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Bishop has Umno's chief in his crosshairs

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing said he was “aghast at the fear mongering” of Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan who had denounced an opposition party as “agents of Christianisation.”“One would have been led to expect that the prime minister’s strictures against insensitive remarks would be heeded by the delegates to their party’s annual assembly,” commented the head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese.

Bishop Paul Tan was referring to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s plea earlier this week to Umno speakers at the party’s just begun annual assembly not to utter insensitive remarks because 28 million Malaysians would be listening-in.“But here you have no less than the party’s information chief heedless of the advice given by the PM. And how does he do that? By giving vent to a rant that is fear-drenched and bogey-ridden,” lamented the head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia.

Ahmad Maslan, in pre-assembly remarks made at a public forum yesterday, said that if Pakatan Rakyat wins power at the next general election “the Malay language will be lost, say goodbye to the Malay Sultans ... say goodbye to Islam” as the DAP “do not respect the royal institution ... (and) are agents of Christianisation.”

‘Virus spreading like a plague’“Converting Christianity into a bogeyman is now the vogue in the discourse of demagogic politicians. One would have thought it would be confined to one irresponsible mufti in Perak and one recalcitrant state minister in Selangor but it appears the virus is spreading like a plague,” observed the Jesuit-trained prelate.

Bishop Paul Tan was referring, at first mention, to Harussani Zakaria, the mufti of Perak, who has in the last few years not infrequently raised the specter of Muslims abandoning Islam for Christianity; and, at second reference, to the Selangor state executive councillor from PAS, Dr Hasan Ali, who in the last few months has gone public with unsubstantiated allegations of Christian proselytisation of Muslims.“One would think that if you could hold the line at one inflammatory mufti and one sensationalist state minister, you would have a chance to stem this Christian-bashing before it becomes a tide,” sighed the bishop.

“But, no, you have now the disseminator of information in the largest political party giving vent to what is, essentially, rash talk which is cheap, but he is so brazen he invites you to gainsay what he takes to be truth incontestable,” sighed the bishop.

A stark choice for voters“You would think the information chief of a party espousing transformational policies and supposedly putting people first would spurn rash talk on matters of great sensitivity to citizens.

“But he not only asserts what is fantastical and phony, he makes mendacity spit in the eye of reproof.“That was the tactical strategy of Dr Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister, who held that the bigger in magnitude the lie you tell, the harder it is for denial to stand its ground,” argued Bishop Paul Tan.

The prelate said he was of the view that seldom before have Malaysian voters been faced with a choice as stark as that which confronts them at the next general election and rarely before has their choice been so fateful to the future of their country.“I pray voters plumb for those who have demonstrated they would do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with their God,” he said, quoting Christian scripture

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