For the more serious Christians, their ultimate loyalty can only be to their Master and Lord, the God-man Jesus Christ. Anything else or less, is idol-worship of some form.
That is biblical theology, and not my opinion.
In the early 1990s, Ishihara Shintaro wrote "The Japan That Can Say No: Why Japan Will Be First Among Equals". (Incidentally, in 1996, he and Mahathir Mohamad co-authored "The Voice of Asia: Two Leaders Discuss the Coming Century").
Learning to say "No" without hurting the other's feelings is the best art of diplomacy. All will do well to learn how to do this. I will argue in this column that the federal government should not take
Christians in Malaysia for granted, for they can say "No", when needed.
Therefore let me argue that Christians did say "No" in ; twice now!
In fact, I would go further and argue that most Christians in the connected world of the Internet probably said "No" to the BN-led Chief Minister of Sarawak, in the last elections.
The others in Sarawak who did not either did not know about the real issues, or played ignorant, or genuinely do not know their faith as much.
Some maybe did not even vote; in order to avoid the difficult choice.
Short term resolution
The CFM, the Federation of all Christian Churches in Malaysia, including those in Sabah and Sarawak issued their newest response to the 10-point proposal of the government (please see letter column of Malaysiakini for a full version) and argued that Allah and Al-Kitab matter is not yet settled. The Bishop wrote:
"We consider the 10-point solution to be an ad hoc and short-term resolution to the two consignments of Al-Kitab which have been impounded at Port Klang and the Port of Kuching.
"We reiterate that the Bible is our Holy Scripture and it is our right to read, study and pray with it in the language of our choice as freedom of religion is enshrined under our Federal Constitution."
I hope that the government realises that had CFM been upset before the elections in Sarawak by the ignorance and belligerence of the federal government and especially the attorney general and the books division of the Home Affairs Ministry.
They could have easily quite easily issued the equivalent of a circular (or fatwa) to all their congregations in Malaysia and asked them to say "No" to the government of the day in Sarawak.
The Star's Wong Chun Wai whom I quoted in my earlier column had already warned of this eventuality, and actually repeated his thesis in the most recent column in the Sunday Star in which he labeled Sarawak BN's loss of votes as due to "Land and Lord Issues."
Allow me to expand the argument that the Christians who voted for the BN-led leadership of the Sarawak government are actually allowing the abuse of these issues to continue.
I presume that these are the Christians in the hinterland of Sarawak and in the 'unconnected' long houses.
They have voted for their political elders, who represent them, but they don't know their rights as Malaysian citizens; to equity in development.
They have not learnt to say "No" yet; even after 46 years of dismal development. They have voted for politicians who may not be leaders in the truest sense of the word!
Leadership is about standing up for matters of truth and the fundamental rights of every Malaysian community! Then, when truth matters, nothing else matters!
For truth of the kind that Christians believe and talk about actually transcends the material world; it is also the kind of truth that sets us free!
Once free like that, we owe no one any personal loyalties! The only loyalty required is that we always seek to obey our Master and Lord.
That is good Christian discipline, discipleship and faithful obedience.
The Bishop further wrote:
"The 10-point solution deals with the impounding of the Al-Kitab but not with the prohibition of publications containing the word "Allah". The root cause of the problem of the impounding of the Al-Kitab lies in the following:
a. The 1982 prohibition of the Al-Kitab and the 1983 prohibition of the Perjanjian Baru under the Internal Security Act 1960 on the grounds that the Al-Kitab is prejudicial to national interest and the security of Malaysia.
b. The 1986 administrative order prohibiting the use of the term "Allah" in Christian publications on the grounds of public order and prevention of misunderstanding between Muslims and Christians.
c. The Garis Panduan of the Bahagian Kawalan Penerbitan dan Teks Al-Quran of the Ministry of Home Affairs prohibiting the use of the word "Allah"."
The Federal Government needs to therefore understand what the real imperatives here are!
There are about three million Christians in Malaysia.
Christians are generally law-abiding citizens, unless there is a just cause for them to protest about; and protest they will, as it is now become obvious both in Sibu and all of Bandar Kuching and outskirts.
What the Government of Malaysia should not do is to unconsciously deny the fundamental rights of the Christians, and especially the Bahasa Malaysia speaking and worshipping Christians who are also bumiputra of Sabah and Sarawak.
This momentum by Malaysian Christians against injustice, corruption and abuse of power, started before the last general election.
Then the battles was limited to only Peninsula Malaysia. Today it has obviously crossed over to Sarawak and at least amongst the Chinese community the message is loud and clear.
The Government needs to observe and understand this trend and ensure that the tide will move in a different direction before the next general election.
Otherwise, it is a foregone conclusion that by the time of the next general election, all Christians will vote conscientiously against bribery and all forms of corruption today.
The Christians in Malaysia have learned to say "No" too and I believe they can and will say "No" again if they are taken for granted and their fundamental and basic rights denied in very obvious and illegal ways!
May the Good Lord grant the government and the cabinet wisdom to understand the writing on the wall!
May God bless Malaysia!
KJ JOHN is dean of the Faculty of Economics and Policy Science at UCSI University and they are currently seeking good students for a Masters in Public Policy to be offered in May 2011. UCSI is also a regional centre for Blue Ocean Strategy which teaches Value Innovation processes.