Thursday 2 August 2012

Nationwide Christian prayer to include Sabah RCI demand

The annual '40-Day Fast & Prayer' event organised by the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) Malaysia this year has included the demand for a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into Sabah's illegal immigrant problem.

The 40 days of prayers from Aug 7 to Sept 25 is an annual event for the churches nationwide but this year's has been given more emphasis and dubbed Hope of Jubilee as Sept 16 marks the beginning of the 50th year of the formation of Malaysia.

In Christianity, the concept of the Jubilee is a special year of remission of sins and universal pardon in which slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts forgiven and God's mercies would be particularly manifest.

NECF has uploaded a booklet of the event on its official website suggesting the daily topic of prayer for the 40-day period. 

"In our national context, there is a great cry for restoration. Lands and wealth have been robbed, rights have been trampled on, institutions and administrations have been abused, and harmony has been neglected.

NONE"Our children are at risk of inheriting a bankrupt, corrupt and divided nation. But the spirit of Jubilee presents a promise and opportunity to reverse these circumstances," stated the write-up for the first day of prayer.

The 14th day prayer touched on the issue of Sabah illegal immigrants.

"Sabah now has a population of 3.2 million of which some 25 percent are foreigners... In 2009, Sabah was home to about 52,000 stateless children whose numbers are steadily increasing. This is mainly due to the influx of immigrants, often illegal.

Fuelling negative feelings moves

"The main contributing problem is the lax enforcement by the immigration department. Another cause of concern is the alleged granting of citizenship to illegal immigrants for political purposes."

Therefore, the booklet suggested, that devotees pray for the speedy setting up of the RCI, stricter enforcement of border control to stem the influx of illegal immigrants, and effective and fair solutions to existing illegal immigrants in the state.

It also suggested praying for the exposure and prosecution of any misuse of power in granting citizenship to illegal immigrants.

The formation of the RCI has been announced by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in June after several delays, but its members have yet to be appointed to date.

NONEThe issue of Native Customary Rights (NCR) of indigenous land in Sabah was also one of the subjects for prayer.

It pointed out that the Sabah state government has proposed the issuance of communal land titles as a solution to NCR land disputes where natives as title holders of the communal land will get only 40 percent of the profits earned.

However, this proposal was opposed by the indigenous peoples because it is not in the spirit of NCR provided for in the Land Ordinance, it said.

Prayer for justice in addressing this issue, fair compensation to be given, as well as courage and wisdom for the lawyers championing NCR issues, is also listed in the booklet.

On the issue of poverty and insufficient infrastructure in Sabah, the booklet noted that under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2006-2010), Sabah was allocated only eight percent of the total national budget, and only RM1,520.76 million or less than three percent of the total national development budget of 2012.

Clarion call for political participation

Hence it suggested that prayer against nepotism and corruption, and for Sabahans to shed their ‘laid-back' attitude and make their voices heard and issues addressed.

For Sarawak, the NECF called on devotees to pray for a heightened awareness and strong commitment of the Sarawakians to their role in the political process, and a rise in the participation of the Christians in exerting their influence in the political arena.

The fellowship also encouraged prayer for all Orang Asli, and bumiputera of Sabah and Sarawak, subjected to abuse, discrimination and oppression, to enjoy the same privileges as their Malay counterparts.

It suggested prayer for Orang Asli status and rights to be included into the federal constitution, and for a major revision of the Aboriginal Peoples Ordinance for the Orang Asli in peninsula to be given their right over their land and to represent and determine their affairs.

Other prayer suggestions include elimination of corruption and religious intolerance, as well as good governance and leadership within the government, rulers and Parliament.

It also called on devotees to pray for more opportunities for other racial groups as well as for non-Malay bumiputras to gain entry into public service.

In conjunction with the Jubilee celebration, the NECF has also formed an interim committee with other Christian groups to hold a unprecedented nationwide prayer movement dubbed ‘Prayer United' for the Malaysia Day celebration on Sept 16 and the upcoming 13th general election.

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