malaysiakini's apology - not enough

the reb always suspected that bishop's pastoral letter was just that, a letter for circulation among the methodist churches only. it was never meant for consumption by the larger public.

malaysiakini has apologized for acknowledging that it published the pastoral letter under the 'letters to the editor' column without seeking bishop's permission.

still, malaysiakini's apology is not good enough. reason? simply this. it is like whalloping someone with a big stick and then turn around and say sorry. the chinese had a saying, 'a four horse drawn chariot cannot chase after it (spoken word)'. how do you undo the damage that is already caused?

there are no reasons revealed in the apology e.g. how did the malaysiakini team get hold of the letter? who gave it to them? why did they not seek for bishop's permission first before publishing the letter? who uploaded the letter? a malaysiakini staff member? a member of the public?

the reb suspects there is more than meets the eye here. if the malaysiakini team had indeed sought for permission from bishop to print the letter, they would have received a 'no'. so, did they deliberately go ahead and release the letter to the wider public, in order to generate more publicity and add more debate in view of their previous articles on the same issue?

if so, this is indeed a case of bad ethics. not only did they not follow the normal procedure and protocol to ask first for permission, they went ahead to publish something which they knew they do not have prior permission.

malaysiakini needs to write a personal letter to the bishop to apologize to him directly and spell out the real reasons why they publish/allow the letter to be published, and then make the apology letter public. only then can they redeem themselves from the mire they have created and put themselves into. if they do not do this, they would lose all credibility in the eyes of those who stand for justice and righteousness.

and may the reb pronounced a biblical prophet's curse on those who deliberately ignore and set aside justice and righteousness in order to get undue publicity and attention to their own and in the due process smears someone's good name (and ultimately, God's name!).


sp lim said…
And now they have changed the heading to the Letter to
"Church is non partisan, grants put us in dilemma" from "Church is non partisan, but we'll keep the money"

Clearly there was an agenda. To put the Methodist church and in particular bishop in a bad light.

Totally no principle. I think I'll not renew my subscription. Sub-standard editing also. Grammatical errors abound and there was one article where one of their journalists didn't know the difference between excess and access.

I think Malaysian Insider is better and it's free.
Sivin Kit said…
just to clarify, a reliable 'source' conveyed to me there was no hidden agenda, it doesn't make it right, but I think we can lay conspiracy theories to rest for now. :-)
anthony said…
the reb is willing to forgo the conspiracy theory but there's still the hidden agenda part. malaysiakini got to come clean on this. if not, it's goodbye to honest, reliable, clean, and supposedly less biased reporting. it will make them no different from the other media.
anthony said…
bishop's pastoral letter is clearly for the consumption of the methodist churches. if someone leaks it, can't be helped. but those in power reading the letter knows it is not meant for wider public and they (like malaysiakini) should acknowledge it. instead, the fact they release the letter shows their scruples
I believe in transparency;

even bishop's letter is for addressed to methodists only,but the content is not something clandestine or confidential, furthermore it concerns the issue of social justice, so it is indeed good move for the public to view it.

We should target the issue of RM1.75mil more than any other thing...

Public theologian must be transparent!
anthony said…
wrong aaron. malaysiakini chopped off the heading in the letter so that it looked like a general letter to the public. it is clearly addressed to the annual conference presidents only and to be circulated among methodist churches. it is never meant to be a public letter.

this is a different issue from malaysiakini interviewing and asking bishop to make a public statement on the issue.
bishop's letter is the source, and they are the redactor, and reb has discover the redactor's intention which is their "theology",,hehe

anyway, let bishop's letter exposed to public scrutiny is a good thing.

but they did the redaction is not professional too,,

Just a word of comfort to you Reb, need not be ashamed of your methodist community, for this is an issue of christian community at large; I talked to some pastors of different background, they said that if such money offered to them, they would take it,,,,hehe
formermethodist said…
If the letter is addressed to the Annual Conf Presidents only and yet meant to be circulated "among Methodist Churches", it is as good a public document than anyone can deny it to be.

Whatever "hidden agenda" on anybody's part, there should be healthy discussion on the issue at hand, i.e., should the Methodist churches concern accept the money under such circumstances.

In my personal opinion, I cannot help but see the Bishop's letter (which I think is supposed to reflect the collective stand of the Presidents' Council) as a feeble attempt to justify the regretful mistake on the part of the Methodist churches concerned, in accepting the money.

Any simple minded man on the street will be able to tell that whilst it is indeed true that the Government does extend such financial aid to different religious bodies from time to time, the fact that they did this with the Sibu Methodist churches on the eve of the said by-elections cannot excuse them from their obvious intentions. And for the Bishop's statement to say that it so happened that the timing was not exactly great is so lame an excuse and smacks of an attempt to justify, justify, and justify themselves!

Not accepting the financial aid especially in view of the timing is the only thing to do and the church will not be seen in any bad light so long as she explains that the timing of the said aid would compromise her position as non-partisan. Unless the leaders of the church have today forgotten that it is the Lord who will provide without fail - and even if rejecting the aid at that point in time meant not getting it at all later, so what?

Someone also said that not accepting the financial aid would tantamount to supporting the opposition. Absolute rubbish! This is like saying that if it so happen I have 2 siblings who do not see eye to eye in my family, by rejecting one's (financial) aid (albeit extended to me without any hidden agenda), I will be seen to be supporting the other! How come accepting the aid from one is not seen as being supportive of him, the giver of the aid?

Come on. Don't try to justify a wrong. Instead of throwing a red herring in getting people to look at Malaysiakini and see how she has erred in publishing a so-called private letter, correct the wrong! Then we can talk about standing for justice, etc.

God bless!
sp lim said…
Even though I do not agree with the decision of the churches to accept the money and also thinks that the argument that to reject the money will be seen to be siding the Opposition as stated in the bishop's letter to be deeply flawed, I cannot condone the action of Malaysiakini to publish someone's letter without permission.

It's true by then most people would have read the letter. I'm not a Methodist and I received it in my email from another non Methodist source. It has almost become public knowledge.

But what Malaysiakini has done is to make it as though bishop has sent his letter to them for publication. People like me will question the wisdom of the bishop in allowing this to happen. As pointed out earlier the heading of the letter is nothing but mischievous. Even Goh Keat Peng thinks so and feels that Malaysiakini should be told off.

So the issue is no longer about the contents of the letter nor people's knowledge about it. The issue is journalistic ethics. It will be very sad if the so called new media behaves like the old one. Even if there is no agenda, their editorial supervision sucks. Btw, have you notice they are getting more and more of their news from Bernama?
anthony said…
aaron and formermethodist, you misunderstand the issue. a pastoral letter addressed to churches of a certain denomination is meant to be that. it cannot be taken out of context because others who do not know the methodist system and the way we work will not understand the dynamics of how we operate etc.

this is clearly evident in one of the responses in the micah mandate, catalina an iban from east malaysia, who obviously is a RC and do not understand our methodist 'connectionism'.

formermethodist, whatever axe you have to grind with the methodist church is your own business. the issue in this blog entry is about malaysiakini's lack of professionalism. other issues related to the sibu churches can be found in other entry on my blog. we don't confuse the issues here. as sp lim notes, by doing this, malaysiakini is no different from the existing media.
formermethodist said…
Rabi, I am new to your blog and happened to chance upon it as the posting on this matter was directed to me by a church member for my comments. As such, my apologies if I have jumped on accusing you and/or others of clouding the issue. I'll try to look for the other postings on what I'd be more keen to discuss - albeit a mere "academic" exercise by now - since my church member who highlighted this to me felt that the issue of the acceptance of the money affects the larger Christian community, whether we like it or not.

On this matter, it is obvious that a proper apology from Malaysiakini is in order and they should know better on what is required and how to do that to maintain a certain level of professionalism rather than lose the respect of those among us who look to them for better transparency and "non-biasness". You and I know what to do if we find them lacking.

Regarding me having an "axe to grind", it is so typical of you to also jump to that conclusion about me. You are "Rabbi", you see. I am not sure if you are aware that you have so often over-personified the role of the OT prophets in speaking your mind with such raw passion, which is very akin to the prophets of old. Ah... never mind that, as I know what you you have in your heart is good. Maybe the church in today's context do need such prophetic utterance - with all the brimstone and fire! Ha ha ha... just joking.

Perhaps my forthright approach in penning my thoughts and the fact that I call myself "formermethodist" does not help. Not to justify myself, but do allow me to explain.

"formermethodist" happens to be a pen name I gave myself at one point in time in the more recent history of the Methodist Church in Malaysia. We were fighting against an issue of gross injustice in the system then. This has since been left in the past and those of us who have left the Methodist Church have gone on to other Christian communities where we can continue our life from where we left it. Yet some others have gone on to a new life as a new community, attempting to live our Christian calling anew, nonetheless still very "Methodist" at heart, both in our theology and practice of the Christian life. We know in our heart and soul that no matter what the condition of the hearts of the current leaders of the Methodist Church, the Church is God's and we need to leave it to Him to do His work there, using the imperfect but available human resources to bring about His salvation to one and all.

As such, please accept that I do not have "an axe to grind". Just that since the matter affects the larger Christian community, I'm putting in my 2 cents worth for consideration and hopefully contribute towards a more comprehensive evaluation of our collective responsibility for the sake of the Gospel. Surely someone like you would welcome that, right? If you hold the position that you cannot agree to disagree with me and/or others from time to time, then this blog is not of value to me, as it would then be delegated to but a blog for you to influence others to think like you.

Sorry if I do not know how to put my thoughts across in a more effective way so as not to bring out the wrong response from you and/or others. Could it be that our roots are the same and we used to drink from the same well, since I am sometimes as "hot-headed" as the Rabbi? Well, I have learned a lot in the last decade and I am still humbly learning to walk the talk. Do guide me here.

God bless.
anthony said…
tq formermethodist for your comments which are valued. my apologies firstly for making the assumption that you have an axe to grind (i'm reading in-between the lines about your references to bishop etc). if i was wrong to presume that, i stand corrected.

i am well aware of the previous crisis in our trac conference. you will probably know that i was very vocal too on that issue . my stand has not changed. i count many friends from those groups who have left the trac, or attended other congregations or started a new one. my stand for justice and righteousness is still the same.

in the earlier posting on the sibu churches' issue, i fully agree with keat peng's position that the 4 churches ought to re-loook at the grants. i already called bishop's letter 'tame' (although some other friends say that was a misunderstatement). bishop and i know each other since 1981 and we acknowledge each other's speaking our minds. he understands what i have said.

it is your call that i'm throwing a red herring to confuse the issue that requires me to clarify. in this latest blog entry, i call into question malaysiakini's lack of professionalism, but am not tying the other issues here so as not to confuse the issue. there's no red herring here as it does not seek to divert the main issue of contention.

if we want to discuss the issue on a larger context, it is good but on a different context without linking the pastoral letter to it. maybe on the previous 2 entries where i made my stand clear. that would be a more appropriate place to begin. tq once again.
formermethodist said…
Not to worry, Rabbi. I am glad we are clear there's no ill intentions in our sharing here, as we are all concerned that our witness is not unduly compromised due to any action on the part of one or two of our brothers. Surely, attempts to share our thoughts together would help towards minimizing actions that may come back and hit us in an adverse manner. This collegiality of the Christian brotherhood needs to be enhance.

I shall try to locate the other blog(s) that addresses the issue of the acceptance of the money from the government and see if there is need for any further input from a small guy like me that may help in any way. By now, there may not be a need for further discussion if what needs to be expressed has already been said by others.

God Bless.
formermethodist said…

Just read the 2 postings on the Sibu churches' issue. Don't think I need to say more o the particular issue as it is.

So sad. From such a rich tradition, to see how the original work and intentions of John Wesley has come to this in the Methodist church today is really, really sad.

But then, I still maintain that God's church is far beyond what the people (and especially so their leaders) make it out to be.

No need to hide face under armpit, Rabbi. There are alternatives, ha ha... but then again, due to our imperfect nature, it will be somewhat the same anywhere else you run to.

From my experience spanning more than 3 decades of church life, I have come to conclude that the Church (generally speaking) today, has lost its original calling. Instead of being the salt and light of the world, the institutionalized church has become so inward looking that Christians are merely "salting one another within the four walls of the church" and has little or no positive impact on the world outside her four walls in a meaningful way.

Come to think of it, John Wesley did not intend to start another church and died an Anglican (the Church of England where he was an ordained minister), correct? It was his followers who formed the church. John himself obviously had the deep insight that it is not about starting another "instituion" of sorts and that instead of forming yet another church, Christians should just get on into the world and live a life that would impact the people around them for Christ in a purposeful and meaningful way. That is not to be, if you look at what the institutionalized church has become and what it stands for today. So, so sad....

Again, just my 2 cents here.

God Bless.
anthony said…
formermethodist, would agree with you that there is always the danger of being institutionalized and losing our way. hence, renewal always needed.

while john wesley did not want to start a new church, neither did his followers initially. from my study of wesleyan history, his followers found it increasingly difficult to remain within the anglican tradition as they were generally not welcomed. so a new church was birthed. sort of parallel with our trac methodist church and wesleyan community? sad but that's reality.

as for the 4 sibu churches, i have not been there. i have not visited them. only 2 things allows me to say my 2 sens worth - they are foochow-speaking churches and my wife is a foochow (so i can understand a bit of their traditions); one of the 4 pastors is an stm alumni who was 2 years my junior. we played volleyball together. i read his remarks, so i can understand from where the 4 churches are coming from.

goh keat peng, and many others like myself, are only making a plea to reconsider how best to use the grant already given in the light of negative public opinion. that's all. everyone's entitled to their own opinion. my only fear is that it should not degenerate into 'everyone did what was right in their own eyes' (Judg 21"25)

Thanks for your comments.

By "Wesleyan Community", I believe you are referring to the church made up of mainly former KL Wesley members now conducting their church life and Sunday worship in an Anglican church in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur. I think the parallelism is not quite comparable between that church and how the Methodist church came into being. In the latter, the early followers of John Wesley probably needed to form another church because their work - resulting from John Wesley himself who literally took the actual mission of salvation to the coal miners and the poor in society out of the church (which has become an elitist group)- cannot continue meaningfully within the confines of the four walls of an established and institutionalized set-up. The former had to move out because they cannot live within and under a leadership that is corrupt and unjust.

Still, whatever the outcome of the journey of such churches, if they don't watch it, sooner or later the same process of institutionalization will take place and the church will continue to lose it's flavor in the world. Can't you see how the 4 Sarawakian churches have missed out on their actual calling to be light and salt of the world in the manner they justify their actions in accepting the grant? Vanity of vanities? How ironical that new churches will continue to be formed just to become the same as the institution they left behind. New churches are founded over and over again. In Church language, they call this "revival" or "renewal"!

Foochow, Hockchew, Cantonese, Hokkien - what is, or should be so different in the way Christians order their lives? Regardless of our dialect or the thin lines that separate such communities according to their different so-called "culture", we must remain focused on not allowing out actions be a stumbling block to our brothers and sisters, both within and without. No need for deep theology here, Rabbi. Just simple practice of living a simple Christian life after the likeness of Christ.

Having said all that, funny how I'm discovering how we have yet another thing in common - I too have a Foochow wife, although not the Sarawakian kind.

God Bless.

P/s Changed my name, as "formermethodist" is no longer politically correct