[ACNS] The Archbishop of South East Asia, the Most Revd Bolly Lapok, has called on Malaysia’s new education minister to apologise for “divisive and incendiary remarks” he made recently about Christians and Jews.
In a statement issued by the Christian Council of Malaysia (CCM), Archbishop Bolly, the bishop of Kuching on the island of Borneo, said that “as members of the Anglican Church in Sarawak and Brunei we wish to express our deep concern over the remarks made by the Education Minister.”
The Education Minister, Mahdzir Bin Khalid, made the comments as he responded to corruption allegations published on a whistle-blowing website. He said that the allegations were part of a plot by Christians and Jews to split and divide Muslims.
Mr Bin Khalid said: “The Jews and Christians have pledged that as long as there is the moon and the stars, as long as the end of the world is not here yet, they will decide that Muhammad’s followers will be confused and split among themselves. This is the pledge of the Jews and Christians.”
In his statement, Archbishop Bolly replied with an emphatic: “It is not.”
“It is a fact that 70 per cent of Sarawak population is non-Muslim and 60 per cent of Christians in Malaysia reside in Sabah and Sarawak, where Christians, Muslims and people of all faiths, comprising over 30 ethnic communities, have lived and co-existed together in peace and harmony for many generations, long before the formation of Malaysia.
“Their cultural and religious unity in diversity, especially among the people of Sarawak, has survived the test of even the most turbulent of times such as the Second World War, communist insurgency and the Konfrontasi [the Indonesian-Malaysian conflict between 1963 and 66].
“This unity must not only be preserved for the benefit and well-being of our future generations but is to be accepted and protected as God’s gift,” Archbishop Bolly said. “So it is utterly regrettable, patently insensitive and grossly misleading for the Minister to have uttered such an outrageous allegation.
“History records that, for over a century, Christians have unselfishly pioneered and contributed to the fields of education, public health care and nation building. The irrational penchant to slander and demonise fellow citizens with impunity, for political gain and at the expense of national unity and harmony must stop.”
He continued: “It is tragic that Malaysia has descended to a level where even our institutions of learning are not spared by its political aberrations. It is impossible to overemphasise the importance of the responsibility of all who are entrusted with the education of students, especially the Minister of Education.
“Surely they are to ensure that young minds in schools, colleges and universities are guarded against being misled and exposed to any form of bigotry that would sow discord in our plural society. Our children need the best possible environment in which to flourish.
“As Christians, we live by the law governing the nation as enshrined in the Federal Constitution and strive to promote peace, justice and love within all our communities. The Minister should apologise.”