KUCHING, April 12 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak is scheduled to meet Sarawak church leaders here tomorrow in what is believed to be the prime minister’s attempt to pacify the Christian community ahead of polling day this Saturday.Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud confirmed this with reporters this afternoon after he sat with representatives of the Association of Churches Sarawak (ACS) to discuss the ongoing Alkitab row.
“The PM will meet with them tomorrow so you can ask him your questions,” said the pint-sized leader when approached after the meeting held at Pullman Hotel here.
ACS chairman Right Reverend Datuk Bolly Lapok later told reporters that the meeting is scheduled to take place at 3.30pm tomorrow at the Hilton Hotel here.
Asked what issues would be raised, Bolly shrugged and said he was not aware of the purpose for the meeting.
“I do not know what will be discussed but he invited us to come and we will be there,” he said.
The prime minister has taken over the reins of Barisan Nasional’s campaign in Sarawak as speculation is rife that Pakatan Rakyat is fast catching up to the ruling pact in its race towards polling day.
The Najib administration is also said to be facing tremendous pressure, particularly from the Christian community which make up at least 50 per cent of the 979,796-strong electorate.
During his meeting with the ACS today, Taib had reportedly told church leaders that politics and religious matters should be handled separately.
He had also said that the row over the Malay-language bibles was considered settled, following the 10-point solution issued on April 2 by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala.
Last month, the Home Ministry drew flak from Christians after stamping and serialising 35,000 Malay bibles, valued at about RM140,000, without the importers’ consent.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia, the umbrella body that represents over 90 per cent of churches nationwide, have said that Christians only wish for their constitutional rights to worship to be upheld.
Finally relenting to the community’s demands, Putrajaya issued a 10-point solution to end the impasse on April 2, just four days before nomination day for the Sarawak polls.
But the solution raised more furore as it stipulated two separate sets of rules for the community residing in the peninsular and those living across the South China Sea in Sabah and Sarawak.
In his letter, Jala said that Christians in Sarawak and Sabah would be free to bring in and use their bibles in Malay and various indigenous languages and no restriction will be applied.
But at the same time, a slightly different set of rules apply to Christians in Peninsular Malaysia.
According to Jala, this is because Muslims are the majority community on the peninsula unlike in Borneo where they are the minority.
Suara Sarawak: Let us pray against lies and the BN attempts to cloud our eyes further with false promises. Let us pray that our church leaders will be wise to see through their trickery and deceit.