Malaysia and the Holy See in the Vatican have agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations, following the footsteps of other Muslim-majority nations such as Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt, Libya, the Arab League and majority members of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak today concluded his working visit to the Holy See after paying a courtesy call on Pope Benedict XVI and Secretary of State (equivalent to Premier) Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo, Rome which is the summer residence of the Pope.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in-charge of National Unity Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok who is also a Catholic, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs Dato’ Seri Jamil Khir Baharom, Chairman of the National Fatwa Council Tan Sri Prof. Abdul Shukor Husin and Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.
In the meeting with the Pope, Najib put forth his concept for a Global Movement of Moderates to counter extremism of all forms. He first made this call when delivering his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010. Najib also said as a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, Malaysia has drawn on the values of moderation to ensure continued harmony, stability and prosperity.
Najib added that Malaysia was keen to share its experience with the world, and that is why Malaysia is committed to forging links and alliances with like minded countries to promote world peace and harmony. He said this is the main reason why Malaysia established diplomatic relations with the Holy See.
“The world is at a crossroads, the forces of irrationality and discord are threatening our long-cherish and hard-gained stability, and prosperity. What is worst is that certain quarters use religion to justify acts of terrorism. Malaysia and the Holy See are committed to surmount such negative forces by employing the powers of reason and moderation,” said Najib.
Najib added, “The Holy See recognises Malaysia’s commitment to promote moderation as a global doctrine. Our effort in managing our diversity despite various hurdles and challenges is a cogent reminder that diverse societies can succeed. However, we must remain vigilant and confront pernicious forces that threaten to unravel this harmony. We must also do more by adopting an inclusive approach to administration and governance, and ensuring the Malaysian sun shines on every Malaysian.”
Najib also raised the possibility of forging closer links with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue headed by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran and the Pontifical Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies. He said the Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM), Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies and the Department of National Unity and Integration (JPNIN) will spearhead this initiative from Malaysia.