What I like about this time of the year is that Christmas helps to remind people to spread goodwill and cheer, just in time to usher in the New Year and make a fresh start. We could all use a little reminder every now and then.
I have always believed that as a nation of moderates, we must seize every opportunity to forge better understanding between Malaysians of different cultures and faith. I underscored this belief when in July, I led the government delegates to pay a courtesy call to Pope Benedict XVI in his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, and shared my vision of the Global Movement of the Moderates. From that working visit, Malaysia and the Holy See (Vatican City) have agreed to establish diplomatic relations, which I hope will lead to closer links and inter-faith dialogue between us.
Likewise, here at home, I am equally committed to further strengthen the interaction that has long exists with the Christian community. I have always made a special effort to meet with people of all faith. I look forward to continue this practice to seek your ideas and hear your thoughts for the betterment of our society.
In Malaysia, celebrations that are specific to cultural and religious communities have become increasingly accepted and celebrated by the larger Malaysian population, such as the gift-giving custom commonly practiced during Christmas. It is fascinating to observe how the nation’s multi-cultural as well as multi-religious practices blend into the society.
Do spend this Christmas to understand your fellow Malaysians better, and appreciate them for the diversity and strength they contribute to our beloved nation. Last but not least, I wish all Malaysians of Christian faith a Merry Christmas.