KUALA LUMPUR: The archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Rev Julian Leow Beng Kim (pix) has expressed hope that religious leaders in the country will be more sensible and rationale in promoting unity among Malaysians of all races and religions.
Leow, who is also Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) chairman, noted that religious harmony is the cornerstone of a prosperous Malaysia and that this must be defended and preserved, and not be used to separate or create fear among each other.
He said it was this unity in diversity that makes the country unique and that the differences in food, festivals, worship and idiosyncrasies, among others, are what make Malaysians, Malaysians.
“Our celebrations of open houses during Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Gawai, Keamatan, Ponggal and many others help us appreciate who we are as Malaysians.
“We have been wishing and visiting each other during our respective religious and cultural celebrations. It will indeed be a sad day in our history when we cannot even wish Merry Christmas to Christians, Happy Deepavali to the Hindus or Wesak to the Buddhists.
“We pray that common sense will prevail amongst religious leaders to promote more ways of strengthening the bonds of friendship among Malaysians and not drive us apart,” he said at the CFM Hi-Tea, here, today.
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah and Primary Industry Minister Teresa Kok were among the 250 over guests present at the event, which was also attended by religious leaders of other faiths and foreign dignitaries.
Leow’s statement come amidst racial and religious tension in the country over the issue of Jawi introduction in schools and the controversy surrounding Islamic preacher Dr Zakir Naik’s presence in Malaysia, among other things.
The archbishop also relayed a message from Federal Territories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri, who was unable to attend the hi-tea, that all mankind need to have a solid understanding of diversity and plurality of culture, ethnicities and religions.
“Existing peacefully with non-Islamic beliefs is an essential Islamic principle that is clearly stated in the Quran and that has been practiced by Muslims throughout their history,” he quoted Zulkifli as saying.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said knowing and understanding each other is not just about showing tolerance for the other race and religion, but it was also about liking those of the other background.
“You can be seated next to one another and have respect of the other person but not cooperate or even work and live peacefully together. We need to like the others to enable us to have a peaceful coexistence.
“We are all Malaysians and all believers, so lets celebrate Christmas in the spirit of liking each other regardless of race, religion and background,” he said in his speech.