KK & Sabah News-Flash

06. October, 2017

Interfaith Dialogue Held for Interfaith Understanding

Interfaith Dialogue Held for Interfaith Understanding

Religious leaders met at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) recital hall to discuss best practices for interfaith understanding.  Forty leaders representing six religious organizations, namely Christian, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoism and Baha’i, are participants to the three-day Interfaith Integration Program 2017 that began Thursday.  The program’s objective is to encourage religious practitioners to discuss about tolerance, unity and partnership with each other.  This was jointly organized by the National Integration and Unity Department (JPNIN) of the Prime Minister’s Department, UMS and Promoting Understanding and Harmony Among Religious Followers Committee.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup was there to launch the event and in his speech, he said that the program is a venue for sharing of experiences and ideas to encourage interfaith understanding and unity among members of different religious communities.  Sabah has clearly demonstrated the best practices in terms of religious and cultural understanding and it can be emulated by those in the Peninsular Malaysia.

Kurup further said told the religious leaders who attended the program to be constructive in their statements so as not to be manipulative or provocative to other faiths.  Even though interfaith relationship in Malaysia is relatively good, as revealed in a study jointly conducted by the JPNIN and two other institutions, he said that manipulations of individuals who have personal agenda may cause a strain in the relationship.  Thus, the need for tolerance and understanding.

During the talks, majority of the leaders said that understanding and respect of each other’s religious beliefs are important for tolerance and unity among Malaysians from different religious affiliations.

Counselling for Hate Speech in Revised National Harmony Bill

The government is currently revising the National Harmony Bill which will include counseling for those who commit hate speech.  This was revealed to reporters Thursday by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup after officiating at an interfaith dialogue at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).   He stressed that national unity is their priority and counseling will be provided for those who make speech that are discriminatory.  But should they break the law, they will be dealt with accordingly.

As the minister assigned for national unity, he said that his department is still pushing through with this proposal even though three previous drafts were rejected already due to contradictions of some provisions with the Federal Constitution.  The bills were initially proposed by the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) and included in the national blueprint for unity to address discrimination and extremism.  Calls for the revival of the bill came after reports that a Muslim-only laundry exists in Johor went viral.

Negotiations for Additional Flights to Sibu Near Completion

The additional flight for Sibu-Kota Kinabalu, to be served by low-cost carrier Air Asia, might push through once negotiations are finalized.  This was announced by Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah during the launching of the Sibu International Lantern and Food Festival Tuesday.

The call for additional flights has been going on for some time already, with the Sibu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the forefront.  This route is currently serviced by MasWing with a jetliner.

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