BUDDHISTS in Malaysia will soon be celebrating Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and death on Wesak Day.
It is one of the most important event in the Buddhist calendar that the Malaysian government turned it into a public holiday to allow Buddhists worshippers to perform their prayer rituals.
Last month Christians celebrated Good Friday, which is a state holiday in both Sabah and Sarawak.
In February Hindu’s celebrated Thaipusam, a public holiday in several states.
In the months ahead there are several more religious holidays that will be celebrated nationwide or at the state level.
A glimpse at Malaysia’s Public Holiday’s calendar will clearly indicate that the federal and state governments try their utmost best to accommodate the various ethnicities/religious groups in the country.
In fact, Malaysia is one of the few countries in Asia if not the world that celebrates the multiethnic, multicultural, multi-religious aspect of the country.
Even our tourism tagline is “Malaysia, Truly Asia.”
Its people live in harmony and respect each other’s differences.
What makes us different is what makes us unique.
Thus it is rather disappointing to read that the United States (US) Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) 2017 report assert there is “heightened fear” of the government’s pro-Malay Muslim policies and its effect on the daily lives of minorities.
While there may occasionally be minor skirmishes between the different ethnic/religious groups it however is not emblematic of the entire country.
It would be foolhardy to accuse Malaysia of treating its non-Muslim citizens unfairly particularly since the US itself has racial/religious problems that it fails to address.
If the Malaysian government’s pro-Malay Muslim policies have limited the minorities’ ability to practice their beliefs freely then why was there a groundbreaking for a new national Buddhist Center to be built in Putrajaya recently?