By Dr Tan Eng Bee, Kajang, Selangor
I REFER to a report on the setting up of the Christians for Peace and Harmony Malaysia (CPHM), headed by the former Secretary-General of the National Evangelical Christian Federation (NECF), the Reverend Wong Kim Kong.
From the report, CPHM may not be looked upon kindly by the different Christian organisations and the Christian community at large.
It was also reported that CPHM has the endorsement from Putrajaya. Unfortunately, Christian organisations, such as the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), and the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM), among others, have distanced themselves from CPHM.
At a time where any peace initiative by any persons or organisations is most welcomed, and which, I thought, is commendable to diffuse the deteriorating racial and religious tension in our motherland, CPHM should have discussed the need for the set-up with different Christian organisations representing different denominations in our country before presenting itself to Putrajaya and the public for acceptance, endorsement and approval.
CPHM should have at least discussed and presented its goals and objectives with national leaders of different denominations and the three national Christian organisations, namely, CFM, CCM and NECF, before pursuing their initiative any further.
The setting up of CPHM is perceived as a rival Christian organisation wanting to divide the unity of Christians and to usurp the other Christian organisations already in place representing the different Christian denominations or communities in our land. At a time when Christians have to act and speak with one voice, any new organisation purportedly representing the community is perceived as a stumbling block to their unity and identity. It will weaken the Christian representation as a unit and a force to be reckon with, with the powers that be.
I doubt Putrajaya wants to see a fragmented, divided and weakened Christian church, as it is better to deal with the three strong firm Christian organisations whose representation is unquestionable, indisputable and all encompassing of the Christians in this land.
Despite what we know from the media about CPHM, I would think the Christian community is better served with the national organisations, such as the CFM, CCM and NECF, which have collectively done a tremendous job in bringing the concerns of the Christian church to the forefront, and attention of the courts and Putrajaya for consideration and adjudication. They have acted with utmost responsibility and commitment, and let none question their integrity and resoluteness in the handling of issues affecting the community.
I doubt we need another Christian organisation to act for the betterment of the Christians, unless the Christian community can be convinced that either these three national organisations have failed their responsibilities to serve them well. By all counts, they spoke up when issues needed to be addressed by Putrajaya or when certain man-made rules and laws were found to be detrimental to Christians. They have carried out their task with utmost respect for the other faiths, in a restrained manner and with courtesy. In fact, the three national Christian organisations have acted with commitment and urgency in a non-confrontational and responsible manner with regard to the issues confronting the Malaysian churches, such as the liberty or freedom to express their faith without interference.
I call upon CPHM to make its stand clear to the Christian community, and, at least, get the endorsement or approval from the three national organisations before moving further. Without consent from the three, I doubt CPHM will make any headway, and in the course of trying to make itself visible and relevant, it may be seen as a catalyst for creating discord and disunity among Christians, despite its noble aim of wanting to promote peace and harmony among the different religious and racial groups.
I am not trying to put down CPHM, but I would want, together with local Christians at large, to see that the newly-created body will not be a stumbling block to the aspiration and wellbeing of the community. We just want to live out our faith and belief.
No offence or malice meant to anyone. Together with the Christians, I pray for peace, harmony, unity and goodwill to prevail for the common good of all religious and racial groups in our beloved land. God bless and prosper Malaysia.