Friday, August 23, 2013

A lesson for Singaporean and Malaysian Buddhists

The below Joint Statement was issued by the Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council following the incident as reported in the news link below. Even though there was  a press release, it was only published in the Chinese papers. I never seen it reported in the English or other papers, whih is a pity because I think the message is very good and skillfully worded to promote understanding and harmany amongst the races and religions. It was an unfortunate incident and I do hope that all Singaporean Buddhist centres, associations and temples would take heed NEVER EVER AGAIN to use the Muslim properties. Even if you had no other place to do your prayers, do it in the open field, open sky, under rain or heat. Please decline even if there is a kind muslim who invite you to do prayers in their halls. As you can see from this case, you never know how it will turn out. As far as I am concerned, I have never ever come across any Buddhist group in Malaysia or Singapore that uses the mosque or surau for their prayers. Malaysian Buddhists and Malay muslims in Malaysia have always had a very good, cordial and harmonious relationship. There wasn't any problems. And it would be highly irresponsible for anyone to cause a rift in our harmony by stirring up hatred and anger. This was the first time I heard of such a case in Malaysia. So, I do really think this is an isolated case. I pray that people be more kind, more forgiving, more understanding of others, and taking the softer approach to educate and counsel, instead of all that negative emotions.  What is the lesson learned? For me, it is to always plan ahead and book your venues properly. Don't let the owner tell you to use a surau or church instead, and you simply accept it. Insist on it if you have booked earlier. If not, better to cancel the event, or hold it in the open field. This is better than let unscrupulous third parties put a wrench into an otherwise peaceful relationship. This is a first time a Malaysian monk has to apologise, and for something we, Malaysians, never did anything wrong. Strangely the Sangha and Buddhist associations in Singapore never say anything, which I find unacceptable. Well, at least they should now give proper advice to their temples and centres. This is put here in my blog only for record purposes, i.e. as an archived historical item. Other than that, it is something we do not want to remember or talked about ever again. Lastly, I just want to remind Buddhists that the defilement in the mind is much more important than any external defilements. That is the teachings of the Buddhas. We care about purity of the mind much more than external purity. Let us remember that, and appreciate that we are Buddhists. Thank goodness.  

Date: 14 August 2013

Joint Statement by MBCC:
The Council urges everyone to view the incident in perspective and dedicate more effort to promote awareness and understanding among different religious group

The Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC) expresses regret over the incident where a surau at a resort in Kota Tinggi, Johor, was allegedly being used by Buddhists to perform a religious service with the permission given by the resort operator. 

The resort operator and the Buddhists involved in the incident were reportedly from Singapore and therefore, may not be aware that their actions may hurt the sensitivity of some Malaysian Muslims and may cause disharmony amongst the multi-racial and multi-religious community in Malaysia. The Council urges any foreigners who wish to perform religious services in Malaysia to respect and be more mindful of the sensitivity of the locals. As this incident is an isolated case involving foreigners, it must not undo the good harmony and respect that Malaysian Buddhists and Muslims generally have for each other all these while.

The Council reiterates that this is an unfortunate incident that happened out of lack of the understanding amongst the adherents of different religions and urges everyone to view the incident in perspective and to resolve the issue in an amicable way. The Council also urges the public, including those in the social media, to heed the call by the authority not to aggravate the situation further. In such situations, where there could be ignorance by the parties involved, the Council urges the authorities to educate and provide counselling or guidance, instead of meting out harsh punishments.

In light of other recent incidents which had given rise to anger and disharmony, this latest misunderstanding underlines the need for more inter-faith dialogues to prevent further uneasiness. In particular, greater focus should be given to the Malaysian education system to properly introduce different major religions to all students in order to promote awareness and understandings of the various major religions in Malaysia.

Members of MBCC: Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia, Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Fo Guang Malaysia, Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia, Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia.
News links:

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