MALAYSIANS should know that a sizeable number of Christians in this country would disassociate themselves from the outrageously insensitive and callous statements recently made by Bishop Paul Tan toMalaysiakini.
This Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Malacca-Johor had complained to the online media that holding elections on a Sunday, the traditional Christian worship day, reflected a violation by the Government of Christian rights.
The bishop’s self-righteous stand is flawed in so many respects that it brings disrepute and ridicule to his office and opens himself to criticism as being a blatantly partisan man of the cloth.
To understand the extent of his “transgressions”, let us start at the top.
First, he displays his ignorance when he accused the Government of ignoring the needs of Christians by deciding to hold the general election on a Sunday.
Everybody knows that the decision to hold the elections on a Sunday was made by the Election Commission (EC) and not the Government.
The EC is not the Government and the Government is not the EC.
Second, he says “Sunday is a holy day where Christians must go to church and worship God”.
Bishop Tan must know that nowhere in the Bible do the words “go to church” appear.
Neither is there any compulsion in the Bible to do so.
Instead, there are many references in the Bible about the early Christians getting together for worship on a Sabbath (a Saturday).
Therefore, when the bishop said “Christians must go to Church” on Sundays, was he being truthful?
Third, Bishop Tan says in the past general elections were held on Saturdays, not on Sundays.
The truth is that there were three occasions when general elections were held on Sundays – on Aug 3, 1986, Oct 21, 1990 and March 21, 2004.
Therefore, when the bishop made his comment, was he ignorant?
Fourth, doesn’t the bishop know that Sunday is a working day in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu and holding elections on that day would inconvenience the people in those states?
Therefore, when the bishop talked about inconveniencing Christians, was he being insensitive to others?
Fifth, the bishop referred to the 1Malaysia slogan which he said “has been honoured more in the breach than in the observance”.
Isn’t that an exaggeration?
Surely, to any independent observer, it is obvious that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has given sum and substance to the slogan many times over.
Therefore, when the bishop talked about breaches of the slogan, was he being cavalier with the truth?
Bishop Tan is obstinate in the face of stark realities.
He says that there are many priests in his diocese who have to return to their original residence where they have registered as voters.
A Christian can, nay is encouraged, to pray anywhere, everywhere and at any time.