“ ... no cause to fear any discrimination or persecution on account of religion because the Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship”. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, when addressing students at the Jakarta Islamic State University (Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah).
The ban by Malaysia's Home Ministry on inter-faith discussions, as repeated in yesterday's news article, is at best a case of burying one's head in the sand.
Preserving ethno-religious harmony of the country at the expense of mature, intelligent and measured discussions in a democracy makes a mockery of Malaysia's aspirations of becoming an industrialized nation.
Malaysian leaders, it would seem, prefer to pretend that there are not already tensions amongst the citizenry. They would rather sweep aside the legitimate concerns of Malaysians who think that their religious freedoms are under attack, and shut off any civilized debate.
In any modern society there are bound to be diverse views but the proof of that society's maturity is the ability to conduct civilized and rational dialogue on "sensitive" issues without resorting to censorship or worse, imprisonment of people for holding certain views.
Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's words, as quoted above, are a sham because Malaysians are not allowed to address their legitimate concerns regarding the guarantee of religious freedom as provided for by the constitution.