motivated and calculated to try to ignite an escalation in inter-racial and inter-religious tensions, then all the more reason that we do well to be wise and measured in our response.
  5. We call on all peace-loving Malaysi ans to stand firm and united and to oppose such acts of desecration and criminal damage on a place of religious worship.

Issued on behalf of Rev. Dr. Eu hong Seng

Tan Kong Beng
Executive Secretary

Association Of Churches In Sarawak – Official Statement on “Allah” Usage

Christian Ecumenical Worship Centre, Kuching

The Bumiputera Church will continue to use the word “Allah” as it is the fundamental to all aspects of our profession and practice of our Christian faith.

As we have heard from the public forum today, and has been stated numerous times to the media by church leaders from both East and Peninsula Malaysia, the word “Allah” has been used or spoken by the native communities of Sarawak and Sabah for generations. “Allah” has been used long before the formation of Malaysia and is part of our native language.  It is used in all aspects of Christian faith and practice by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christian and other native speaking including in services, prayers praise, liturgy, worship and religious education.  As such, it is reasonable to expect that the word also be use in our Christian publications and multi-media resources.

It thus makes no sense that only Christians in Sarawak and Sabah may use “Allah”.  Christians from Sarawak and Sabah move across the country from East to West to live and work and carry with them their Alkitab and other Christian materials in the Bahasa Malaysia language.  Even non-native from West Malaysia own and read the Alkitab as Bahasa Malaysia is our national language.

It also makes no sense for the Court of Appeal’s recent judgement to be interpreted as being applicable only to The Herald.  While The Herald may have been the case brought before the court, it is our view that the judges have overstepped their boundaries in determining that using the word “Allah” was not “intergral to the Christian” faith.  In deciding thus, the judges have arrogated to themselves a right that does not belong to any human court of law-the right to determine religion.  It is the fundamental right of every religion to determine its expression and practice of its own faith.

As such, the “Allah” controversy is about unreasonable government policies and laws that infringe on the right of non-muslim Malaysians to practice their religion of choice.  In the face of such unreasonableness we cannot and should not remain silent.

The right of native Bumiputras to profess and practice their faith in their own language is safeguarded by the Federal Constitution.  When Sarawak and Sabah agreed to join in the formation of Malaysia in 1963, they did so as sovereign states and with conditions attached; these being known as the Sarawak 18-point and Sabah-20-point Agreements a kind of covenant to which Malaya was a party.

It was not coincidence, it was intentional that the first point in both these agreements concerns the freedom  of religion, Sarawak and Sabah consented to form the greater Malaysian nation with Islam as the religion of the Federation on the express condition that there will be complete freedom of religion without hindrance placed on other religions.  According to these agreements, Sarawak and Sabah were not to have any official religion.

We thus view with grave concern the Court of Appeal judgement on The Herald which has re-interpreted Article 3 of the Federal Constitution to mean that non-Muslim religions may only be practiced in peace and harmony subject to Islam.  We do not believe this was ever the original meaning of Article 3, which simply states that other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.

We need more that just a display of and ad hoc benevolence by the Malaysian Government.  We need  a tangible commitment from the authorities to respect and uphold the freedom of religion guaranteed.  By the Federal Constitution which is the supreme law of the nation.

We thus ask the Government to recognise and affirm:

  1. that the word “Allah” is an integral part of, and inherent to the practice of the Christian faith by Bahasa Malaysia-speaking and other native speaking churches in Sarawak and Sabah and Christians in and from these two States;
  2. that the Churches expect that guarantee of religious freedom enshrined in the Federal Constitution when Sarawak and Sabah joined Malaya to form the Malaysian nation will be full respected and honoured; and
  3. that the 10-point Agreement by the Federal Cabinet in April 2011 on the printing, importation and distribution on the Alkitab in which the word “Allah” is an intergral part of the Bahasa Malaysia Holy Scriptures and also on the practice of the Christian faith in Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches based on the Alkitab, will be fully honoured.

Two thirds of Christians in Malaysia are the 1.6 million Bumiputra Christians of Sarawak and Sabah who use the Bahasa  Malaysia language of worship in addition to their native languages.  The rights of these Bumiputra Christians must be respected and upheld.

Any attempt to forbid the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims would be most regrettable and wholly unacceptable as it is a flagrant disregard and betrayal of the Malaysia Agreements which guarantees the inalienable rights of non-Muslims in Sarawak and Sabah to complete religious freedom.

With greatest respect, we asked that these rights be given its rightful place and that religious bigotry, racism and extremism should not be allowed to show its ugly head.  Mutual respect and acceptance of each other community of faith should be the order of the day in a plural society like Malaysia.

We are most heartered by YAB Pehin Sri Chief Minister of Sarawak public stand that Allah is non-issue in Sarawak.  We are also most encouraged to know that many members of Council Negeri  had expressed their dismay and deep disappointment over how the Allah issue was handled.

Malaysia was formed and built upon trust and mutual respect of all that made the rich diversity of Malaysia.  Let us build upon that foundation and defend it from any who would want to rob it away from us.

God bless Malaysia!


Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok
Chairman, Association of Churches in Sarawak
Dated on:  Wednesday 13th November 2013  Kuching, Sarawak

CFM Statement to Court of Appeals Ruling On “Allah” Usage

Address: 26 Jalan Universiti, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Tel / Fax : + 60 3 7957 1457


14 October 2013


The Christian community in Malaysia is gravely dismayed and very disappointed by the decision of the Court of Appeal to uphold the power of the Minister to ban the use of the word Allah in the Herald publication.

In a wide-ranging decision, all Christian publications in Bahasa Malaysia the name the court has totally ignored the position of our East Malaysian Bumiputra and Orang Asli Christians, who constitute 60% of the church in Malaysia and who are Bahasa Malaysia-speaking.

the welfare of an individual or group must and applying this principle to freedom of religion, this decision is yet another erosion and infringement of the constitutional protection to the freedom of religious communities to profess and practise their faith and to manage their own affairs.

In what would appear to be a re-reading and re-interpretation of Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution, it would now appear that a minority religion can only be practised and professed in Malaysia to the extent of adherents of the majority religion.

The Bahasa Malaysia-speaking churches have been using the word Allah both before and after the independence of Malaya and the formation of Malaysia. The use of the word Allah by the Malaysian churches had not been an issue all these years.

However, the various authorities in this country by making an issue of it and by what would appear to be selective action or inaction have only encouraged and fuelled further misunderstandings, mistrusts and brokenness between the Muslim and Christian communities. This will only further undermine the unity of Malaysians.

Despite this very negative development, the Christian Federation of Malaysia reminds all churches in Malaysia to always look to God and to pray for wisdom and guidance for all involved as to the next steps that they should take.

We welcome the fact that the decision of the Court of Appeal does not appear to cover the use of the word Allah in the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Alkitab.

We expect our Honourable Prime Minister and the Cabinet to continue to honour the 10-point solution with respect to the Bahasa Malaysia Bible, the Alkitab. We shall, therefore, continue to use the word Allah in our worship, liturgy, prayers and educational materials of the church.

As Malaysian Christians we are committed to our beloved nation and our love for Malaysia remains steadfast and we continue to respond with love and not in hatred as we face this on-going trial and tribulation.

Yours sincerely,
Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng,
Chairman and the Executive Committee,
The Christian Federation of Malaysia

MCCBCHST’S Full Statement On The Rang Undang-undang Pentadbiran Agama Islam (Wilayah-Wilayah Persekutuan) 2013



The Malaysian Consultative Council Of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) vehemently objects to some provisions found in the RANG UNDANG-UNDANG PENTADBIRAN AGAMA ISLAM (WILAYAH-WILAYAH PERSEKUTUAN) 2013 tabled in Parliament for its first reading on 26 June 2013 as they affect the Non-Muslims. The Bill under disguise of Islamic Laws is unilaterally trying to alter the Federal Constitution by translating the word “parent” in the Federal Constitution to mean “lbu atau Bapa” as opposed to “lbubapa”.

Any conversion of a minor by a single parent will cause serious injustice to the non-converting parent and the children of the marriage – Section 107 (b) “jika dia belum mencapai umur lapan belas tahun, ibu atau bapa atau penjaganya mengizinkan pemelukan agama lslam olehnya” This provision would further creates social injustice and is contrary to the constitutional scheme of things.

We hold the Federal Cabinet accountable for this transgression, that is, in spite of the Cabinet’s decision of 23/4/2009 whereby it was decided that a single parent cannot convert a minor child of the marriage. Despite that public statement, the Cabinet deem it fit to introduce the above provision in D.R. appears that the Cabinet promise and undertaking on this issue was not sincere.

The MCCBCHST wishes to reiterate that any unilateral conversion of their children by one parent encroaches into the lives of Non-Muslims. Such conversions are not only unconstitutional but are morally and ethically wrong. We ask Cabinet members how they will feel if their children are unilaterally converted. Do not do things to others, which you do not want to be done to you.

We must warn that if “Parent” in Article 12(4) is to be interpreted to mean “single” parent”, it will go against the spirit and letter of Article 4 of the Federal Constitution – the Supreme Law of the Iand. lf this lnterpretation is advanced, then there is nothing to stop the other single parent to convert back the child to the Original religion. No religious law can over-ride the constitution. This would produce an absurd result and therefore this could not be the meaning intended.

Reliance on the case of SUBASHINI (2008), may not be in order as the case appears to be wrongly decided due to the following:-

  1. The Court did not apply the Statutory Interpretation clause. Art. 160(1) (Eleventh Schedule) under which “words importing the masculine gender lnclude female” and “words in the singular include the ptural, and words in the plural include the singular.
  2. The guardianship of lnfants Act, 1961 which provides for equality of parental rights.
  3. lf single “parent” can convert, then it would lead to an absurd result, as the non- converting spouse can similarly by virtue of being a single parent convert back her child to the original faith.

We understand that the Bill also provides for Syariah High Court to decide whether a person is a Muslim or not. See Section 51(3)(b) (x) and (xi), This power has always been with the Civil High Court and not the Syariah Court. The amendment thus proposed is unconstitutional.

The MCCBCHST, therefore calls upon the Cabinet to withdraw the above Bill, until its provisions have been thoroughly debated by all the stake holders. Any bull dozing through of the Bill will not be accepted and would also be unconstitutional, giving no choice to the affected persons to look for remedy peacefully through other legal channels locally and internationally.


Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow

Sardar Jagir Singh
Deputy President

Venerable Sing Kan
Vice President

Reverend Dr. Thomas Philips
Vice President

Y. Bhg. Datuk RS. Mohan Shan
Vice President

Mr. Prematilaka KD. Serisena
Hon. Secretary General

Full PDF: MCCBCHTS Media Statement – 28.06.2013