PETALING JAYA: After attending the Bersih 4 rally last year, Catholic bishop Bernard Paul intends to take to the streets of Kuala Lumpur for Bersih 5, to be held on November 19.
In an online posting, Bishop Paul urged Malaysians to take part in the rally and “to claim [Malaysia] back from destructive leaders”.
Bishop Paul, who is head of the Catholic Church’s Malacca-Johor diocese, said that taking part in Bersih was a citizen’s right and not a matter of party politics, not of supporting BN nor the divisive opposition.
“Tell the politicians to grow up” Bishop Paul said. His posting sparked criticism from Parti Cinta Malaysia leader Huan Cheng Guan who urged the bishop to focus more on church matters rather than meddling into political matters irrelevant to religion.
The bishop said he had three reasons for wishing to attend the rally, according to a news report.
First, to express solidarity with Malaysians trying to make the country a better place. “There are people putting their lives (on the line) for it. Bersih 5 convoy (supporters) were beaten and the law seems to be double standard. I also want to be one (good Malaysian), I feel I must support them and get my people to support them. I want a better Malaysia,” he was quoted as telling Malaysiakini.
Second, for the community to speak up instead of remaining passive. “We must make people realise that they must do something to contribute to a better Malaysia.
“Lastly, I have had a good many people in the church and beyond, enquiring about the right thing to do. As a bishop, I am a teacher and I have to teach the truth. The right thing to do. So it was a teaching to work with all peoples on the betterment of our nation and world,” he said.
According to Malaysiakini, the bishop was unfazed by the criticism he had received. Huan had said that a religious figure should not encourage demonstrations or rallies and had labelled the bishop as an “idiot”.
“Noise is normal, I have no problem even if they call me an idiot. To me, I have expected such a reaction. Religious life and normal life are not two lives, but only one life. We must walk the talk, if I walk one but talk the other, then I am a hypocrite.
“The politicians said (I am) mixing (religion) with politics. No! I am teaching the people to work with other people and religion. We are trying to make Malaysia better, is it wrong?” he was reported as saying.