malaysian politics, money, and the church

quoting the title from dr alex tang's blog entry.

th reb may have seemed silent in the light of the recent controversy on the above issue especially the four sibu methodist churches taking the government grant before the election day. well, not true. he was talking at the local level here in seremban with stmers and local church members.

yes, silent maybe in the few first days especially after the bishop's appeal not to muddy the waters further. but bishop's letter is 'tame' and  will not settle the issue.

then he was busy replying in other people's blogs and f/b.

here in dr alex tang's blog entry:

here on f/b to sivin kit's entry:

to those naive about the whole issue, thinking this is a great opportunity to launch a book on corruption and bribery and having the 'best spokesman' around to explain the issue, think again.

the whole purpose of the book launch will be side-tracked by this pressing issue. people are not interested in the christian response to the issue of corruption and bribery in malaysia. every tom, dick and harry already knows the answer!

what they want to know is how the right hand can practice something while the left hand is doing something else. they want to know what moral ground the methodist church has to speak out against bribery and corruption when what they perceive the methodist chuch doing 'ain't right'! it is the classic case of 'physician, heal thyself!'

if you have not read some of the vitrolic thrown at the churches, see e.g. the comments from non-christians at anil's blog:


peter said…
Right on, Reb.
Shows up the hypocrisy... what moral ground left for the Bishop to speak/write on corruption when in face obvious wrong shows fear of the government's perceptions...
sp lim said…
I too have remained silent for a short season after reading the pastoral letter for 2 reasons.

Firstly at that point of time no final decision has been made and we were told there will be further deliberations on the matter.

Secondly, the bishop appealed for restraints on our comments over the matter. Even though as an ex Methodist, I was under no obligation to submit, I choose to do so out of my respect for the bishop. God has used him at a certain point in my life to minister to me. He has shown genuine empathy. He has even wept with me.

Although I was much troubled by the contents of the letter, I decided to refrain from commenting further believing that the bishop has his own reasons to come out with such a letter. I've always perceived him to be someone who is not afraid to step on the toes of those high and mighty in the course of justice and righteousness.

I decided to break my silence when I found out that the 4 churches have decided to keep the money and not only that, some of their leaders have arrogantly think that the money is their God given right and blasted people who disagree with them.

Secondly, the pastoral letter by bishop was posted on Malaysiakini. It baffles me that a pastoral letter should be posted on an online news portal. It only invites wider ridicule and contempt which was what happened if you were to read the majority of the comments by readers.

I would not consider the letter tame. In fact, the argument especially the danger of being perceived to be pro Opposition if the churches were to return the money is deeply flawed. The issue is not one of perception but whether it is ethically and morally right to accept the money under those circumstances.

The Opposition has been calling for the abolition of the ISA for many years. Is calling for the abolition of the ISA to be equated with being pro Opposition? I suspect so in the eyes of the leadership of the Malaysian church. I have not come across any statement by the Malaysian church leadership condemning the ISA as morally reprehensible and call for its abolition.

This whole episode has compromised the witness of the Malaysian church. I agree with Reb that the launch of the book, Corruption and Bribery should be shelved to save its author any further embarrassment.
anthony said…
yes, peter. i'm afaid if we don't urgently settle this issue first, there's little to talk about the merits of the book or on a larger issue, the church's stand on bribery and corruption. i don't doubt bishop's credentials to speak on this issue but with the sibu churches' issue hanging over the book launch, i'm afraid it won't work.
anthony said…
dear sp, we may differ on the extent of what to do but we are agreed on one thing - case of bad timing. whatever good the book launch is supposed to do will be nullified by the bigger looming issue.
I am actually happy that such thing happened,since it is so thought provoking and propel the public theologians to the front line,,,,

see if church leaders and theologian would speak from a clear conscience concerning this issue,,?

or power determines the right to discourse and truth?
anthony said…
there is no objectivity here since it is the church eladers involved in the issue. this is very different if it is something which happens outside the methodist church and methodist leaders comment on it
Sivin Kit said…
for the record, the book launch was planned and fixed before the Sibu by-elections and the subsequent controversy.
anthony said…
i know that the book launch was planned long time ago. it is a matter of timing now. in the light of what has transpired, it may not be the best timing. my apprehension is that it will get side-tracked by the other issue and the whole thrust of the launch will be mired in the other controversy.
if the 1.75 mil given to other denominations , I am sure it is very likely that they would accept it too,,,,

this is by and large a church leaders' mentality issue for lacking the wisdom to confront power, might and money....