PRESIDENTdesk: Church ‘s concerns for politics

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When the video for “GE 14, Vote for Whom” was released, it went viral unexpectedly around the world. Many people, whether at airports, or basketball courts, stores or coffee shops, would walk over when they saw me, giving me a thumbs up, and praising my boldness. I could only reply, “I only spoke the truth, encouraging everyone to cast their sacred vote: a clean, classified, crucial vote. Thank God for using this message.”

But there was also a minority who was unhappy with my video. They thought that I should not get involved in politics, nor should I associate the church with politics.

When the election day was announced, the social concerns board of SCAC decided to provide free air tickets for college students and for those physically ill, so that they could return to cast their sacred vote. The money for free tickets was donated freely by the church and community, not taken from offerings to the church. We did not anticipate such a strong response with donations flowing in, as the number of people applying for free tickets increased. Even after the deadline, there were still people donating RM10,000, RM20,000, banking the money in, so that in the end we almost reached double the original goal of RM100,000 – over RM180,000! It helped a few hundred people to return to vote.

Many people admired the social concerns shown by the church in this way. It moved many students to return to vote, and also encouraged many others to vote, to be good citizens of Malaysia.

But this also led some brothers and sisters to feel uneasy. They felt that the Methodist Church was associating itself with politics, entering a dangerous territory of mixing church and state. There was even one person who spoke some threatening words to me.

Thanks to these brothers and sisters for voicing their opinions, whether against the video, or against the free air tickets. Because of their willingness to voice opinions, we can understand the different opinions of different people, then we have an opportunity to communicate and clarify. Also possibly because it was a sensitive issue, some made official complaints, so we also had an opportunity to communicate and clarify with the related department. When the department heard our explanations, they understood that our church’s actions are not for party politics (not for promoting a certain political party), but for the politics of the entire country. After listening to our explanations, they too thought it was a good thing.

No matter what, we may have different opinions, but we ought to accept one another and to bear with each other, because our motives are all for the good of our church and country, because we love Malaysia. Let us fight for Malaysia together, work hard for Malaysia. As the church in Malaysia, let us be united to show concerns about politics in Malaysia.

In last September’s President’s Desk on GE14, I spoke of the church’s concern for politics. We should promote topics of good governance, not party politics, because the church is beyond party politics. If the church enters party politics, it will split the church.

So, brothers and sisters, please understand that whether in the video of president’s desk, or social concern’s free air tickets, we are promoting good governance, not party politics.

Let us “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3)

Rev Dr Tie King Tai
SCAC President