Saturday, May 12, 2007

What has happened to religious tolerance in Malaysia?

I used to be really proud of the fact that we Malaysians, who are of multiple religions and various ethnicities, are capable of living together in harmony. However, recent developments in the country seem to indicate to me that this utopia is going to be shattered soon. That makes me really sad.

Our government had recently withdrawn it's support for an inter-faith dialogue. According to the news, no reason was given to the withdrawal of support. The "Building Bridges" conference is chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury. His office was notified about 3 weeks prior to the event that the government had decided to withdraw it's support for the conference.

On the other hand, our government is enthusiastically trying to bring Manchester United into our country to play football. So, after rejecting the archbishop, we're now bringing in the red devils. For some reason, it just doesn't strike me as the right thing to do. There's nothing wrong with bringing in the football stars if they can make a buck out of it. However, abandoning the support for a inter-faith conference, especially in these times when religious paranoia is sweeping the world, isn't a very good idea.

So, I don't really understand why this is so. The only plausible reason that I could come up with is that someone within the government decided that supporting an inter-faith conference would be a bad idea. It might not go down well with the Islamic fundamentalists. Maybe if the conference was chaired by an imam instead of an archbishop, things might have gone differently. This incident will soon make us look like fools on the world stage. Kuala Lumpur is only one of the stops of the conference, in addition to London, New York, Qatar and Sarajevo. It was supposed to help show case how a moderate Islamic nation can thrive. I don't know what the organisers are going to think about us now.

Then, I'd recently read about the fiasco involving Maybank and law firms. It got exposed that the bank's requirements for engaging law-firms is entirely racist. They required at least 3 bumi partners with 50% shares of the partnership. This is a case of affirmative action gone wrong. In some countries, the directors of the bank would have been hauled to court on racial discrimination charges. However, in our country, they're just told do it unofficially instead of making it an official policy. I think that I'm going to take out every last sen that I have in that bank and move it over to PBB/HSBC when I go home. I'm certainly not going to support a racist bank.

UPDATE@1520: It seems that the religious seminar wasn't cancelled but postponed as our PM was busy during the period and didn't want the even to proceed without him [Shock and horror! - Ed]. This is obviously spin designed to cover our PM's ass in order not to inflame religious tensions. It doesn't explain the fact that the government issued an official letter withdrawing support for the event. Good thing that our government hasn't yet mastered the art of spin.

1 comment:

dan said...

either football or devil-worshipping is malaysia's new religion. whoppee.