In a letter addressed to all Malaysians, the nine Catholic bishops of Malaysia wanted to mark the "Hari Merdeka", the national holiday that commemorates, on August 31, the Declaration of Independence (1957) and the formation of Malaysia ( 1963). In their letter, the bishops celebrate Malaysia's ethnic, cultural and religious diversity, reminding Malaysians that religions are meant to enrich a nation and not be used as a dividing force. The population of Malaysia is made up of almost 32 million people, of which over 60% are Muslims and only 4% are Christians. Despite the small minority of Christians, the bishops insist on inviting the faithful to "build bridges" and to act for the unity of the country.

The nine Malaysian bishops have issued a letter celebrating Malaysian diversity, a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious nation, reminding Malaysian citizens of the profound meaning of Hari Merdeka, the national holiday that commemorates, on August 31, the Declaration of the Independence (1957) and the formation of Malaysia (1963). In their letter, the bishops warn Malaysians against various ills that threaten the country,"Especially those who seek to favor one community over the other, attacking the very fabric of our society". "Religious beliefs are meant to enrich a nation, but unfortunately, they are often used as a dividing force. It is a counter-testimony and a distortion of the truth that is at the heart of all religious faith. It is disturbing to see that people get away with saying things on the edge of incitement to hatred, while those who denounce this situation are persecuted, " the bishops continue.

"Why has our society become so divided? When the authorities and the various communities spend all the time and their energy arguing and calling for hatred and mistrust, what is the example they are showing for the new generation? What kind of society are we giving birth to? " Malaysia's population is made up of almost 32 million people, including more than 60% Muslim. In everyday life, the boundaries between the various ethnic and religious communities are clearly defined, and identity politics play an influential role. Catholics make up only 4% of the population, but bishops emphasize the importance of their civic engagement."As Christians, our faith is not just about praying and doing good deeds. We are called to build bridges, not walls. Whether in politics, in interethnic relations, in the face of economic crises or family or community disputes, we must be peacemakers, to find common ground and foster a respectful dialogue , " the bishops ask.

Building unity in diversity

"The decisions and choices we make every day as Christians must reflect our ongoing commitment to Malaysia, with its uniqueness and diversity. We must all play a role in contributing to the building of our country - and this is reflected in building strong bonds of unity between different denominations and ethnicities, ensuring that justice is the basis of our society, " insisted. they."Let's avoid accusing or slandering Malaysians of other origins or denominations. How many times have we been suspicious or judged against people who do not share our faith? We must take the initiative to create greater unity for the good of our country, by refusing to participate in the destruction of the very structure of our diversity. " In conclusion, the bishops ask:"In the face of those who make false accusations against us, do not react negatively. Through our actions, we can be the ray of light that allows others to see Christ through us. Similarly, we must also learn to trust, to build unity and to walk together with our Malaysian brethren, because we are one people. We are all in the same boat, whatever our origin or our religion, and we are going through the same trials together. Let us take the same course, and continue to plant seeds of unity, to maintain peace, promote reconciliation and the building of our nation. This is how we will give Hari Merdeka a real meaning and what it means to be Malaysian. "

(Source: Églises d'Asie - le 03/09/2019, With Asianews, Kuala Lumpur)