(BERITA NECF, November-December 2003 issue)
Malaysians are expected to go the polls next year to choose the government that will lead them for five years. Every general election is an important event but perhaps none more so than the upcoming one, since it also coincides with a transition in the top leadership of the country.
As Christians, we know that “there is no authority except that which God has established” (Rom. 13:1). The opportunity for us to be involved in the process by which God institutes authority must therefore be regarded not only as a privilege but also a great responsibility.
There are four steps that you can take to ensure that we properly appropriate this honour and fulfil our duties as Christians and citizens of this country.
First and foremost, ensure that you are registered to vote. You are eligible to vote if you are (1) a Malaysian citizen, (2) at least 21 years of age, and (3) a resident of an electoral district. You will need an identity card, which furnishes proof of these three things. (Note that you can only vote only in the constituency that corresponds to the address in your identity card.)
If you have never registered to vote before, you can now do so all year round simply by filling in a Borang A at the State Election Office or at designated Post Offices throughout the country. Ensure that you clearly state your religion as ‘Christian’.
Second, either in the context of your church or community group, organise meetings with the potential candidates for federal and state seats to discuss issues of deep concern to the constituency and the country.
This is vital if you are to make informed choices about the suitability of the various candidates. It allows the values, views and interests of the Christian community to be communicated and known. Face-to-face meetings also help ensure greater accountability of the part of the elected representatives.
Third, pray for the smooth running of the elections. We are instructed to individually and collectively pray for “kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2)
We should never take our freedoms in this country for granted. In addition to the holding of peaceful and civilised elections, Malaysian Christians ought also to pray for an abiding fear of God, national righteousness, good governance, political and religious pluralism and the upholding of the Federal Constitution. Pray against all those who would incite unrest and undermine the country by restricting rights and introducing political and religious extremism.
Fourth, vote on polling day and encourage other Christians in your church and community to do so also.
The outcomes of elections may sometimes hinge on voter turnout. In marginal seats in particular, not casting your vote could have as much impact of your casting it. It is imperative that voting be undertaken regardless of the inconvenience. It is an act of stewardship and integral to fulfilling our obligations to God and the country.