Saturday, January 16

‘Malaysia-Vatican ties will boost inter-faith dialogue’


KUALA LUMPUR: The establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See in the Vatican is a positive boost for the Global Movement of the Moderates advocated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said yesterday.

In a statement, Dr Koh, who is also minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said Malaysia and the Vatican could now work together to promote the values of moderation and inclusiveness through meaningful, inter-faith dialogue and exchanges, in line with the spirit of 1Malaysia and 1World.

Dr Koh said, as a member of the delegation to the Vatican, and personally as a Buddhist, it was an enriching experience to meet Pope Benedict XVI in Castel Gandolfo.

Dr Koh also visited the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue and the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies under the Holy See to explore the possibility of linking up these two institutions with Malaysian institutions to promote inter-faith understanding.

He said Najib had mooted the idea of visiting the Vatican, two years ago, but it only crystallised in May, this year, after discussions with the Papal Nuncio (Ambassador) of the Holy See to Singapore, Leopoldo Girelli, and the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam.

Dr Koh said, it was also a rare honour for the Pope to meet the prime minister at his summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo as he did not normally receive his guests there.

He said the establishment of diplomatic relations was proposed by the Holy See during the visit of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 2002.

The Cabinet this year unanimously agreed that the time was now ripe for Malaysia to establish formal ties, in line with Najib’s Global Movement of the Moderates. — Bernama