Malaysia a ‘sick’ example of disharmony, Kit Siang says

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 —  Putrajaya’s silence in the face of the latest claim of a Christian ploy to strip Muslims of their rights is proof that Malaysia has become a “sick example” of racial disharmony, Lim Kit Siang said today.

The DAP adviser demanded answers to why the accusation by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) had been permitted in last week’s Friday sermon, and reminded the Najib administration of its pledges during last year’s World Interfaith Harmony Week.

“Malaysia was in the global forefront last year in the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week,” Lim said in a statement here.

The World Interfaith Harmony Week, a brainchild of King Abdullah of Jordan that was endorsed in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly, is a global celebration that kicks off today and goes on until February 9.

Last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak visited numerous places of worship to commemorate the celebration and held a gathering of religious leaders at his official residence in Putrajaya, Lim recalled.

The nation’s chief executive had also boasted during the week that, “if there is a country which wants to showcase itself as a model of multiracial unity, I don’t think there is a country better than Malaysia”, the Gelang Patah MP added.

But this year, Lim said, despite the numerous religious and racially-charged incidents like the recent firebombing at a Penang church, Putrajaya has chosen to remain silent for the week.

The DAP veteran said he visited the National Unity and Integration Department’s website to look for the list of activities planned to celebrate the 2014 World Interfaith Harmony Week but found no reference to any such programme.

“As if the department is quite abashed about the whole subject this year,” Lim said.

He asked if Najib dared to repeat the same boast he made last year on Malaysia’s state of interfaith harmony, particularly since the country recently witnessed one too many incidents that have only signalled worsening racial strife.

“In fact, in the past weeks and months, Malaysia has become a sick example of ‘interfaith disharmony’ in a multi-racial multi-religious country,” Lim said.

Najib’s administration has come under heavy fire from Malaysia’s religious minorities over the “Allah” issue, a four-year-old religious controversy that threatens to rip apart Christian and Muslim unity.

The touchy issue resurfaced on January 2 when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and confiscated over 300 Malay and Iban language bibles.

Najib met last week with over 40 Malay Muslim groups to calm simmering tempers over the long drawn out “Allah” dispute but critics have continued to flay the leader for failing to offer a final solution to the row.

Adding fuel to fire, Jakim accused Christians and Jews of turning Muslims against each other and tricking them into losing their rights during its Friday sermon last week.

Singling out Christians and Jews as the “enemies of Islam”, Jakim claimed that Muslims in Malaysia will always be under siege as long as this threat is not addressed.

“How can he (Najib) allow Jakim under the PMO (Prime Minister’s office) to incite religious acrimony, animosity and hatred while another department in PMO, the Department of National Unity and Integration is entrusted with promoting inter-racial and inter-religious goodwill, understanding and harmony?” Lim asked today.