Call on Foreign Minister to explain why Malaysia has boycotted the two-day International Dialogue on Inter-faith Co-operation which opened in Yogyakarta yesterday, and whether this was because of Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Indonesia and presence in Yogyakarta
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament House, Tuesday): The Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar should explain why Malaysia has boycotted the two-day International Dialogue on Inter-faith Co-operation in Yogyakarta which was officially opened by the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday, and whether this was because of Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Indonesia and presence in Yogyarkarta.
Malaysia’s absence at the Yogyakarta Internatiional Inter-Faith Dialogue had come as a shock to the region, as the Indonesian Foreign Ministry - which together with the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs are the joint hosts - had announced earlier that the Dialogue will be attended by around 150 delegates from 14 countries, composed of prominent religious and faith figures as well as community leaders from the 10 ASEAN countries as well as Australia, New Zealand Timor, Leste and Papua New Guinea.
As the Indonesian Foreign Ministry had announced to the world, the idea of convening the Yogyakarta Dialogue among world denominations was suggested by the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Dr. N. Hassan Wirajuda during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Meeting in Bangkok in 2003, with the theme of “empowering the moderates”. The idea was further discussed during the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Meeting in Jakarta in July 2004, following which Wirajuda and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Alexander Downer, jointly announced that Indonesia and Australia would co-host an “inter-faith dialogue” in Yogyakarta in December 2004.
The purpose of the Yogyakarta Dialogue is aimed at building a harmonious relationship among all followers of different faiths and religions in the region through promoting confidence and trust. By engaging in dialogue, participants would endeavour to develop an inclusive conceptual proposal to bridge differences and find specific common grounds for practical co-operation as well as laying the basis for regional networking towards further activities involving a wider-range of people so as to achieve better understanding and tolerance among faiths and religions in the region and beyond.
In fact, at the joint panel on terrorism with the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the recent APEC Summit in Santiago, Chile, the New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clarke referred specifically to the Yogyakarta International Inter-faith Dialogue, to be attended by community leaders from 14 countries, as an important initiative to combat terrorism and expressing the hope that it would be a forerunner to many more and bigger inter-religious dialogues in the larger APEC region.
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman