I flew from Alor Setar to Kuala Lumpur on Sunday th Jan to rush for the worship service of Metro Tabernacle Church that was held at the Dewan San Choon at MCA HQ. The church was forced to have its service there due to the damage caused by the burning of the church by unknown person on Friday, prior to the series of protest against the “Allah” issue.
I was late and was also surrounded by reporters and photographers before I entered into the hall. They interviewed me over the two attempted arson incidents in Taiping. When I entered into the hall, I was quite surprise to see Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and a few MCA Christian leaders present in on the front row of the seats.
The burning of the Metro Tabernacle Church and series attacks against churches are indeed very heart-breaking. During the worship in the Metro Tabernacle Church, my tears flow when Pastor Ong led us to pray for the nation and political leaders in the country. If not because of the photographers kept taking photos before me and Pastor Ong’s wife, I felt like having a good cry before God.
Pastor Ong in the yellow tie.
I feel like crying, not because of the church building was under attack or burnt, but because of seeing this beautiful country going to fall into racial and religious tension. Oh my God, after years of independence, the race relations in our country has been worsen to the extent where we need to worry about the safety of church goers and church buildings.
On the th January, Friday night, I received this text message in my mobile phone from a Sabahan: “YB, we d catholic communities in interior Keningau are very sad n some are very very angry how d PM handle d case especially when he said kerajaan tidak dapat halang itu perhimpunan, tetapi perhimpunan lain kaum d kerajaan can stop. Tonight my family gather together for prayer…..take care of yourself””
I have prayed together with this Kadazan man and his fellow villagers years ago when Lim Guan Eng and I visited Keningau. We have prayed in Bahasa Malaysia too. This simple text message led me feel the pain of the Malay-speaking Christian people in Sabah. I think, they must be weeping. They have been praying in Bahasa and have been calling their God as “Allah” for hundreds of years. but now, they are not allowed to call this name. I then forwarded this Kadazan man’s text message to number of MPs and politicians, including those in BN.
When the issue heightened, I have been advised by a few pastors to keep my mouth shut on this highly sensitive matter, and I did follow their advice. But after repeated attacks on the churches, I find I can no longer keeping quiet.
After seeing the protest and siege against churches, I attended prayer meetings and I addressed to a big crowd in the DAP ceramah-dinner at Kangar where I talked about the “Allah” row. I put the blame on the cousins in cabinet who wish to be the champion of a particular race while want to get support of other races through the campaign of ”ONE MALAYSIA”. So, the issue is, are they sincere when they talk about “One Malaysia”? Or is this another gimmick and lip-service to the rakyat?
On the vigil prayer meeting on th Jan in Saint Francis Xavier Church in PJ, brother Martin Jalleh said that he believed the “Allah” controversy will end up with something beautiful in the end. I told him that I believe what we are facing now is a process, it is part of history, we all have to face the reality and try to overcome it together. For so long, we have been tolerating and sweeping things under the carpet. For those who cannot stand what is happening in Malaysia, they migrate to other countries.
While the Tourism Board of Malaysia manage to think of the catchy slogan: Malaysia Truly Asia, the different races in Malaysia hardly made time to understand each other cultures and religions. The worst thing is, the race-based mainstream politicians have been inciting hatred against the minorities time and again.
This is the time for all political leaders and religious leaders to sit down together to thresh out our feelings, it is also time for all parties to find a win-win solution to resolve the “Allah” controvery, and to formulate programmes to have inter-religious dialogue of all levels.
In the past, many Christians and non-Muslims are afraid of PAS, but surprisingly, on this controversial “Allah” issue, PAS leadership has come out with the best stand where they acknowledge the right of non-Muslims to use the term “Allah”. I am very surprised, and I am quite touched by their rational stand on this matter. As peace-loving Malaysians, we need to convey our utmost appreciation to the leadership of PAS, because it is not easy for PAS to come out with such stand in the Muslim community, but yet, they did it.
My dear friends, let’s pray for this nation, let’s pray that this religious tension would not last too long. Let’s pray for greater understanding among all people of different faiths…
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