The Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC) expresses regret over the incident where a surau at a resort in Kota Tinggi, Johor, was allegedly being used by Buddhists to perform a religious service with the permission given by the resort operator.
The resort operator and the Buddhists involved in the incident were reportedly from Singapore and therefore, may not be aware that their actions may hurt the sensitivity of some Malaysian Muslims and may cause disharmony amongst the multi-racial and multi-religious community in Malaysia. The Council urges any foreigners who wish to perform religious services in Malaysia to respect and be more mindful of the sensitivity of the locals. As this incident is an isolated case involving foreigners, it must not undo the good harmony and respect that Malaysian Buddhists and Muslims generally have for each other all these while.
The Council reiterates that this is an unfortunate incident that happened out of lack of the understanding amongst the adherents of different religions and urges everyone to view the incident in perspective and to resolve the issue in an amicable way. The Council also urges the public, including those in the social media, to heed the call by the authority not to aggravate the situation further. In such situations, where there could be ignorance by the parties involved, the Council urges the authorities to educate and provide counselling or guidance, instead of meting out harsh punishments.
In light of other recent incidents which had given rise to anger and disharmony, this latest misunderstanding underlines the need for more inter-faith dialogues to prevent further uneasiness. In particular, greater focus should be given to the Malaysian education system to properly introduce different major religions to all students in order to promote awareness and understandings of the various major religions in Malaysia.
Members of MBCC: Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia, Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia, Persatuan Penganut Agama Buddha Fo Guang Malaysia, Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia, Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardhana Society, Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia.