Berdialog dengan Gereja (Dialoguing with the Church): A book review

Berdialog Dengan GerejaCHRISTIAN-Muslim relations in the past few years have been sorely tested over the Allah controversy. Into this breach comes the unlikely figure of Mujahid Rawa. Since 2010, the Member of Parliament (Paris Buntar) has been involved in a series of dialogues with churches in an attempt to heal strained relations between both faith communities. Coming from PAS with its Islamist credentials, he comes across as a surprising agent of reconciliation. Read the rest of this entry

Why Mill and Orwell matter: Reflections on the Allah judgment and the political health of the nation

The Court of Appeal decision to uphold the ban by the government on the use of the word “Allah” from the Herald publication is a sad day in the history of the nation. No, I’m not going to touch on the merits of the judgment or why it’s an injustice to Christians who use Bahasa in their worship. There are many who have written (or writing) on both these issues right now. What I want to do here is to look at the larger picture of this decision on the political health of our nation with the help of the J.S. Mill (the nineteenth century English philosopher) and George Orwell (the English writer).

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Healing a Divided Nation

This piece was written for Berita NECF (July – Sept. 2013) where I gave some thoughts on post-GE 13 and the Church.

EARLY this year, Malaysians were outraged by a video which showed a speaker shouting down a university student at a forum with the now infamous phrase “Listen, listen, listen”.

Read the rest of this entry

Healing a Divided Nation

This piece was written for Berita NECF (July – Sept. 2013) where I gave some thoughts on post-GE 13 and Christians. 

EARLY this year, Malaysians were outraged by a video which showed a speaker shouting down a university student at a forum with the now infamous phrase “Listen, listen, listen”.

This video demonstrated an ugly truth about ourselves: We are indeed a nation divided. We are divided along racial and religious lines which have led us, particularly in the past few years, to start shouting “listen, listen” without attempting to truly listen to those who are different from us.

Listen, if I may be permitted to use the word, we are divided because we have built walls that insulate us from those who are different from us. We built those walls so that we can remain comfortable as to who we are. Those walls insulate us from listening to what others have to say about us and also about themselves. To listen to others is an uncomfortable exercise. It’s uncomfortable because it forces us to re-examine the picture we have of ourselves. It forces us to face the fact that we are part of the problem as to why the nation is divided.

Let me now shift the “we” as a nation to “we” as a community of faith, i.e. Christians.

In this time when walls are being built, we are called to the ministry of reconciliation. Although the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and NECF have been involved in this ministry at the national level, more can be done particularly at the community level. The local church needs to be involved in this ministry in their communities.

It could be argued that the local churches are involved in this ministry through outreach which focuses not only on meeting spiritual needs but also physical needs. And through its outreach ministry, the church becomes an agent of reconciliation between God and man. For most Christians, the practice of reconciliation is often limited to salvation.

However, there is another dimension to reconciliation. Reconciliation is also about engaging with people of other faiths. We live in a country that is multi-religious, and are familiar with the challenges that this poses. Yet, somehow we don’t engage fellow citizens enough on a religious and cultural level to seek common ground. Is it because we build walls around ourselves due to our fears and ignorance of those who are different from us? Perhaps we need to rethink our theology with regards to reconciliation as not just being merely about salvation but also one that seeks to advance thecommon good.

Indeed, seeking the common good is biblical. For example, in Genesis, we observe that all people, made in the image of God, are endowed with dignity. Preserving this dignity entails a pursuit of the common good. This includes things like the freedom of worship, the right to life, to be treated equally under the law, to justice and other democratic values which enable all persons to live with dignity and flourish to their full potential.

Do we care enough about the common good or are we at risk of insulating ourselves behind our walls? Now, more than ever, we need to create spaces for people from different faiths to come together to share a conversation on common challenges. We each, whatever our religion, struggle with being faithful to one’s faith and with being a citizen of Malaysia. Through such conversations, we can learn much from one another and start the process of tearing down the walls that separate us.

Such conversations are crucial as they lead not only to mutual understanding but also to finding the common good which binds us together as a nation. No doubt such conversations are difficult to begin because it requires an openness and humility to learn from those who are so different from us. It also requires willingness to take the first step to initiate such conversations at a time when walls surround us.And the second is like it:

‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
(Matthew 22:39)

As Christians, the task of listening is made more challenging because it forces us to examine ourselves in the light of Christ’s commandment to “love our neighbour” (Matthew 22:39). For how can we love our neighbour if we are ignorant as to how they define themselves in terms of their religious and/or racial identity? How is love possible if we do not understand their fears and hopes?

Yet, we are called to this ministry of reconciliation because we are reconciled with God and with each other (2 Corinthians 5: 17-19). And as Malaysians, we live at a juncture of our nation’s history where reconciliation is urgently needed. This then is the challenge which confronts us today.

Looking backward, looking forward

As Malaysians look forward towards the 13th GE, perhaps it’s a good time to pause and look backward towards the lessons of the 12th GE. The 12th GE is historically significant because for the ruling coalition was denied, for the first time in its long rule, a two-third majority in the Parliament.

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The Media and the 13th General Elections in Malaysia

It’s no secret that mainstream media in Malaysia have been shackled by the state through various media laws. What is in contradiction here is that Malaysia claims itself to be a democracy and we have periodical elections.  Read the rest of this entry

What have Rome to do with Jerusalem?

12159738287xIB51Tertullian, the second century Church Father, famously asked “What have Athens to do with Jerusalem?” where he famously decried the influence of pagan philosophy into faith. Rephrasing this quote, I wish to ask what have “Rome to do with Jerusalem?” In short, I want to ask should faith be separated from politics?

In the past few months, we have witnessed this question emerging in the public sphere with some coming out against the faithful involving their faith into the political sphere while others argued that such a divorce is not an option … if one wants to be a faithful disciple.

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Islamic State: Which version? Whose responsibility?

The good folks at the Oriental Hearts and Mind Study Institute (OHMSI) is organizing a forum on the Islamic state. If you are interested to attend, please click on this link to see the details and register for the event.

 

CFM media statement for Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day 2012: Invest in the future of Malaysia

27th August 2012

CFM MEDIA STATEMENT
MERDEKA DAY AND MALAYSIA DAY 2012
INVEST IN THE FUTURE OF MALAYSIA
Together with all Malaysians we give thanks to Almighty God as we celebrate our 55th anniversary of Merdeka and on 16th September we will enter into the 50th year of the founding of Malaysia.  In this celebratory occasion let us dream a new dream for all Malaysians. We pray to Almighty God that He will grant us a new vision of Malaysia for ourselves and all our children.
We are a nation truly blessed with so much potential in our multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious communities.
Let us forge ahead and invest in building a progressive and better Malaysia for all of us. Let us mutually share all our resources, our wealth and opportunities and be a model nation to the nations around us.
We can begin to do this by loving God and our neighbours as ourselves. Let us be responsible citizens of our beloved Malaysia. Let us care for those in need like the orphans and widows. May we meet the needs of the marginalised and others left by the wayside.  In concert, let us jointly prosper our neighbours first.  As Malaysians we step forward together in unity and harmony for all Malaysians and not pay heed to the strident voices of some with their narrow interests.
The churches and Christians join all Malaysians in praying for the good health and well-being of our King and Queen, the Rulers and all the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet, the Mentris Besar and Chief Ministers of the states, our parliamentarians and members of the state legislatures, and all the men and women who carry out their duties and responsibilities in the interest of all Malaysians.
Let us desire that justice and righteousness abound all the more and also the strengthening of our common bonds of friendship, unity and harmony amongst all peoples and religions in our beloved Malaysia.
 Signed

Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing
Chairman

Vice-Chairmen
Bishop Emeritus Antony Selvanayagam
Bishop Datuk Dr. Thomas Tsen
Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng
CHRISTIAN FEDERATION OF MALAYSIA

(PERSEKUTUAN KRISTIAN MALAYSIA)

Address: 10, Jalan 11/9, Section 11, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Telephone: (03) 7957 1278, (03) 7957 1463, Fax: (03) 7957 1457
Email: cfmsia@yahoo.co.uk

 

STOP 114A: INTERNET BLACKOUT DAY

Do you care about internet freedom? On 14 August 2012, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) invites all netizens and online organisations to support Internet Blackout Day.

It’s the next big step for the Stop 114A campaign. Much like the U.S. Blackout to oppose the SOPA bill, this effort will focus on educating Malaysians about the negative impact of the new amendment.

We invite you to join us and upload a pop-up to your website on 14 August for 24 hours. Please refer to ourGet Involved page, where you can find all the campaign tools you’ll need to support and participate in the blackout.

We urge you to support internet freedom in our country. Please write to CIJ Malaysia at cijmalaysia@gmail.com or call Masjaliza Hamzah at 03-4024 9840 for further assistance.

As of today, we have the following internet sites on board:

• Free Malaysia Today
• Malaysiakini
• Digital News Asia
• The Nut Graph
• Harakah Daily
• Keadilan Daily
• lelong.com.my
• Nat Tan
• Niki Cheong
• myAsylum
• Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan (KPRU)
• Research for Social Advancement, Relevant Facts, Sparkling Analysis (REFSA)
• Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
• cari.com.my
• anixekai.com
• juanajaafar.wordpress.com
• mobileworld.com.my
• sinarproject.org
• Aliran
• MOL
http://www.nexusmediaworks.com
• BFM Radio
• LoyarBurok
• Anil Netto
• SEACeM
• Tindak Malaysia
• Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF)
• Lawyers for Liberty
• Perak Women for Women
• EMPOWER
• WCC
• AWAM
• Sisters in Islam
• WAO

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