Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bishop Paul Tan's view on the GE13

Here are two related articles taken from the Online Portal, FMT News highlighting the views of Bishop Paul Tan regarding the recent GE13 polls. Bishop Paul Tan is the second and current Roman Catholic Bishop of Diocese of Malacca-Johor. He is also the current president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Click on the individual Titles for the original source.

 | May 17, 2013

PETALING JAYA: An outspoken Catholic cleric has cast aspersion on the 13th general election with regard to the battle for Putrajaya being clean and fair.

Bishop Paul Tan said this in reference to the report of the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) and Centre for Public Policy Studies (CPPS).

“IDEAS and CPPS have done an interim report. In it, there is this conclusion: ‘GE13 was only partially free and not fair’. I find it difficult to believe that the report could conclude this…

“But when it concluded ‘only partially free’ for the three reasons given that are fraught with irregularities as reported in the said report, the people involved are not objective,” he said.

“From the multiple examples of irregularities arrived in the report, permit me to use a stronger phrase than that of IDEAS and CPPS: GE13 is anything but transparently ‘free and fair’,” he added.

Tan, who heads the Malacca and Johor diocese, conceded that he could be wrong but stressed that he was morally obliged to speak out at this time because of the immorality practiced before and during GE13.

“If I didn’t speak up, I would have to answer to my God and my Church,” he said.

Tan said while he obeyed the Catholic Church’s teaching that clerics must not take sides in partisan politics, he noted that the church also taught that clerics must speak out against immoralities and against all that go against human rights.

“As a religious person in my role as bishop, I am in a dilemma vis-a-vis to what extent should I allow a certain degree of immorality or infringement against human rights to go on unpunished before denouncing them publicly,” he added.

For a long time, Tan said, there had not been sufficient action taken against immorality in its widest sense, especially corruption.

“Some attempts have been made by related government departments to deal with the matter. In ‘grosso modo’, it has not been effective. Only a few small fish have been caught, the big fish was left untouched.

“The consequence of this ‘laissez faire’ lifestyle is that it has produced massive corruption, cheating and immoral manipulation of the people to garner votes for one’s political party.

“Unfortunately, this cuts across the boundaries of all parties. The degree lies in the extent of corruption,” he added.

‘Are we not ashamed?’
The bishop also noted that the most obvious example was the lavish manner in which the Najib administration threw cash to get votes.

“Where is our country going? Are cheating and corruption condoned as part of our Malaysian culture? Are we not ashamed of our country being an immoral society?

“We must all reflect and examine our consciences. What sort of nation do we want our country to be, moral or immoral? Undoubtedly, all will want a ‘moral country’.

“But what sort of morality do we want? It is here that the degree of permissiveness comes into play. To what extent can we tolerate it before stringent action is taken to punish the unscrupulous?” he added.
Condemning money politics, Tan said even if it was considered “legalised corruption”, it does not exonerate the guilt of the ones involved.

“Corruption is corruption, even if one was to dress it up like a queen. A toilet remains a toilet, even if one gives it the beautiful terms of ‘comfort room’ or ‘powder room’,” he added.

The bishop explained that while he abstained from partisan politics, he supported electoral watchdog Bersih in its cause for free and fair polls.

“Any rational and moral person will support it,” he said.

May 20, 2013
JOHOR BAHRU: Step into the office and his four-legged companions are the first to greet you. Among the canine entourage, are two beautiful German Shepherds called Max and Bella. The rest are Beagles and a Doberman Pinscher.

Bishop Paul Tan loves his dogs, and never tires talking about them. He recalled how he had been given Bella when she was a two-month-old pup, and was thus forced to play the role of a surrogate mother.

The 73-year-old cleric is just as passionate about his chosen path, and his faith and conviction motivate him to speak out against injustices, which has earned him both bouquets and brickbats.

His critics accuse him of breaching the rule of the Catholic Church with regard to abstaining from partisan politics and label him as pro-opposition.

In his defence, Tan said that he does not take sides but condemns the immoral practices in the political realm irrespective of whether it is Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.

“I cannot help it if some find this to be a bitter pill to swallow,” he added.

Among all the religious leaders in Malaysia, the head of the Malacca and Johor diocese is considered to be one of the most vocal. He abhors racists, religious bigots and corruption.

Speaking without fear or favour, the bishop has even launched scathing verbal crusades against Dr Mahathir Mohamad, calling on the authorities to detain the former premier for his insensitive remarks.

‘So what if I get shot?’
In an exclusive interview with FMT on the 10th anniversary of his ordination as a bishop, Tan acknowledged that his outspokenness could put him at risk, but he is not perturbed.

“I have received letters from people of all faiths telling me to be careful. Some have even asked if I am not afraid of being shot.

“I tell them ‘So what! We all die, and being shot is one way to go. But what is most important is that I adhere to the teachings of the Church and execute the will of God when I am still breathing’,” he said.

The Jesuit priest also laughed off the rumour that he was given a posting in the Vatican, where he served for a decade, in order for him to escape Mahathir’s infamous Operasi Lalang dragnet in 1987.

“That is not true. I have heard people saying this as well. The truth is when I was informed that my name could be on the list [of those to be detained], I packed my bags and waited [to be picked up]… I am still waiting,” he said with a chuckle.

Besides his intellectual prowess and rich life experiences, Tan’s most striking qualities are his warmth, humility and remarkable candour.

Asked about the duration of his Jesuit training, the bishop replied: “Normally, it takes 14 years.” And after a brief pause, he added with a smile: “But if you are stupid like me, it will take 18 years.”

‘God works in mysterious ways’
Tan, who hails from Yong Peng in Johor, revealed that he was first bitten by the religious bug when he was 18, during which he was pursuing his Form Six in Singapore.

On what drove him to this path, he replied: “I felt the evil of the world, especially politicians telling lies and the corruption in Singapore. I wanted to go to the mountains to pray and do penance for them.”

However, his family objected and packed him off to his uncle’s place in Penang hoping that he would change his mind.

“But as they say, ‘man proposes,god disposes’. In Penang, my cousin took me to meet a French priest. The latter suggested that I work first and got me a teaching job at the La Salle secondary school in Kangar [Perlis],” he said.

During his stint in Kangar, Tan said he attended a talk by a visiting Jesuit priest from Papua New Guinea, who spoke about his missionary work.

“When we asked him about the cannibals there, the priest replied, ‘Yes, they eat you like they eat ice-cream.’ I almost collapsed when I heard that… but that was what motivated me more… the priest’s determination to spread the word of God even under such adverse circumstances impressed me,” he added.

Tan then broke out into laughter, saying that he was inspired to work with indigenous communities after watching the movie Tarzan.

“This is how God works, in very mysterious ways,” he added.

Recalling a divine experience in Kangar, the bishop said there was a teacher who had perfected the art of telling horror stories, which left the others scared stiff, and Tan praying with greater zeal.

“His most horrifying tale was that of a multi-coloured ghost in the outdoor ‘jamban’ [toilet]. One night, as I was reciting the rosary and walking, I came near the toilet and I started thinking about the ghost.

“Despite being frightened, I never turned back. Then all of a sudden, I felt like I had owl’s eyes and could see clearly. It was pitch black but I was able to see the trees and mountains. I also heard beautiful music in the background, and my fear vanished. But when I walked past the toilet, everything became dark again.

“That is when I told Jesus… whatever happens, I will be your faithful servant,” he added.

Tan, who was ordained as a priest in 1971, revealed that he had his novice training in the Jesuit order in Hong Kong for two years. Following this, he went to the Philippines, where he completed a BA in Humanity and a MA in Philosophy.

From here, he was sent to Taiwan to teach at the national university there, during which, he learned Chinese philosophy.

He was than sent to Ireland to do his theology. He obtained a licentiate (equivalent to a Master’s degree). After which, he was sent to Paris to prepare himself with four French Jesuits and a Canadian Jesuit to enter China under Mao Tse Tung.

“God again disposed of our plans,” said Tan. But he did not regret since he got a doctorate in Chinese history from Paris.

It has been a bed of thorns
Disclosing that his religious path had not been a bed of roses but rather one of thorns, Tan said he had considered leaving the priesthood on numerous occasion

“Have I ever thought of leaving the religious life? Yes a number of times… But circumstances were such that I decided to continue.

“My biggest crisis was struggling with the question that if God is all good, how can he allow evil. I agonised over this. When I confided in my superior, he said ‘Paul, I think you have lost your vocation and your faith.’
“But he also told me to see my master of novices. So I went and saw him. But when I told the master of my predicament, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘Don’t be silly Paul… yours is a psychological problem not a theological one’ and he told me to continue,” he added.

Tan then left for Ireland, where he met a Jesuit priest who put an end to his dilemma.

“This was an Irishman. His question was simple. ‘Do you trust God?’ and I replied, ‘Yes’. He then responded, ‘And so you must know that evil comes from somewhere else, not God.’ It was his tremendous faith and friendship that made the problem disappear,” he said.

“But I still struggle with making people understand the concepts of good and evil from an intellectual standpoint and I am mulling writing a book on this,” he added.

When serving at the Catholic Research Centre in Petaling Jaya many years later, Tan said he received a letter from Rome, asking him if he would like to work there.

“I didn’t want to. I tried giving excuses. But as a Jesuit, I had to bow down to the order of the superior,” he said, describing his experience at the Vatican as nothing short of amazing.

“That is where you learn about the corruption in the Church and the saints in the Church,” he added.

There is still hope for Malaysia
As for the future of Malaysia, the bishop said that her citizens must cease thinking along racial lines and forge closer ties.

“We are all brothers and sisters of God… all these racial overtones and undertones in politics disgust me. Material progress or otherwise, that is secondary… this is more important,” he added.

Tan said that he remembered how Malaysians of all races shared a stronger bond when he was growing up but unfortunately this has since eroded.

However, the bishop, who after seeing photographs and video clips of the Pakatan Rakyat rallies held in several states, believes that there is still hope.

“Politics aside. I see a revival of this spirit in the rallies being held, there is definitely hope, especially among the younger generation. I saw a photo of a group of girls, Indians, Malays and Chinese, who were carrying a banner saying ‘We are one’… I was very moved.

“It is on their shoulders that the fate of this beautiful nation rests. God bless Malaysia,” he added.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Call for National Day of Prayer and Reflection Against Racism on 13 May 2013

Let us join our hearts together with the Christian Leaders in our Nation to pray for Peace and Stability in Malaysia. Pray that no evil plot will be able to be carried out by anyone against the innocent people of Malaysia.


10th May 2013

To the component bodies of the CFM and the churches of Malaysia
Dear Heads of Churches,
Re: Call for National Day of Prayer and Reflection Against Racism on 13 May 2013
The Christian Federation of Malaysia is calling for a National Day of Prayer and Reflection against Racism on 13 May 2013.
We urge all churches to call their congregations to individual and corporate prayer and reflection against racism and to actions of peace and reconciliation in our beloved Malaysia.
It is time that we bury the spectre of May 13 that is raised repeatedly to haunt us as a nation.
Contrary to current rhetoric, the different ethnic groups have never been more united than after this 13th General Election.
It is an opportune time for us to create new memories this 13 May 2013, to celebrate our diversity and unwavering commitment to live peacefully with our neighbours.
May this be the beginning of a new tradition of 13 May. 

Together in God’s service,

Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng
Chairman and the Executive Committee 
The Christian Federation of Malaysia

Friday, May 10, 2013

Struggle for political evolution may take time by Baru Bian

An article taken from MalaysiaKini. Click on title for link to Original Source.

Baru Bian | 12:55PM May 8, 2013

It was so difficult for me to get out of my bed Monday morning although I was already wide-awake, quite early in fact in spite of the late night vigil for the final outcome of GE13.

I am still trying to absorb the shocking outcome not only of Limbang parliamentary seat but all the rural seats where PKR stood in Sarawak except in Miri, an urban seat, where Dr Michael Teo stood.

I would have thought Baram and Saratok could have been won, at the very least. Nevertheless, God has kept us all safe, strong and healthy throughout the grueling campaign.
The entire big Limbang team banded together and gave their best till the end. We prayed and we cried and journeyed together. May God’s name be glorified.

My human mind finds it hard to believe and accept this outcome because we had prepared the ground for about a year or so before the election. In comparison, this was the best preparation ever undertaken by an opposition since I stood in Sarawak in 1991 under PBDS.

In the past, we were never as focused on seats or areas, and issues. In addition, at least to a reasonable degree, we had some financial support from all of you for us to organise our logistics.

We had a political consultant that sat monthly with us to review our progress and preparation. All went very well, it seems at least from our perspective.
Above all, we had the privilege of being prayed upon and prayed for by churches all over the nation and beyond who steadfastly stood together in oneness praying for God’s intervention in our nation through the general election, which coincides with the biblical year of Jubilee.

Yet we have not won a single seat in the rural areas of Sarawak. What happened? Who is at fault? What could have been done? Why did the people change at the last minute? What happened, God? Many questions popped up. The obvious reasons we all know.

My thought went back into months of preparation where expectation was high, where many of us believed that this must be the time for all of us to start a new and better Malaysia together.

That expectation was not misplaced as it was fortified by the facts that every Malaysian from different parts of the country and even those overseas, of different race and religion, from different levels of our society, came together to make a final ditch effort to “make it happen” for ourselves and our children.

Many of you who work and reside overseas chose to vote from abroad as postal voters, while there were those who flew at their own expense to vote in Malaysia.

I remember meeting an aunty in Limbang a week ago whose daughter works in Shanghai and a son who works in Singapore, both came back to vote in Limbang.
I met two young men, the sons of a well-known shop owner in Limbang, who were very proud to have met me; took a snap together and proudly said, they came to vote for a Change, “Ini Kali Lah!” (This time).

I met a lady perhaps in her mid-forties in Medamit who said that she has never voted before but this time came back to vote for PKR, my party, hoping for a change and better future for herself and her kids.

I recall the prayer drives around Limbang town together with some intercessors from some local churches in Limbang few months’ back and the final one on the eve of polling day for God’s intervention.

And yes, not forgetting the many prophetic utterances, dreams and visions for a spiritual transformation of our churches and society through this political process and our faith believing in their realisation.

The euphoria climaxed on the final night; the eve of polling where thousands upon thousands of Malaysians all over the country showed their support for an alternative government. And I can go on and on narrating one story after another, incidences after incidences of how hopeful we were that this must be the Time for Malaysia.

Yet when we all went in droves to the polling stations the outcome and results hours later did not come as we all expected. Many of us shed tears, in fact many mourned for our nation. For me, I thought losing less than a thousand votes would be acceptable as our candidate in 2008 only lost by 676 votes. But not by more than 8,000!

I was stunned. More shocked when finally not even one seat from the rural areas we contested won.
My immediate thought was, “forget these ungrateful souls”. I felt I was betrayed, cheated and unappreciated when I had to move out of my Ba’Kelalan constituency trying to assist these natives to fight for their rights against political oppression and injustice.

By about 9pm on polling day, I held a press conference at our party’s media centre in Kuching, with most of our candidates. From information received from these candidates, it is obvious that money politics is still very much alive and effective in the rural constituencies of Sarawak.
I said to the press; “recalling the Biblical exodus, I believe 'this generation' has to perish in the wilderness before the next generation ushers in the change we dream of”.

Was I too harsh and condemning? What has happened to all our attempts through Radio Free Sarawak, longhouse visits, ceramah, workshops on their land rights issues, to educate them on all these dirty tricks used by the other side; on money politics, threat to longhouse chiefs, deprivation of basic amenities, no scholarship, withdrawal of welfare and subsidies and more? I cannot comprehend.

Will it be another 50 years? I don’t know. Only God can help us here. On another note, had we not prayed and interceded, I cannot imagine how far worse it might have been.

As soon as the final results were announced, sms and emails flooded in to encourage me, and perhaps others, too. I say amen, to the fact that God is sovereign over the nation although the result we all wanted did not come.
But it doesn’t seem to jive with the situation I was in. Deep within me, I was saying, “God did not do His part of the bargain because all seems unreasonable, unacceptable and absolutely unjust”.

Then around noon today I read a short email from brother KJ John attaching therein a short note written by a Malaysian, entitled “I shed my tears too!” Thank you brother for the thought when you said that the said article “reflect only those with little political experience on the ground and those who consider that: change is a revolution and not an evolution”.

Then I began to realise that this is a struggle, a perjuangan, a political evolution that may take some time. It may go even beyond my time and my generation.

My daughter and sons, and their generation, I believe are ready to fight on and take over the baton from us, if need be. I was moved with confidence that our action had touched our children’s lives.

Many young people are very concerned of the state of affairs in our beloved country, they came to vote and even volunteered as Pacaba (short for polling agents, counting agents and barung agents).

This afternoon, brother Bob Teoh called, and encouraged me to see the positive aspects of the so-called “loss”. Firstly, the ghost of May 13 had finally been buried. Secondly, the issue of Hudud law had clearly been neutralised.

Thirdly, the religious extremists like Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali and vice-president Zulkifli Noordin had been rejected by Malaysians. Fourthly, the issue of Sabah autonomy was rejected by the Sabahans and finally the dual coalition system is here to stay.

Then I received an SMS from Pastor Patrick in Limbang who said that many of the Sunday school kids cried upon hearing the news that I lost Limbang.
Then I realised, our Children Bible gifts must have touched these young lives and I believe many others in all the priority seats where PKR stood.

Then I thought, “If this is the only gain I had contributed to Limbang lost, then my standing in Limbang was not in vain”.

Then there are those 4,698 voters who voted for me in Limbang and the many others in the other constituencies where our candidates stood and voted for us, too.  So there is evidence of stirring of sort but not enough to bring in the victory.

Then I recall Baram, which we lost by a whisker of just 194 votes. The Independent candidate got 300-over votes. Nationally, Pakatan Rakyat has gained seven seats in parliament from 82 in 2008 to 89 in this GE, in spite of widely reported fraud throughout the country.

In fact, Sarawak has gained five more parliamentary seats this time. And finally, the increase in popular votes for Pakatan throughout the whole country surged to 51 percent.
Close to 50,000 AKK transistor radios were distributed far and wide in the interior of Sarawak, and through this mean our message for change had impacted and touched some rural folks as shown in the increased of support in the rural seats.

Many thanks to the Radio Free Sarawak (RFS) team. So friends, brothers and sisters, I finally come to accept the fact that change has come, but not to a level we all expected if not for the uneven playing field, the changing of goal posts and the corrupt and biased referee - the Elections Commission (EC). Or perhaps as one of you responded, “maybe God wants us to pray for five more years.”

But remember, Sarawak will have its state elections in 2016 or maybe sooner. I urge you to continue to pray for Sarawak. I am very convinced now that the abject poverty of our natives’ folks placed them in a very vulnerable situation allowing money politics to remain supreme in elections.

Rights, idealism and even spiritual principles take a back seat. In my area, Limbang for example, voters were paid RM20, RM30, RM100, RM150, and RM300 depending on the strength of support. Other constituencies were paid RM100 as first payment and RM500 can be claimed after winning the GE.

This is not surprising as this had been the norm every GE. We did explain and emphasised the fact that this is not right and that it is not BN's money, etc, but to no avail.

There is only one solution; spiritual inward renewal and economic empowerment. The church, therefore, must help to bring in a very strong teaching in this area of political responsibility and awareness.

In conclusion I want to record my thanks and appreciation to all of you who stood with Pakatan, my family and I, through this political episode and undertook to remain faithful to pray for us and support me in my future political endeavor.

Many of you gave sacrificially to purchase the thousands of radios, petrol, Pacaba training, operation centres, and for the logistics before and during the campaigning period of two weeks, I say on behalf of all my colleagues and party members and supporters in Sarawak; a big thank you and may God bless you and your family in all your future undertakings.

I must confess, it’s so tempting to surrender, to give up to ‘throw in the towel’ as it were, but now I hear the voices of many of you who chose to walk this same road with me urging me to move on and not to lose heart but together we will carry on to realise our Malaysian Dream.

‘And now, O Lord I ask for your forgiveness for my lack of faith in your sovereignty and wisdom. I want to be still before you for you are still God over Malaysia and her people. Amen.’

Then I saw a sharing on WhatsApp from an unknown author that warmed my heart, which gave me back my smile and a resolve to focus on the future. May this encourage you too, to carry on.

Today Malaysia woke up and many hearts were broken.
We mourn our nation not because we lost, but because we were cheated.

'We lost not to a better party, but we lost to injustice.
We lost not to a better system, but we lost to the lack of integrity.
We lost not to a better count, but we lost to the failure in upholding civil rights.
We lost not to a better leader, but we lost to corruption.
We lost not to a better policy, but we lost to deceit.

But we will, and must not lose heart.

We may feel sad, but we must not give in to despair.
We may feel angry, but we must not lose our righteous ways.
We may feel cheated, but we must fight on.
We may feel like leaving, but we must stay together.
We may feel like giving up, but we must now let the dream carry us.
We may feel like nothing will change, but we must now become that change.

We will rally.
We will fight on.
We will not give up.
We will become a Better Malaysia.'

Esther Ng eventually came in with an appropriate meditation from Psalm 30:5, “Your sadness may last for a night, but joy will come in the morning.” I pray that the night may not be too long.

Let us all be the agent of change.

BARU BIAN is Pakatan chief in Sarawak and assemblyperson for Ba’Kelalan.

Monday, May 6, 2013

So, BN is still in power...

Taken from Online source. Something for all of us to ponder upon ... 

So, BN is still in power...
on Monday, May 6, 2013 at 2:46am

I'm going to say something that most people are not going to like hearing, and I'm saying this because of the huge amount of black on my facebook wall.

Did you, any of you, really think that PR would sweep the elections? Put aside the dirty campaigning, and election tactics, did you really think PR would win?

From what i've seen over social media over the last few months, I thought that PR would win more seats. I believed that there would be a bigger change, I believed that the people would put into action what they were so vocal (online) about. But then I stopped myself and looked at the people in my social circles, the people I interact with online. We are a tiny, tiny middle class online savvy minority. It is because your social circle expected a certain outcome that you did too. But we do not represent the majority, and we don't even interact with them. Do you really expect to predict how they will vote? My father is Sarawakian, and I lived there for many years of my life. I lived in Kuching, but I know that in the interior and rural areas there are so many Malaysians who are not like you, who are not like me. Did I expect them to vote for PR, no. Did I expect them to vote for BN, yes. Why? Because that is all they see, that is what they know, the bribe money that they get means so much to them because they have close to nothing. And it's sad to say that that is the majority that we do not know.

So instead of turning your profile pictures black, if you really believe in change and the party you support, start planning now. Start the campaign to win the hearts of the people outside the urban areas, the people in the heartland. We know what's going on, they don't. Go talk to them.

And Malaysians, get to know the other Malaysia. Don't criticise them for voting the way they feel is right. Speak to them, get to know them, understand their plight, their needs, their wants. Then campaign to them, the urbanites are practically campaigning for you already.

And don't wait until a few months before the elections to campaign. Start now. Start fighting for measures to be put in place for a better electoral system now. Start making those in power more accountable for their actions. Start making your candidates accountable for the promises they made. Stop allowing mudslinging and racism and sexism to flourish in our government. You won't stand for it, make your candidate not stand for it. Make them fight for a proper democracy over the next 5 years. Then we can see a change. It doesn't happen overnight. it doesn't come with one day every five years. And it definitely won't come if you give up.

And make the change in you.
You want our politicians to stop being racist and sexist, then stop doing it yourself.
You want our government to stop being corrupt, then stop corruption in your own life.
You want cleanliness and transparency in our country, live clean, live transparent.
You are one of the atoms that make up Malaysia, don't ask for the changes that you don't live by.
Don't be a hypocrite and ask the people in power to be any different from you.

Take the small victories. No one ever said that the journey would be short or easy.
Did anyone ever think that PR would make inroads into the birthplace of UMNO, Johor? I didn't, but they did.
Did anyone expect 80% of registered voters to turn out to vote? I didn't, but they did.

In 2003, BN won 198 seats.
In 2008, BN won 140 seats.
In 2013, BN won (as of time of posting) 132 seats (with 6 seats uncalled).
So whatever it is, it is still a small victory for PR.
And now the question is what will the numbers be in 2018?

Gandhi took 32 years to fight for independence.
Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years in the fight to end apartheid.

And we've been trying for what 10 years?
Come on Malaysia, grow up.
Yes, you're sad, but a fight is a fight, it goes on.

Democracy doesn't happen overnight, democracy is a journey.
Just because there are hurdles and obstacles in your way doesn't mean you give up.
You train for the next race.
And maybe that one you'll win.

"Lose the battle, win the war"
'Art of War' - Sun-Tzu

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Bumiputera churches hit back at anti-Christian campaign by Bob Teoh

This is an article taken from the Online Portal, mysinchew. Click on the Title to go to the Original Source.

By BOB TEOH, 2013.05.02

Stung by the incendiary anti-Christian campaign in the run-up to polling day, Bumiputera churches in Sabah and Sarawak are hitting back with unprecedented vigour. A "pastoral communiqué " on the 'Allah' issue has been hammered out to be circulated on Friday, just two days before polling to all city and interior churches. A copy of the communiqué was obtained by MySinchew today.
The move is unprecedented in its unusually hard hitting language which is uncharacteristic of Bumiputera pastors and church leaders who traditionally maintain a cordial relationship with the government.
"We, the native Christians of Sabah and Sarawak have kept silent for a considerable length of time. Some have taken our silence to mean something else. Therefore, the time has now come for us to speak," the communiqué said in its opening line.
"Surely the way forward is no longer found in the status quo which expects the Bumiputera Church in Sabah and Sarawak to remain silent," it added.
"Two thirds of the Church in Malaysia is made up of Bumiputera Christians in Sabah and Sarawak. In this respect, we speak with pastoral and moral responsibility and authority against religious bigotry, racism and extremism in any form. But we are not alone as our non-Bumiputera brothers and sisters in Christ have also expressed similar concern over the 'Allah' issue on other occasions. We, therefore, speak as one voice," the communiqué said.
Meanwhile, their non-Bumiputera counterparts in the peninsula issued an equally hard hitting statement yesterday.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the umbrella Christian body, issued a strongly-worded statement at what they call a "despicable and heinous" anti-Christian message on election campaign boards and demanded the Election Commission act swiftly to douse the sparks of such religious fear-mongering from catching fire once more.
"These fears are real given the recent history of Church burnings and threats to burn the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia," said Rev Eu Hong Seng, chairman of CFM, and its executive committee.
"The message pits one community (Muslims) against Christians by spreading fear through scare tactics using the issue of 'Allah' which the High Court had allowed as a right to freedom of religion."(The decision is under appeal by the government to be heard on 8 May, three days after polling day). Barisan Nasional has since denied the allegations and claimed they did not put up the advertising boards.
Clearly upset with Najib Razak's flip flop over the 'Allah' and Aliktab controversy, the Bumiputera communiqué pointed out that, "when the caretaker Prime Minister first mooted the Global Movement of Moderates, we were enthusiastic in extending our support for the initiative.
But ironically, the movement is being incessantly and blatantly distracted by unscrupulous elements from within its own ranks, whose strange proclivity is leaning more towards racism and extremism."
"A manifestation of such extremism is the extent to which fringe groups within our midst would go to advance their racism and religious bigotry over the controversy of the use of the word 'Allah' to refer to God by non-Muslims. They have even suggested an open season for burning Bibles (pesta membakar Alkitab). Nothing can be more seditious and incendiary. Yet they were tolerated by the authorities," it added.
It argued that the 'Allah' controversy is not really about religion as such but about unreasonable government policies and laws.
"In the face of such unreasonableness we cannot and should not remain silent. The time for us to speak has come," it said.
It was also careful to point out that, "Indeed, in speaking we are mindful to extend love to those who may not agree with us. The essence of God is love (1 John 4:8) thus we are compelled to love even our enemies (Matthew 5:44)".
The outrage has been simmering for a while but it was at the recent biennial general meeting in Kuching of the Association of Sarawak Churches, the umbrella Christian body in the state, that its chairman, Rev Datuk Bolly Lapok, the Anglican Archbishop of Sarawak as well as the newly appointed Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia, gave his no holds-barred address.
Those involved in drafting the communiqué revealed that the body of the text was largely taken from the Archbishop address with his consent. It was known as the three "Ks initiative" with members of the drafting committee including their lawyers drawn from Kuching, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur scrutinising the numerous drafts.
Meanwhile, most churches, especially those in the remote interior are shifting the Sunday worship to Saturday to ensure their members vote in time as polling there closes earlier at 1.00 p.m.