Let Kajang lead the way in dialogue, says Anwar Ibrahim

Photograph: CikguleeKS

Anwar Ibrahim is leading the charge for dialogue in Kajang, which he believes can be a showcase of unified diversity. He spoke after Mass this morning at the Holy Family Church hall in the presence of some 1200 parishioners and their parish priest, Fr George Harrison.

Photograph: CikguleeKS
Photograph: CikguleeKS

Let’s move beyond mere tolerance to greater understanding and appreciation

Speech by Anwar Ibrahim at the Meet-the-people Session, Hall of the Holy Family Church, Kajang, on 16 February 2014

Just three weeks ago, I called on all Malaysians to come together in peace. I made a direct call to the government to come to a national consensus. I said: Let us just put side aside our political differences and sit down and talk. Let us agree todisagree but let us make a promise to the people that we honour and fulfill certainbasic principles essential for the peace and harmony of our nation.
Seeking consensus in our plural society

This is seeking consensus. Let us reach a consensus so that all Malaysians regardless of race religion can live harmoniously.

We are not asking for anything new or extraordinary. We are not even asking for the law to be changed for this. Our Malaysian identity – multi racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural – is already written in the Federal Constitution. It is part and parcel of our social compact.

As you know, in recent months, there have been attempts by irresponsible elements to stir up racial and religious trouble. It appears that the innocent ones are being hounded like criminals while the culprits are let off the hook.

They throw fire bombs into church compounds. No one is arrested.

They offer rewards to the public to slap other people. Yet, no action is taken by the police.

And they threaten another May 13. That’s a very serious threat. Yet, these people are immune from the law.

In other words, we have a situation where the voices of hatred, violence, anddestruction are allowed by the powers that be to drown the voices of peace, love and harmony.

In a multi-racial, multi-religious nation like ours, there are bound to be differences of opinions and a diversity of views on many issues. Public expression of these differences is part of the democratic process.

Theodore Roosevelt once said that “Wide differences of opinion in matters of religious, political, and social belief must exist if conscience and intellect alike are not to be stunted, if there is to be room for healthy growth.”

Healthy growth, yes. But we do not want irresponsible parties to capitalize on the differences of views to create a climate of fear and to sow hatred.

Where there are differences, we should sit down and talk and agree to disagree. Just hurling accusations at each other won’t resolve them. Threatening violence is not only counter-productive but is also a crime.

There are no winners in a war of abuse, insults and condemnation. Violence breeds violence and is destructive. Diversity in culture and religion is an integral part of mankind. So is our Malaysian society. That is why we need harmony and mutual understanding.

The Qur’an

The Qur’an, in Surah al-Hujarat, Ayat 13, says:

O mankind! We created you male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. And Allah is all-knowing all-aware.

Firstly, this verse is addressed not just to Muslims but to mankind. Secondly, it lays the foundation for unity and equality in every human being. We belong to one race, that is, the universal race of mankind. We have been divided into different tribes and nations so that we can get to know each other.

Now, in the context of Malaysia where Muslims comprise the majority in our multi-cultural multi-religious society, Islam requires tolerance as the minimum standard to foster respect.

But going by the Qur’anic verse just quoted, mere tolerance in a society like ours is not good enough.

The Qur’anic expression ‘li ta’arafu’ requires a higher standard. It means to reach out and get to know each other. So, it is not just about tolerating each other’s differences but understanding and appreciating other communities.

In this regard, I pause for a moment to commend the Majlis Agama Islam Selangor for last Friday’s Khutbah Jumaat which was enlightening and very inspiring. It is precisely in the spirit of ‘lita’arafu’ calling for mutual respect and understanding among our diverse communities. This is most reassuring and a welcome trend.

The Bible

And in that spirit of mutual respect and understanding, let me now quote from the Book of Romans, Chapter 14, verses: 10 to 13:

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.

It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me;every tongue will acknowledge God.’

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”
Dialogue, harmony, cooperation and understanding – that is what we need to seek.Hatred, rancour, hostility and violence – that is the way to destruction. Mutual respect, goodwill, trust and peace – that is the way to unity and integration.

Meeting the Pope

In October last year, I was at the Vatican City on invitation by the Community of Sant’Egidio for the annual inter-faith dialogue among Muslims, Christians and members of other faiths.

I am proud to say that since my release from Sungai Buloh prison, I have been regularly invited to take part in the dialogue.

As some of you may already know, while I was there, I also had the honour and privilege of meeting with His Holiness, the Pope. The Pope said he was praying for peace and for the welfare of Christians and Muslims in Malaysia and that there would be religious harmony in the country.

Get our priorities right

I say we must get our priorities right. The test of leadership is the ability to put aside partisan and personal interests for the sake of the common good.

‘Common good’ means the well-being of all Malaysians. It means a society living in harmony; clean government, economic progress, and better living standards.
So, our priorities must be focused on more pressing issues: such as propergovernance, greater transparency and accountability for acts done in the name of power.

And the biggest issue is of course corruption. Are we serious about fighting corruption or just giving lip service?

Another major issue is the rising cost of living. Just the last few days they have been running a media campaign to say there is no such thing. They say that this thing is all made up by us, all being exaggerated.

When the prices of vegetables go up, they tell us to eat – well you know the answer. When the prices of fish in the market go up, again they say don’t eat fresh fish – just go and buy imported frozen fish. They say it is much cheaper.

So, what is my point here? We should not insult the people by saying things without thinking. We are dealing with the welfare of the rakyat. Rather than trying to outdo or outtalk the other side, please come up with solutions to lighten thepeople’s burden.

The other thing is rising crime rate. We don’t want to blame anyone but we have to go back to the question of priorities. What’s more important? Going after murderers, violent criminals and snatch thieves or going after harmless professional actors in harmless videos?

The priority has to be our homes, our schools, our parks, our shopping malls, and of course our places of worship. Let us help the police make them safer.


Let me conclude with a positive note. Some people have said that Kajang is just a tiny little town known only for its satay.

We don’t think so. Yes, the satay is legendary. But Kajang is much more. In many ways Kajang is a mini-Selangor in the way that Selangor is a mini-Malaysia. We have a good mix of the various communities and it is in this diversity that we can showcase Kajang as an exemplary unified community.

So, let us lead the way in dialogue. Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and followers of other faiths, let us go beyond mere tolerance and achieve greater understanding and appreciation.

Let us do so “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”

Thank you.

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I do not see any sign of reform by MCA, only their eagerness to get the cabinet positions.
Also, MCA does not help the Chinese community in Pengerang whose ancestral graves are to be removed for BN petrol chemical projects. So why should the Chinese in Kajang vote for BN?


Mahathir said voting for Anwar is vote for US
I would say vote for Anwar is like voting for UMNO.
So might as well vote for MCA. I think everybody would agree with me.

bansiew tee koh

Chinese will not vote for MCA/BN since Umno had made Restoran Melayu more important than Chin Woo school. Period.


Never trust Zaid Ibrahim who switches camp any time to suit the weather.


Most people don’t understand that these kind of behaviour is pretty common among mercurial leaders and managers. Mahathir and even greats like Lee Kuan Yew, Steve Job, Bill Gates does the same thing although the latter much more seldom and subtle. They are struggling for an broader answer to a very difficult question.

At the end of it, the real issue is the succession issue in PKR and replacement of Anwar. Anwar can have his indulgence here but what the rakyat really should demand is Anwar have a succession plan – that does not include Azmin.


Bigjoe, why not Azmin? Is it because he is not in good terms with Khalid? I would say if the party elects him, then, he should be given a chance. As far as i am concerned he is quite impressive in the Parliament, never see him raises his voice in arguments. I saw weaknesses in Khalid now…. I fully supported Khalid the 1st term but Selangor must improve otherwise it is very dangerous, the enemy is roaming around, waiting to devour, we cant afford a 2nd Perak in Selangor to take place. I hope the Kajang folk will be resolute… Read more »


Give Anwar a chance is like giving ourself a chance. Anwar prides kajang not like the crying baby Wee Ka Siong, belittling Kajang, only good for satay.

Vote for change, we must !


Anwar has a chance more than 10 years ago but then he jump to a new ship he started. When we talk of UMNO, Anwar is one and the same one. I wonder why Kee never said about his UMNO turncoat or the billions of forex losses. Most probably he walks hand in hand with his tokong LGE. Yes and why is it they keep blaming Najib for the Allah issue when it was the Selangor state govt that take the initial action. And does Kee doe not know or pretend not to know that the Penang state govt has… Read more »

Rufus Mallu

This is only the politician’s charisma talking. Yet to see how he’s gong to perform after the elections because he’s been an abject failure thus far


silence like the lambs domestically but purveyor of peace and tolerance themes overseas.
ah jib kor, be consistent and you will have support across the spectrum nationwide.
Malaysia needs leadership from the PM. For now, leadership seems available only from the opposition end.

Rich Daddy

Ha ha ha lol lol lol lol lol lol

This is politician. I fear for the Selangor reserve fund safety.


Before any election you will say anything to appease you to get your votes
After that they seem to forget whatever promises they have made.
How is DAP going to solve the Hudud issue. After they become minister would be they just like MCA a puppet of Anwar and PAS

Pak Tim

If this is what the Kajang move is all about, we are all for it. Kajang will be famous for being a bedrock of true unity not, the false 1 Malaysia promoted by this minority government. Only this minority government is afraid of Hudud because they have plundered the nation’s wealth and … a foreign national (has been murdered).