“The times – they are a-changing”….. so crooned Bob Dylan back in the sixties in his trademark half sung half spoken voice. Forty years on, similar stirrings are beginning to happen here in Malaysia.
Just a few years ago it would have been unthinkable that a PAS Member of Parliament would consider initiating a dialogue with Christians in Malaysia. Yet, in the three months of this year, the PAS Chairman for National Unity, YB Dr. Mujahid Yusof Rawa, MP for Parit Buntar has done three sessions in three different Catholic churches in Penang. Last Sunday about 250 Catholics attended the dialogue on the “Allah” issue at the St. Anne’s Church in Bukit Mertajam. Also in attendance were some 40-50 PAS members.
It seems incredulous that it took us this long to come together to talk and listen to each other.
Nevertheless, the walls of division, misunderstanding and suspicion are beginning to crumble.
According to a friend who was at the previous two sessions, the one at St. Anne’s seemed to have attracted the most participants. I returned home to find my Malay Muslim neighbour asking me where I’d been. When told we were just returning from church, she immediately asked, “Did you attend the dialogue too?” I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
In hindsight, it now seems that the gamble by certain desperados to hang on to power at all costs has backfired. The game is up. The people aren’t as gullible as we once were. Times have changed. The playing field too has changed somewhat dramatically. And, like most Malaysians have sensed, this is simply the beginning of the end of one dynasty.
For some reason, the picture that comes to mind is how the mighty Soviet empire crumbled in the wake of “perestroika” and “glasnost” within a short space of time during 1987-1991. I wonder if history is going to repeat itself here within the next few years.
Meanwhile, here’s Dylan to keep us thinking, hoping and working for that change to happen: