EMBRACING THE SPIRIT OF ONENESS
PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS AT THE 28TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING OF THE MALAYSIAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF BUDDHISM, CHRISTIANITY, HINDUISM, SIKHISM & TAOISM BY REVEREND DR THOMAS PHILIPS, PRESIDENT ON 26TH JUNE 2010
Respected Religious Leaders, Delegates of the general meetings, guests, ladies and gentlemen.
Welcome to the 28th Annual General Meeting of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. I would like to express our gratitude to the all religious leaders and organisations for their contribution and support to the growth and work of the council. Together we are able to contribute and make an impact in our nation.
It is always exciting to be a part of a process that contributes to the direction of an institution. Therefore, the wise counsel of the leaders and delegates here should bring fruit. We come together once again to deliberate and chart the direction of our Council and it is my fervent prayer that you will move forward with commitment to work together in facing the realities of our nation.
Now, more than ever, there is this urgency to consciously strive not only for working for unity in Malaysia but also in impacting our nation. This can only be realised by speaking the truth in love, building bridges through dialogue and promoting a culture of peace. We have to reflect our journey and commit ourselves together to achieve this cherished hope and dream of all true Malaysians. Hence, I would like to echo on the following that I had shared on many occasions.
1. Our Destiny as Malaysians
Malaysia truly Asia has become the rhythm and testimony of the Malaysian society as it reflects the blending of color, flavor and fragrance of a diversified community in all spheres of our lives. The Malaysian society should continue to reflect the bonding of the people, the tradition, culture, language, faith, lives and heritage of Asia. The truth Malaysian spirit is the spirit that is able to recognize our differences yet be able to work together for the dignity of all Malaysians. We are proud of our rich heritage and the journey together must continue to strengthen the communities to stand tall and move forward.
The uniqueness on our nation is in our diversity and we must endeavour rigorously for unity in our society. This can only be through mutual respect and acceptance of one another. It will be a fulfilment of the cherished dreams of our forefathers when they came together to be responsible for their own destiny at the time of independence. We have come a long way to get where we are now, though it was a long and winding journey with unexpected ups and downs.
It was in God’s divine providence that our forefathers came to this shore. They laboured hard and brought development to this nation. Today we see the reverse in our society. Probably the structure that is in place is causing uneasiness and making the young generation uncomfortable in this country. Disillusioned youngsters instead of working for a change are running away. Religious institutions that were actively involved in the lives of society now seem comfortable to maintain the status quo.
Now there is the need to challenge our young people to a sense of belonging to this nation and inspire them to participate in the Malaysian society. A new mindset is needed for all Malaysians to move forward with pride, confidence and dignity.
2. Spirituality of the Nation
We are continuously being provoked by selfish people and we become rattled and stunned. This continues as a reminder of the insecurity and the sensitiveness of our diverse heritage. We cannot deny our past history but we need not be bogged down and become prisoners of our past experiences. Our experiences together should make us wiser and more committed to the dreams we have together for this nation. If we continue indulging in the past hurts, frustrations and missed opportunities, then we may dwell in the past and destroy the good future that we strive for. Our religious commitment should remove all fear and work together to bring about a nation to love and respect one another.
We are being called to fulfil our purpose in society and to be the agents of transformation. Every generation contributed to the growth of this nation. Therefore, in and through us we have the potential, possibility and opportunity to make this nation a better place for the generations that come after us. Our spirituality must be expressed in our commitment to actualise the spiritual teachings that we have in us. We should move with confidence to fulfil our responsibilities.
3. Transcending Self to Nation Building
In our complex society, race and religion seem to take over in all spheres of human relations. Each day we see a variety of issues being raised. Our maturity as Malaysians can only be achieved when we are able to transcend individuality to nation building. Constant engagement with Malaysians from all spheres of life should bring about an embracing inclusive agenda for all Malaysians.
They are many issues that the nation is grapping with. Corruption has become a scourge in our society. The sanctity of homes has been destroyed as we see the break ups of homes, families, and the children being left on their own. Decaying moral standards, greed, selfishness, violence, security, declining education standards, abuse of power, injustice, drug and human trafficking, bribery, etc are spiritual concerns for all Malaysians. We cannot remain indifferent and must function to be agents of change and bring transformation in our society. We need to be having the serving spirit in us to work for a better Malaysia and in championing the rights of all Malaysians.
4. Embracing the Spirit of Oneness
Many of us grew up at a time in history where we were blind both racially and religiously. We knew our roots but everyone was a friend, uncle, or an aunty to us. We shared meals together enjoying the flavour and differences in our food and culture. We shared jokes with each other and in jest teased each other with such blissful unity and open mindedness. We trusted each other. We looked out for each other. They was laughter, merry making, joy, fun, and we played all kinds of games. Deeply rooted in our hearts was always a sense of pride that we were Malaysians. All festivals and celebrations were Malaysian festivals. All holidays were Malaysian holidays. Come Merdeka, crowds thronged all areas of festivities and action. There was only one people, one color and one creed, one nation-Bangsa Malaysia.
The spirit of Malaysia should be the ability to hold up the dignity of all to walk together as one nation. As much as we are proud of our rich heritage, the journey together must continue to strengthen the communities to stand tall and move forward together. Our religious convictions make demand on us to bear testimony to all as we live in our multi cultural society with the many faith expressions. We need to be the good neighbour to all around us. Our society is alive with the living faith traditions of Asia. It is in the midst of these people that faith is lived. As well all stand firm on our conviction, we need to embrace the spirit of oneness to promote a culture of peace in our nation.
5. Breaking down the walls that divide us
Our insecurities seem to have seized us and not only have we built walls around us but also around others due to our insecurity. The dark episode in 1969 becomes a reminder of the deep wound in the spirit of Malaysia. All of us has become race and colour conscious. Everyone conscious of their ethnicity and religion. Every action was viewed with suspicion. Communism became the ghost of our lives. Selfish people continue to exploit the ghost of the tragic event to demonise one another. The hopes, visions, dreams and aspirations of our forefathers have become fragmented, sensitive, fragile and insecure.
Every now our apathy and indifference to all is happening around is tearing us apart. We have been clouded in our racial and religious sensitivity. Every issue becomes a religious or racial issue. We need to tear down the walls that divide us and embrace one another. Our mission should be with an inclusive expression. No doubt we have our own spiritual experience and expression, but we need to accept to the reality that we live in a very peculiar setting. It is only with the compassion heart and a serving spirit that we are able to live bear witness in our society.
6. Our Conscious Commitment Forward Together
The true spirit of the nation in the true sense should be in being inclusive and responsible as a way of life. In our journey forward we brought the non Islamic religions together to form the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism. We are working hard and praying that an Inter Faith body will be established with all religions to bring out the true sense of oneness. Every journey begins with the first step and we will strive on the determination.
Our religious conviction has challenged us to work with all Malaysians irrespective of race, religion, culture, language and socio economic circumstances to develop their self worth and dignity, self determination and leadership qualities. Today our nation needs true national leaders to arise to build bridges and reconcile the nation. The General Meeting should be challenging the delegates to be national leaders, reconcilers and healers in the places we are placed in. Our faith expression should be an embracing experience that we are able to reach out to all those who are helpless, hurt, wounded or in pain. The task is not simple but one that needs a total commitment of our whole being in bringing healing to all humanity and creation.
This can only be achieved in love and with commitment. This only can increase our effectives in impacting our nation. We need to break away the traditional conditioned mindset in the way we function. We need to come out from the selfish, exclusive state of mind that most of our institutions have been trapped into, in order to build a broader, accommodating and inclusive outlook that is able to extend our hands to all-moving forward with a firm commitment and renewed spirits. There are many issues that our nation is confronting with and it takes all of us to address them. There are many issues that are yet to be addressed. Issues of conversion is a very sensitive issue that is tearing the nation apart. Amendments to the family law are also concerns for us. Claims of certain words being the exclusive domain of certain groups are difficult to accept. Many laws that are in place restrict and limits our fundamental rights as citizens. As mentioned earlier the list goes on. Our religious upbringing cannot be compromised and as religious leaders we must stand together in our convictions.
As we stand at the most critical time in our nation, we need to consciously commit ourselves to work together for the good of everybody. We are thankful that we are been taken seriously by many, locally and internationally. The Secretary General will highlight the various meetings we had with the various groups. We are grateful to Tan Sri Koh Soon Koon for enabling us to receive RM250,000.00 from the government for our work. This is also an indication that we are seriously taken and that we matter. Let me appeal to all of you to continue to support the work of the Majlis. It is your prayers, presence and the wise counsel that continue to inspire us to move on.
It has been generally said that the conference is a place ‘everyone talks; no one listens, goes back and continues to talk’. Plato said ‘Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something’. Let us listen to one another and together contribute to the work of the council in our nation.
Before I conclude, I would like to express my gratitude to all in electing me and the exco for the term. Together with the exco and the support of all, we have strived to the best of our abilities. As in the years gone by, we have raised out voices to the cries around us. We have worked together with other civil societies on matters that concerns all Malaysian. By standing together we were able to make our voices heard and make an impact in our nation.
I would like to record my appreciation to our Executive Officer Mr. Goh Keat Peng who journeyed with us and placed is in a strong footing. We really miss his absence and his wise counsel. The Secretary General, Mr. Prem had to shoulder all the responsibilities in the absence of Mr. Goh. In spite of his work and home commitments, he was able to hold our Majlis to move on. Likewise our Treasurer General, the exco members, legal panel members and the various sub committees who were there to give support and advice. I want to record their invaluable contributions to the council.
Dear friends, today our primary concentration will be in the constitutional amendments to make our council more effective. As you continue in your deliberations here you must able to give leadership in striving for justice, peace and goodwill wherever you are. May this meeting enrich our experience of God and of one another and may these experiences equip us to the service of our nation. I wish you all a blessed, memorable and enriching experience in your contemplation and deliberation together. Our coming together should consciously commit all of us to move forward together. May our God guide us all our deliberations. Thank you.
Rev. Dr Thomas Philips
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