Malaysian king calls for racial unity
Last updated 2-19-09 at 12:44 p.m.
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — On Feb. 16, Malaysia’s king called for increased efforts to promote racial harmony in the multiethnic nation, saying that the government will prosecute anyone seen to be dividing the people.
The comments by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, Malaysia’s constitutional monarch, come amid rising racial polarization, although the Malay Muslim majority still has generally amicable relations with the large ethnic Chinese and Indian communities.
“I am saddened that after 51 years of independence, narrow racial issues are still being raised by certain parties,” he said in a speech to open a new session of Parliament.
“In order to preserve racial harmony and the country’s stability, I want to stress that the government will not hesitate to take action against anybody who tries to disunite the people,” he said in warning to his parliament.
He did not name the groups said to be causing divisions or explain what action the government would take against violators.
Ethnic divisions in Malaysia have deepened in recent years amid increasing complaints by minorities about special privileges enjoyed by Malays in jobs, education, and other areas. Some also say their religious rights have become secondary to Islam. The government has denied any unfair treatment. (end)