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Baha'is celebrate 50 years of progress in Malaysia, NEW STRAITS

Source: Associated Press
Publication date: 2000-11-28

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November 28, 2000




Baha'is celebrate 50 years of progress in Malaysia, NEW STRAITS TIMES-MANAGEMENT TIMES

P.C. Shivadas KUALA LUMPUR, Mon.-It was a celebration that gave expression to the movement's faith, philosophy and contribution to global peace and nation-building.

A dinner last night at the Grand Seasons Hotel in Jalan Pahang to mark 50 years of Baha'is in the country drew well-wishers of all races and faiths.

Speeches, song and dance-all had the theme of oneness and unity in diversity.

Deputy Minister of National Unity and Social Development Dr Tiki Lafe, as guest-of-honor, recognized the movement's contribution to multi-religious and multi-ethnic ties in the country.

Recognition had come by way of legal sanction of the faith's marriage ceremony, gazetted burial grounds and granting of unrecorded leave for a number of holy days in the Baha'i calendar.

Although Islam is the official religion, there is freedom of worship for people of other faiths. That is the uniqueness of Malaysia which, however, could not be taken for granted.

''The nation's founding fathers had a vision of unity in diversity, unity of nation above all else,'' said Tiki, quoting the eye-opening figure of 150 ethnic groups in the country, each with its distinct dialect and flavor.

''Yet, we are under one King and government and credit must go to all of us for keeping ourselves together,'' he added to applause from the 600 people present.

Dr John Fozdar of Kuching provided the link with the movement's initiator in the country. It was his father Dr K.M. Fozdar who brought the movement to Singapore in 1950 and then spread it to the peninsula.

Renowned cartoonist and artist, the late Leong Yan Kee of Seremban or ``Yankee'' Leong as he was fondly called, was credited with playing a crucial role in the spread of the faith in the country and other parts of the region.

He recalled other pioneers-Leong Tat Chee, Dr Chellie Sundram and Shirin Fozdar (his mother)-who had also passed on.

The movement's record speaks for itself. Created 157 years ago by Baha'u'llah in Persia, it has worked to break barriers of prejudice and collaborated with like-minded people to promote a global society.

It revolves round the belief that the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.

Datuk Dr M. Singaravelu, chairman of the movement's National Spiritual Assembly touched on international accreditation.

The United Nations has recognized the movement as an international non-governmental organization and given it consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council and the UN Childrens Fund (Unicef).

It is working closely with other UN bodies and agencies such as the World Health Organization and the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the UN Development Fund for Women.

Locally, the movement is participating actively in social work that includes the empowerment of women and the instilling of moral values in the young.

©Copyright 2000, WorldSources, Inc.

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