JAN 5 — In 1998, then Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamed promised Catholic Church leaders that the church would be consulted when it comes to the appointment of principals and heads of mission schools.
That promise was elastic and was made just before the Sabah election, and at a time when Dr Mahathir was shaky after the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim. This historical fact was made public a few weeks when Archbishop Murphy Pakiam informed Catholics that the government had reneged on its promise to consult the church on the new principal of Convent Bukit Nanas.
Only after threatening noises by the church did the government back down. So please excuse my scepticism about the "assurance" given by Najib Razak at a lunch with Christian leaders that the government would consult in future before any appointments are made. Once again, this promise is being before an election.
Given this administration’s big propensity for flip-flopping, it would not surprise me if in the new future the Catholic Church may once again have to highlight another episode of the government going back on its word.
So unless there is some written agreement between church and government, this assurance by Najib will count for not much.
I thank Anglican Bishop Ng Moon Hing and the Christian Federation of Malaysia for not being swayed or impressed by a luncheon meeting with the Cabinet. After all, there is no reason for people of God to be impressed by people who tolerate and accept religious intolerance and corruption.
In a statement, he said that Christians nationwide had been victimised enough by groups with a selective reading of the Federal Constitution. I don’t propose to read Ng’s mind but I would think he was referring to Perkasa and also Umno.
He noted that there was an alarming disconnect between what Najib says and what actually happens on the ground. In short, Christians or for that matter other non-Muslims have had enough of promises and grand gestures.
We have watched with alarm the unabated demonisation of Christians and the disinclination of the Najib government to put a stop to these attacks or even apologise for the insults thrown by Umno, its newspapers and Perkasa.
One swallow does not make a summer and one or two lunches packed with promises do not mean the end of a period of persecution.
* Spencer Gan reads The Malaysian Insider.
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.