Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Azmin impressed by harmony in Sarawak

by Jonathan Chia,
Posted on March 4, 2015, Wednesday

KUCHING: Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali believes that the people in Selangor have a lot to learn from Sarawakians, especially on religious tolerance and harmony.

Azmin, who ended his three-day visit to the state yesterday, said he was informed by Anglican Archbishop for the Province of Southeast Asia Rev Datuk Bolly Lapok that 40 per cent of the population in Sarawak were Christians, but yet they were able to work and live harmoniously with the Muslims in the state.

“Certainly, we can learn a lot from Sarawakians. I was informed by the Archbishop that 40 per cent of the population in Sarawak are Christians but they are able to work very closely and there is a very harmonious relationship between the Muslims and Christians in Sarawak,” he told a press conference at a hotel here yesterday.

Azmin, who is PKR deputy president, said he took the opportunity to thank Bolly during a courtesy call on the latter on Monday, for the vital role he (Bolly) played in resolving the Bahasa Malaysia Bible issue in Selangor.

“I must give credit to the archbishop for helping us to resolve this very sensitive issue.

“I think we need to continue this engagement and hold dialogue between Muslims and Christians so that there will be better understanding between us and to create harmonious environment in our society.

“I also discussed with the Archbishop on how we could continue to conduct/host interfaith dialogues between various religions and cultures so that we would understand and appreciate each other better in this multi-racial and multi-cultural society,” the Gombak MP and Bukit Antarabangsa assemblyman said.

Azmin said in order to promote better understanding between the Muslims and Christians, the Selangor government had given support to its Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to visit churches in order to have engagements and dialogues with church leaders in the state, adding that after two months, the result had been very positive.

Although Selangor still bans Bahasa Malaysia bibles that use the word ‘Allah’ following the state’s Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1988, which prohibits non-Muslims from using the Arabic word for ‘God’, Azmin believed that there should be continuous ‘education’ through dialogues to promote understanding between non-Muslims and Muslims.

“We have to respect that enactment that was passed in Selangor. I think the best solution is through engagements, especially with the younger population to ensure that we have a strong society with mutual
respect and understanding for each other.”

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