Diocese of Sabah

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Diocese of Sabah
Location
Ecclesiastical province Province of South East Asia
Archdeaconries West Coast and Labuan Archdeaconry
East Coast Archdeaconry
Interior Archdeaconry
Information
Cathedral All Saints' Cathedral, Kota Kinabalu
Current leadership
Bishop Rt Rev Datuk Albert Vun Cheong Fui
Website
anglicansabah.org

Diocese of Sabah is an Anglican diocese which covers Sabah and Labuan in Malaysia. Founded in 1962, the see was originally established as the Diocese of Labuan and Sarawak in 1855. The sitting bishop is the Rt Revd Datuk Albert Vun Cheong Fui until he died on 15 July 2014. On 24 October 2013, Bishop Albert Vun informed the Provincial House of Bishop and the Standing Committee that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, stage 4.

Divisions[edit]

Bishops[edit]

  • 1962-1965
    • Rt Rev James Wong Chang Ling
  • 1965-1970
    • Rt Rev Tan Sri Roland Koh Peck-Chiang
  • 1971-1990
    • Rt Rev Luke Chhoa Heng Sze
  • 1990-2006
    • Rt Rev Yong Ping Chung
  • 2006-15 July 2014
    • Rt Rev Albert Vun Cheong Fui.
  • 15 July 2014 – present
    • Vacant

Controversies[edit]

The late Rt. Rev Albert Vun Cheong Fui's term as the Diocesan Bishop was marred by controversies and scandals. The Provincial House of Bishop activated "Regulation B" of the Provincial Constitution to investigate 40 charges brought against Bishop Vun by five Anglican members.[1] It also formed a three-men Provincial Advisory Committee (PAC), consisting of Assistant Bishop Jason Selvaraj (from Diocese of West Malaysia), Professor Lawrence Boon (from Diocese of Singapore, also Head of Singapore's Arbitration Chambers), Hilary Giang (from Diocese of Kuching, a chartered accountant), to investigate the charges against Bishop Vun.[2] After two months of investigation, the PAC reported 38 of 40 charges against Bishop Vun to be substantiated, and Bishop Vun to be answerable to them.[3]

Some of the notable charges were Bishop Vun's conflict of interest in pressuring the Standing Committee to purchase his family land, buying a condominium in Bangkok without the approval of the Standing Committee, under-declaring the purchase price of a property and thus under-paid the corresponding government tax.[4] Bishop Vun was also found to have verbally and emotionally abused his staff and clergy[5] He denied the leave application of a clergy to attend his mother in-law's funeral. He also denied medical leave for a clergy who were recovering from a heart surgery.[6] Witnesses testified Bishop Vun shouted and put down female staff during meetings, in the presence of their husbands.[7]

There are also controversies that were beyond the scope of the PAC's investigation. The Diocesan Honorary Auditor, George Lim, in his management letter to the Diocesan account for 2010-2011, reported over RM10 million of money was spent without documentation[8] This sparked a furor and resulted in a drop of 30% in donations to Anglican churches in Sabah. The alleged scandal was also reported in the Anglican Church Newspaper.[9] It became a case study for spiritual abuse as well.[10]

Despite the PAC's findings, the Provincial House of Bishop failed to activate the Ecclesiastical Court to try Bishop Vun as per "Regulation B" of the Provincial the Constitution. Instead of being disciplined or reprimanded, Bishop Vun was given a six-month paid Sabbatical for "spiritual reflection" in UK and USA. He also spoke to a conference in Canada during that period. Several Anglican members sought a court order to compel the Provincial House of Bishops to comply with the constitution. The On 29 January, the Malaysian High Court ruled against the plaintiffs siding with the Provincial House of Bishops who argued that they were not a "legal entity" and thus could not be taken to court.[11] However on 23 May 2014, the Court of Appeal overturned the ruling and ordered the Ecclesiastical Court to convene within 90 days of the judgement.[12]

Bishop Vun defied pressure for his resignation and declared only God could remove him as a Bishop. On 14 October 2013, six weeks after returning from the six-month sabbatical, Bishop Vun was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer.[13] He died on 15 July 2014,[14] five weeks before the court mandated deadline for a trial by the Ecclesiastical Court.

His passing away also courted controversy as the late Bishop Vun preached posthumously at his own funeral.[15] Conventionally, if a sitting Bishop died during his office, his superior, the Archbishop would conduct the funeral. In this case, the Archbishop of South East Asia, Bolly Lapok's only contribution to the funeral was delivering his greetings. The Diocese also failed to give an account of the life and works of the late Bishop.

  1. ^ [1]. Archbishop Bolly Lapok's letter of reference on the investigation against Bishop Albert Vun. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  2. ^ [2]. Tje Provincial Advisory Committee setup to investigate allegations against Bishop Albert Vun. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  3. ^ [3]. PAC report. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  4. ^ [4]. PAC report. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  5. ^ [5]. Bishop Albert Vun's abusive behavior. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  6. ^ [6]. PAC report. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  7. ^ [7]. Emotional and verbal abuses of Bishop Albert Vun. Retrieved on 24 July 2014.
  8. ^ [8] RM10 million spent without documentation during Bishop Albert Vun's tenure. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  9. ^ [9] Church of England Newspaper reports financial abuses in the Diocese of Sabah.
  10. ^ [10] Surviving Church reports on abuses in Anglican Diocese of Sabah
  11. ^ [11] Judgement by the High Court of Sabah & Sarawak
  12. ^ [12] Court of Appeal overturns High Court decision.
  13. ^ [13] Bishop Albert Vun diagnosed with pancreatic cancer
  14. ^ [14] Bishop Albert Vun died
  15. ^ [15]. Late Bishop "preaches" at his own funeral. Retrieved 24 July 2014

See also[edit]