It must have come as a shock to those along the corridors of power in Shah Alam because the raid by the Selangor state religious department (JAIS) at the well-known Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) caught everyone by surprise.
Officers from the department – which comes under the purview of PAS state exco member Datuk Dr Hassan Ali – gate crashed a dinner gathering at around 10pm on Wednesday because they suspected Muslims were being converted.
The church has admitted that there were Muslim guests but they were there for a goodwill dinner, which should be encouraged by all Malaysians.
The police accompanied the JAIS officials – a requirement under the law in any raids – and they probably, too, had no idea.
Stopthelies.my has been reliably told that recruits from PAS have been engaged by the department, which is now virtually under the control of the Islamist party.
These overly religious officials will be the state government’s biggest headache to come.
But in Malaysia’s deeply divided political scenario, it was ludicrous to read tweets from DAP leaders including Perak state assemblyman Thomas Su, an active Christian leader, jumping with joy and swiftly demanding MCA to sue JAIS – only to hide his tail later after he realised that JAIS comes under the charge of the Pakatan Rakyat government.
Other PR supporters did the same – swiftly demanding answers from the BN and one even asked the PM for an answer. These ignorant blind loyalists probably did not know that Islamic religious matters come under the state – not the federal government.
When these were pointed out, they quickly passed the blame to the Sultan of Selangor! Even the Public Services Department was blamed. It was a classic case of passing the buck.
Christian leaders like Teresa Kok, Elizabeth Wong, Hannah Yeoh and the Ngeh-Ngah tag team from Perak were suddenly silent. Where are your principles and dignity? When will you defend the church?
But the Barisan Nasional leaders were no angels. Like vultures, they were quick to attack the PR government. But in this case, we would say the PR government deserves the knock on their head.
Some BN leaders, who were not known for taking up Christian causes were suddenly able to sing Christian hymns. Helluluyah!
It was a classic case of political opportunism. Even Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin joined in the fray.
We can’t wait for Utusan Malaysia to do the same.
JAIS owes the church community a big apology for their high-handedness. Their action cannot be accepted.
And PR leaders should be brave enough to take the responsibility – especially Dr Hassan Ali – and stop diverting the issue by linking it with the meeting between the PM and the Pope.
While Dr Hassan had defended the actions of JAIS, Selangor Mentri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim expressed regret over the raid.
Khalid had also asked for a full report detailing the incident, including their justification for their actions of raiding the church.
The Mentri Besar’s statement however falls short of an apology in the wake of an outrage by mainly BN leaders and other concerned groups.
By the way, Dr Hassan is the PAS exco member who wants to stop the sales of liquor in 7-11 outlets and ban Muslim workers from selling liquor.
So if PAS comes to power, will we see MAS Muslim stewardesses banned from serving liquor?
Our call to the BN leaders is to look at your own backyard too! How fair have your state governments and local authorities been to making applications easier with regards to setting up of churches?
The frustrations of the church community are because of these over-zealous officials who made it difficult for applications to build churches.
Most Protestant churches are now at office blocks, shop lots and even on top of coffee shops – these include many in Petaling Jaya. The old church buildings, especially those from the Catholic denomination – were set up during the colonial days.