Press Statements and Articles

Chairman's Message: Dagon Cannot Stand

13 February 2014

Dagon Cannot Stand

by Rev. Eu Hong Seng - NECF Malaysia Chairman

 

THE lack of clarity is fertile soil for politicians.

The Selangor MB's note to the Home Ministry to clarify the status of the confiscated Bibles, after the infamous raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia on 2 January 2014, only confirms what the general populace has suspected all along - "Allah" is being used as a political football.

The Home Ministry's reply that their processes are subject to State laws reveals the flip side to the game - that Pakatan also does not have the political will to "do the right thing" despite its many rallying cries against the ruling BN.

Notwithstanding its church-friendly stance, Pakatan has been disappointingly reticent in its support for the 10-point solution and to amend the State enactments accordingly. Strangely, the BN has emerged the friendlier party, as they at least have offered the 10-point solution, though they are equally unenthusiastic in amending the enactments in States under their control. In such circumstances, it does hold true that there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies when it comes to politics!

As we get annoyed and flabbergasted by the daily shifting of stands by our politicians, imagine what must go through the minds of the pak cik, mak cik, hawkers and village tribal leaders with a lesser penchant to discern the intrigues and double-speak of their leaders.

There are those who are convinced that the Allah fracas is nothing but a covert ploy to distract the rakyat from its discontent over price hikes, corruption and the kangkung blooper.

To create further smokescreens, we also witnessed the added effect of mysterious "Allah banners" outside five churches in Penang and the repeat of a firebomb lobbed at a church1 - located no less in an Opposition State, of course. Nevertheless, these incidents have not escaped the public as sheer political play. Almost nobody believes that the peace-loving people of the Church would stealthily put up such banners to provoke.

The call by the de facto head of Pakatan for "peace talks" over the Allah fiasco amidst rising temperatures in race relations and Putrajaya's tacit indication that it will consider such talks is indeed a welcome sign. From an optimist's point of view, this may well augur the nascence of political maturity in our nation. While it can be seen as a call for a "time-out" to regroup, as in a football game, the more shrewd view is to attribute it to a "third force" - the unseen hand waiting in line to assume leadership if the conflict tips over.

A recent report in TIME referring to the three former presidents of the Philippines noted, "in the Philippines, ex-leaders don't fade away - they engage in extreme feuding."2 Perhaps the Philippines is a microcosm of what ails Asia, particularly in Malaysia and Thailand.

Governor Jerry Brown, in tackling California's budget deficit, once joked that his dog was calling on Californians to "bark if you don't like the deficit". Perhaps it is time right-thinking Muslims and Christians join hands and shout "Allah" to show that we are no longer amused by the god-napping drama, and that we do not want to "play" anymore.

The prayerful and peaceful Church cannot be relegated to being a non-entity in this fight for the political soul of the nation. The Church has been diligent in assembling her people to pray for Malaysia, the nation that millions still proudly call 'home'.

We are also a hopeful people. We believe God still moves in mysterious ways. The Al-Kitab in 1 Samuel 4 and 5 affords us a timely lesson: Though the Philistines had the upper hand over the people of God, nevertheless in the face-off between the god of Dagon and the Ark in the temple, Dagon fell. We take encouragement from history as to how divine disputes can and will pan out.

 


1 Church of Assumption, Lebuh Farquhar, Penang, on Sunday, 26 January 2014.
2 TIME, 3 Feb 2014 issue.

 



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