Malaysian sultans call for religious tolerance, unity

KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia's royals have made a rare intervention into public affairs, calling for unity and religious harmony after what they described as "excessive actions" in the name of Islam.

Members of minorities have expressed concern in recent months about what they see as intolerance in Malaysia, which is 60 per cent Muslim, with sizeable Buddhist, Christian and Hindu communities.

In a statement issued yesterday, the nine sultans who serve as hereditary titular heads of individual Malaysian states said people must respect the constitutional principle that Malaysia is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional country.

"It is feared that the excessive actions of certain individuals of late can undermine the harmonious relations among the people of various races and religions," said the statement signed by the Keeper of the Rulers' Seal Syed Danial Syed Ahmad.

"The Rulers feel that the issue of harmony has deep implication if any action is associated with and undertaken in the name of Islam."

The comments, which come ahead of a gathering of the Conference of Rulers starting today, are unusual as the sultans largely assume a ceremonial role and rarely speak on the functioning of the state or society.

The statement referred to the opening of Muslim-only launderettes reported in southern Johor state and northern Perlis state. "Unity among Malaysia's multi-ethnic and multi-religious people is key to ensuring the country's ongoing stability," the statement said.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 11, 2017, with the headline Malaysian sultans call for religious tolerance, unity. Subscribe