There were hymns and a prayer during the Christmas event hosted by Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, eyewitnesses from the Council of Churches Malaysia’s youth wing have declared.
This comes in response to claims of ‘orders’ from officers in the Prime Minister’s Office banning hymns, prayers and crucifixes for the Dec 25 event which was attended by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
“The venue was the car park of the archbishop’s official residence, to create a marquee garden party atmosphere… an unlikely place to find a cross (sic).
“The programme… included a prayer, welcome message and scripture reading… many carol hymns were sung,” CCM Youth secretary Daniel Chai said in a statement.
However, when contacted, Chai clarified that this was not to say that no directive was given by the PMO officer. Neither is CCM Youth saying that the directive was made, but ignored.
“We are not sure exactly (and) we don’t want to get into the debate of whether or not there was a directive (to remove crucifixes),” he said.
Instead, Chai said, CCM Youth was merely detailing what had happened that day to provide a clearer picture and to speak against the “political hijacking” of what was intended to be a “celebration of goodwill”.
‘Stop using it to attack Najib and church’
“The issue… has been used to make political comments, mostly against Najib or his aides but also against church leaders, and this is because of the confusion.
“If there was a lesson to be learned from this, CCM Youth believes that no part of society should be intimidated into tailoring their cultural, religious festivals or events to suit the whims and fancies, or preferences, of another group.
“It is not the prerogative of the invited group to dictate terms to the host. If the invited guest does not feel comfortable, he is not obligated to attend. Never mind the tradition,” he said.
Chai also expressed disappointment with church leaders for acting like “ostriches with their heads in the sand” for not taking an active role in clarifying the matter, which has an impact on nation-building.
“It is not just this issue but a lot of other issues to do with social justice and nation-building which are related to the church. (Church leaders) should not be seen to be apathetic,” he said.
All the same, Chai urged disgruntled Christians to “stop throwing stones at glass houses”, reminding them to follow the Bible, which calls for everyone to “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.