OCTOBER 13 — A recent string of incidents of religious fanaticism, including the Muslims-only launderette issue, has severely undermined inter-racial harmony in this country.
Many people have been waiting for the authorities to act, but sadly we have seen no action from them.
Due to the inaction of the authorities, these incidents have been able to rage among the people. Infuriated by such follies, the Johor Sultan vowed that his is not a “Taliban state” and that all discriminatory behaviour must be halted immediately while demanding the business owner to apologise to all Johoreans.
Up north in Kangar, Perlis, another launderette had to remove the “Muslims only” notice upon intervention by the state Raja.
The timely actions by the Johor Sultan and Perlis Raja have won the thumbs-up of all Malaysians irrespective of race and religion. Nevertheless, a handful of individuals have remained defiant.
One of them, Islamic preacher Zamihan Mat Zin, slammed the Johor Sultan for banning the “Muslims only” launderette in addition to the racial slur that has hurt the feelings of ethnic Chinese Malaysians.
Again, the authorities opted to do nothing.
It was the Malay Rulers' turn now to voice up. The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal said in a statement that the Malay Rulers were concerned about the radical behaviour of some people that had jeopardised the country's racial and religious harmony. They urged Malaysians, including the government, to uphold the principles of Rukunegara.
The Malay Rulers were strongly supportive of the unwavering stand of Johor Sultan and Perlis Raja in the Muslims-only laundry issue. Their firm and powerful statement has to a certain extent helped preserve inter-racial harmony and unity in this country.
I recently attended the inauguration of Foguangshan Hsing Ma Temple in Johor Baru, which is more of a Buddhist cultural and education centre than a temple for devotees to perform their religious rituals.
Hsing Ma Temple looks more like a large school campus in its architecture, in line with Master Hsing Yun's vision to make the temple a place to acquire knowledge and grow in wisdom. You will only realise that it is also a temple once you step inside the Main Hall.
Hsing Ma Temple does not belong to Buddhists or Foguangshan devotees exclusively. It is a also a place for people in Johor and Singapore to learn about the teachings of Buddha. All, including non-Chinese and non-Buddhists, are welcome to hold non-religious cultural and sporting events there.
Besides throwing its arms wide open to welcome all people irrespective of religious affiliation, two suraus have been set aside within the temple premises for Muslims who take part in the events held there to perform their prayers.
Petty as it is, this nevertheless shows how tolerant Buddhism is.
As a matter of fact, all religions, with the exception of some deviant cults of course, encourage their believers to uphold the virtues of goodness. Buddhism advocates benevolence, equality, non-exclusivity, as well as humility.
By right Malaysians of all backgrounds should learn to respect one another's religions, cultures and lifestyles instead of enforcing their own standards on other people. We must never insist that other people respect our feelings without we taking the initiative to do likewise.
In a culturally diverse country like ours, moderation and tolerance are of paramount importance in sustaining the peaceful coexistence and harmony we have been enjoying all these years.
And since the Malay Rulers have sensed the threat of racial and religious issues on national unity, those in power should no longer keep their eyes shut and pretend not to know anything.
If no stern actions are taken before things get really bad, the consequences could become too large for us to bear one day! — Sin Chew Daily
* This article was first published here.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.