Dr M's Vatican Visit: Show Goodwill At Home


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamadís coming meeting with Pope Paul, which the former had apparently diplomatically sought for some time, is to take place on 7th June. The meeting as such is a good thing, because it allows for some kind of dialogue between the two leaders, and so we welcome it.

It is usual for leaders to visit the Pope. Many have done it before and others will continue to do so in future. Therefore, it is not quite correct for some people and the media in this country to tout this meeting as if it is something special that has been conceded to Mahathir. We understand that very soon many others, including President Bush, will also pay such visit.

We do not know what exactly will be Dr Mahathirís main agenda during this meeting. But we do hope that BN leaders, through the local media, will not opportunistically use it for political ends to gain support from the Christian community here for the impending general elections. Anyhow, we do not believe that such a meeting will easily sway many people.

Actually, a lot of goodwill can be shown through this meeting. Mahathir needs to show goodwill not only at the international arena. It is indeed more important for him to do so at home. As we know, all religious communities, including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and even Muslims, have different degrees of dissatisfaction over many issues, for example, sites for places of worship and burial for the dead.

Owing to many development projects that are often driven by greed, the BN government, at Federal and State levels, has hurt the feelings of different groups within various religious communities, as regards actions taken on these sites. Therefore, on this occasion, it would be a mark of great wisdom and sincere goodwill if, before his visit to the Vatican, Mahathir tries to solve certain outstanding problems related to some of these issues with the Christian community.  We also urge him, after that, to resolve similar problems with the other religious groups.

Dr Syed Husin Ali
PRM President
28th May 2002

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