Kuching (Agenzia Fides) - The Catholic Church in the state of Sarawak, part of Malaysian Borneo, is constantly committed to promoting interreligious harmony in society. As Fides learns, in recent days Archbishop Simon Poh and Don Felix Au of the diocese of Kuching, Sarawak, participated as delegates in the 12th annual multireligious Forum at the Islamic Information Center. Now in its 12th edition, the Forum represents an important opportunity for exchange and discussion to address issues and concerns existing in the various faith communities in Malaysia. This year the representatives of various religious communities in the region gathered to discuss a theme that saw them all involved: "Peace, love and faith: cornerstones of a harmonious society".
Don Felix Au explained the prospect of a Christian to those present and touched the importance of loving God and one’s neighbor, to bring the "fruit of love" which is peace. "Loving God is the first and greatest of all the commandments", he said. "The practical expression of loving God is closely connected with the other great commandment: loving one’s neighbor as yourself", stressed the priest. Don Au also referred to the parable of the Good Samaritan, applying it to the Malaysian context and hoping that every citizen "can be open, humble and respectful towards other brothers and sisters". "The goal of religious dialogue - he said - is not to 'get the best of a discussion' or convert the interlocutor, but to achieve together peace, understanding and greater mutual respect".
The leader Desmond Tan, representative of Taoism, shared his thought, emphasizing "the importance of creating harmony with nature", while Gurdial Singh, representing the Sikh religion said that "cultivating love in oneself and love for God are the keys to achieving peace". The Forum also welcomed the views of representatives of Baha'i faith and Wan Muhammad Mujahid Bin Wan Alwi, who spoke about the Islamic perspective.
The leaders present agreed that the atmosphere of understanding and unity, on a cultural and religious level, that is experienced in the states of Malaysian Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) can be a good example for the society of peninsular Malaysia. It is also important that civil authorities promote integration policies and social practice in the management of religion and interethnic relations in the country, they said. An important aspect, in order to always protect interreligious harmony, is to identify and reveal whether some religious issues are manipulated by individuals with a personal agenda or in search of electoral consensus. Malaysian citizens are called to recognize these pitfalls and to keep up the level of tolerance, respect and trust towards other people, of different faith, culture or ethnicity, by continuing to seek mutual understanding to combat extremist and radical ideas. This was the final appeal launched by the delegates present.
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country. Its population is made up of nearly 32 million people, of whom more than 60% are ethnic Maaya Muslims. Catholics represent 4% of the population. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 19/2/2020)