Are Malaysians that saintly and pious?


COMMENT | I usually avoid writing on the subject of religion because any discourse on religion will be a never-ending one.

Even eminent theologians have advised that no one should play God because religion is something personal between the believer and his or her God.

But I do have a few questions about us, Malaysians, and how we handle issues of religion.

My first poser: don’t we get a queer feeling at times that we, Malaysians, must be very saintly and holy people?

Why? We seem to be obsessed with religion.

Isn’t it true that every time we are caught in a bad mistake, we refuse to admit guilt, but invoke the name of the Almighty, declaring that “God is my judge”?

Nobody cares if you and I, who are ordinary citizens, attempt to hide our misdeeds that way.

It’s a different dimension altogether if public officials, including powerful politicians, go down that ‘holy’ route to hide their shame and guilt by invoking the name of God.

To some, perhaps, that could be the last resort to either prolong or save their public positions and political careers. But is that the right and proper way out?

On the other hand, the biblical verse “Let those who have not sinned cast the first stone” is an apt reminder to those inclined towards indulging in badmouthing and casting aspersions on the moral character of others.

Before you pass judgment on your neighbour, look at yourself in the mirror first. If you feel you are sinless, then pick up the stone. If not, watch your tongue!

For this reason, I avoid mentioning names of public figures involved in cases of well-publicised misdeeds which are either under police investigation or before the courts.

All of them claimed innocence, which is their right to do so, while some put on a holier-than-thou façade and unashamedly invoke the name of the One Above. Why the need to do that? Isn’t it hypocritical?

It’s clear that if we have done no wrong or have not sinned, we would not be on the police radar, or be the accused facing charges in court.

Again, this is where we have to look in the mirror. It is certainly worth it to spend some time to examine our conscience before our reflection in front of us.

I also find it disturbing that Malaysians have a tendency to be over-protective of those sharing the same faith, as if they could do no wrong.

One glaring example in recent times is the case of Zakir Naik (above). No matter what this hate preacher does in Malaysia, he is defended, even by the highest apparatchiks in our nation. This is scary.

Last week, I was in a conversation with a Malay MP friend on Bukit Aman’s arrest of terrorists in several states.

I brought up Zakir Naik in passing, and immediately my friend told me not to be biased, pointing out that Hindu MPs in Malaysia never brought up the LTTE terrorists whose presence have also been detected in the country.

My response: “To me, terrorists are never Hindus, Christians or Muslims. Their leaders and followers are a misguided lot.

“Terrorism is politics-related. It’s all about power and exerting control on the people. This is the sole objective of terrorists.

“Unfortunately, they resort to violence in the name of God. And the rest of humanity suffers as a result.”

I have ticked off politicians, regardless of their religion or race. That is the right thing to do because religion or race has no bearing when politicians do wrong. All are sinners, and a wrong is a wrong.

A case in point – in recent months, I did not mince my words when I called a Christian politician in Sarawak a “hypocrite of the highest order”.

As a Christian, I abhor so-called Christian evangelists who use Christianity to establish business empires.

Malaysians are familiar with the City Harvest Church case in Singapore, where its popular pastor misappropriated millions of dollars of the church’s funds.

How can I, as a Christian, defend the action of a fellow Christian in this case? A thief is a thief. It is worse when you steal from your own parishioners.

As a Catholic, how do you expect me to defend the disgraced Cardinal George Pell (above) of Melbourne, who had been found guilty of child sexual abuse?

Let us, Malaysians, never think or believe that just because someone shares our faith and adopts a God-fearing image, he or she can do no wrong. There are hypocrites in our midst. Let us not be hoodwinked by them.

Image result for People at pray

In concluding, let me share some dry wit from the late Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe:

“A person can love you and still cheat, just like we love God and still sin.

“It’s better to sit in a bar thinking about God, than to sit in a church thinking about beer.”

No matter what his sins might have been, Mugabe was at least honest about his relationship with his God.

Are we?

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FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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