Return Malaysia To Its Glory Days

It was joy that filled the hearts on many Malaysians, especially Catholics, when Malaysia announced bilateral diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 2011.

This gesture exhibited the Malaysian government’s seriousness in promoting better understanding and harmony amongst its people of various religions.

The appointment of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Marino, as representative of the Holy See to Malaysia was formalised when he presented his credentials to the Yang Di Pertuan Agong.

His official welcome at the Cathedral of St John, Kuala Lumpur signified that he was also the Pope’s representative to the Catholic community in Malaysia. He was warmly greeted by the people of Malaysia and the diplomatic community.

In the recent course of events, whilst describing the Fact Sheet, prepared by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) as “sensible and logical”, the Nuncio was misunderstood and drew the wrath of Muslim ultra conservative groups like Perkasa and Jati. They immediately called for his apology, censure and expulsion. The Minister of Foreign Affairs summoned the Nuncio for clarification.

As an outcome of that meeting, the Nuncio apologized to the Honourable Minister for the misunderstandings and inconveniences. He had clearly stated that the “Allah” case was an internal matter. Both the Minister and Nuncio agreed to work together to improve bilateral relations.

On 19 July 2013, a group of people from Perkasa and Jati broke through police barricade to demonstrate and violate the property of the Apostolic Nunciature. They not only handed a memorandum but also pasted the same on the guard house whilst police looked on.

Unfortunately, such shameful actions by Perkasa and Jati, in contrast with the dignified and compassionate manner in which the Nuncio handled the situation, does not augur well for Malaysians. We must strive to return Malaysian to its days of pleasantry, respect and hospitality.

As a multi-religious and multi-racial country, let us engage in dialogue so as to enrich ourselves and become a more united and respectful nation.

It is very reassuring to note that the Muslim non-governmental organizations are open for a debate on the use of the word "Allah". This is a positive step towards understanding the different faiths in this country. We hope this debate will take place soon and more similar discussions, dialogues and debates would take place thereafter between the different faiths.

We pray that parties come to the discussion table or debate with calm objective minds.

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