The Sibu churches who received grants from the federal government during the recent by-election plan have missed the chance to take a public stand against vote-buying.
They intend to keep the money, their pastors offering a host of reasons, some of them maybe legitimate: it’s public money; they had applied for the money earlier; they went through proper procedures; what can they do if the money is given during the campaign; there were no conditions attached; they are tax-paying citizens as well.
One pastor was even reported as saying the grant was a “special opportunity given by God” for which the church should be grateful. (Now, that’s too much!) Another pastor even said the grant had nothing to do with the by-election.
Here’s the larger picture the pastors missed in their arguments: was there any certainty they were going to get those grants – if not for the Sibu by-election? What if many among the public, whose money it was in the first place, viewed the award and timing of those grants as vote-buying? Doesn’t that count?
Don’t these churches see that in returning the money and snubbing the giver, they would be deterring other attempts at vote-buying in future?
I think they lost a valuable opportunity to make a statement and public stand against vote-buying.
May they enjoy their grants and sleep well.