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Tackle 1MDB affair urgently, Catholic bishops say
Published:  Aug 31, 2016 10:10 AM
Updated: 10:16 AM

Malaysia’s Catholic bishops believe that critical issues affecting the country, such as the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) affair, need to be resolved urgently.

In its National Day message, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia admitted that while the country has advanced in many sectors, there are also issues that need to be addressed.

“These include the controversial National Security Council (NSC) Act, which is perceived as being contrary to democratic norms, the volatile financial situation with a high cost of living aggravated by excessive levies, retrenchment of workers, corruption and wastages and, particularly, the 1MDB affair.

“These problems need to be resolved urgently in the interest of the country. The government must carry out its obligations with a greater sense of accountability, transparency and integrity,” the bishops said in the joint statement.

United States attorney-general Lorretta Lynch revealed in July that the US Department of Justice (DOJ) would initiate court proceedings to seize assets allegedly procured with funds misappropriated from 1MDB.

This renewed calls for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who has repeatedly denied abusing public funds and has also been cleared of any wrongdoing in this matter by attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali, to step down.

The bishops also noted how the country was facing racially and religiously motivated forms of polarisation. And this, they said, should not be allowed to gain ground.

'Uphold Rukun Negara principles'

On this note, the Catholic clergy called on lawmakers, civil leaders and those who implement the law to uphold the principles of the Rukun Negara and the Federal Constitution.

“Meanwhile, for us as citizens, the spirit of patriotism and love for our country must impel us to speak out courageously against the ills besetting our country and to make sacrifices when called upon.

“Let us place our country and society above individual and political interest and enthuse a culture of peace by intensifying our linkages of friendship and fostering goodwill and harmony, so that all Malaysians can live and prosper together as one integrated nation, enriched by our ethnic and cultural diversities,” they added.

Importance of inferfaith dialogues

The bishops also expressed the importance of interfaith dialogues in the country’s nation-building process as such dialogues provide platforms for promoting unity and acceptance among the country’s pluralistic society.

“Recognising the imperative need for dialogue, its aim is to increase understanding and resolve conflict in order to develop a more harmonious interaction among the religious communities.”

The process of nation-building, they admitted, is on-going and requires a great deal of hard work and sacrifice.

“May the spirit of Sehati Sejiwa inspire the leaders of our nation, and all its people of diverse races and cultures, to make Malaysia a truly united, harmonious and progressive nation.

“Indeed, we are encouraged by the just concluded Olympics, we have shown that we Malaysians can cheer and hope and dream as one.”

The bishops also expressed concern on the form of threats and acts of terrorism taking place throughout the world.

Citing the many innocent people slain due to various attacks and the kidnapping of Malaysians off the east coast of Sabah, the bishops said these incidents had caused much fear and anguish to the families of the victims and to the general public.

“These acts of violence are, in fact, crimes against humanity and ought to be condemned. Let us all be vigilant and cooperate in combating these inhuman acts for the safety of our nation.”

The latest case saw five crew members of a tugboat reported to have been abducted after their tugboat was found abandoned in Sabah waters. Their fates remain unknown.

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