NGO against ban on non-Islamic books at hotels

PETALING JAYA - The Centre For A Better Tomorrow is against a Pahang Islamic body's move to ban non-Islamic books in the state's hotels.

Cenbet, a non-governmental organisation promoting moderation and good governance, said it was deeply concerned over reports that the Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MUIP) had sent notices to 147 hotels, imposing the ban.

"Firstly, MUIP has no jurisdiction over non-Muslims, and its directive has no legal compulsion against the hotels," said organisation co-presidents Lim Chee Wee and Gan Ping Sieu in a statement.

"Secondly, it is the freedom of choice of the hotels to supply such materials in its hotel rooms."

They said the availability of the Bible in hotels did not amount to proselytisation.

"But denying its access runs the risk of Malaysia being ridiculed by the international community," they said.

"A Muslim may choose to disregard the availability of non-Islamic holy books.

"Just as many followers of other faiths would not be unduly uncomfortable with the availability of the Holy Quran in hotels."

Cenbet also added that it feared such a directive would end up leading down a slippery slope where non-Islamic holy books would also be kept out of sight in other buildings and in other states.

"Moderation should be the overriding principle in not only this case, but in the overall administration of this country," read the statement.