ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Racial and religious harmony needed in Malaysia
The prime minister said the government would not focus solely on development and the economy as religious conflicts could make or break nations.
"Over the past few days, we have been hearing about the Government Transformation Programme and the Economic Transformation Programme. But remember, there can never be any transformation without national unity," he said.
Speaking to more than 300 religious leaders at a luncheon in conjunction with Malaysia Day here that also saw the presence of cabinet ministers, he said the very fact that Malaysians appreciated one another meant that they had a basis to establish a strong nation.
Referring to the Interfaith Relations Working Committee which he described as a vital platform for multiracial relations, he said there were many issues that needed to be discussed behind closed doors and in a "muhibah" manner.
Najib said the committee, chaired by former Kota Baru member of parliament, Datuk Ilani Ishak, could play that role besides acting as an adviser to the government with its views taken into consideration in the making of decisions.
He said statements made in the open could result in embarrassment or lead to certain quarters aggravating a situation.
He suggested that the committee come up with programmes that, for example, tackled the dadah menace, helped the physically or mentally challenged as well as addressed problems faced by teenagers.
He said these were shared challenges among the people, irrespective of religion.
Najib also announced an allocation for the committee, which he dubbed a platform for nation-building, although he did not reveal the amount.
The committee has representation from the Department of Islamic Development, Institute of Islamic Understanding and the Malaysian Consultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
The setting up of the committee was proposed in January and accepted by the cabinet the following month.
Referring to the recent threat by an American pastor to burn the Quran and the Sept 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre by terrorists who "hijacked Islam", Najib said such conflicts were caused by ignorance.
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