FOR many years, I have been learning to understand the teachings of Islam through sermons aired by One FM, a Mandarin language unit within RTM.
A lady preacher who is a Chinese Muslim convert regularly gives talks on the significance of Islamic celebrations, moral values and matters pertaining to the correct ways of interacting with family members, neighbours, friends, peers and members of the public, quoting beautiful and inspirational verses from the Quran.
Although I am a Buddhist, understanding Islam helps to make me a better person.
When Tok Guru Datuk Haji Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat was mentri besar of Kelantan from 1991 to 2013, he was popular among the local Malaysian Siamese, orang asli, Chinese and Indians because of his moderate and tolerant approach towards other communities of different religions and ways of life.
He presented an arch in Kota Baru Chinatown to the Chinese community and named the place Cheng Ho Square. Non-Muslim locals and tourists have their food in hawker stalls there now.
He also would not turn down the invitation of the Buddhist community to come and witness the opening of new halls or structures in their temples. This is evident in the many photographs put up prominently in the halls of the temples he visited.
One of the longest reclining Buddha statues in this region is still standing in Tumpat where it is the main tourist attraction.
Malaysia is a plural society comprising mainly of wage-earning families who are more concerned with bread-and-butter issues that affect their standard of living. Therefore, political parties that could bring peace and improve the economy of the country would have received the support of the rakyat during the last general election.
In this context, I would urge PAS and Umno to focus their political struggles on nation building, racial harmony and religious tolerance as provided in the Federal Constitution.
PAS, Umno and the many NGOs should just cancel the Dec 8 rally because the government has announced that it would not ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) because it is against the Federal Constitution.
All Malaysians should put this issue to rest now. This rally would cause uneasiness among Malaysians. If it really needs to proceed, I would suggest to PAS and Umno that they engage with other communities and religious organisations to do a mega gotong royong to clean up the streets and drains in the Kuala Lumpur city centre after the event. This would then become a more productive gathering.
In this way, the PAS and Umno leaders could follow the leadership of the late Tok Guru. Both parties are now a strong opposition front that could provide another choice for voters during the next general election, especially if the rakyat find that the current government is not able to improve the welfare of the people.
The general election is the democratic way for the rakyat to vote for change. However, the universally accepted core values of all religions is peaceful coexistence.
TAN & FAMILY