Malaysia Bans 12 Christian Books

14 April 2003

In early April the Malaysian Home Ministry (KDN) banned 35 books that they 
considered detrimental to public peace.  Twelve of these were Christian books, 
eleven of them in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia.  The twelfth is a 
translation of the Bible in Iban, the language of the Iban people of Sarawak, 
which has been freely available in the country for over five years.

The statement issued by the KDN stated that the “printing, import, production, 
reproduction, sale, circulation, distribution and possession of books listed 
under the schedule are banned in the country”.  A jail sentence of up to three 
years and/or a maximum fine of 20,000 Malaysian ringgits (approx. 3,340) will 
be given to anyone found guilty of breaking this ban.  Thus, the Iban Christians 
of Sarawak could face such consequences simply for possessing an Iban Bible.

Those books banned include translated works by J I Packer, John R W Stott and 
others, which are not banned in their original English form.  Such a ban 
discriminates against non-English speaking Malaysian Christians.  Other banned 
books include some Islamic titles.

A press statement issued by the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) on 11 
April states that the ban “infringes on the rights of Ibans to practise their 
religion” and it calls on the government “to immediately lift the ban”.  Ibans 
comprise 30% of the population of Sarawak (the largest ethnic group in the 
state) and the majority of Ibans are Christian.  The Federal Constitution of 
Malaysia guarantees the right to practise one’s own religion.  

Pray that the ban will be lifted without any repercussions and that the spirit 
of the constitutional freedom to practise one’s religion will be upheld.

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