BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
Published: 28 August 2014
The Christian Federation of Malaysia urges Malaysians to be united and live in peace and harmony. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, August 28, 2014.
Still reeling from the seizure of Bibles and the refusal of the Federal Court to grant the Catholic church leave in the Herald case, a Christian group, in its Merdeka and Malaysia Day message, has called on Malaysians to be committed in saving the country from religious extremism and racial polarisation.
In its message titled "We must continue to hope", the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) called on the people to push harder for personal and institutional changes that will transform the country into a more tolerant and caring society.
"We enjoin our fellow Malaysians to support movements and groups that seek to unite us as Malaysians living in peace and harmony with each other," said the statement signed by Christian leaders Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng, Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok, Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam and Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing.
CFM said that given its "painful experiences" in the seizure of the Bibles and the unsuccessful leave appeal, it was concerned over the status of the holy books and the outcome of the other cases pending in court related to the use of the word "Allah" by Christians.
It added that there was also an escalation in ethnic and religious extremism fueled by lies and inflammatory speeches that was ripping apart the social fabric of the country.
"We believe that all Malaysians truly have cause for concern.
"Given the many challenges we are facing today, and compounded by insensitive and illogical statements by some members of the government and governing political parties and by the pursuit of economic policies that only add to the rising cost of living, it is not surprising that many have succumbed to pessimism and cynicism," CFM said.
It added that to survive as a united nation, Malaysians should resist and oppose these destructive forces.
"All who succumb to fear and despair eventually become enemies of hope.
"On the other hand, we must also avoid naive and false optimism that come from ignorance and indifference or an intentional act of sweeping important issues under the carpet," it said.
In line with its themed statement, CFM said that genuine hope demanded the courage to take risks and the moral will to carry through one's convictions by resisting the forces of destruction, hate and violence.
"Genuine hope is never the denial of truth, the sober realities of life, the rot and corruption that infect our society.
"Genuine hope must expose the veil of lies, fraud and deception that are often used to coerce and subjugate minds through misinformation and fear," it said.
CFM added that hope can also be gained from authentic dialogue, humility and mutual respect and "demands for others what we demand for ourselves".
CFM also remembered the victims of flights MH370 and MH17, and also prayed for the nation's leaders to uphold the freedom of religion guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and seized 321 Malay and Iban Bibles on January 2. The Bibles have yet to be returned despite the Attorney-General announcing that there was no case against BSM.
In the Herald case two months ago, four of the seven-member Federal Court bench dismissed the church's application for appeal, citing that the Court of Appeal was right in its decision to ban the word "Allah" in the Herald. – August 28, 2014.
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