(Penang, Sunday): Two weeks ago, some 1,000 representatives from more than 15 leading religions in the world met for the first time in the United Nations at the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders for a global inter-religious dialogue on how the world’s religions can contribute to world peace.
The world’s great religions are all to be found in Malaysia, and if there can be a global inter-religious dialogue on the contribution of religion to world peace, there is no reason why inter-religious dialogues should not become a regular feature of the nation-building process where there is an active inter-faith programme of co-operation to promote inter-religious understanding, goodwill and tolerance to banish religious extremism, bigotry and intolerance from the country.
Parliament should create an Inter-Religious Council by statute to institutionalise inter-religious dialogue and co-operation to promote and inculcate inter-religious understanding, tolerance and goodwill as one of the basic characteristics of Malaysian citizenship
The school curriculum should be revised so that every Malaysian would acquire and cherish the values and importance of inter-religious understanding, tolerance and goodwill from the first day of schooling, and the home should complement such efforts so that every Malaysian, regardless of race or religion, will grow up to respect the fundamental right of freedom of religion, respect other religious beliefs and contribute to the fostering of inter-religious understanding, tolerance and goodwill in their entire adult life.
The Barisan Alternative can make a signal contribution in this regard and the DAP will ask the Barisan Alternative leadership council to consider the proposal of establishing a Barisan Alternative Inter-Religious Committee to promote inter-religious understanding, tolerance and goodwill which will be one effective means of countering and checking the problem of racial and religious polarisation in the country.
In actual fact, the Barisan Alternative has already started work in this direction, with the inter-religious and inter-civilisational dialogues initiated by the DAP and the national unity ceramahs organised by PAS, as well as other Barisan Alternative nation-building programmes.