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ICC Note: On May 9, Malaysia elects former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to replace Prime Minister Najib Razak. The 92-year-old Mahathir defeated the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been in power 60 years. Many hope that with the new administration, Malaysia could honor religious freedom better than Najib’s and allow Christians converting from Muslim background to freely do so.   

05/10/2018 Malaysia (Mission Network News) – Yesterday, Malaysia voted for their state and federal governments. As votes were being tallied, the race between Prime Minister Najib Razak and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad proved to be tight, as expected. However, Mr. Mahathir took a historic victory as part of the opposition party, Pakatan Harapan.

Earlier this month, the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and Council of Churches of Malaysia urged Christians to vote wisely and to pray. This is sound advice for any Christian, but in Malaysia, it points to the fact that there is a lot at stake.

David Curry of Open Doors USA gives some background: “Malaysia is a predominately Muslim country. And [it’s] very close to Indonesia, very close to Singapore. And it has a reputation as a financial center within that region; you have Kuala Lumpur as the capital city. And so, a lot of people, they don’t think about Malaysia when they think about persecution of Christians, issues related around religious liberty. But it’s a significant player in that region.”

Malaysia has moved up Open Door’s World Watchlist to number 23. The persecution that takes place in Malaysia manifests in the way Christianity is monitored and controlled.

“You have a government that is imposing restrictions on Christians in very practical ways, in some very subtle ways. And they have some infrastructure there that makes it very difficult.”

Not only are traditional groups like the Roman Catholic Church monitored, but those Christians who have an emphasis on sharing their faith are more heavily persecuted. However, if you’re born into a Christian family and are not too loud about sharing your faith, you might not be as much of a target.

“The average Christian in Malaysia may not fully understand the levels of persecution that exist around them.”

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For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]