KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — A group representing Malaysian Buddhists today apologised over a worship session by foreign adherents of the faith held in a Muslim prayer room in Johor that angered followers of Islam.
In a brief statement by the Buddhist Maha Vihara, Chief High Priest of Malaysia Datuk K. Srï Dhammaratana expressed his group’s regret while urging followers of the religion to be mindful of others in their worship.
“We would like to apologise to our Muslim brothers and sisters for the actions of a certain Buddhist group from Singapore in having their meditation session at the surau of a resort in Kota Tinggi.
“I advise Buddhists in Malaysia and Singapore to respect the religious sensitivities of other religionists while carrying out our own religious obligations and responsibilities,” Dhammaratana said today.
Yesterday, media reports surfaced of a video uploaded to YouTube last week allegedly showing a surau in the Johor resort being used by Buddhist tourists for prayers.
This later led to the arrest and remand of the resort manager under section 295 of the Penal Code, which comes under the heading of “injuring or defiling a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class”.
The 85-second-long video titled “Surau dijadikan tokong???” (A surau turned into a temple?) begins with an external shot of a small building and a close-up of what appears to be a sign in Arabic script over a doorway.
The video’s maker then approaches the building to record what appears to be a prayer session by a dozen white-clad people led by a monk in red and saffron.
Yesterday, Berita Harian reported the resort owner as saying he did not expect the offer to lead to the controversy now.
“I do not think the action of giving permission to believers of other religions to use the surau is wrong. This is because they only wanted to use the surau for meditation.
“I have no intention of hurting anyone’s feelings. My intention is to show that Islam is universal and tolerant,” said the Singapore-born Muslim.