Wednesday, February 28, 2007

There And Back Again: Malaysian Exiles

Antony Loke wrote this biblical exposition to "show how an Old Testament exilic text, in this particular case, Isaiah 40-55, can be read in the light of and allowed to speak to a contemporary situation: the post-1987 Operation Lalang Malaysian Church."

Excerpt: "How did the Malaysian church respond to this national crisis (DC:Operasi Lalang)? Unfortunately, it was not too well. The morning edition of the Star national newspaper showed a blackened photo, to protest against the Government’s use of the ISA.

While the rest of the nation raised a hue and cry against the injustice, the Malaysian church was unduly silent. In the days and weeks that followed, the Malaysian church did not respond in its Christian magazines and publications or local church newsletters with the single exception of the Catholic Asian News (CAN) which openly called all Roman Catholics to pray and hold masses for those detained, regardless of whether the detainees were Roman Catholics or not.

The self-imposed muzzled silence of the rest of the Malaysian church was perplexing and baffling.
Why did it respond in this manner? Was it purely out of fear? Fear of further repercussions from the Government, which was already emboldened to use the ISA and which, it was felt, would not hesitate to use it again? Was the self-muzzling an act of restraint lest the more vocal prophetic voices within the church lashed out against the Government’s actions and caused more harm in that volatile situation? From hindsight, we are better able now to judge the response of the Malaysian church. But at that time, what would have been our response in the midst of the confusion, despair and despondency that had crept into the church?"

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