PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have been urged not to take the bait of saboteurs who are out to instigate racial and religious strife by raising old and non-issues.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir said Malaysians should not be swayed by non-issues raised over a directive issued last week.
The directive, on joint prayers, was issued by a committee to promote understanding and harmony among religions, under the National Unity and Integration Department on the advice of the Islamic Development Department (Jakim).
“We should not be influenced by certain groups of people, bigots and extremists who probably have their own motives and agenda, (and who) are not in tandem with the policies and the future of the country.
“From Sabah and Sarawak’s perspective, I think this is a non-issue. Why should we talk about matters that can offend other races and religions? In Sarawak in particular, we do not want to be seen offending other religions.”
In agreeing with Jeniri, Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Prof Sivamurugan Pandian said it was important for the government to issue a firm directive to curtail misinterpretation.
“There should not be misinterpretation because many parties and authorities who have the power to direct policies may misuse that for their personal gain,” he said.
“I’m afraid that could be used by anyone to make their own interpretation, which I think is unhealthy for a multi-ethnic society like ours.”
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk R.S. Mohan Shan said he felt “amused” by the non-issue.
“We are in a diverse country in harmony. So, what is the problem?”, he said, adding that there was nothing wrong in holding joint silent prayers.
“We have been doing silent prayers for so long.”
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism exco member Sardar V. Harcharan Singh said: “We are trying to promote interfaith harmony and understanding. I am very surprised by this directive. It should be an individual right to choose whether to participate. It is good to have this kind of events that promote unity, harmony and understanding,” he said.