House of Bishop Finally Paid Up

We praise God for finally bringing the legal dispute between the Legal Action Task Force and The House of Bishops to a positive outcome with the receipt of the payment awarded to the plaintiff by the Appeals Court from the House of Bishops.  The payment had been long overdue but we rejoice that further action to recover the debt is no longer necessary since the payment had been received.

The Legal Action Task force will meet soon to disburse the accumulated money in our account and will inform you again when we had made a decision. After everything is all said and done, we will publish and close the account and dissolve the Legal Action Task Force.

We like to thank all concerned who had supported our cause with prayers, encouragement and financial resources. Without your support we may not have reached this level of defending the Church against the might of those in a position of power. The Lord had been truly gracious to us.

Legal Action Task Force

HOB Conceded Finally

We are glad that the legal case we took up against the House of Bishops (HOB) is finally behind us, after the Counsel for HOB, Ronny Cham withdrew the Motion for leave to the Federal Court on 24th November 2014. It was also agreed that there will be no order for Cost in the Federal Court. This means the case is finally closed.

Finally, the HOB accepted that it had lost the case and could not win at the Federal Court after the Court of Appeal gave its judgment against them in May. This is a wise decision on their part, because going forward may cost them more financially and bring greater humiliation if they lost again. This decision, although made at the last minute before the Federal Court started to hear its application, may be the most intelligent decision they made in this crisis.

We have yet to receive the refund of cost paid by us, amounting to RM 15,000.00 after the High Court awarded cost to the Defendant. When the judgment was overturned on appeal to the Court of Appeal,   the Defendant was ordered to refund us the money. In addition, the Defendant was also ordered to pay cost for the High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings amounting to RM30,000.00. These claims are long overdue. However, Ronny Cham had given our lawyer his word that HOB will settle the debt. Once these claims are received, we will write up the account and honor the pledge on how the fund shall be utilized. They have up to 7th December 2014 to pay the sum of RM 45,000.00 or else contempt action will be taken against them.

We had fought a good fight and we want to take this opportunity to thank our lawyer and our plaintiffs for their sacrifices. We also want to thank all who had support us in this cause, financially, with prayers and with encouragements. We thank God for His Grace to let truth be established and revealed. Let it be a lesson to all who are in authority that no one is above the law.

Legal Action Task Force

Written Judgement of the Court of Appeal

A few months ago, the Malaysian Court of Appeal overturned the High Court’s ruling. It compelled the Provincial House of Bishop to adhere to Regulation B (that deals with the removal of a Bishop), produce the PAC’s recommendation which was withheld from the public and five complainants, refund the RM15,000 awarded to the defendant, and pay the cost of RM30,000 to the appelant. Here is the written judgement from the Court of Appeal. Meanwhile the House of Bishop applied for leave to appeal against this decision to the Federal Court. The leave application will be heard on November 24, 2014. Download the written judgement.

The Legality of the 2014 Synod

The Diocesan Constitution Article IV Clause 2 states, “The Diocesan Synod shall consist of three houses, namely the House of Bishop, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity….”

With the deceased of the Diocesan Bishop, the Diocesan Synod cannot be constituted in a normal manner. However, the Diocesan Constitution does provide for such exceptional circumstances in Article VIII Clause 2 which states, “During a vacancy of the See the Diocesan Synod may meet at the direction and presidency of the Archbishop Commissary entrusted with the administration of the Diocese”.

That means if the Vicar General or another Priest/Bishop is appointed as the Archbishop Commissary, he can presides over the Synod. Only the Archbishop can become the “substitute” House of Bishop of the Diocese, which normally is the Diocesan Bishop.

In addition, Diocesan Constitution Article VIII Clause 3 states, “In the absence of the Bishop or during a Vacancy of the See, it shall not be lawful for the Diocesan Synod to consider any matters relating to Faith and Order”.

That said, we are concern that there is to date no announcement or statement form the office of the Archbishop. All we have is an announcement on Diocesan Facebook page that the Vicar General for our Diocese is Bishop Melter Tais with effect from 25th August 2014. We wonder if the Facebook announcement is official and appropriate? The least we would have expected is an announcement in the Diocesan official website. As the Diocesan Synod is proceeding this weekend, its legality may be questioned as it is neither called by the Archbishop nor an Archbishop Commissary been appointed to preside.

The graver concern for this Synod is the proposed amendments to the Diocesan Constitution that will be tabled this weekend. Diocesan Constitution Article XXVII Clause 1 states, “Changes in the provision contained in this constitution may be submitted to the Diocesan Synod on the recommendation of the Standing Committee to which the proposed changes shall be referred three months before the Diocesan Synod at which they are to considered”. We are made to understand that this time frame has not been followed and the amendments substantial. As much as we believe the good intention of the amendments, the manner in which it is carried out will mean that its legality may be challenged.

The Diocesan Constitution defines the Diocese in many aspects of its life and ministry. Is it not appropriate for such important amendments be first read and understood by the Church or at least by the PCC of the local church before it is rushed for tabling? For the sake of not being seen as rushing and for the sake of transparency, we call upon the VG and Stand Com to desist from tabling the amendments for voting. Instead, it should only be tabled for 1st reading. As the Synod will be called again soon for the purpose of electing a new Bishop, the amendments can then be put to the vote.

Let us not do things the old ways, let us take time to consider and reflect. Let us be inclusive and work in unity, allowing differences of opinions. There is no reason to RUSH.


The following is an excerpt from Reflections For Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning

The false self buys into outside experiences to furnish a personal source of meaning. The pursuit of money, power, glamour, sexual prowess, recognition and status enhances one’s self importance and creates the illusion of success. The impostor is what he does.

For many years I hid from my true self through my performance in ministry. I constructed an identity through sermons, books and storytelling. I rationalized that if the majority of Christians thought well of me, there was nothing wrong with me. The more l invested in ministerial success, the more real the impostor became.

The impostor prompts us to attach importance to what has no importance, clothing with a false glitter, what is least substantial and turning us away from what is real.

The importance is a liar.

Our false self stubbornly blinds each of us to the light and the truth of our own emptiness and hollowness. We cannot acknowledge the darkness within. On the contrary, the impostor proclaims his darkness as the most luminous light, varnishing truth and distorting reality. This brings to mind the apostle John’s words: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us”(1 John 1:8)

Reflection on Late BAV’s Last Sermon

The following is a comment from a reader.

It was unfortunate for ASC and for Chak that the late BAV’s last sermon was shown this morning in the 7.30am English Service. What was Chak thinking? If Chak thought that showing the video will gain him brownies points, well, the late BAV is not around to reward him. If Chak thought that he can antagonize and make more enemies and create more animosity between him and the congregation, well, it was a resounding success! Instead of working towards reconciliation and moving forward, Chak seems to be stuck in the past.

As for the sermon, let me try to make some sense of what the late BAV wanted to say:
1. He started off by saying that someone from Tawau asked him a question about why he was suffering. He then said that this sermon was his answer.

2. He began by stating “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil 1.21). Strangely, apart from stating it, he never expounded it nor did it come back to it.

3. He then went on to talk about a few unrelated things seemingly disconnected to the stated topic and eventually spoke about the incident of missing offering collection in a local church – Christ the King (for those uninformed). To my horror, he pointed out that it was a “she” who has taken the money; now a lot of people will be making an educated guess as to the identity of the person. He then portrayed himself as the hero who saved the day. This he did, according to him by likening the situation to the women caught in adultery that was brought before Jesus. In the end, Jesus did not condemn her as none of her accusers dared cast the first stone. What he essentially said is that since we are all sinners, we should not condemn other sinners in the church. I am not sure if he was trying to refer to himself who is the “suffering” subject of the sermon or the “she” who stole the church money?

4. The topic of Job suffering then came up for mention. The Late BAV’s reading of the life of Job is that he “served God for nothing”. How he derived or arrived at this understanding is not explained but he adds that “serving God for something meant serving the something”. The late BAV then went on to describe his sickness and the suffering is experienced. This culminated in him equating suffering to God taking away everything until nothing is left. However, he contend that he has not come to the point that nothing is left but there is still something.

Here, we must ask if this is a Biblical understanding of suffering? 1Chronicles 29:14 “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you”, Which has become what we recite every Sunday for our offering reminds us that EVERYTHING comes from God! As such, it is not quite correct to say that God is taking away from us resulting in suffering. In addition, Rom 5:3-4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.So, suffering is part and parcel of Christian life, and rather than God taking away something from us, God is actually producing something in us.

The late BAV then went on to talk about “giving everything” and an often repeated story (real or otherwise) of a South African man who asked that he be allowed to get “chain” from the offering bag. At this, the late BAV gave his characteristic “shouting” about the need to give everything and that he has been challenged time and again to give everything. The “shouting” was impressive but maybe overstated and the idea is nothing but imposing man’s will or burden on others. This is evident in the life of the late BAV himself who did not forfeit his share of the Menggatal land sale to the church. We remember the old widow with the two mites, but we should be careful to make it a command or doctrine or principle. We should be even more careful to “shout” an idea into people’s life when we are not prepared to do it ourselves.

5. The late BAV can be seen panting for air after these strenuous vocalization and tears, interestingly accompanied this part of the sermon. After repeating these things a few more times and stating that he needs to move on to the second point, he finally did. For the second point, he seems to be saying that we need to live in “the way of the cross” or to “pick up our cross”. No mention of Jesus’ command that we “deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him”. Almost no explanation or application or illustration for this second point. The sermon then ended with words for people to feel good or encouraged.

Well, what have we learn? It sounded like a Christian sermon, spoken in a Christian Church, Bible passages were referred in passing, motivational word for people to be Christian were sprinkled, but CHRIST was not at the center of the message, BAV was.

The Last Respect That was Not

The following is a comment from a reader.

Funeral service for Christian are usually also known as memorial or thanksgiving. We are suppose to worship God and give thanks for the deceased and in some ways remember the good works of the deceased, in short to honor and respect the deceased for the last time. Well, that was not to be the case for BAV either by design or ignorance, or just shear stupidity of those who organize it.

As a sitting bishop, the funeral service should have been led by the Archbishop. Instead, the Archbishop was given a negligible role of sending greetings. If BAV was a retired bishop, then the Diocesan bishop would suffice. So, it was a disgrace that the Archbishop did not led the service. If a serving priest died, it would be highly unusual and unacceptable for the Diocesan Bishop to play no role in his funeral.

As a sitting bishop, it is a disgrace, dishonor and total breach of protocol that the Diocese did not give an eulogy, made a statement or recalled the life and work of the deceased bishop. Eulogy by the family members is just that, the experiences and fond memories of the family. It is appalling that the Diocese have nothing to say about their bishop’s life and work! It is equally appalling that instead of rehearsing the fond memories of the husband and father, the family chose to recalled scoldings, allegations and even used the opportunity to unkindly rebuked and lashed out in general. This has not shamed the detractors but brought shame on the deceased at his funeral especially in front of dignitaries and high officials of government and other churches. The unnamed detractors remained unnamed but the family was present, it achieved nothing and only invited ridicule and disdain, but most of all dishonor the deceased.

For the deceased person to preach at his own funeral was not only very unusual but shear arrogance if it is by design. It is also a theological and spiritual disaster. If it is by design, then either the deceased or the organizers probably intended it as a last ditch effort to perpetuate his influence or prop up his legacy, which is like the evil North Korean regime who continuously portray their past president as a great leader to influence the people. If a person is great, his works and life will keep his name without any help from anyone, like Martin Luther and John Sung. It would have been better to give a timeline of his life and ministry with anecdote and quotation by him. As it is, its a total disaster as now no one has any idea how he lived and the important milestones of his life.

It is a theological and spiritual disaster because there is no biblical basis for doing it, its trying to help the deceased stay longer than what God has determined for him. It is akin to necromancer, like king Saul calling up the prophet Samuel. And some people in the Diocese are asking the same DVD to be played as Sunday sermons in churches around the Diocese. What are they trying to achieve? Do they think they can help him in anywhere? Or are they trying to help themselves by using his name? Our advise is accept reality, the man is dead, move on, put your faith in God.

It is indeed unfortunate that the organizers of the funeral ended up dishonoring rather than honoring the deceased bishop. They do not know what the Anglican ethos and neither do they consult those who know. They ended up with a service that is “siok sendiri” devoid of honor and dignity for the deceased.

What’s Next?

What does the passing away of Bishop Albert Vun mean to the Diocese and regular Anglican members? It is a question that many have been asking for months, but the reality sinks in as the late Bishop was laid to rest yesterday. BAV is not longer at helm. So what’s next?

The coming days and months are critical for the Diocese. Without a sitting Bishop, the Provincial House of Bishop needs to appoint a Vicar General to lead the Anglican Diocese of Sabah until the next Bishop is elected. The assistant Bishops do not by default become the next Bishop or Vicar General. Who the HOB appoint as Vicar General will indicate if ADOS will have more of the status quo or a chance for restoration.

Who will be the Vicar General? Apparently only a Bishop or Archdeacon can be considered for a Vicar General. For ADOS, that narrows the eligibility to four persons: John Yeo, Melter Tais, Yong Ping Chung and Yong Chen Fah. Moses Chin, striped of Archdeaconship last year, is out of the picture. The HOB did not approve John Yeo’s appointment as Assistant Bishop in the first time asking. It was only approved when BAV returned with a strong assertion a year later. So Melter Tais seems to be the frontrunner. The problem is both assistant Bishops have tainted reputation when they lied in a public meeting at All Saints Cathedral. Their close allegiance to BAV suggest it would be more of the same if either become the Vicar General.

What about the two former Bishops, Ping Chung & his younger brother Chen Fah? Some expressed disappointments with their silence–at least publicly–throughout the crisis. While both have privately offered encouragement, many wish they had done more. Their neutrality and good standing in the Diocese may place them as the most non-partisan candidates.

There is also a third option–to appoint a Vicar General from the Diocese of Kuching, West Malaysia or Singapore. The more important question is the term of reference for the Vicar General. What does the HOB want him to do? How much authority will HOB grant the Vicar General?

The Vicar General will oversee the election of the next Bishop. To ensure impartiality, the VG cannot be a candidate to be the next Bishop. Quietly, neither John Yeo nor Melter Tais wants to be the VG. It explains why the Stand Comm did not put forth any names on the appointment of VG when Archbishop Bolly them after the funeral. To be appointed as the VG will be a death knell to their ambition to the Bishop’s throne.

The VG’s job also entails administrative work–signing of cheques, leave approvals, chairing meetings including the coming Synod next month. Someone needs to captain the ship–albeit temporary. Whether he will have any authority to dismantle some of BAV’s unpopular legacy such as House of Celebration and ATI remains to be seen. It is unclear if BAV has signed any contracts to building House of Celebration. If would be a big mess to “unmess” for the VG and next Bishop as the project is not widely supported.

ATI is a bigger problem. For the last three years the Diocese has not sent anyone to an accredited seminary. Even if the Diocese were to send a candidate to a seminary today, it would be four years later before he or she can complete the training. As it is, our workers continue to be trained by a largely unqualified faculty and an unaccredited ATI. Will the VG has any authority to reverse this policy and rebuild bridges with seminaries in the region which BAV had dismantled?

The biggest concern is the spiritual life of Anglicans. We long for the joy of worship, the pleasure of serving, the zeal for evangelism, the togetherness of a family. When can this be restored? It depends so much on the appointment of Vicar General.

After 400 years of being enslaved, when the Israelites were freed, they wanted to return to their slave masters. Such is the effect of emotional and spiritual abuse. The victims have troubles living in liberty because they are conditioned to live in a dysfunctional relationship.  Without the slave driver to crack the whip, bark abuses and tell them what to do and how to think, the victims are at loss. The immediate response is to find another abuser to fill the void.

The clergy, laity, Standing Committee and PCCs across ADOS needs healing and restoration so they can lead, debate, agree, disagree, conceive visions from God and execute them without fearing abuse from Wisma Anglican. My brothers and sisters, while BAV preached from his grave on Friday, know this man can no longer hurt and abuse you. By the grace of God we can forgive. The blood of Jesus can cleanse us and Diocese. By the stripes of Jesus we can be healed.

There are so many bridges to rebuild, relationship to restore, wrongs to make right. It all starts with a first step–Vicar General. Let’s pray for this important first step. It is the first fresh leadership appointment in the post-BAV era. While the HOB’s past decisions do not inspire confidence, we pray the appoint of VG will bring a new dawn to ADOS and the Anglican commune of South East Asia. God’s hands are more powerful than any human plots.

Bishop Albert Vun Passed Away

At 4:10pm, Bishop Albert Vun passed away at Damai Specialist Center. The Diocese announced this on Facebook as well. Please pray for Mary, Samuel, Sarah, Andrew, the mother, Mrs. Vun and their family members. Pray also for the Diocese and the transition of leadership. The late Bishop Vun was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer on October 14 last year.

Bishop Albert Vun passed away.

Sad, Sad Day

Many breathed a sigh of relief when the Court of Appeal ruled last Friday. For the first time in this crisis there is real progress in putting things right in the Diocesan crisis. We have the plaintiff, the Legal Action Task Force, and lead counsel Mr. Roderick Fernandes to thank for working hard and doing a fine job. While many of us thank the Lord for the court decision, we cannot help but notice how far the Anglican church has fallen.

The HOB initiated the investigation, formed the PAC, read the PAC report and decided to give Bishop Albert Vun a six-month paid vacation. While the HOB has the discretion resolve the crisis beyond the confines of the constitution, the HOB must act judiciously and justly–not in contradiction with the Provincial constitution. HOB’s refusal to convene the ecclesiastical court paved the way for BAV to abuse the church further. There were more posturing of power from the Bishop Moses Teh, Rev. Herbert Tong and HOB. They continued to tell us all is well, no money is missing, just submit to the authority, wash feet and move on.

On Friday, three Muslim judges studied the case and evidence ruled the ecclesiastical court must be convened within 90 days. It took three Muslims to tell Christian bishops what’s wrong and right, that they should act upon their OWN investigation, and follow their OWN constitution. This is precisely the foolishness that earned Paul’s rebuke:

1 Cor. 6:5,6  I say this to shame you.Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!”

The Province has a constitution that deals with sinning Bishops but the House of Bishops refused to deal with this internally. So we had non-believers to decide it for us! The House of Bishop has failed to obey the Bible and abdicated their duty as the highest leaders of the province. In fact they have also abdicated the defence of this court case to Bishop Albert Vun. This is a case between an Anglican member versus Archbishop Bolly Lapok who was represented by Ronny Cham. Yet when a judge asked Cham where does the Archbishop reside, Cham could not answer. The plaintiff’s lawyer Roderick Fernandes gave the answer to court. How can Cham not know where his client resides? Lest we accused a senior lawyer of being sloppy, his client is likely to be BAV. The next question is why did Bolly allow BAV to act on behalf of the Province? It fuels the speculation the HOB is in cahoots with BAV. Can we expect the three Bishops to be impartial at the ecclesiastical court?

Last Friday was a slap on the face of the Anglican church. Three Muslim judges concurred there is a grave issue in our Diocese, an assessment the HOB and our clergy–despite conducting our own investigation and compiling the PAC report–could not reach. How far has the Anglican church fallen. Let’s pray we all heed the wake up call and return to the Lord.

Appeal Court Ordered HOB to Convene Ecclesiastical Court

The following is a statement from the Legal Action Task Force.

We are pleased to inform you that the hearing of the appeal to the Court of Appeal held on 23rd May 2014 was a success.  We give thanks and glory to God, for wisdom and guidance and for His provision each step of the way. The Court of Appeal granted the following Orders:-

(a) that the HOB is to forthwith produce to the Appellant and to file into court a copy of the complete Report AND Recommendations of the PAC dated 27.08.2012;

(b) that the HOB is to refer the complaints against BAV to the Ecclesiastical Court within 90 days from the date of the Order;

(c) that the HOB is to pay a sum of RM30,000.00 to the Appellant for legal costs in the Court of Appeal and High Court; and

(d)that the HOB is to refund to the Appellant the sum of RM15,000.00 paid by the Appellant to the HOB for legal costs in the High Court.

We thank all of you who have supported this appeal through prayers, financial contributions, and by providing moral support and encouragement.  The battle is not yet over.  The HOB may appeal to the Federal Court against the decision of the Court of Appeal.  Let us all continue to put our faith and trust in God, as He leads us each step of the way towards resolution of this crisis in His Church.

Legal Action Task Force

Court of Appeal Hearing Next Week

An announcement from the Legal Action Task Force. We are happy to inform you that we had received a written notice from the Court of Appeal that our appeal to the Court of Appeal will be heard at Kota Kinabalu on 23rd May 2014. We thank God for your prayers and for a speedy hearing date. We commit the outcome unto the Lord and may His Glory be shown.
Legal Action Task Force