Don’t let scare-mongering split the people, pleads MP

Those who spoke at the inter-faith forum today (from left) Zainuddin Hashim of Abim, moderator Sarajun Hoda, Klang MP Charles Santiago, Prematilake KD Serisena of Harmony Malaysia, Ghauri PS Tiangaya of Hindu Sangam and Herman Shastri of the Council of Churches Malaysia.

KLANG: Malaysians were urged today not to give in to scare-mongering by political and religious leaders, with an MP saying the actual relationship among citizens was “very different” from the image these leaders were trying to portray.

Klang MP Charles Santiago gave an example of surau members distributing water to surrounding households three weeks ago when there was a water cut in the district.

“They had containers and gave water to those who didn’t have water. They did not say we only want to give water to Muslims,” he told hundreds of participants at an Interfaith Dialogue on the Notion of Social Justice.

He said the lesson of the water shortage was that ordinary people did not have problems with each other. “This is the 1Malaysia we want,” he said to applause from the audience.

Organisations representing Muslim, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist members gave speeches at the forum calling for unity, and took part in a breaking of fast.

Santiago said many people were still not aware that Hindus and Buddhists also practise fasting as a religious obligation.

“(As a society) we have been together for decades and we are not aware that others fast. This is a failure of the schooling system,” he said.

He said Malaysians were ignorant of other religions and this could be corrected in schools.

“Common values of all religions should be taught in schools. Instead, we are focusing on what separates us,” he said.

Santiago urged the education ministry to review this matter, adding that its minister Maszlee Malik should ensure that learning about common values of all religions was an on-going process in schools and universities.