Bishop demurs over PM’s Christmas Day remarks

Terence Netto
Dec 26, 2012

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing described Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s remarks at a hi-tea hosted by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) yesterday as “pious platitudes we are used to hearing on these occasions”.

Speaking to Malaysiakini after reading reports on web news portals on Najib’s remarks at the CFM function which the prelate did not attend, bishop Tan said:

“I don’t want to sound churlish, particularly in this Christmas season of goodwill, but if you shake down the PM’s rhetoric, what have you left – syrupy sentiment and clichés that have little or no connection with realities on the ground.”

In remarks made at the Christmas Day hi-tea attended by the PM and his wife Rosmah Mansor, Najib assured the Christian community that they have not been marginalised.

“I don’t want to be prime minister for only a particular section of the community,” asserted Najib. “I’m prime minister for all Malaysians, and I’ve said that repeatedly.”

Bishop Tan said that no one with experience of how prime ministers have run the Malaysian nation would think to remark that there could be an ethnocentric and exclusivist dimension to the PM’s role.

“It’s odd that Najib has seen fit to remark that he has to be PM of all of our diverse nation and not just one or another part of it,” commented the head of the Catholic Church of the Melaka-Johor diocese whose two-year tenure as president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei ends on Dec 31.

“That he has to say a thing like that shows how far his office has tended to depart from a broad-gauged conception of its responsibilities that now there is the suspicion that it is enthralled to exclusivist notions of its actual import,” commented the Jesuit-trained prelate.

“If he had a broad view of his office, how come when Christians were accused over the last two years of not just being ‘pendatang’ but sinister fifth-columnists, there was not a word from official quarters to stem that patently false accusation which was aimed at creating suspicion and hatred for Christians on the part of the Muslim majority of this country?” queried the bishop.

Promises not kept

The prelate said that as a founding member of the Malaysian Consultative Congress of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism – founded in 1984 – and as one-time leader of the CFM, he had met, in MCCBCHST and CFM’s roles, three Malaysian prime ministers (Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak) and “all three had not kept the promises they made at the dialogues we have had with them.”

“All three were benign and reassuring in personal interaction with MCCBCHST and CFM councils but were something else when faced with testing circumstances involving religious matters as and when issues fizzled in the public arena,” recalled the bishop.

“So it’s deja vu as far as I’m concerned with respect to the latest assurance from the present prime minister.”

The bishop said Christians have grown leery of periodic assurances from the government that their contributions to education, welfare and heath care were not forgotten when the realities on the ground suggest that “their role must be muted or diminished for reason that others should not feel inferior by comparison.”

“For the good of our society, this is not a predicament that Christians can abide anymore for reason that their light cannot be hidden under a bushel and their truth frees and holds no one in bondage,” said the bishop.

“I feel this determination will register soon on our polity to the benefit of those political leaders who elect to tack with it in a creative manner and to the disadvantage of those who mean to tackle it in a merely politically expedient and vote-catching way.”

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 4:57 am

    A leader is ultimately judged by his action and not by his words.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 5:19 am

    大只 讲 – a talker who would not do what he said.

  3. #3 by monsterball on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 8:23 am

    That was Bishop Paul Tan best speech..I have ever read and at the right time too.
    Bishop Paul Tan protecting the Christians without fear nor favours….have much to be admired.

  4. #4 by monsterball on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 8:50 am

    I should say Pastor Paul Tan protecting Malaysians….the poor and helpless ….and not Christians only.
    He is not an ordinary Pastor and when one speaks like that..exposing Najib….who he is…shame on Najib…….for keeping silent…indirectly admitting his is guilty.
    Most alarming of his great silence is what Deepak accused him and Rosmah on Alantuya’s most cruel death.

  5. #5 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 9:19 am

    Boy! What mighty words Bishop Paul Tan let flow. Certainly much mightier than the sword.

    So jib, you’re finished. And you too, umno. Habis!

  6. #6 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 9:37 am

    Bishop Tan is being highly generous. WHAT HE SAID – pious platitudes…, syrupy sentiment…, and especially… depart from a broad-gauged conception of its responsibilities that now there is the suspicion that it is enthralled to exclusivist notions…. – IS TRUE OF EVERYTHING NAJIB DOES – be it on issue of economics, judiciary, education, race-relation, public order, and ABOVE EVERYTHING including issue of religion is POLITICS..

    The Bishop words extrapolated EVEN MORE SO to EVERYTHING NAJIB…

    What is most urgent is that, in the field of economics it was not true but today, no longer. It was not true in economics because UMNO/BN did not have any ability even to manage businesses and so they could not apply their perverted ideology on it.. But Mahathir created a group and culture of cronies that they can apply their perversion to it so that we are no different than Philippines in the later years of Marcos and Suharto crony economics. They are not only addicted to it, they have no clue of what it does, detached from reality as Bishop Tan says, and worst, those few that have an inkling don’t have the conviction, will or ability to make any changes – except in the opposition…

  7. #7 by Cinapek on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 11:18 am

    Bishop Paul Tan said :“pious platitudes we are used to hearing on these occasions” when describing Najib’s speech at the CFM high tea function.

    Never a truer word said and the Bishop could not have put it any better when he further commented that …”syrupy sentiment and clichés that have little or no connection with realities on the ground.” in analysing Najib’s lack of connect between his talk and his walk.

    Najib fools no one. His silence on the “Allah” issue, the demonising of the Christians in the PJ church raid, the unfounded allegations of the Christians meeting in Penang to plot to take over the country ( and an investigation promised by his cousin Hisham that never materialised) etc. The discrimination and marginalisation goes on. Najib fools no one. I am amazed that he even has the cheek to make such a speech.

    Knowing all this I am also wondering why the CFM invited him and Rosmah for the high tea? And is this also why Bishop Paul Tan did not attend?

  8. #8 by Winston on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 12:32 pm

    Well said!
    Very well said, Bishop!!
    Now that it’s very near election time, they are trying to toady up to everyone, including the Christians!
    They are willing to sell their mothers in the bargain!!
    That’s how extremely, extraordinarily desperate they are to have your votes!
    Not they they want to do anything for the good of the people and the country.
    But to have the power to further exploit the wealth of the country and continue doing more of the same old, same old!!!
    And to make themselves above the law so that they won’t be accountable to anyone!!!!
    Yes, all Malaysians must have the steely resolve to kick out these corrupted and scandalous scoundrels in the next GE!!!!!
    Just do it!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. #9 by cseng on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 3:58 pm

    Najib talks to the wrong person, this is the Bishop of courageous!… should be given Suaram Award for his courageous, he speaks his mind.

  10. #10 by john on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 7:36 pm

    Is so typical and complete of hipocrisy as if there are no records/archives to verify and ascertain what had taken place back then.

  11. #11 by chengho on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 8:47 pm

    Bishop should declare himself as politician , do not hiding under religion text , do not behave like Nick Ajis .

  12. #12 by ENDANGERED HORNBILL on Thursday, 27 December 2012 - 9:33 pm

    “…prime ministers (Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Najib Razak) and “all three had not kept the promises they made at the dialogues we have had with them.”

    This is why we should not vote for the devils we already know.

    Look, Mahathir admitted it. No one denied it – not Pak Lah, not Najib.

    Satan would sound just as sweet, Christmas or no Christmas hitea.

  13. #13 by Noble House on Friday, 28 December 2012 - 1:32 am

    I think it’s very sad to watch the Prime Minister we have is a typical Umno politician that’s prone to hyperbole and decisiveness and false understanding.

  14. #14 by monsterball on Friday, 28 December 2012 - 3:47 am

    If you think like chengho….then thousands who speak like Bishop Paul Tan should all be politicians.
    He cannot differentiate a saintly man with a devil.
    His mind is like a railroad track….narrow and leading to one destination.

  15. #15 by monsterball on Friday, 28 December 2012 - 5:48 am

    In plain language chengho has a one track mind.

  16. #16 by monsterball on Friday, 28 December 2012 - 5:50 am

    His knowledge of Malaysian and economical situations is appalling.

  17. #17 by Winston on Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 4:25 pm

    Well, well, well.
    Remember, Richard I of England, better known as Richard the Lionhearted?
    He was known in history for his fame in battling the Saracens during the Crusades to protect the Christians.
    So, it is not unknown for the Christians to fight for their rights.
    If not for such fighting spirit, the Church would have been long gone!
    Because it doesn’t pay to be meek, especially when it comes to one’s very existence which is being threatened!
    Now, even the Christians are waking up to their predicament!!
    Of course, the scoundrels who perpetuated all sorts of crimes would have loved to have Malaysians let them do their devilish tricks ad inifinitum!
    Just turn over and play dead?
    Haven’t we been playing dead for far too long?
    Until we are drowned by all sorts of corruption, scams and scandals?
    Until the Devils have run up a National Debt of hundreds of billions of Ringgit?
    In a very resource rich country like ours?
    And keep telling us that it is manageable?
    But why should we have a “manageable” National Debt when we should be having a National Reserve of billions, if not trillions!!!
    And instead of being answerable to the citizens of this country, they let loose their propaganda machinery to try to shield themselves from their comeuppance!
    Is this the sort of government we want?
    Haven’t we let them rule us by default for five and a half decades?
    Isn’t it time for change?
    For a better Malaysia?

  18. #18 by chengho on Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 6:17 pm

    Why my comment awaiting moderation approval , freedom of speech eh?

  19. #19 by good coolie on Saturday, 29 December 2012 - 10:44 pm

    In a movie recently shown on television, I came across a phantom in a video game that entices people to come to a certain highest level where strange things happen. A boy gets trapped in the video game when he achieves the highest level, taking the place of the phantom. “I am the Bishop of Battle’ is what the video phantoms say.

    I’ve known Bishop Tan to be a person dogged in service, a man of integrity, always well-meaning, but somewhat quick on the draw.

  20. #20 by chengho on Monday, 31 December 2012 - 4:21 am

    Bishop should stand in the GE

  21. #21 by boh-liao on Thursday, 3 January 2013 - 10:42 am

    D Bishop was polite; he should just speak his mind in plain simple English: Hey, AhCheatKor, U corrupt racist, don’t bluff/tipu lah, go fly a kite

  22. #22 by monsterball on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 5:10 am

    Bishop Paul Tan has a role to play.
    He need not be a politician.
    To get chengho understand this….very difficult.
    He should pray hard and get the Invisible One tells him.

  23. #23 by chengho on Friday, 4 January 2013 - 8:15 pm

    Bishop single or married eh, that will make the diff between real man or not , otherwise he will take nonsense , give him cohiva will you Sir .

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