Sarawak churches deny miscommunication with TVS, says premier stepped in for ‘O Holy Night’ to be played in Christmas programme

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) has clarified that there was no miscommunication as claimed by organiser TV Sarawak (TVS) when they rejected the use of the Christmas song O Holy Night for a Christmas programme which previously resulted in ACS’ withdrawal from the event, chairman Datuk Danald Jute said in a statement yesterday.

The umbrella group for Sarawak churches said it had only agreed to participate again after Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg and his deputy Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas intervened and ordered that O Holy Night should be played at the event.

“TVS’s outright rejection of our suggestion on the grounds of ‘religious elements’ is utterly ludicrous, such unbelievable reason made us feel slighted and discriminated against.

“TVS went on to have ACS believe that it was also ‘due to the protocol from Film Censorship Board (LPF) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC),” he said.

Danald also denied any miscommunication and said that if there was any miscommunication, ACS was not a party to it as TVS outrightly rejected the use of the song suggested by ACS.

He also disclosed that ACS only found out about the inaccuracy of TVS’ reasoning for rejection after Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil clarified that MCMC was not involved in TVS' decision on songs to be used in a state Christmas programme in Kuching.

He said Christmas is a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ and replacing ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ with ‘O Holy Night’ seemed more appropriate for the event.

“I will not let the Church be unjustly bullied or intimidated.

“We believe we are all equal and have the same rights as Malaysians,” he said.

In a letter dated November 13 this year to the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor), the ACS chairman said the association declined an invitation to participate in the programme as its request to replace Jingle Bells Rock with O Holy Night was rejected by the main organisers TVS.

Danald previously said it was difficult for ACS to accept this excuse and had no choice but to withdraw from the event, saying that Christmas is about welcoming the celebration of the birthday of the Lord Jesus.

Unifor and TVS in a joint statement on November 24 said a miscommunication transpired among the parties involved in the said program and that they had no intention of excluding the song and at the same time are trying to incorporate it into the programme.

The programme A Christmas Carol, Sarawak in Diversity is scheduled to be held on December 3 and broadcast on December 23 this year.