KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 — An interfaith group expressed shock today at the “racist” views of a former high-ranking judge who had called the presence of large Hindu and Buddhist statues in the country an affront to Islam.
Jagir Singh, president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST),said that former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah’s remarks would cause disharmony and disunity in the multi-racial country.
“We are worried if judges can have such minds,” Jagir told The Malay Mail Online.
“Being an ex judge of such a high office, we expect him to display the highest character in public life. (He has) such a narrow and racist mind,” he added.
Mohd Noor told The Malay Mail Online and Bernama in an interview last Tuesday that the Lord Murugan statue at a Hindu temple in Batu Caves, and the statue of Kuan Yin at a Buddhist temple in Penang, should not be built in the open, as the country’s predominant religion Islam forbids idolatry.
The retired judge complained that such “huge” sculptures of non-Muslim deities would make the Muslim-majority feel threatened.
He also insisted that Islam comes above other faiths in the country, citing the Federal Constitution which states that Islam is the religion of the federation.
Jagir pointed out today that the 42.7-metre high Hindu and 30.2-metre high Buddhist statues in Batu Caves, Selangor, and Penang respectively have been around for many years.
“There've been no complaints,” he noted.
“Malaysians are peaceful, loving people. Even if Muslims were to build statues, the height doesn’t matter. Why should I complain about the height?” Jagir added.
The Batu Caves limestone hill, which houses several cave temples, is one of Malaysia’s most popular tourist attractions.
Mohd Noor stirred controversy last year when he warned the Chinese of a Malay backlash for betraying the Barisan Nasional at the May 5 general election, which saw the ruling coalition’s worst-ever electoral performance.