Archive for June 8th, 2007

Bring rational inter-religious dialogues into the open instead of allowing religious polarisation to fester underground

Let me start with two preliminary observations:

Firstly, this dialogue on “Malaysia after Lina Joy” has not been organized by the DAP to mock or ridicule Islam or any other religion.

I am bold to say that Malaysians from all faiths and races who have produced this more-than-capacity turnout to this dialogue tonight have come not to indulge in Islam-bashing or bashing of any other religion.

We are gathered here as Malaysians who love our country and are concerned that on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of our nation, religious polarization has become a great threat to the unity, well-being and future of Malaysia and we want to find ways and means to surmount this challenge.

Whatever our religious, political or personal differences, there must be one common and unifying bond, that as citizens of multi-racial and multi-religious nation, everyone of us respect all the religions which have made religious pluralism a distinctive characteristic of our country.

We must all be conscious that this respect for all religions in Malaysia by every Malaysian is an essential prerequisite for the success and future well-being for the country.

Secondly, this inter-religious dialogue tonight is a history of sorts for Malaysia, some form of substitute for the “Building Bridges Inter-faith Dialogue” which had to be aborted recently.

It proves that it is possible to hold a public dialogue to address in a rational, cool and collected manner the delicate and sensitive issues of religious differences and polarization in the country, as such public discourse had been virtually banned and driven underground in the past two years.

Religion has become a major cause of national disunity and polarization after half-a-century of nationhood and these issues should be brought into the open to be dialogued in a rational manner instead of being driven underground causing divisions to fester and become increasingly explosive.

The overwhelming success of tonight’s dialogue is a signal to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the time has come to do what he had avoided doing in the past two years — to provide leadership for inter-religious dialogues to be held in the country to find a solution to close the national divide caused by religious polarization.

The Prime Minister has said that “a happy prime minister can do a lot of great work” and let us hope that this is one “great work” Malaysians can look forward to from him. Read the rest of this entry »