The criterion for successful nation building today where Malaysia is concerned lies in how governments manage to settle interfaith issues. As with all controversial matters in a democracy, it is the legal protection of the rights of minority groups – be these ethnic, religious or something else – that shows how mature the country is.
The season for cheer last December was slightly dampened by several events in the months leading up to Christmas. Christmas carollers were thrown into confusion over local police requiring them to apply for permits beforehand, something they never had to do previously. Various leaders then gave contradictory statements, saying simultaneously that permits were not needed but encouraged, and then, that they were not needed at all.
At around the same time, a New York Times article highlighted the uneasiness among Christians who feel that “they are being used as political pawns to win support among Muslim voters”, and that there are “accusations that they are trying to … [convert] Muslims, which is illegal.” (Gooch, December 12, 2011)
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