Malaysian Buddhists calls for peaceful elections

The Buddhist Channel, April 29, 2013

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia -- Malaysia is facing a crucial general elections (GE) on May 5, 2013. The 13th GE promises to be the most heated to date, with home made bombs exploding at a few campaign sites. No injuries were reported.

Being a large portion of the electorate, leaders of the sizable Buddhist population of the country (about 19% of total population) have urged the parties involved to campaign "in the spirit of upholding Buddha Sakyamuni's compassion and wisdom".

In a joint statement, members of Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council, Fo Guang Shan, Malaysia and the Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia have called on Malaysian citizens to:

(1) Step forward and fulfill one's duty as a citizen; to vote in earnest and with responsibility to elect a government that will bring advancement, harmony and equity in serving the people of different races and faiths.

(2) Follow Malaysia's founding spirit which emphasise on unity and the mutual prosperity of all ethnic groups. Whichever political party that comes into power, the ruling government must assure that the resources are equally distributed and that racial, religious and educational issues shall not be manipulated by political parties as tools to polarise the people.

(3) Encourage religion which has the effect of purifying the society and our hearts. We seek the ruling government to protect the constitutional rights of freedom of religious beliefs, put to a stop the marginalisation of non-Islamic religious education and accord fair treatment to religious development.

(4) Ensure Malaysia shall maintain its status as a secular country, pursues a policy of separation of religion and state. The ruling government must also ensure that the Federal Court is the highest source of adjudication in all matters.

(5) Ensure that the political parties must be genuine in curbing the malpractices within current electoral system, including money politics, vulgarism and abusive language should not be engaged during campaigns. Politics is everybody's business as political parties and politicians' words and deeds affect the social life of the people. Let's elect an ideal government.

6) Urge the political parties and people throughout the country during the election period to be more action oriented in the decision-making with compassion to curb violence and more wisdom to reduce ignorance.

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, the Malaysian Network of Engaged Buddhists (MNEB) said that they were "deeply saddened over the high reports of political violence", stating that "a total of 1,056 cases of political violence have been recorded since the dissolution of Parliament on April 3.

MNEB also expressed concerns on recent reports of bombing as "worrying" and "that such incidents may mar the election process, leading to more violence which may have the tendency to destroy peace and harmony".

They have called on the Buddhist community to denounce all acts of violence, taken in the form of  body (physical), speech and thought.

They also urged all those participating in the elections to "let peace and compassion be the force of the country’s social and political transformation".

About 13 million of the country's 27 million strong population is expected to go to the polls this Sunday.