Friday, January 29, 2010

Why the delay in forming an Inter Religous Council or reviving the informal Inter Religous committee

The recent spate of attacks on places of worship has tarnished our nation's international image and this will as a result drive away FDI and tourist flow into Malaysia .

But what is more worrying is that such incidents which were though minor aberrations could threaten racial harmony and peace in the country.

The latest desecration of two mosques in Kuala Lumpur must be strongly condemned by all Malaysians who cherish peace and harmony.

While it is imperative that the Police must take swift action to bring to book the culprits, the government must also take urgent steps to resolve the Allah word controversy.

An important step which cannot be delayed is the formation of an Inter Religious Council.

It is puzzling that till today the government has still not decided to set up such a Council tasked with the responsibilities to promote mutual understanding and resolve religious issues.

On January 8 this year, the former president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, Datuk Vaithilingam had said the arson attack on churches could have been averted if dialogues and discussions were held.

He also revealed that the Inter Religious Committee had not met for a year and urged the Prime Minister to ask the Minister in charge of national unity to reconvene the committee.
On January 16, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon said that there was no immediate need for the government to set up a specific council or committee to resolve inter-religious issues in the country because an informal structure was more effective.

He said that inter-ethnic and inter-religious dialogues and discussions were best carried out in a manner which is comfortable to all sides rather than in an official, rigid structure.

Can Koh explain why the informal Inter Religious Committee has not met for more than a year?

It is simply unbelievable that after the Allah word controversy has led to a spate of attacks on places of worship, the government is neither interested in setting up a formal Inter Religious Council or even reviving the informal Inter Religious Committee

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