If we have been watching TV, reading the newspapers or surfing the Net, we should be aware of the latest issue about the Hudud Islamic law. PAS wants to implement the Hudud law in Kelantan. This proposal has to be tabled in the Parliament, and requires a majority of votes for it to be passed. Today, we will hop on the bandwagon and discuss three important points. Being Buddhists, our stand must be clear and definite.
Firstly, we are all locally-born native Malaysian citizens. Malaysia is our country, and our home too.
We love this country. While striving for our nation’s independence, our founding fathers upheld the principle that Malaysia is a multiracial and multi-religious nation. When Malaysia was founded, it was undoubtedly a secular country, not an Islamic state; our Constitution states this clearly. We should not betray this standpoint of our forefathers when this country was brought into being.
Our stand, like the stand of the late esteemed YB Karpal Singh, is firm and clear, i.e. uncompromising to let Malaysia — our country — to be turned into an Islamic state. In our country, a committed and principled politician like YB Karpal Singh is something of an oddity. Undeniably, there are many great politicians in this country. More often than not, there are still majority of those who fish for votes by whatever dirty tricks possible. Although the majority of Malaysians are Muslims, this does not imply that other religions should be crowded out or suppressed. Doing so would betray and let down the founders of our country.
Secondly, we frequently discuss issues with leaders of different religions to exchange ideas and opinions. These religious masters include those from the Islamic, Christian, Hindu, Sikh, and Taoist religions. From my experience, with the exception of extremists or opportunists who exploit religious issues for their own political agenda, the Muslims and non-Muslims are all aware that in this world, in this era, every religion practices mutual tolerance and respect.
This is what I mention frequently: Our first Prime Minister of Malaysia, who also held the post of the head of religious affairs of the country, Tunku Abdul Rahman, once invited the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, the Dalai Lama, to have a friendly discussion. At that time, the Tunku had already stepped down as the Prime Minister, and was the Chairman of the Perkim Foundation. During the discussion, the Dalai Lama said, “We human beings are so intelligent that we are capable of producing weapons that can destroy the world seven times over!” It is indeed alarming to think that we, human beings, are destroying the only world we live in!! This is truly an unimaginable tragedy!
The Dalai Lama continued to say that the only way to prevent this tragedy from happening is through the power of religion. However, depending solely on one religion would merely yield ineffectual strength. He called upon the leaders of different religions to come together to work devotedly towards spreading the idea of world peace. At present, there is no single religion that is capable to do this on its own. Only through the unification of all the religions of this world can the people be made aware that the world should be protected and not otherwise. If people exploit religion to fight the so-called ‘holy wars’, then the destruction of the Earth by human beings will very soon be a reality. Thus, world peace was the topic of this earnest discussion between the two religious leaders.
All Malaysians, regardless of whichever religion we practise, must not let certain unethical politicians secure votes through this irresponsible politicking, hence destroying our peaceful country. If these irresponsible and unprincipled politicians are empowered, they will not hesitate to unscrupulously take advantage of religious and racial issues to shatter and wipe out the mutual respect and endurance that ensure the strong bond and rapport among all races. This would certainly be a disastrous consequence indeed! Thus, we Malaysians of different races and religions must join hands to perpetuate the peaceful coexistence that we have been blessed with this far.
Thirdly, I would like to remind the younger generation of today to do things rationally, rather than emotionally. In Malaysian politics, we have two political fronts, known as the two-party system. It is obvious that some politicians can be totally irresponsible and irrational. Young people must be more vigilant and not be easily instigated by unconscionable individuals. Youngsters who are easily influenced will be vulnerable to immoral politicians and be used by them to blindly follow their every move. Buddhism is a religion of wisdom, not one of blind faith. We, as bystanders, have the clearest perception of the way things are.
A politician of high caliber must serve the country and its people. Today, I want to call upon our politicians to not underestimate the wisdom of the voters and to discontinue misleading the people. If you are a member of the BN, please tell UMNO that we cannot accept the Islamic state. If you are a member of the PR, please tell PAS that we oppose turning this country into an Islamic state. We request the government and the opposition to stop pointing spearheads at one another. It is sheer stupidity to assume that the people are all idiots! If we turn a blind eye to this, the future of our country is definitely in jeopardy!
Forty years ago, or even twenty years ago, the relationship among people of different races and religions was unlike that of today. When I was young, I had friends of many different religions. Our relationship was very harmonious. Fast forward to the present, after fifty years of independence, and, instead of a more peaceful coexistence, we are moving backwards where relationship amongst the different races is concerned. The harmonious atmosphere of yesteryears is nearly non-existent. This sad situation has come about because our present politicians make use of racial and religious issues to publicise themselves.
Thus, we must clarify our stand and oppose all these irresponsible talks and actions. Buddhism has a saying, “We cannot bear to see the holy religion declining”. We love our own religion but we respect other religions as well. We will never slander other religious beliefs. Today, borrowing some time from this Buddha Bathing Celebration, I am glad to be able to share with you these three important points. Buddhists should be concerned about politics, but Buddhist organizations should transcend the politics of all political parties. I do not agree that religious leaders engage themselves actively in politics. Otherwise, these leaders may consequently do things that should not have been done, and say things that should not have been said from a Buddhist perspective. The last aspect is very important.