No word on seized religious hymn books in Johor

No word on seized religious hymn books in Johor
The faithful participating in the imposition of ashes at the Church of Assumption in Penang.

JOHOR BARU - Catholic priest Rev Father Cyril Mannayagam has not received word on the possible return of the hymn books seized by the police.

He said the police had not updated him on the case since Dec 10.

The police seized an original hymn book and 30 photocopied versions of it from Father Cyril on Dec 5, and also recorded a statement from him.

It is believed the hymn books meant for the Catholic orang asli community were seized as they had the word 'Allah' and a picture of a church with a crucifix printed on its front page.

Father Cyril had sent the book for photocopying at a bookshop in Tangkak, Johor, on Dec 5.

The case is being investigated under Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will on grounds of religion.

Johor deputy CID chief Asst Comm Dennis Lim clarified yesterday that the case was classified under Section 298A, as it was deemed the most suitable at the initial point of investigation.

"People should understand the process of the law and that it is our duty to decide on a section according to the materials and information that we have at hand.

"Upon submitting investigation papers, it is then the prerogative of the Deputy Public Prosecutor's office to scrutinise the investigation and evaluate if a court case should be established," he said..

ACP Lim explained that the DPP office had the right to amend or make changes to the case section, which was initially classified by the police.

"The police could also amend the section depending on the outcome of investigations and other evidence that surfaces along the way," he said.

Tony Tee, the Johor branch secretary of the Malaysian Consul­tative Council of Buddhism, Chris­tianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said that consideration and tolerance were key to achieving religious harmony.

Tee said that while the council did not blame the police for carrying out its duty, they felt that the rights of the orang asli should have been taken into greater consideration.

"It is not the fault of the indigenous people that they are fluent only in Malay, and we should not deprive them of their right to pray in that particular language.

"A certain level of understanding, consideration and tolerance towards our multi-religious society is vital to ensure peace and harmony," he said..

He added that while the council has yet to come up with a stance on the issue, the Johor branch felt that religious items should not be seized without a valid reason.


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