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Asia

2011-07-11

ASIA/MALAYSIA - Prime Minister meets the Pope: diplomatic relations and "crucial points" in the lives of Christians

Kuala Lumpur (Fides Service) –The current, fluid, political situation in Malaysia, has weakened the Prime Minister, as he prepares to meet Benedict XVI, in a "private visit", scheduled for July 18 at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope's summer residence. This is what was said by Malaysian Church sources to Fides, noting that the latest demonstrations carried out by civil society – in past days crossed the capital Kuala Lumpur (see Fides 09/07/2011 and 8) – and have shaken the leadership of Najib Razak, Premier belonging to UMNO (United Malays National Organization), the party that leads the coalition "National Front" government in the country.
According to the sources of Fides, the Premier aims to "restore his image and regain the consent of Christians", but his intentions "will be evaluated in light of the many unresolved issues: the use of the word Allah by non-Christians; the confiscation of the Bibles; the real protection of social, civil and religious rights". It should also be noted that in recent elections held in the state of Sarawak (island state of Malaysia, in Borneo, of Christian majority), the faithful preferred the opposition and this has worried the government.
In any case, Razak's visit to the Pope will be very important to discuss the possible establishment of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Holy See: at the moment an Apostolic Delegate, the Nuncio, Mgr. Leopoldo Girelli, resident in Singapore is taking care of all the relations.
"The prospect of diplomatic relations - note the source of Fides - is regarded by the people as a matter of 'upper echelons of politics': Christians expect their crucial points to be analyzed, all those points that affect their lives as discriminated citizens and do not have full rights and freedom in Malaysia". The hope is that the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Malaysia can then push the government to intervene at a legislative and social level "to resolve open issues that have lasted for years".
"I think the discussion on possible diplomatic relations is a positive step that in the future, will enhance the conditions of Christian minorities in Malaysia", said Fr. Paolo Nicelli, PIME, to Fides, missionary who stayed and studied the social, legal and religious dynamics in the country. "Today, there is a strong anthropological question of justice, equality, transparency, in Malaysia, fighting corruption, which crosses the whole society" he underlines. "In this context, Najib Razak should have realized that only full attention and respect towards ethnic and religious minorities rights - in the context of a pluralistic country - can help to give stability to the government." (PA) (Agenzia Fides 11/07/2011)

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