“Selangor gov’t directive is a setback for multi-religious harmony”

Letter to Editor

THE decision by the Selangor government to bar Muslims from visiting other houses of worship has come as a shock, as Selangor is famous for having the most religious and racial diversity in the country. The state has immensely benefited from this unity in diversity.

Selangor has been peaceful and harmonious since the May 13 incident due to the people’s exposure to and experience with other faiths and races. This has enabled the state to become an investment haven, attain developed state status much more quickly  and also be the most cosmopolitan in the country.

The state attracts lots of people from other states and also foreigners who like the friendly and easygoing nature of the Selangor folks. The state, together with Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, also receives the largest number of tourists, who are attracted by the pluralistic society.

All these considerations have been set aside with the new rule. There was no need for this new rule as hardly any Muslim visits other houses of worship or takes part in any rituals or activities of other faiths. If at all there is a need for any inter-faith dialogues or meetings, they are usually done in a neutral place like halls or hotels.

This new directive will lead to Selangorians beginning to keep away from one another and become more insular as people’s mindsets change according to the new decree in the long run.

The ‘Open House’ which brings together people of various races and faiths in a unique Malaysian concept initiated by the nation’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman will be a major casualty and people will stop visiting their friends during religious festivals.

(Photo credit: Quizizz)


(Photo credit: Borneo Post Online)


There will be repercussions at the micro and macro levels in the state. That this is happening under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government is regrettable as the political party espouses multi-religious and multi-ethnic unity, and Selangor was a test bed experiment of this concept for the new entity.

It appears that the PH state government is under some illusionary pressure to pre-empt any possible attacks and criticisms by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) concerning Islamic affairs during the state assembly elections scheduled in a few months’ time.

Possibly, there will be even more new rules like this before the elections. Nowadays, many people have begun having a nostalgic feeling for the Barisan Nasional (BN) days, when these kinds of decrees would have been diplomatically avoided.

Since PH took over in 2018, the people have witnessed more negative changes than positive ones. At this rate, PH is surely going to lose a lot of electoral support from some communities, which was instrumental in enabling the PH to come to power. — March 17, 2023


V. Thomas is a Focus Malaysia viewer.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


Main photo credit: The Star

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