Malaysia

Ban on Bible Rescinded

8 May 2003

On 25 April the Malaysian Government revoked a previous ban on the 
Iban language translation of the Bible.  The ban is lifted with immediate effect.

The Iban Bible has been freely available in the country for 15 years.  Ibans 
comprise 30% of the population of Sarawak (the largest ethnic group in the 
state) and the majority of Ibans are Christian.  The ban on Bup Kudus, the Iban 
language Bible, was lifted as a result of the Council of Churches and the 
Association of Churches in Sarawak appealing to the Malaysian Home Ministry 
(KDN) on 23 April.  Following this, the deputy Prime Minister, and head of the 
KDN, Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi met with the church leaders and was satisfied 
with their explanation as to why the ban should be lifted.  Despite this good 
news, the translations of 11 other Christian books that were banned at the same 
time remain illegal.  They are in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language.  

BACKGROUND
The twelve books were banned on 9 April by the KDN which considered them 
detrimental to public peace.  Twenty-three other books, which were not Christian 
titles, were also banned.  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”.  If 
found guilty, a jail sentence of up to three years and/or a maximum fine of 
20,000 Malaysian ringgits (approx. 3,340) will be given.  Thus, Christians 
could face such consequences simply for possessing any of the banned titles.  
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.  

PRAY
Give thanks for the lifting of the ban on the Iban Bible, it is an answer to 
prayer.

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

Pray for the continued safety and freedom of worship for the Iban Christians.

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