KUALA LUMPUR: The Pakatan Harapan government will be “very sensitive” towards all religions, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad pledged on Friday (Jan 11), while urging people to obey the rule of law.
His remarks came amid signs of racial divisions following recent riots at a Hindu temple in Selangor, as well as an anti-International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) rally in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
In a short Facebook post, Dr Mahathir said he received a courtesy call from members of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism in his office.
“Despite our differences, this country has been more peaceful than other countries in terms of racial harmony and religious tolerance,” he said.
“This government will be very sensitive towards all religions and at the same time each and every one of us must obey the rule of law.”
He concluded his message with: “Malaysia - Peace, Love and Harmony.”
RACIAL AND RELIGIOUS TENSION
Concerns about racial and religious tension have grown after riots at a Hindu temple in Subang Jaya in November.
The temple administration committee and the developer, One City Development, are in dispute over the piece of the land on which the temple stands.
Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, a firefighter, suffered serious injuries while he was part of a team responding to a fire in front of the temple.
Rioters allegedly pulled him out of his vehicle and attacked him. He died on Dec 17.
An inquest to determine cause of death will be held on Jan 18, potentially reopening wounds that are still raw in the community.
On Dec 8, the opposition organised a huge rally in Kuala Lumpur against ICERD, a United Nations Convention that condemns discrimination and calls upon states to pursue a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms.
In September, Dr Mahathir told the United Nations General Assembly that Malaysia would ratify the convention. However, Putrajaya backpedaled on its decision in November, as ratifying ICERD would require a two-thirds majority in parliament to amend the Federal Constitution.
On Christmas Eve, Dr Mahathir noted that “Malaysia is a peaceful country where people from all races and religions come together to celebrate each other’s holiday festivities".
"I hope this mutual regard will continue, and passed on to the younger generation. This is what made Malaysia unique, united and strong," he said then.