The Penang state government will look into the proposal of setting up an inter-faith body, which may be called Penang Harmony Corporation or Harmonico, after holding an engagement session with various organisations and religious leaders via online today.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said he was convinced that there was a need for such a platform to promote inter-faith and national unity after getting their feedback.
“The next thing is to look into how it can happen and the type of governance structure for it to best achieve its objectives,” Chow said towards the end of the discussion.
“At this moment, the state government is conducting an exercise to evaluate close to 20 state government-linked companies.”
The session was chaired by state executive councillor Chong Eng, who is in charge of Non-Islamic Religious Affairs and Social Development.
Among the participants were Chief Minister Incorporated deputy general manager Bharathi Suppiah, Penang Gandhi Peace Centre chairman Datuk Seri Dr Anwar Fazal, Pertubuhan Pemeliharaan Warisan Budaya chairman Tang Ah Chai, AKK Culture Sdn Bhd (Taoism) founder Tan Huck Hong, corporate trainer, lecturer and course writer Jenny Liew Siew Yuen, artist-facilitator, cultural worker and researcher Kuah Li Feng and Penang Global Tourism chief executive officer Ooi Chok Yan.
The others included Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (Interfaith) chairman Arokiadass Anthonysamy, Malaysia Hindu Sangam Penang Council charman M. Muniandy and vice-chairman B. Mohan Balasandorom, Malaysia Buddhist Association representatives Teoh Yew Nee and Loo Keat Seng, Chuah Cheng Ying (MBA Secretariat), Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) Penang State chairman Pastor Thomas Ch’ng Joo Hai and Lee Khai (Ong & Manecksha managing partner).
Anwar gave his strong support to the proposal, saying it was a brilliant idea to celebrate unifying activities.
He specifically mentioned the Street of Harmony (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling or Pitt Street) where it is home to four religious landmarks – a church, a mosque, a Hindu temple and a Taoist temple.
He said he accompanied former Indian president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam when the latter visited the Street of Harmony in Penang some 20 years ago and after his return, Abdul Kalam wrote a beautiful poem about street.
Chong Eng thanked all the participants for their active participation and commitment to contribute in the future.
“This is the policy of the state government to always listen to the people first, especially on something important like this. We hope to see each other again, not physically but probably virtually,” she said.
Story by K.H. Ong
Pix by Noor Siti Nabilah Noorazis