KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — A church group hit back at a Gerakan leader today for criticising churches that encouraged their followers to join the Bersih 5 rally.
Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Dr Hermen Shastri told Gerakan Youth deputy chief Andy Yong that the church was above party politics.
“History is replete with Christians marching with people against racial discrimination, wars, injustices in society and abuse of human rights. Why should it be different in our country?!” Hermen said in a statement.
He also questioned Yong’s inclination to seemingly channel his tirade towards the Christians, labelling the latter’s remark as a “mocking denial of the supposedly high ideals of human rights” Gerakan espouses.
“At best, his statement is a mocking denial of the supposedly high ideals of human rights his party espouses, and at worst his comment is a deliberate attempt at casting aspersions on the good and sincere intentions of Christians to lend their voice to issues of the day,” said Shastri.
“Second, Mr Yong has chosen to pick out Christians but it baffles everybody as to why he has remained silent on the participation of thousands of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and others who have exercised their right to dissent.
“Can he show any evidence from leaders of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism who have made statements to deny the right of participation of their adherents in the said rally? So why pick out just the Christians!” he added.
He also labelled Yong’s action as a “disservice” to Gerakan and Malaysians in general who were merely exercising their constitutional rights to make their voices heard.
In his statement yesterday, Yong said that churches had held their masses and services before the rally by having Christians “conspicuously supporting one side of the protest”.
He added that it was inappropriate to use church sacraments to encourage support for selective political agendas.
More than 10,000 people took to the streets of the capital city last Saturday at the fifth edition of polls reform group Bersih 2.0’s demonstrations to protest against corruption.
Though the Bersih 5 demonstration ended peacefully without incident, several opposition leaders were arrested shortly after.
Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah has been detained since Friday under an anti-terrorism law, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.