Madius looking at the newly printed Bible Knowledge textbook at the event.
KOTA KINABALU: Christians in Sabah and Sarawak will continue using the word “Allah” in their Bibles and worship, said United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Organisation (Upko) acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau.
Speaking to reporters after handing over Bible Knowledge textbooks to schools here yesterday, Tangau said the Malay version of the Bible, or Al-Kitab, will remain in circulation for use by Christians in the Bornean states.
“There is also now a Borneo version Bible published through the initiative of the Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB). The Bible is using Bahasa Melayu Borneo and was published and printed in South Korea before being brought here.
“I think this is good progress because we are sticking to the 10-point solution, which means we can publish and print our books here, even those using the word Allah in the texts,” he said, alluding to how previously the Bibles, or Al-Kitab, had to be imported from Indonesia.
The government came up with a 10-point solution shortly before the Sarawak state election in 2011, to allow bibles in the Malay and indigenous languages to be distributed freely in Sabah and Sarawak.
The negotiation to come up with the solution came about after a few thousand books meant for Bumiputera Christians in Sarawak had been seized by the home ministry.
Bumiputera Christians, who form about 64% or close to two-thirds of the Christian community in Malaysia, have used the word “Allah” when praying and speaking in the national language and their native tongues for centuries.
Earlier, Tangau presented Bible Knowledge textbooks to 18 schools for students who are taking up the subject for SPM this year.
The science, technology and innovation minister said it is one of Upko’s initiatives to help students have easy access to the books and also to encourage more students to take up the subject.
He said it is disheartening to know that the number remains low, mostly because the subject is in English.
Currently, the subject is taught after class instead of during school hours which some complained is inconvenient because it means teachers have to work overtime.
“On this issue, we will continue to have dialogue with the education ministry. But I think, first and foremost, parents must encourage students to take up the subject.
“There is no point pushing for the subject to be taught during normal school hours if nobody is taking the subject,” he said.
He recalled that there was a time when there were only 200 students taking the subject nationwide and the highest number was in 2010 when there were more than 1,000 students taking it.
Tangau said he believed if the number continues to rise, then the government will be more open to suggestions, including teaching the subject during normal school hours.
The SPM Bible Knowledge syllabus requires a minimum of two hours of instruction per week over a period of two years.
It provides for the study of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as found in the Gospel according to Luke, and of the growth of the Early Church as contained in the Acts of the Apostles.