SEVERAL churches, temples and spiritual centres are holding special prayers for Malaysia Day today.
The prayer sessions will be conducted for free and fair elections, unity of the various races, improved discipline in schools and for a reduction in the poverty level and rate of unemployment among Malaysians, among others.
Prayers will also be dedicated to improving the environment, reducing natural disasters, controlling the rising cost of living and working towards a civil society.
A popular church in Petaling Jaya in its WhatsApp chat group message to more than 500 members, urged them to pray for free and fair elections and that the relevant agencies carry out their statutory duties in accordance with law.
Oriental Hearts and Minds and Study Institute chairman K.J. John said: “We will pray for peace and safety for all people, during the pre-election, election and post-election periods. We will also pray that all candidates, on both sides of the political divide, not dwell on sensitive issues such as race and religion to get elected.
“When Malaya achieved independence 60 years ago; the flag was not placed inside buildings like worship centres of mainstream churches because most of the priests, pastors and clergy would have been from Britain, France, Ireland or other countries.
“Now that our parents’ generation have moved on; it is time for Malaysian churches to bring the Jalur Gemilang into worship halls and pray for the nation, at least for one day in the year. And it must be on Malaysia Day.”
John stressed that their prayers were for candidates who are not corrupt and fair to all races and religions to be elected.
On the environment, their prayers took cognisance that currently, the country lacked concerted efforts to address flash floods and the haze.
“We pray for a smart and effective plan and urgent response from the authorities to address these issues. We also pray that the Government will be serious in planning and implementing sustainable development.”
Although Malaysia is party to a number of international treaties concerning the environment, it lacks expertise and strict enforcement, said John.
“We hope there will be more training and education for government agencies and the public on environmental issues and that the public cooperates with local authorities in implementing environmental policies and programmes.
“We pray for God’s mercy during natural disasters to prevent loss of life. We also pray that people would re-evaluate their priorities in life at such times.”
The Sathya Sai Spiritual Centre in SS3, Petaling Jaya, also plans to pray for improved discipline in schools today.
It was recently reported that 402 schools nationwide had disciplinary and drug problems with Selangor topping the list. The number of bullying cases is also on the rise.
“We will pray for policymakers and government officials to have the wisdom to come up with proper action plans to address this on a national level.
“We will pray that these plans will be effective in helping teachers and parents to deal with discipline cases,” said a spokesman from the centre.
The group also plans to pray for society to be more accepting of diversity and to show more compassion, empathy and love towards one another.
“We pray that all Malaysians, especially policymakers and business leaders, will carry out their duties with love and care to improve the welfare of their fellow Malaysians.
“We urge people in authority to formulate policies and laws that are just, impartial and beneficial to the plural Malaysian society,” said the spokesman.
The centre will also pray for corporate leaders, including small business operators, to provide decent terms and conditions of employment and pay attention to safety and health at the workplace
They will also pray that families continue to support and care for their aged members.