Monday, April 15, 2013

Bishop Paul Tan condemns ‘Sunday’ polling

RK Anand
 | April 15, 2013
Bishop Paul Tan says the decision to hold polling on a Sunday, reflects the callous insensitivity towards Christians.
PETALING JAYA: The Election Commission’s decision to hold the 13th general election on a Sunday has earned the wrath of a senior clergyman.
Bishop Paul Tan condemned it as a reflection of the callous insensitivity towards Christians here.
He said that despite the government knowing that Sunday is a holy day where Christians must go to Church and worship God, EC has fixed May 5 for polling.
“This disrespect of the government of the Christian rights is to be denounced. It just proves that the government is not sincere in its 1Malaysia slogan,” added the head of the Malacca and Johor diocese.
Tan noted that the voting in the last two general elections was held on a Saturday which is ideal for the discharge of the civic obligation to vote, particularly in a country that adheres to a five-day work week.
Of a sudden, he said, this time the vote has been fixed for a Sunday which would be disruptive to Christians wanting to acquit themselves of their religious and civic duties on the same day.
The vocal bishop said the decision to hold the vote on a Sunday is characteristic of the government’s insensitivity to Christians as reflected by the immunity conferred on some politicians who engaged in stoking unfounded fears of Christian proselytisation of Muslims and even threatened to burn the bible.
“This decision to hold the vote on a Sunday caps a series of actions or their lack which in combination reflect callous insensitivity to the feelings of Christians in Malaysia,” he added.
‘Consider carefully before voting’
Stopping short of calling on Christians to vote for the opposition, Tan said for this reason, he would urge the Catholics in his diocese to consider carefully before voting.
“The BN government is demonstrably false in respect of its slogan of 1Malaysia which we understand to be a call to build a united nation. The slogan has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance,” he added.
Tan also revealed that in his diocese there are many priests who have to return to their original residence where they have registered as voters.
And now, he said, they are caught in a dilemma: to say Mass (the Catholic way of worshipping God and receiving His blessings) or to return to vote.
“I too am caught in this situation as I am unable to return to Petaling Jaya, where I am registered as a voter, to cast my vote,” he added.
Tan also pointed out that there are Christian workers attached to Churches in the diocese and are now finding it hard to return to their hometown to vote.
“What about people living in the interior like the Orang Asli in Sabah and Sarawak. They too will be caught in such a dilemma,” he stressed.
At the last census conducted by the Catholic Church, the Catholic population was placed at 926,000 among 2.2 million Christians in an overall population of 28 million.
Following several controversies, which have placed the church and the government at loggerheads, observers note that vexed Christian voters might punish the ruling coalition in the coming polls.

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