Adapted from Anglican Communion News Service

The Rt. Rev. Ng Moon Hing, Bishop of West Malaysia, has warned that cultural polarization has reached alarming levels. Bishop Hing, who will become the Archbishop of South East Asia next month, says that religious and racial polarization in the country has reached a “very critical stage.”

The bishop made his comments at a Christmas Day High Tea in Kuala Lumpur organized by the ecumenical Christian Federation of Malaysia.

“Religious and racial polarization is very rampant and has reached a very critical stage nowadays. It urgently needs to be curbed and arrested before an ugly explosion takes place,” he said.

Malaysia is a diverse nation in which Islam is the state religion, and it stresses freedom of religion for other religions. In addition to a large Christian presence, the country includes significant numbers of Buddhists and Hindus.

In his speech, Bishop Hing warned that “the nation would crumble” unless there was “respect for the diversity of the different communities,” according to news reports.

“Religious and racial polarization is very rampant and has reached a very critical stage nowadays. It urgently needs to be curbed and arrested before an ugly explosion takes place.

“The strength of our nation is and has been our multiracial and multireligious and multilingual society. If this is shaken the nation will crumble.”

In what was widely reported as an attack on a new security law that gives the National Security Council power to arrest anybody without a warrant if they were in a declared security area, he warned about “laws that are being introduced hurriedly and without adequate debate and discussion with all stakeholders.”

He added: “As a religious body, we know about the evils of temptation, and the lure of giving in to them in the belief that we are doing good,” he said. “Even as we fight terrorism, we must not succumb to the temptation to do away with law and order to defeat them.

“We counsel restraint. Do not allow our country to operate in a climate where law and order are suspended.

“That will lead to anarchy and chaos. And that is precisely what the terrorists want. Do not play into their hands and give the terrorists what they want and achieve for them what they desire.”

Responding to the speech, Paul Low Seng Kuan of the Prime Minister’s Department said the government was committed to the Prime Minister’s 1Malaysia campaign.

“Sometimes it looks like we even implement policies which contradict the spirit of 1Malaysia,” he said, “but nevertheless, I believe in the spirit of 1Malaysia, because I believe that there is a hope to give us that identity.”

Image: Bishop Ng Moon Hing talks with Malaysian government minister Paul Low Seng Kuan at a Christmas Day High. • Andrew Khoo/Facebook, via ACNS

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