YBAM Puzzled by the New Directive –‘Forbid Inter-Faith Joint Prayers’ The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) is puzzled by the new directive issued by the Committee for the Promotion of Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony among Adherents (JKMPKA) under national unity and integration department of the Prime Minister’s Office. YBAM believes that this directive has worsen the national unity, ethnic and religious harmony after the issues concerning ‘Jawi teaching’ and ‘Zakir Naik speech controversy’ which have been subsiding recently. The directive to ‘forbid inter-faith joint prayers’ was issued by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (JAKIM) to the JKMPKA. Once the committee received the directive, it immediately informed other members of the committee. In recent years, the committee has been actively promoting interfaith tolerance dialogue, as well as many interfaith harmony activities. The International Symposium on ‘Prevention and Countering Violent Extremism’ hosted by the International Islamic University of Malaysia recently was jointly organised by the committee and various religious organisations, with the purpose to educate the public concerning how extremism abuses the name of religion for violence, which leads to misunderstanding and subsequent hatred between religions. President of YBAM Tan King Leong believes that Malaysia has just celebrated its 62nd National Day, and the people of all ethnic groups in Malaysia take root, grow and bloom harmoniously on this land. The unique existence of integrated multiracial and multireligious in Malaysia is indeed an advantage. However, what makes the people feel burdened is that this National Day has been permeated in the atmosphere of racial division and religious extremism. In the past, national incidents such as MH370, MH17, and the East Coast floods, various religious groups jointly prayed for the country and the disasters, while combined resources to help the victims and their families. This scene is the esteemed pride of Malaysia, and it is also an example for Malaysia to showcase the national unity and religious harmony to the world. The education system in the past has placed too much emphasis on single language, culture and belief, which deprived citizens of the opportunity to communicate and understand each other. The conflicts triggered by the fanatics around the world have once again proved the importance of mutual understanding of various ethnic groups and religious beliefs. However, the country is once again going backwards, prohibiting joint prayers across religious activities, subsequently impeding national unity and religious harmony. This is indeed regrettable.
YBAM once again called for the Committee for the Promotion of Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony among Adherents to re-examine and seriously consider the consequences of this directive, not to divide people of our nation once again. YBAM hopes that the new Malaysian national leadership will be able to see and recognise the advantages of diversified development of the country in a more visionary manner, advocate the maintenance of harmonious relations among all ethnic groups, and jointly face the challenges of globalisation, instead of letting disputes and contradictions destroy the unity of multiracial and religious society basis.
YBAM Puzzled by the New Directive –‘Forbid Inter-Faith Joint Prayers’