Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Singapore Calls For More Interfaith Dialogue. But Why Is It Taboo In Malaysia?

Singapore has called for more interfaith dialogue amid concern that increased religious fervour among Singaporeans might lead to "a sense of exclusivity" that hinders understanding and interaction between faiths.

Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng said interfaith dialogue was an important way of promoting peace and stability between different religious communities.

"Maintaining harmonious relations requires constant communication and contact," he said at a forum on "The World Religions and the Search for Peaceful Co-existence" at the National University of Singapore Tuesday.

***** Having read the above, I contrasted it with the considered opinion of our leaders in KL and their modus operandi of objecting to interfaith dialogue locally while espousing it abroad. Either the Singaporeans have got it all wrong about the importance and value of such dialogue or as is more likely, our Umno leadership is still playing politics and like good old Nero will continue to fiddle, while race and religion based matters continue to be burning issues.

Sweeping important issues under the carpet is a sign of an immature and irresponsible leadership and to pretend that issues don't exist is worse. Our pemimpin2 should learn from the Singapore administration and meet problems head-on in order to avert danger at a later period. Our current "que sera sera, whatever will be will be," strategy will unravel quite dramatically one day and there won't be any winners then because of our government's opportunism and folly now.

**** Continue reading about the Singapore reasoning: Studies and media reports, DPM Wong said, pointed to an increasing trend of religiosity among Singaporeans.

"While spirituality is important, as Singaporeans become more religious, they must continue to engage in frank and open interfaith interaction. They should not perceive interaction with other religions as a compromise of their beliefs," he said.

Wong, who is also the Home Affairs Minister, said, however, that race and religious relations in Singapore were generally stable and comfortable.

"There is a good level of inter-faith tolerance and respect," he said, citing a recent study which showed that the vast majority of respondents were satisfied with the state of inter-racial and inter-religious relations, and were also optimistic about future relations.

"Notwithstanding the positive situation, we must never take for granted this trust and tolerance that have been built. For instance, religious tensions abroad can very easily strain the good interfaith relations in Singapore," he added.

Religion and beliefs are sensitive issues and must be handled sensitively by all, he said.

"We have had occasions when the activities of one religious group were considered insensitive or disrespectful by another religious group. Now and then, we get complaints of quarrels among neighbours over religious practices, and of denigration and insult of other religions, including over the Internet.

"These minor sensitivities and problems can be amplified when there is a lack of communication, understanding and tolerance among the different faiths," he said. (Bernama)
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Anonymous gametes69 said...

hi, I admire u asking for dialogue between religions. however, I think religious people just cannot have a sensible discussion about their beliefs. this is inherent in any religion. a person who believes that their religion is the only one, cannot be expected to discuss it with anyone with a different religion who believe their religion is the only one. So to ask for a sensible discussion about religion is a contradiction in terms. if the aim of having a dialogue is to reduce misunderstandings, it wont work. maybe the only way is to say all religions are the many ways to the truth and so everyone is right. though what to do when one religion clashes with another? a malay cannot eat pork and so fears contamination. how to live with a hindu, who dont like a malay eating beef? the only way is segregate them. if that is the only way, there goes ur integration of these people. /they cant even live together in one house and eat each others foods. having said all that, i dont have the answers, haha. I simply try to get out of the way when they fight each other and come out when they have destroyed each other. haha.

7:27 PM GMT+8  
Blogger walski69 said...

To a certain degree, what gametes69 (no relation to Walski, heh-heh) has to say is correct. Especially in the current atmosphere of mistrust. And especially when the belief that Islam is so fragile and constantly being threatened by all and sundry, keeps getting propogated.

Just look at what happened with the "mass baptism" thing not too long ago. And the claim by the Perak Mufti that hundreds of thousands have apostasized.

It all boils down to the the growing want of some to make Islam a state concern, and no longer a person's inherrent right of choice. Coupled with the never-ending battle between UMNO and PAS, each trying to out-Islam the other. Both using this "Islam Under Threat" slogan to impose this, that and the other, without thinking of the impact and consequence of their actions.

That's the environment we have today. The fragility that is being promoted, for nothing more than the sake of maintaining influence, is what's preventing more open dialog, and is the primary reason for the general mistrust.

It is a new manifestation of an age-old inferiority complex, on the part of the state Islamic leaders, that is, in fact, holding the Muslims back, from the true calling of dynamism that Islam actually stands for.

Instead, we are told that the most trivial of things - like cross-patterns on biscuits, oil lamps and greetings to others - are all threats to our beliefs. And where does this nit-pickiness get the Muslims? Deeper and deeper into a mental quagmire that becomes more difficult to extricate oneself from, as the fear is constantly reinforced.

It is only through honest introspection (of where it's all gone wrong), and open dialog (to promote the commonality, and work out how to live with the differences) that we can move forward, as a nation. The current mindset of Islam uber alles, the "I'm right, and the rest of y'all are going to hell" attitude, and insta-blame of external forces, without regard for anyone else, is not going to bode well for tomorrow.

For any of us - regardless of creed.

8:41 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

As usual Walski, you put across your arguments very clearly and reasonably. I have to agree with you on this one.

9:02 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem here in Malaysia wasn't about having Interfaith Dialogue. Its been around for long. Talk to those involved.

The problem arise when a group of so-called human rights lawyers and not really serious practitioner of religions start taking over the show. Naturally as lawyers and as human right lawyers, they will end up looking at the world strictly from the myopic world of laws and letters.

Interfaith is a spiritual unity process ie unity in respect for each other. THis is a procecess that need to be undergone.

The penultimate to that unwise move of unprecedented stupidity is to throw or force a proposed draft of a law called Interfaith Commission.

What is written is clearly and specifically stated in letter and spirit of subjugating the official religion, Islam and taking away many rights of Muslims. There are Muslim lawyers other than the idiotic Malik Imtiaz, Haris IBrahim, Zaid Ibrahim, and Shad Faruqi.

Its as simple as that.

How in the world do achieve Interfaith Dialogue when there is an attempt to gang up. The one you are ganging up against is the religion of the majority.

Stupid, plain stupid!!! You all deserve it for trusting lawyers. Now to get the Interfaith Dialogue to reconvene will be difficult with the adversarial approach taken by MCCBHS.

Lets not make a habit of writing half-truth. It would just incite anger. The anger shd be directed at the idiots at MCCBHS.

A Voice

9:37 PM GMT+8  
Blogger Blueheeler - the hound that sniffs out fishy news said...

when it comes to religious issues in S'pore and M'sia, there's one major difference. In S'pore, the constitution doesn't favour one religion above another, and therefore religious issues can be discussed openly without prejudice. In M'sia, one religion appears to have been elevated above others, and therefore, interfaith dialogue can be seen to been trying to challenge the exalted status of that dominant religion.

10:06 PM GMT+8  

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