The ecumenical umbrella group the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and Council of Churches of Malaysia (CCM) has urged Christians to “vote wisely” in next week’s General Election. Citizens of Malaysia go to the polls on Wednesday 9 May to elect 222 members of the Dewan Rakyat – the lower house of the country’s parliament. The Dewan Negara – parliament’s upper house – is partly elected by the 13 state legislatures (26 members), and partly appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong – the ruling monarch (44 members). Elections for the state legislatures will take place in August and September.
“The Church is non-partisan but for Christians who are citizens of Malaysia, voting responsibly in the upcoming 14th General Election in Malaysia is a moral duty,” the CFM said in a statement published by the CCM. “Genesis 1:28 tells us that God appointed man, steward over His creation. He also gave Adam and Eve, free-will – the freedom to choose. The Creation account teaches us to choose wisely for to each choice made, there are consequences – good or bad. As a community with the ability to discern, let us therefore choose wisely the leaders who will govern us. For when the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice... (Proverbs 29:2). So that we may prosper and rejoice as a nation, let us approach the forthcoming 14th General Election in a right spirit.”
The statement calls on Christians to pray “for an ever increasing ability to discern between right and wrong and the wisdom to choose rightly, the Members of Parliament and the State legislative assembly representatives for the next five years.” It continues: “To do so, we need to ask questions of the candidates, listen carefully to their policies and position on, among others, upholding the Rule of Law and the supremacy of the Federal Constitution and safeguarding the freedoms (including the freedom of religion) enshrined in it as well as their willingness to be held accountable and to serve for the common good, effectively, to promote the well-being of all, including the poor and marginalised. For all candidates, let us match their walk with their talk.”
The statement stresses Malaysia’s background as “a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society” and says: “If we are to stand in solidarity with each other, we must build bridges with all peoples irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. If we are to be a nation rooted in the love of God and the love of our neighbour (Matthew 22:36-40), our leaders need to promote actively, harmony, peace, national unity and respect for all Malaysians.”
The statement includes a call to prayer, saying: “Prayer being integral to Christians, let us earnestly ask the Holy Spirit to point the way to leaders of God’s choosing, those who will serve all peoples of Malaysia with integrity and courage, May we too be given courage – the courage to vote according to our conscience.
“All authority being delegated by God, let us entrust all who are elected to our Righteous Judge confident that they will be answerable to Him for their every decision and action. That Malaysia’s 14th General Election will be free and fair and we be blessed with a smooth and peaceful transition to the next government must be our ardent cry.
The Churches’ statement ends with a message to the parties and candidates: “Standing as one, all churches encompassed within the Christian Federation of Malaysia fervently pray for a peaceful and fair 14th General Election. We call on all political parties and candidates to focus on the issues affecting our nation, to be civil when presenting their political agenda and to desist from all strategies which may generate division, acrimony and dissension among the peoples of our beloved country. We commend to God Almighty the 14th General Election of Malaysia.”
The three Malaysian dioceses of the Anglican Church of the Province of South East Asia are members of the CCM. The CCM are members of the CFM, along with the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia.