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The people of Malaysia – a country fraught with its unique struggles amidst the dreams we share as a nation – need a sense of hope that our country will and can one day be the haven we all desire it to be.
Much has happened in the past one year leading to the March general elections. Upon the announcement of the election results, there was largely a cheer of exhilaration among the rakyat who decided it was time for a change in the state of the country’s political affairs.
But within several months after that, many were once again disillusioned like never before when they found that their hopes were perhaps illusive.
With this background in mind, the Revolution of Hope (RoH Malaysia) organised their annual Merdeka event on 10 and 11 October 2008. If last year’s theme was Merdeka 2007: A Revolution of Hope, this year’s event was themed Merdeka 2008: A Restoration of Hope.
RoH Malaysia is an ecumenical group of praxis-oriented theological and social scientific thinkers which aims to effect ripples of change among Christians, empowering them for creative theological reflection and greater societal involvement. The team consists of a mix of theologians and people trained in fields of the social sciences, lay people and clergy, researchers, grassroots activists and structural activists.
In this Merdeka 2008 event, the respective members of the team presented their analyses from a variety of perspectives. Beginning with the current Malaysian context, highlighting the hopes and challenges experienced by the nation, the team members then began to facilitate further thinking on the part of the participants by provoking reflection from theological, spiritual, pastoral and practical perspectives.
Participants were then divided into various groups – the corporate professionals, the NGO workers, pastors and church leaders, and youth – and led them through a thorough action planning process to contribute their little bits to the restoration of the nation. Because there is a praxis orientation in this gathering, the Merdeka events are usually deliberately preserved as small events. This year’s Merdeka 2008 had about 40 participants.
According to a number of the participants, two points highlighted in the event that most impressed them were, firstly, that our hope in the midst of social engagements must not rest on a false expectation of a this-worldly utopia. It is a hope that is cast far into the future, a Christian hope for the fullness of the reign of God to be actualised in this world order. The realisation of this historical event would be an inevitable and would be something worth hoping for when we embrace faith like little children.
Secondly, they were reminded that engagement in social concerns must not cause Christians to pander to negative rhetoric and verbal violence the way many anti-government bloggers and politicians are doing. The Christian community, in its social engagement, must always embody a way of mutual respect. In our endeavour to uphold justice and peace, our Christian values of respect for the dignity of our neighbours must not be compromised.
RoH Malaysia is committed to a non-partisan position in its political stance. As a team, they neither stand in support of nor against any political party in Malaysia. Their utmost concern reflects the concern of the Body of Christ: justice and peace. As they seek to uphold the dignity of the marginalised in society, they are committed to articulating their concerns regarding relevant issues in accordance with the theological and ethical standards of the Church. That these articulations pertaining to any socio-political reality implicates upon particular political positions and parties does not at all or at any time reflect a spirit of political partisanship on their part.
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