Sunday, July 19, 2009

Angry in Malaysia

My dear brother in Christ, Dr Tan Soo Inn wrote an interesting commentary on the situation in Malaysia. I am reposting it here with his permission.

July 17th, 2009 Edition.
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Commentary: Angry in Malaysia
By Soo-Inn Tan

"My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow
to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about
the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and
the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you,
which can save you." (James 1:19-21 TNIV)

If you are a follower of Jesus in Malaysia, you are probably angry. Consider
the following.

1. Two Muslim journalists infiltrate a Catholic church incognito. They had
heard that a number of Muslims had been converted to Christianity through
this church. They found no evidence of such conversions. During mass they
come forward to take the communion wafer. They did not swallow and held
the wafer in their mouths till they had left the church building. They then
spitted out the wafer and took pictures. They then published an article about
their "adventure" together with pictures of the spitted out communion wafer.
To date there is no reprimand from any official government body. Police
reports have been made.

I come from a free church tradition. I believe the communion bread remains
bread though I believe the Spirit of Christ is at the Lord's Supper. This is
besides the point. Malaysia is a multi racial, multi religious country where the
constitution protects the dignity of all religions. The silence from the
government is deafening. Imagine if some Christian journalists had thrown
the Koran on the floor, took pictures, and published the story. Of course we
should forgive our enemies. But there are other issues involved, including
holding the government responsible to its call to protect the dignity of all

2. In recent times the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has
been aggressively investigating public servants from opposition parties. (Of
course whether a party is considered an opposition party depends on your
perspective. In truth the "opposition" parties form the duly elected
governments in a number of states.) Christians should be at the forefront of
any fight against corruption. But when politicians from the governing party
are rarely investigated while so many politicians from "opposition" parties
are investigated, something is seriously wrong.

The glaring double standard gives lie to the fact that the Anti Corruption
Commission is a non partisan body committed to eradicate corruption
wherever it is found. It seems that the Commission is but a political tool of
the ruling party.

3. And now we learn that a political aide, who was interrogated by the
Commission, has fallen to his death from the 14th floor of the Anti
Corruption Headquarters. He had been taken to the MACC office at 6pm on
Wednesday (July 15th) to assist in the Commission's investigation into the
alleged abuse of constituency development funds by several state
assemblymen. Did he jump? Was he pushed? We do not know.

What we know is this. He was interrogated till 3.45am in the morning. In the
words of Goh Keat Peng:

[Why was a witness being held for questioning for ten hours and only
released at 3.45am? What kind of case is it and what is the urgency of the
case in question that the witness had to be deprived of sleep and forcibly
kept awake till 3.45am? Was the nation deemed to be in grave danger had
the witness in question been sent home at a respectable time and asked to
report again for questioning the next morning?

The nation could endure long years of waiting over so many other much
longer pending cases involving so much more public money and have much
greater weight in public interest but this particular case could not wait for
the next morning when the witness in question would have been fresher and
better rested?

Like I said if you are a follower of Jesus in Malaysia you should be angry. I
am. Which is why I remember James 1:19-21. I know righteous anger can
quickly become unrighteous. I know that when I get angry my discernment
is compromised. I am more vulnerable to manipulation. I become rash and
speak and act prematurely. When I am angry, I need to bear in mind at least
two things:

1. Unrighteous anger will not accomplish God's purposes. If our concern is to
be agents of God's work, unrighteous anger is out.

2. When we are consumed by anger we only see the evil "out there." We
stop working at the evil inside us. We forget the ongoing call to "get rid of all
moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent" in our own lives.

However fear of unrighteous anger should not paralyse us from doing what
is right. Followers of Jesus are called to speak up against injustice.

["Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy."
(Proverbs 31:8-9 TNIV)]

And as John the Baptist discovered, "speaking truth to power" may demand
the highest price (Matthew 14:1-12). There is a time to speak up. There is a
time to act. There is a time for righteous anger. But we must guard our
hearts and ensure that all we say and do flow out of the twin loves for God
and neighbour (Mark 12:28-31).

Whatever righteous anger may look like, it must come from a heart that has
such a deep passion for God that we are deeply pained that His ways are
violated. It must come from a heart with such a deep compassion for human
beings (of whatever race or religious background) that we are roused when
human life is violated. And it must come from a heart that is always
suspicious of its own righteousness.

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Blogger sp lim said...

That I am angry would be an understatement. But anger need not be destructive. It can be creative. Whoever wrote Psalm 137 was an angry person. So were the writers of some of the exilic literature.

As long as we don't lose focus on God's sovereignty, I think we are ok.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Alex Tang said...

Hi sp lim,

I share your anger and applaud your wisdom.Thank you.

2:20 AM  

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