Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing blamed “a weakness for conspiracy theories” for Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid's accusation that Christians and Jews are behind the campaign of Sarawak Report in levelling corruption allegations against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
“It was just too good to be true!” exclaimed the head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese, in remarks to Malaysiakini on what he called “a resurgence in Christian bashing just when there were signs of a thaw in Muslim-Christian relations in Malaysia.”
Bishop Paul Tan was expressing surprise that recent signs of rapprochment between the Muslim positions on fraught issues and the stances of other religions as evidenced by a benign fatwa in Perlis on child custody rights and Perkasa’s overture to a Christian NGO are so easily disrupted by a “penchant by some Muslims for conspiracy theories when the going gets rough for them.”
That was how the prelate described Mahdzir’s ( photo ) opinion aired at the Hulu Langat Umno division meeting last Sunday that Christians and Jews are behind allegations of corruption levelled by web news portal Sarawak Report against the prime minister.
“Usually, Muslims don't like to be associated with anything that is seen as remiss on the part of Christians, but in their weakness for conspiracy theories some Muslims exhibit the behavior of Christian rulers in Europe in medieval and in pre-modern times when things like crop failure or epidemics were routinely blamed on the Jews,” said the prelate.
“In modern times in Malaysia, it appears that some Muslims want to scapegoat Christians - I can’t speak for the Jews - when the going gets rough for them,” asserted the Jesuit-trained prelate.
Bishop Paul Tan noted that the late Pope John Paul II had publicly apologised for Christian anti-Semitism that led to pogroms against the Jews in medieval and in pre-modern times.
“This weakness for blaming others when the fault is one’s own is as old as the hills and should not be allowed to disrupt what appears to be a promising little thaw in relations between Muslims and Christians in Malaysia,” hoped the bishop.
“We Christians are a people of hope and we hold to every little evidence that sustains that hope like that fatwa in Perlis that holds promise of harmony over acrimony in child custody battles between divorced or estranged parents and the initiative between Perkasa and a Christian NGO to consult first before pronouncing on combustible issues,” he asserted.
“I hope Perkasa and the Christian NGO will jointly tell the erring minister that it is better to look within than without for the cause of his boss’ current tribulations,” he advised.