I have a sense of disquiet about the formation of the group Christians for Peace and Harmony (CPHM) and I cannot help but question the real purpose for their existence, particularly because of what is not in their agenda.
The prime minister was present at their launch at a luxury hotel, where he was hailed for his commitment to peace and harmony. The chairman reverend Wong Kim Kong was reported to have stressed on the need for “the visibility of oneness, vitality of constructive partnership, and viability of productive actions”.
However, it has also been reported that, “CPHM has stated clearly that it is out of its scope to deal with the ‘Allah’ controversy or the confiscation of Malay Bibles (the Alkitab) and other Christian publications in Bahasa Indonesia…”
What is the purpose of forming a group to promote peace and harmony if that group does not have the courage to defend the fundamental rights of the people it claims to represent?
Speaking from the perspective of a Borneo Christian, it leaves a sour taste to see the CPHM closing an eye to the injustices committed against indigenous Christians by agencies under the government’s purview.
Our constitutional rights are being systematically and routinely abused, but the CPHM skirts around the issue, saying it is out of their scope to intervene.
Using the justification that Malaysians have more religious freedom than Americans merely serves to paint the reverend as an apologist for the weak PM and his equally supine cabinet who are unwilling to control their increasingly extremist religious agencies.
What does the reverend have to say about the proposed guidelines on Malay bibles? Does he advocate that Sarawakian and Sabahan Christians in West Malaysia should allow the practice of their faith to be dictated by the government?
Using scripture to wash hands
Rev Wong’s literal interpretation of Romans 13 as his justification for submitting to the government is disturbing in its simplicity and absurdity, especially in the context of the Malaysian government. Should citizens submit to a despotic government?
What about a government that clings to power by unfair and illegal means? Should Sarawakians then submit meekly to a government that allows their lands to be grabbed by unscrupulous companies and individuals?
Rev Wong’s interpretation of Romans 13 is a convenient excuse to wash the CPHM’s hands of holding the government to account for the injustices committed against the citizens of this country.
The columnist Erna Mahyuni said it best when she wrote: “But it is not the Christian role to be meek and submissive, to placate and make excuses, to smile and nod and pretend wolves aren't slaughtering the sheep.
“Peace is a great goal and one worth aiming for, but the reality is that peace is hard-won. … It is not true peace when you make nice just so not to make trouble and to attempt to be conciliatory when sometimes the words you need to say are anything but.”