Christian Missionaries helped build humanistic institutions. What has Pas done?

The allegation by Pas President Hadi Awang that Christian missionaries use money to convert natives in Sabah and Sarawak smacks of the self-righteous and simplistic mindset of the Pas Leader.

Feb 26, 2016

Dear Editor,

The allegation by Pas President Hadi Awang that Christian missionaries use money to convert natives in Sabah and Sarawak smacks of the self-righteous and simplistic mindset of the Pas Leader.

Christian missionaries have excellent track records of building critical, empowering and palliative institutions such as schools and hospitals, not only in Malaysia and socalled educated Europe, but also around the world.

What has Hadi Awang and Pas done so far? What are their contributions? Can Pas provide evidence of any Islamic nation that is currently successful in building a nation with harmony of faith and reason?

While there are progressive Islamic leaders in the Muslim world who are humanistic and trying to build bridges among communities, there are also a striking number of Islamic countries that are plagued with religious authoritarianism and terrorism.

Some of these so-called Islamic nations are colluding with imperial powers and creating division and bloodshed in the Islamic world. This is the hard reality that Hadi Awang should be concerned about.

It is obvious from the statement of the Pas President, that disparaging Christian Missionaries has more to do with not being able to politically influence these two Eastern states with its backward Islamic state ideology, besides portraying himself and his party as champions of Islam in the peninsula.

While it cannot be denied that there are elements in religious circles around the world that use wrong means to propagate religion and deserve condemnation and action by political authorities, allegations of this nature should be based on facts and evidence. Without providing evidence, the simplistic statements of Pas, with its simplistic ideology, will do more harm to the nation than liberate it.

The fundamental questions that a politician like Hadi Awang should ask is: 1) How could multi-ethnic and religious Malaysia, can move beyond ethno-religious politics and build a nation of common values, 2) How he could, as a political and religious leader, learn from mission schools how to educate children of different faiths through a multi-cultural environment. 3) How Christian missionaries, who were involved in education, could produce leaders who are in prominent positions in Malaysia today?

These questions would help in the process of building bridges between Malaysians of all ethnic groups, besides integrating faith and reason. Setting up institutions that build bridges is far nobler than holding on to a simplistic ideology and mindset than has proven to be a failure around the Muslim world.

Ronald Benjamin
Ipoh

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