The 4th MPC coincidently took place on 31 August, soon after the dramatic regime change since the formation of Malaysia. The participants were fervently praying for the new government and the future of Malaysia.
There is a need for the former regime, the current government and the people to seek further reconciliation. It is not wise to keep blaming the former regime or to compare with them*. We should put aside our resentment and continue to strive together for a brighter tomorrow for our nation that sits on justice and righteousness.
On the first day of the MPC, a special arrangement was conducted by Bishop Ong Hwai Teik where six representatives from each Annual Conference of East and West Malaysia were invited to come forward and to stand facing one another. He led the representatives from West Malaysia to apologise for the seizure of resources by the Federal Government, causing disparate development in East Malaysia. This was followed by forgiving hugs from the representatives of East Malaysia. Bishop Ong then led in prayer that all the contempt and resentments be put away in Christ and in mutual forgiveness. It was a touching scene.
Later, Rev Tie King Tai, President of Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference, shared about his response to one of the participants concerning the symbolic act of apology. Rev Tie cited the reaction of Zacchaeus: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” True apology comes with corresponding action.
In fact, consciousness of autonomy among Sarawakians has seen a rise in recent years. Though there were “18 points” and “20 points” agreements for Sarawak and Sabah during the formation of Malaysia, some of the agreements have lost their initial meaning with the passage of time. For instance, state oil resources were carved up, and national partnerships were downgraded to state-level. In the meantime, the infrastructure in East Malaysia was much neglected and far from full implementation. Fifty-five years after the formation of Malaysia, the construction of a highway is still in progress. Further, the “Borneonization” (employing of local people) of civil servants such as school teachers proposed by Adenan Satem, the former Chief Minister of Sarawak, has yet to materialize.
In this regard, we as the Methodist Church should first implement impartiality between East and West Malaysia. Currently the Methodists in East Malaysia account for two-thirds of total Malaysian Methodists. Shouldn’t the Bishops System be carried out by rotation from both East and West Malaysia?
Some disparity and differences between East and West Malaysia still exist. For example, Independence Day is celebrated on three dates, namely 31 August, 16 September and 22 July. Thus, in order to attain political, economic and educational balance in the East and West, working towards one true Malaysia is the one thing that all Malaysians should strive to achieve.
Commented by Menglei
Translated by Saffron