Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia—UPF-Malaysia celebrated UN World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) and the International Day of Human Fraternity as well as launched the national chapter of the Interreligious Association for Peace and Development (IAPD) during its first “Peace Talks” webinar held on February 3, 2021. The virtual program was attended by 250 participants from 15 nations.
In the first session, leaders of UPF-Asia Pacific launched the IAPD-Malaysia. Mr. Stefan Priesner, UN resident coordinator for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, delivered a special message on the WIHW and commended UPF’s efforts in promoting interfaith harmony and supporting the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This was followed by a Panel Sharing Session featuring three distinguished speakers representing interfaith, women and youth perspectives who shared their views on and practical solutions to the topic, “Covid-19: Pathways Forward – Working Together for National Prosperity and Happiness.” The session was moderated by Dr. Amir Farid Isahak, chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship, who has over 20 years of experience in interfaith work at the national and international levels.
The first speaker was Mr. Azman Amin bin Hassan, former director general of the Department of National Unity & National Integration (2014) under the Prime Minister’s Department, and the former chairman of the National Committee for the Promotion of Understanding and Harmony among Adherents of Religions. Mr. bin Hassan spoke on the role of religious institutions as advocators for setting actions and change at a national level and gave practical solutions to and examples on how religions can serve the community for nation building.
The next speaker was Dr. Radiah binti Salim, president and founder of Club HEAL in Singapore, who presented from a woman’s perspective. Dr. Salim began her presentation by highlighting the role of women as natural caregivers, quoting “the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” She then shared her experiences as a caregiver, which led her to found Club HEAL, which consists mainly of women who are building bridges and reducing the stigma of mental health challenges, thereby promoting peace in the community and society.
The third speaker, Mr. How Zet Chin, youth chairman of Penang Hakka Association, a very passionate and dynamic youth activist, spoke on the role of youth in nation building. He drew the attention of the audience by presenting real-life case studies of community service his team of young volunteers carried out during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mr. Chin emphasized the spirit of volunteerism, multicultural partnership and the use of social media as catalysts to promote peace and sustainable development.
The webinar gathered participants from more than 10 NGOs and five universities to celebrate “unity in diversity” for a peaceful and harmonious multicultural Malaysia. In a post-event survey, 70 percent of the participants rated the event as “excellent.”
A recording of the webinar can be viewed at www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlClj5zn3T0.
“It is powerful that everyone considers cultural and religious diversity not as a destructive factor, but as a unifying one. I now realize that living in harmony with each other could be the most important goal to attain in order to achieve peace.”
– Staff, United Nations Association of Singapore
“People should work together to change the community and inspire one another in order to create a loving and peaceful environment and help others in need to pass [through] this pandemic.”
– University Student
“It was a really warming and helpful webinar; I found it especially useful for teenagers and adults who are going through [difficulties] during this pandemic. It would be nice if [the participants] could have [talked] with the speakers. Overall, the webinar was wonderful! I would recommend it to my family and friends to gain better knowledge.”
– Member, Malaysia Peacelanders
“Well done. Keep going and keep improving, and understand other people’s ideas and implement them if possible. The team has eloquently shown [this program is] for connecting the world for peace and prosperity and that is something which needs much appreciation.”
– University Student