APRIL 14 — Although we always promote our country as one that cherishes religious freedom and racial harmony, many in this country are well aware that we will see things that could destroy these precious attributes every two or three months.
If not for the prudent handling of such matters by sound-minded and patriotic individuals and the media, they could have evolved into some really unfortunate incidents.
The prerequisite for racial harmony to thrive is mutual trust, but here in Malaysia, we could easily fall into the “policy traps” of some people if we don’t handle such things carefully.
This is particularly true for policies that could potentially cause uneasiness among non-Muslims. Often when non-Muslims voice up, they are like treading on a minefield and could incur trouble for crossing into the sensitive zone at the slightest negligence.
How are we going to treat one another in full sincerity and coexist in peace and harmony without open-minded policies? Many Chinese Malaysians get frustrated that they don’t even get a chance to freely express their feelings.
When a common understanding is absent, the best thing to do is to keep the status quo undisturbed. Unfortunately some in this country have been plotting to destroy our peaceful social environment and religionise our day-to-day lives.
Decision-makers harbouring radical religious thinking at various levels of government institutions, in particular, have been pretty active nowadays brewing novel ideas that could range from things as small as segregating cinema-goers of different sexes to as big as banning places of worship of other religions taller than a mosque in their vicinity.
New ideas keep popping up every now and then, and will send the nation’s emotions boiling each time this happens. Don’t blame the Chinese community for reacting so aggressively. as such restrictive measures have left their marks on our lives and day-to-day activities.
No one’s personal freedom shall pose any menace to the freedoms of other individuals, and it is highly undemocratic to enjoy own freedom at the expense of that of other people.
We can understand if opportunistic politicians are the only ones creating the trouble, but even officials at government departments are now trying to polarize the nation by creating similar problems.
Take the recently published Selangor Manual Guideline and State Planning Standard for instance, places of worship of different religions have been built along the same street or within a stone’s throw from one another in cities and towns across Malaysia for so long without any issue.
Unfortunately the third edition of the guidelines has ruled that non-Muslim places of worship must not be built within 50 metres of a house owned by a Muslim, and this is an apparent attempt to create trouble for the people.
Sure enough the guidelines have been put on hold at the state exco meeting under the intervention of senior executive councillor Teng Chang Khim, but if government departments and the relevant personnel have been putting all their attention and effort on improving the efficiency of their service delivery, this country should have made phenomenal progress in development. Little wonder many would jest at our government departments for creating problems for the rakyat and not doing the right things.
Malaysia is a secular state, and since we embrace religious freedom, we should allow people of different ethnicities and faiths to live together freely and in peace. By the way, all religions in this world share the same aspiration of pursuing a peaceful and harmonious world.
In our highly globalized world today, striving to seek a common ground in the midst of our differences has become the prevalent trend in this world. Egotism will only destroy this beloved country of ours.
If one day this country becomes divided, we will hold those constantly drawing up divisive policies at various government departments accountable for their lapses. — Sin Chew Daily
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.