Malaysia's former Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin

Church leaders in Malaysia have denounced former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin for telling a campaign rally the opposition Pakatan Harapan party was secretly backed by Christians and Jews bent on converting Malays.

In a video released on TikTok last week in the run up to the nation’s 15th General Election, Yassin states the opposition Pakatan Harapan party “is a huge danger. I saw a video where a group of Jews were talking about Malaysia and praying for the country to fall into the hands of the Opposition, which has been sponsoring these groups of Jews and Christians. For me, this is dangerous. Is a Christianisation process going on?” 

The general-secretary of the Malaysian Council of Church, the Rev Jonathan Jesudas, condemned the remarks as irresponsible coming from “a politician of his standing”.

“Such statements, carelessly uttered, have a tendency to create racial and religious tension and strife,” he said.

The president of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, which counts among its members the Anglican church, on 18 Nov 2022 echoed these remarks. Bishop Philip Thomas of the Orthodox Church said “statements made by politicians must not stir up strife and cast aspersions which are seditious in nature in order to win support from a particular race or religious group. Any seditious statement which has the effect of disturbing the peace, harmony and wellbeing of all citizens in our beloved Malaysia must be dealt with by the authorities swiftly and effectively so that it is not repeated. We are shocked and appalled that such statements could come from a former Prime Minister and hope the authorities will take appropriate action so that such irresponsible statements are not made to the public at large again.”

The 2022 Malaysian general election was held on 19 November 2022 and elected 222 members to the lower house of parliament. No party received a majority of votes. Yassin’s BERSATU party won 71 seats, increasing its total by 41 seats to become the second largest member of the Dewan Rakyat or lower house of parliament.