“Religion, Democracy and Pluralism”


His Excellency Bapak Abdurrahman Mohammad Fachir

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia,

Distinguished Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I would like to convey to the Government and people of Indonesia, our deepest condolences on the loss of lives and damage caused by the earthquake in Aceh yesterday. I bring with me the prayers of all Malaysians for the victims and families of those affected during this difficult time.

Allow me to also express my appreciation to the Government of Indonesia for convening once again the Bali Democracy Forum, which provides a constructive platform for us to share, best practices and on-going efforts in advancing democracy.

I join others in thanking our gracious host for the excellent hospitality and arrangements for the Forum.

Distinguished Delegates,

The practice of democracy in a plural society is vital as it fosters mutual respect and understanding. It thereby allows for peaceful co-existence and promotes strong people-to-people ties that bind societies. 

In the case of Malaysia, a melting pot of races, cultures and religions, the practice of democracy is ever more important. Democracy brings the realisation that building on commonalities and acknowledging differences contribute to the achievement of mutual goals in nation building. Democracy enables people to reap the benefits of diversity. 

In this connection, the 1Malaysia concept was introduced as an initiative to promote national unity, tolerance and acceptance of each other’s differences. It advocates inclusiveness and moderation. It inculcates a sense of belonging and a sense of ownership in all Malaysians. No particular group is deprived of enjoying the benefits of the country’s development, and all are involved in nation building and national integration. Such efforts contribute to enhancing Malaysia’s democratic process and reflects of our value system where the collective well-being of the community is just as important as that of the individual.     

Distinguished Delegates,

Malaysia subscribes to the belief that there is no single model of democracy that fits all societies.  It is not a one size fits-all concept, but must be realised within the context of the country’s political, social and cultural landscape. It cannot flourish under conditions of political turmoil, social unrest and internal hostilities. It requires peace and stability as vital pre-conditions. Therefore, it is important to recognise that plural societies, in which diverse groups are able to maintain and develop their traditional culture or special interest, would certainly contribute to a successful and a more meaningful democracy. Building on inclusive participation of the people would certainly eliminate social imbalances and tension. 

Distinguished Delegates,

Democratic values of participation, accountability and transparency are essential in a democracy. As a country evolves, its evolution must be ruled by a democracy which understands and takes into account the complexities of diverse communities. This would also ensure the promotion and protection of human rights where human dignity is preserved.   Malaysia truly believes that promoting national solidarity and harmony among various communities, including minorities, is an integral part of democratization and reform processes. Therefore, Malaysia hopes that all countries would uphold these principles in the interest of peoples worldwide.

Distinguished Delegates,

The   year   2016   marks   another   challenging year for all nations. We   continue   to   witness deplorable humanitarian situations, human rights violations and acts of violent extremism in various parts of the world. In this regard, Malaysia is fully supportive of efforts at the international level which are designed to generate greater understanding between cultures, civilizations and religions, including sectarian beliefs and practices.  This is where Malaysia strongly believes in the utility of advocating globally the value of moderation as espoused by the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM). In advancing the voices of the moderates, GMM enhances mutual understanding and respect as well as contributes towards peace, sustainable and inclusive development, equitable growth and social harmony. We believe that moderation contributes to democracy as it paves the way for harmony in the socio-cultural fabric of a plural society.

Distinguished Delegates,

I wish to conclude by reiterating that Malaysia remains firmly committed to advancing the cause of democracy and to upholding its principles in the interest of peaceful co-existence between peoples of different races, religions and cultures globally. It is our sincere hope that the Bali Democracy Forum will continue to bolster cooperation in strengthening democracy within our region and beyond.

Thank you.

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