BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
Christians have had enough of the bashing from the likes of Perkasa and other Malay rights groups. They expect Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to intervene and “do the right thing” by rejecting such extremism.
This was the stand of the president of the Council of Churches Malaysia, Bishop Philip Lok. He was speaking to The Malaysian Insider in the wake of the demands by Perkasa and Jati that the Vatican’s envoy Archbishop Joseph Marino withdraw his support for the local church’s campaign to use the word Allah and that he must apologise within seven days.
The vocal rights groups have demanded that the government shut down the Vatican’s embassy and banish Marino if he does not apologise.
They were reacting to the Archbishop’s comments in an interview with local media that though he recognised that the ongoing court case on the Allah issue was an internal matter, he supported the position taken by the Christian Federation of Malaysia that Allah was a word for god in the Christian religion too.
Bishop Lok said that it was time the government took action against Perkasa and Jati for trying to disrupt diplomatic ties between Malaysia and the Vatican.
"We appreciate that two years ago the Prime Minister had established ties with the Vatican. He has worked hard for that. Does he want to jeopardise the good relationship that he has fostered with them over the years?" he asked.
He urged Najib to do the “right thing and reject extremism”.
"He should put an end to this and not succumb to their demands. The people of Malaysia have had enough of this.”
Referring to the rights groups, he added: "They have been saying all sorts of things against the Christians, in particular. This is no different.
"But the Government is not seen to be taking any action against these people who have been causing religious tension in the country."
He added that the Prime Minister must ensure that his promise of national reconciliation not just remain words.
The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) deputy president Jagir Singh said Marino had no reason to retract his statement as he was speaking the truth.
Referring to the calls for a retraction, Mr Singh said: "It is not fair to ask him to do that. It is his right. The Archbishop's stand is correct.”
Catholic Bishop Paul Tan said that he was shocked at the reaction of the two Malay rights NGOs, noting that the Vatican envoy’s remarks “should not be seen as an interference in Malaysia’s internal affairs any more than the demand at some embassies in Kuala
Lumpur recently that our government reject the goings-on in Egypt and Syria constitutes interference in those nations’ affairs’’.
The head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese described Perkasa and Jati’s demands as “gimmicky sabre-rattling”.
He told Malaysiakini: “Rash talk is cheap especially on the part of those who do not have the responsibility.
"Former Plantation Industries and Commodities minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said Perkasa has gone way too far in their demand.
"To ask an ambassador to leave... that is just unbelievable.
"Groups in this country have also commented on what happens in other countries. I don't see what's wrong," he added.
However, Dompok was certain that the statements by Jati and Perkasa would not affect the relationshi[p between Malaysia and the Vatican.
"I believe the ties between both sovereign countries are stronger than this," he said. – July 13, 2013