Rulers of Malaya Oppose Free Worship
LOOK at a map of Asia. Jutting out into the South China sea is the long fingerlike Malay Peninsula. North of it lies Burma, Thailand and Indo-China. To the west is India, and nearby are the islands of Sumatra and Borneo. Singapore, the crossroads of the world, is at the peninsula’s southern tip. In this geographical theater great political dramas have been staged in recent years. Not so long ago the British, French and Netherlands empires of the West completely dominated this whole Asiatic area. But since the defeat of Japan in 1945 Sumatra and Borneo, along with other territories, have broken away from the Netherlands. The natives of Indo-China are struggling to oust the French. India and Burma have gained their independence, and the federated states of Malaya are clamoring to likewise free themselves of all British rule. Also, the sinister forces of communism have been very active in this area, especially so since China to the north has come under complete Communist domination.
Now with this setting and its surrounding backdrop of events in mind, it can be appreciated what a great blunder the rulers of Malaya made last July when they ousted four Christian missionaries from their country. It all started in June when four of Jehovah’s witnesses, L. Atkinson, R. J. Ward and R. G. Moffatt of England, and L. McLean of Ireland, arrived in Singapore on their way to Malaya to take up their missionary assignments. As graduates of the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead in the state of New York they had come a long distance for this purpose, some twelve thousand miles, in fact.
Singapore, although a separate colony, has a common immigration permit arrangement with Malaya, and so upon arriving here the four missionaries visited the deputy controller of immigration, a Mr. Fox. He received them courteously, but granted them permission to remain only one month, pending consideration by his superiors of their request to remain indefinitely. Assured, however, that there would be no difficulty in obtaining the permission, the four missionaries proceeded to Penang, a little island port on the northwest coast of Malaya having a population of 200,000. Here they found the people unusually hospitable and anxious to know more about the Bible, of which they knew very little. True, most of the people are Buddhists, but they were ready enough to hear about a God who will make an end of all corruption, violence, and disunity in this world.
Each week the missionaries inquired at the Immigration department in Penang if permission for permanent stay had been received, but there was none. Would Malaya, now clamoring for independence and anxious to show its governmental maturity, give a decision in favor of freedom of worship? Would she go along with the free democratic policies of the United Nations? Would she permit this Bible educational work, the greatest force for combating godless communism, to be carried on in her land? Or would Malaya follow in the footsteps of the Communist countries and prohibit the entry of Jehovah’s witnesses? These questions were soon to be answered.
TRAGIC BLUNDER ON THE HIGHEST LEVEL
On July 10 the offices of the Watch Tower Society in Singapore received word from the Immigration department stating that the missionaries would have to “depart on or before the 12th of July”, but this information had not reached them when, on July 11, in response to a request, the missionaries appeared for an interview before a Mr. A. B. Roche, controller of immigration for the Federation of Malaya in Penang. Playing the part assigned to him by some higher authority, Roche brusquely asked for their passports, noted the date, and remarked: “H’m, you have left it rather late. You should be away by now.” He was reminded that no word as of that moment had been received concerning their request to remain. Whereupon, Roche declared: “Well, I can give you your answer now. I shall not grant you your request.” He then proceeded to dictate letters addressed to the missionaries in which he refused their request to remain, quoting as authority for his summary action the Federation of Malaya Emergency Regulations.
Now these Emergency Regulations were special powers granted for the express purpose of combating banditry and communism. Therefore the missionaries asked why Roche was taking this summary action, to which he curtly replied: “I don’t wish to give a reason.” What an outrage! Had they somehow fallen behind the Iron Curtain? They thought they were still in the camp of the Western world, yet they were receiving the kind of highhanded treatment dealt out by petty officials in the totalitarian lands. It is a well-known fact that Jehovah’s witnesses are neither bandits nor communists in any sense of the word, and yet an antibandit, anticommunist regulation was being used against them without cause or reason. It was therefore manifest that these low, underhanded methods were being employed to protect wicked conspirators behind the scenes.
Asked if they could appeal his decision, Roche first replied, “Well, there isn’t any appeal really.” But when pressed further on the point he unearthed a copy of the regulation which contained a clause granting the right to appeal to the chief secretary. Here was at least a ray of hope; so immediately an appeal was taken up to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaya. Possibly the chief secretary, Mr. M. V. del Tufo, was an honest, sensible man, wise enough to see that justice would be handed out in this matter.
NO RELIEF FROM COUNCIL OF THE WICKED
It was in Kuala Lumpur that the missionaries learned the real significance of Roche’s statement, “There isn’t any appeal really.” Not from pillar to post, as the saying goes, but from pawn to pawn the missionaries went seeking relief from the gross injustice committed against them. Given the run-around from one official to another they met a variety of excuses why no responsible official would grant an interview. In an effort to see the chief secretary, they got no farther than his office staff. A call on the secretary to the government, Mr. P. O. Wickens, who had something to do with the formal written appeal that was made, likewise proved fruitless. Told that Mr. Dato Onn, Member for Home Affairs, was actually the one that dealt with such matters, they made efforts to see him, but here again one could only talk to his private secretary. An interview with Dato Onn was refused on the grounds that the matter was beyond his power to reverse, the decision having been made at government level. Now what could that mean?
Dato Onn’s secretary was a kindly disposed man and so he revealed what all this dodging by the officials really meant. On July 3, this secretary explained, the Executive Council of the Federation resolved that ‘the future policy of the Federation of Malaya would be that representatives of the Watch Tower Society, that is, Jehovah’s witnesses, would be personae non gratae [persons not welcome] in the Federation, and that this would apply to the four missionaries now making application to stay’. So the matter was important, important enough to engage the attention of the whole Council in private, but not important enough for a single member to grant an interview to the ones concerned, the ones who were being grossly misrepresented, viciously charged, falsely classified as undesirables, and wickedly condemned without a hearing.
The instigators of this conspiracy sought to do a thorough job in choking out the message of God’s kingdom from the territory of Malaya. They wanted no public discussion on the matter, no appeals that might backfire and expose the plotters. They therefore struck at the highest level where they exercised influence and power in order that the decision would be final with the minimum of publicity. Even the little notice that did appear in the press was enough to call forth an expression of displeasure from more than one official. One is reminded of Jesus’ words, that they that practice vile things hate the light and avoid it if possible for fear their evil deeds will be exposed.—John 3:19-21, NW.
As matters now stood the only person in Malaya powerful enough to overrule or modify this decree of the Executive Council was the high commissioner in Council, Sir Henry Gurney, and so a formal “Petition of Appeal” was filed with him. In pleading that this stupid error be corrected, the Petition gave the following reasons:
“(i) Your Petitioners believe that the work done by them in helping those who wish to understand the Bible brings great benefits and enjoins upon all people obligations of justice, decency, morality and respect for law and order, and belief in God’s justice and the hope of the new world promised by the Bible.
“(ii) That, in their short stay in Penang, your petitioners have met many people who have expressed a real appreciation of the aid rendered by your Petitioners in helping them to understand the Bible, and would greatly regret the denial of such service to them.
“(iii) That your Petitioners, being dedicated to the service of God, deem it their bounden duty to respond to the call for world-wide preaching as contained in the Biblical command: ‘This good news of the kingdom shall be preached to all nations.’ (Matthew 24:14) Having freely practiced their preaching work for many years in their own country, where they were assisted by thousands of associates, your Petitioners now wish to bring this good news to the people of Malaya, that no country may be excluded from the benefits of the divine command.
“(iv) That your Petitioners believe that a sound knowledge of the Bible is the most lasting and effective bulwark against the dangerous and violent political ideologies that teach the overthrow of states and the alteration of the systems by violence.
“(v) That your Petitioners believe that the remarkable unity and peace which exists between Jehovah’s witnesses throughout the earth, regardless of race, nationality and colour, demonstrates in a practical way the benefits gained as a result of the teachings of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.”
Even as the other appeals went unheeded, so also this cry to the high commissioner in behalf of truth and justice. It fell on stony ears with the same result—no interview, no reason, no relief. All possibilities for a stay of execution of the Executive Council’s order were now exhausted. All officialdom of Malaya apparently was solidly against Jehovah God and his Kingdom witnesses. The only door open for the four missionaries was the one through which they had entered. They must leave this land where intolerance had reared its ugly head and go to one where freedom of worship exists. So on August 27 the four left narrow-minded Malaya and entered freedom-loving Thailand, and there they have continued their charitable, God-given ministerial work.
YOU TOO CAN PROTEST!
Does this mean the case is closed and the matter ended? Official Malaya may think so. And the conspirators who engineered the plot may sit back and rejoice that Jehovah’s witnesses were tossed out and the door slammed against their return. But such totalitarian treatment settles nothing. When freedom and liberty are crushed underfoot as here in Malaya, all lovers of truth and justice everywhere rise up with righteous indignation to meet the challenge.
The government gave no reason for the ousting of Jehovah’s witnesses, but one high official told the missionaries: “You are undermining and disturbing all the established religions, which are such a bulwark against communism.” This is a revealing statement when considered with other events. For example, a clergyman of the “Brethren” church in Penang told his congregation to have nothing to do with the witnesses when they called at their homes. Also the “Rev.” A. J. Bullitt, of Newcastle, commissary for the bishop of Singapore, complained that a newspaper headline, “Missionaries Asked to Leave Malaya,” was misleading since Jehovah’s witnesses were not real missionaries. He then boasted that a score of new missionaries were on their way to Malaya, ten assigned to the Church Missionary Society, six to the English Presbyterian Mission, and four to the London Missionary Society.—Singapore Free Press, August 13, 1951.
The true nature of the ouster is thus discovered—religious discrimination and bigoted intolerance! Political leaders have suppressed the Kingdom message and impaled its proclaimers at the behest of pharisaical advisers. But in listening to these blind religious guides what a stupid blunder the rulers of Malaya have made! Christendom’s leading religions are no bulwark against communism. That is why the religions of Christendom make leagues with communism in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Russia, etc., while Jehovah’s uncompromising witnesses are outlawed, banned and thrown into concentration camps in those countries. So by closing her borders to these true Christians, Malaya is playing right into the hands of the Communists. So it was too bad that those “established religions” in Malaya could not provide a sufficient “bulwark” to prevent Malaya’s high commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, from being ambushed and killed by a hail of bullets by Communists just two and a half months later.
Through dullness of understanding men may make mistakes, but if they want to be wise they will correct their errors. Surely some of the ill-advised officials of Malaya are wise enough to reconsider the tragic mistake that was made in classifying Jehovah’s witnesses as undesirables. Let every freedom-loving person therefore write immediately to these officials. Write briefly and to the point, urging them to correct this error. Show them there are thousands upon thousands of people in this world who vigorously protest against this clergy-inspired discrimination and ruthless intolerance shown by Malaya. Names and addresses of responsible men of influence are as follows:
H. M. King George VI,
Buckingham Palace, London, S. W. 1
Rt. Hon. W. L. S. Churchill, O.M., C.H., M.P.
House of Commons, London, S. W. 1
Secretary of State for the Colonies
Rt. Hon. Oliver Lyttelton, D.S.O., M.C.
Church House, Great Smith Street,
London, S. W. 1
The Hon. the Member for Home Affairs,
Dato Onn bin Jaafar, D.K., D.P.M.J.
1 Clarke Street, Kuala Lumpur, Malaya
The Hon. the Officer Administering the Government,
Mr. M. V. del Tufo, C.M.G., M.C.S.
King’s House, Kuala Lumpur, Malaya
Mr. H. L. King,
The Director of Immigration,
Havelock Road, Singapore 1
Why is it you do not know what I am speaking? Because you cannot listen to my word. You are from your father the Devil and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie. Because I, on the other hand, tell the truth, you do not believe me. Who of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why is it you do not believe me? He that is from God listens to the sayings of God. This is why you do not listen, because you are not from God.—John 8:43-47, NW.
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