Tunku’s reaction to the book ‘Contemporary Issues on Malaysian Religions’ most surprising and uncharacteristic

By Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary- General and MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Kit Siang, in PJ on Tuesday, 27.11.1984

Tunku’s reaction to the book ‘Contemporary Issues on Malaysian Religions’ most surprising and uncharacteristic

Tunku Abdul Rahman’s reaction to the book ‘Contemporary Issues on Malaysian Religions’ and the reasons he gave in his weekly column ‘As I See It’ for staying away from the book-launching ceremony although he had earlier consented to grace the occasion, is surprising and uncharacteristic of Bapa Malaysia.

Tunku has described as ‘harsh and vicious’ some passages in the introduction to the book written by Paul Tan Chee Ing and Theresa Ee.

Tunku said he too exception to what was said in the introduction of the book and perhaps to some of the things said by the other speakers to the Seminar on ‘Common Religious Values for Nation Building’ organised by the Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikkhism in April 1984, The book is a publication of the proceedings of the Seminar.

I have read the introduction which Tunku has taken offence, and although the Tunku is entitled to his disagreement with the views presented, he would agree that the Introduction set out factual developments in Malaysia and the fears and anxieties which such developments have created in non-Muslim Malaysians.

Tunku may disagree with such fears and anxieties, but if there is to inter-relious understanding, harmony and dialogue, it is a perequisite that every religion should understand the legitimate hopes and aspirations, fears and anxieties of other religions in Malaysia.

The Tunku quoted the passage in the introduction which referred to many talented non-Malays who leave the government service as hopes of promotion become dimmer, and the fear of non-Muslims about the policy of Islamisation.

I do not think the Tunku in all fairness could say that these statements are distortions or concoctions and do not represent an important facet of reality in Malaysia.

There must be inter-religious dialogue if there is not going to be religious polarisation in Malaysia. But the ‘rumpus’ over the book, ‘Contemporary Issue on Malaysian Religions’, have highlighted how much more difficult it is to have a dialogue between the various religions in particular between the Muslim and non-Muslim people.

This is most ominous of the times that we Malaysians are beginning to lose sight of the fundamental tenet of a democratic society, that I may disagree with what you say but uphold your right to have your say.