Call on all political parties, whether ruling or opposition, and in particular PAS, PKN and PRM to support the  proposed meeting between Mahathir and Pope John Paul II and the establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Penang,  Sunday)  DAP calls on all political parties, whether ruling or opposition, and in particular PAS, PKN and PRM to support the proposed meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad and Pope John Paul II at the Vatican next month to promote greater inter-religious understanding and world peace.  

The prolific 82-year-old Pontiff has become a global moral force in his long reign in the Vatican from 1978 – already thrice as long as the papal average of eight years – speaking up tirelessly  for peace, humanity, solidarity,  justice, equitable and sustainable development and democracy “always in the service of the common good”.  

Multi-religious Malaysia is a microcosm of the world of religious plurality and Malaysia should play a leading international role to promote inter-religious understanding where there is not just co-existence and  tolerance, but a joint commitment by all faiths to peace,  justice, development, sound economic programmes, honesty in private and public life, and the willingness on the part of the rich to show serious solidarity with the poor, both nationally and internationally.  

Pope John Paul II had initiated the annual inter-religious prayer meetings in Assisi at the famed basilica of St. Francis since 1986, and the “spirit of Assisi” had been extolled by Iranian President Mohamad Khatami as “a model for common understanding among religions and peoples” after their meeting at the Vatican in March 1999. 

In February 2000, during the papal visit to Egypt, Pope John Paul II met the highest Sunni Muslim authority, Grand Imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque and University in what has been described as a “sincere and constructive interest in the dialogue between Islam and Christianity…to clarify to everyone that faith in God is not a factor for division but rather an important instrument for the edification for a continual relationship of fraternity”.  

Mahathir’s meeting with Pope John Paul II should pave the way for the establishment of normal diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See, which has formal diplomatic relations with 172 nations, including many Islamic countries like Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, Turkey, Pakistan and  Kuwait. 

In Asia, countries which have diplomatic relations with the Vatican include Japan, South Korea, India,  Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.  

The Vatican is also accorded international recognition  and participates in a wide range of United Nations activities since 1946, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific  and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), World Trade Organisattion (WTO), World Health Organisation (WHO), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and a long list of others.  

Mahathir’s visit with Pope John Paul II and the establishment of normal  diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Vatican should rise above party politics and  should be endorsed by all political parties by way of an all-party resolution in Parliament when it meets next month. 


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman