PRESIDENT’S SPEECH: DAOZHANG TAN HOE CHIEOW AT THE 30TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD ON SATURDAY, 14TH JULY 2012
A very good morning and a warm welcome each one of you to the 30th Annual General Meeting (AGM). My heartfelt appreciation to all delegates, observers and invited guest for having made the effort, commitment and taken time to attend and ensure the success of the 30th AGM. This is especially so for the representatives from the respective State Branches who started out as early as 5am this morning.
The Executive Committee had miscalculated that since we are having our 30th AGM hence we should be celebrating the 30th Anniversary of MCCBCHST and had even appointed Sardar Jagir Singh as the Organising Chairman for our 30th Anniversary celebration. The President opined that MCCBCHST is not only to solve problems and challenges faced by the Non- Muslims but also to Promote Understanding and Harmony Among Adherents of all religions. Hence our Anniversary Celebration is one way of Promoting Understanding, Interaction and Harmony amongst our members. But after careful calculations, we found out that this year is only the 29th year of MCCBCHST’s formation. Nevertheless the organising committee for the 30th Anniversary Celebration have started its meeting and had fixed the date of our 30th Anniversary Celebration to be held on the 10th August 2013 at the HGH Convention Center in SJK(C) Sentul, Kuala Lumpur. I believe the event will be a grand Celebration showcasing our 30 year history. We have started working and we are giving the event our considered attention and time, 1 year and 1 month of preparations to ensure its success.
I personally feel that MCCBCHST, after 29 years of existence, moving from one premise to another, and now renting the office in this Buddhist Maha Vihara, I think it is about time that the EXCO should make use of the 30th Anniversary Celebration to raise funds to acquire our own building. It might not necessary be a whole block but perhaps an office unit where all our important documents, photographs and files can be permanently and safely kept. The office will also be our Administrative and Resource Center. We can then have our meetings in our own office to hold our regular Executive Committee meetings. Of course we should also solicit allocation from our Federal Government so as to lessen our burden to expedite the purchase of our own nest.
When I was attending the AGMs of the various state branches, I gathered some feedbacks which Executive Committee must note and that is the concern for the lack of communication, rapport and interaction between MCCBCHST National and State Branches. As a remedy, MCCBCHST national will organise more workshops with all our branches. I personally feel that our Anniversary Celebration should be an Annual event and one table FOC should be allocated to all our branches. This will promote interaction, understanding and a sense of belonging among all our members.
Since the formation of Jawatankuasa Mempromosikan Persefahaman dan Keharmonian Di Antara Penganut Agama (JKMPKA) or Action Committee for the Promotion of Understanding Amongst Adherents of Religions was formed more than 2 years ago, under the leadership of our beloved late Datuk Hajah llani Bt Dato’ Hj. Isahak and now helmed by Datuk Azman Amin, Ketua Pengarah JPNIN and the 2 advisors; Ministers in the PM’s Dept Y.B. Senator Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon and Senator Major Gen. (Rtd) Dato’ Seri Jamil Khir Baharom. Members of JKMPKA were appointed by the Cabinet and the Prime Minister which comprise of MCCBCHST, ACCIN, INSAF, JAKIM, JPNIN, IKIM, Muslim and Non-Muslim leaders from Sabah and Sarawak.
4 Working Committees were formed, each headed by a Muslim and a Non-Muslim.
JK 1 Understanding and Issue Co-Chaired by Reverend Dr. Hermen Shastri. This committee is tasked with finding amenable solutions to the many issues confronting our nation today.
JK 2 Joint Activities Co-Chaired by Mr. RS. Mohan Shan had organised many working tours to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Kota Bahru, Kelantan and Kuching Sarawak. While in Kuching, MCCBCHST had taken the initiative to invite representatives of the different religious committees to come for a dialogue with the intent to formalise the formation of MCCBCHST Sarawak.
JK 3 Mediation Co-Chaired by me, have come up with a Certificate course in Religious Mediation together with IIUM. Among the topics in the course outline are Understand the 6 major Religions i.e. Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
JK 4 Initiatives with National and State leaders is headed by Reverend Dr. Thomas Philips. This committee amongst other organised the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), a proposal by King Abdullah of Jordan rectified and accepted by the United Nations. WIHW is to be Celebrated from the 1 – 7 February each year. JKMPKA had had organised a series of Interfaith activities over a 2 week period, culminating with a luncheon with our Honourable PM, cabinet ministers and leaders of the 6 major religions. This year we belief that interfaith should start young and JKMPKA together with the Ministry of Education had organized a number of Interfaith activities and dialogues in primary, secondary and universities.
Through all these activities, leaders of various religious communities really get to know one another, understand all religions and together try to solve interfaith issues. We must continue to promote Interfaith Understanding and Harmony Among Adherents of all religions, ensuring Malaysians continue to as 1 MALAYSIA, as in Sabah and Sarawak. We must not just promote within the framework of JKMPKA but to promote religious understanding and harmony in the communities where we live.
Reports from State Branches reflected a lot of joint activities in welfare and charitable work. MCCBCHST, being a member of the National Council of Organ Transplantation and Donation should also promote organ donations during such activities like blood donation campaigns, gotong-royong etc.
Of course we must not lose sight of the objectives of MCCBCHST and that is to champion the rights of the non Muslims, the many cases of conversion issues, opposition against Syariah compliance laws, being a watchdog for clean, transparent governance, both at Federal and State Governments, Guidelines on the allocation of land for Places of Worship, burial grounds, crematoriums and columbarium.
MCCBCHST will always defend our religious rights and sensitivities, impositions of restrictions, our opposition to imposition of restrictions and Islamic Architecture on Non-Islamic places of worship and Hudud Laws. Let us all pray that Malaysians will continue to live in peace, religious understanding and harmony.
Dao Zhu Ci Bei
Daozhang Tan Hoe Chieow
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