Per: Government Grants to Methodist Churches on the Eve of the Sibu By-Election, 16 May 2010
Warmest greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Many of our church members are aware of the reports in the media that the government made grants to four Methodist churches in Sibu, on the eve of the recent Parliamentary by-election. I am informed that the grants came to a total of RM1.75 million. I have also received text messages and emails from our own pastors and members on the same issue, expressing concern and asking where the Methodist Church in Malaysia stands on this. In order to help our members not to become confused and anxious, I would like to say the following:
1. First, the giving of grants to religious bodies for the advancement of religion, as well as to other bodies like schools, etc., is a government responsibility. To receive such is a citizen’s right. After all, the money given is actually taxpayers’ money. （是的，接受拨款并没有错，这从来不是主要争论）Indeed the problem in our country is that most of the money for religious bodies is usually given to one particular religious community, with relatively much smaller proportions given to other communities. （这也是事实）In so far as the money was given to the churches this time round, it can be said that the government is trying to right a past wrong. （这点我很保留，似乎有点天真）Further, the churches concerned never asked for the money. （这点似乎与其它资料有点冲突，据说，这笔拨款是教会早在补选之前就已经按照正常程序申请的）No one should therefore charge them with wrongdoing.
2. However, as the public at large has pointed out, the problem with the grants made in this instance is that of timing! They were given on the eve of a closely fought by-election and therefore perceived to be manipulative and highly questionable. （是的，这是问题的核心）Some people have therefore urged the churches involved to return the money.
3. The Christian church is concerned about morality and politics. Nonetheless, it cannot take sides in party politics for various reasons, including the fact that there are Christians on both sides of the political divide. Furthermore, the church must also guard against being perceived as being used as a tool by political parties, whether those in government or those in opposition. In light of the above, rejecting the grants given by the government in this instance is not necessarily the solution, because it could be misinterpreted as a rejection of the government in favour of the opposition. Clearly we are caught in a delicate dilemma, which has been forced upon us. （是的，钱已经收了，在目前的政治氛围中，要退回的确有点为难，但总议会是否能给一些指引，免去未来教会继续陷入在两难的情况之下呢？教会是否可以拟定一个原则，公开呼吁政府不要在竞选期间给予拨款呢？况且，这是否抵触竞选法令，也仍旧存在着争议）
4. The Methodist Church in Malaysia respects the right of the leadership of the four churches to decide on what to do with the grants that have been given. At the same time, the General Conference Executive Council, which includes the Bishop and all the Presidents, will deliberate on this matter and advise the four churches concerned accordingly.
5. Meanwhile, I would like to urge all our pastors and members to refrain from making any comments on the matter so that it does not get blown out of proportion. （希望这并不是封口令，而许多人也的确在等待教会明确的立场）Instead, let us take serious the words of our Lord Jesus in Mat 5: 16, which of particularly significant in our present context. ‘In the same way, let your light shine before all men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.’ （Amen）When we truly live in this manner, we will go a long way to fulfil our Quadrennium theme, ‘Spreading Scriptural Holiness, Transforming the Nation.’
May the peace of the Lord be with all of you!
Yours sincerely in Christ,
Bishop Hwa Yung
The Methodist Church in Malaysia
69 Jalan 5/31
46000 Petaling Jaya , Malaysia