On Calls for the Penang CM to Skip "Buka Puasa" Events - By Committee Member Derek Low Eng Tack
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Malaysians from different backgrounds should be encouraged to take part in the festivities of other communities to enhance inter-racial understanding. This is pertinent at a time of heightened tension among those from different backgrounds. Asking the Penang Chief Minister to stay away from "buka puasa" events is uncalled for and smacks of racial superiority.

It is even more unfortunate that such calls came on the eve of Ramadhan, a month of love, patience, and compassion. Joining other communities in their racial and religious celebrations has been a tradition in our plural society for centuries. This practice has enabled us to know each other better.

The last thing we want now is for Malaysians to stay ignorant of the cultural practices of others and allow prejudices and unfounded fears to fester. At a time of widening gap between those of different backgrounds in this country, we should encourage Malaysians to reach out to each other, not stay even more inward-looking. We should also promote our plural cultures, not any single culture.

Asking the Penang Chief Minister to convert to Islam in order for him to attend "buka puasa" events also misses the point. Non-Muslims joining Muslims to break fast is an act of reaching out and of simply being Malaysian. Fasting and breaking of fast is practiced in many cultures and one needs not be Muslim in order to fast and break fast.

We also regret that during last Friday's protest in Penang, the state's Chief Minister's information was also roughed up. Physical assault is totally unacceptable as a means of protest. This incident came in the wake numerous similar cases throughout the nation and signals the country's growing intolerance as extremism creeps into the fabric of this nation.
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