Last updated Monday, June 27, 2016 3:42 pm GMT+8

Sunday April 27, 2014
04:56 PM GMT+8

UPDATED:
April 28, 2014
06:25 AM GMT+8

Advertisement

More stories

President of the United States Barack Obama said non-Muslims in Malaysia are currently facing hostility, and some have felt oppressed. — Reuters picPresident of the United States Barack Obama said non-Muslims in Malaysia are currently facing hostility, and some have felt oppressed. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — Malaysia cannot flourish if the country’s  religious and ethnic minorities are sidelined, President of the United States Barack Obama said today.

In his first official visit to the country, Obama said that prejudices against people from different religions and races have no place in the modern world and must be removed.

“Malaysia won't succeed if the non-Muslims do not have the same opportunity,” Obama said in a townhall event at University of Malaya.

Obama said non-Muslims in Malaysia are currently facing hostility, and some have felt oppressed.

He compared the struggle for civil rights across the world to the long fight to eliminate discrimination against ethnic minorities in the US, which culminated in him being elected president.

In the Gallery


  • Members of the honour guard walk towards Air Force One before US President Barack Obama disembarks at Royal Malaysian Air Base in Kuala Lumpur, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama arrives at the Royal Malaysian Air Base in Kuala Lumpur, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama inspects an honour guard during a state welcoming ceremony outside the Parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama inspects an honour guard during a state welcoming ceremony outside the Parliament house in Kuala Lumpur, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama (left) shakes hands with Datuk Seri Najib Razak (right) and Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim as he arrives for a state welcoming ceremony, April 26, 2014.. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama walks with the Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim (right) and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (2nd right) at the Parliament Square, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • The exterior of Istana Negara is pictured on the night of a state dinner for US President Barack Obama hosted by Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama arrives at Istana Negara for a state dinner in Kuala Lumpur April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • (From left) Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim, US President Barack Obama and Malaysia's Queen Sultanah Haminah arrive for a state dinner inside the Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • (From left) Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim, US President Barack Obama and Malaysia's Queen Sultanah Haminah attend a state dinner at Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama stands at the head table at the Malaysian State Dinner, hosted by Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim at Istana Negara, on April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • (From left) Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim, US President Barack Obama and Malaysia's Queen Sultanah Haminah stand during the US national anthem at Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • (From left) Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim and US President Barack Obama watch a performance during the state dinner at Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama (centre) toasts Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim (front, 2nd left) during the state dinner at Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Performers line up at the state dinner for US President Barack Obama, hosted by Malaysia's King Tuanku Abdul Halim, at the Istana Negara, April 26, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama receives a tour from the Grand Imam (left) and Abdul Rashid Bin Md Isa (right) while he visits the National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, April 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama (second from left) takes a tour as he visits the National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, April 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama poses with the Grand Imam Tan Sri Syaikh Ismail Muhammad (right) during his visit at the National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, April 27, 2014.― Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak participate in a joint news conference at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya, April 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak participate in a joint news conference at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya, April 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • US President Barack Obama (left) meets with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia (right) at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya April 27, 2014. ― Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama takes a moment to show respect as he receives a tour of the National Mosque of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak both smile as they participate in a joint news conference at the Perdana Putra Building in Putrajaya, Malaysia, April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (centre) look at an electric go-kart at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre in Cyberjaya April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama answers questions from a member of the audience at the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama answers questions from a member of the audience at the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama (left) and Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak speak at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre in Cyberjaya April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama looks for a member of the audience to answer questions during the Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative (YSEALI) Town Hall inside the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (right) pose with students at the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre in Cyberjaya April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

  • Barack Obama speaks at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Town Hall at University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur April 27, 2014. — Reuters pic

Obama said countries including Malaysia will not succeed if women, who comprise roughly half of the population, are not given the same opportunities as men.

The president then drew on Christian values on which he was raised, saying that people must treat others the way they would like to be treated themselves.

He also stressed the importance in treating those who are seen as “different” with respect.

“Treat people with respect,” Obama told hundreds of the audience in the event organised by Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative.

“Expect your government to treat everybody with respect and you’re going to be okay.”

Malaysia’s Bumiputera majority enjoys privileges under a system of preferential treatment in jobs, housing and access to government funding. 

MORE ON MMOTV

Advertisement

MMO Instagram

Tweets by @themmailonline