Malaysia at crossroads of political change, says church council

Malaysia at crossroads of political change, says church council

Malaysia’s coalition government is under great pressure from a younger generation who are demanding a change in the political culture, the Council of Churches of Malaysia said.

The government “for a long time concentrated power in the hands of a few,” the council said in a report at an Ecumenical Social Forum on May 26 at Trinity Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya near Kuala Lumpur, with the theme, “Malaysia at the crossroads”.

The Barisan National (National Front) coalition, which includes 13 political parties, has ruled Malaysia since 1973.

A crack-down by riot police at an April 28 rally of the Bersih movement shows that there is no political will to conduct clean, fair and transparent elections, the report said. “Bersih,” meaning “clean,” began in Malaysia in 2006 and advocates for fair elections.

“Corruption lies entrenched at all levels of society, and the clamping-down on civil unrest in the recent years only goes to show that dissent to the political establishment will not be tolerated,” the council said.

Christians make up nine per cent of the twenty-five million people in the country, where over 60 per cent are Muslims, according to the council.

“In the recent years the growing influence and imposition of Islam at all levels of society has caused alarm to the minority religious communities in the country,” the report said. “Any assertion of minority rights would quickly be interpreted as a challenge to the majority Malay/Muslim domination of national politics.”

The forum speakers challenged Christians to come out of their comfort zones and mobilise people to work for change, the report said.

By Hisashi Yukimoto, Ecumenical News International

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