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[ACNS] The Bishop of West Malaysia, the Rt Revd Ng Moon Hing, has warned that ties between Malaysia’s different communities has reached alarming levels. Bishop Hing, who will become the Archbishop of South East Asia next month, says that religious and racial polarisation in the country has reached a “very critical stage.”
The bishop made his comments at a Christmas Day High Tea organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia, an ecumenical group that brings together the main Christian denominations.
“Religious and racial polarisation is very rampant and has reached a very critical stage nowadays. It urgently needs to be curbed and arrested before an ugly explosion takes place,” he said.
Malaysia is a multi-lingual, multi-cultural, multi-religious federal state in which Islam is the state religion with freedom of religion guaranteed to other religious groups. In addition to a large Christian presence, the country includes significant numbers of Buddhists and Hindus.
In his speech, Bishop Hing warned that “the nation would crumble” unless there was “respect for the diversity of the different communities” according to news reports.
“Religious and racial polarisation is very rampant and has reached a very critical stage nowadays. It urgently needs to be curbed and arrested before an ugly explosion takes place.
“The strength of our nation is and has been our multi-racial and multi-religious and multi-lingual society. If this is shaken the nation will crumble.”
He urged the government to “place this as top priority and to work together with all community leaders.”
In what was widely reported as an attack on a new security law which gives the National Security Council power to arrest anybody without a warrant if they were in a declared “security area”, he warned about “laws that are being introduced hurriedly and without adequate debate and discussion with all stakeholders.”
He continued: “As a religious body, we know about the evils of temptation, and the lure of giving in to them in the belief that we are doing good,” he said. “Even as we fight terrorism, we must not succumb to the temptation to do away with law and order to defeat them.
“We council restraint. Do not allow our country to operate in a climate where law and order are suspended.
“That will lead to anarchy and chaos. And that is precisely what the terrorists want. Do not play into their hands and give the terrorists what they want and achieve for them what they desire.”
Responding to the speech, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Paul Low Seng Kuan, who was present at the High Tea, said that the government was committed to the “One Malaysia” concept, even if it appeared to contradict this by its actions.
“Sometimes it looks like we even implement policies which contradict the spirit of One Malaysia,” he said, “but nevertheless, I believe in the spirit of One Malaysia, because I believe that there is a hope to give us that identity.”