Kerry lauds multi-faith Malaysia as model for world

By AFP
Published: October 11, 2013
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 US Secretary of State John Kerry makes the thumbs up sign as he leaves, after completing his trip to Malaysia. PHOTO: REUTERS

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes the thumbs up sign as he leaves, after completing his trip to Malaysia. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LAMPUR: US Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Malaysia Friday as a modern, innovative and multi-faith model for the world, heaping praise on a country the United States regards as a valuable Muslim ally.

On the final day of a curtailed Asian tour in which he has filled in for President Barack Obama, Kerry said Malaysia’s young people were an inspiration for the Arab Spring.

“Here in Malaysia, people of different heritages have been in conversation for a long time,” Kerry said in a speech to mainly young entrepreneurs in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

“You see it in the open houses you host during holidays, welcoming people of different faiths into your living rooms.”

Kerry cited the symbolism of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers – the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers – having blended modern engineering, traditional Muslim design, Malaysian vision, a US architect and Asian builders.

“Together, they… are a soaring reminder that Malaysia is much more than a marketplace. It is a human and economic mosaic – and it is a model for the world,” Kerry said.

He said those people struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Arab Spring had been inspired by young people such as in Malaysia, who had freedoms and abilities to fulfil their dreams.

“The world watched young people just like you – men and women with great aspirations just like yours – demand the chance to fashion their futures, just like you are doing today as you turn your dreams into businesses,” he said of the uprisings across many Arab countries.

Kerry had earlier met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, seeking to further build on warming bilateral ties at a time when US commitment to Asia is under fierce scrutiny.

However Kerry made no mention in his speech of tensions in Malaysia focused on special government treatment for the country’s Malay majority.

Muslim Malays and smaller indigenous groups – known as “bumiputra”, or “sons of the soil” – make up more than 60 percent of Malaysia’s 28 million people.

Under the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), bumiputra have enjoyed quotas in university placements, housing, and government jobs and contracts since the 1970s to prevent the ethnic Chinese from completely dominating the economy.

Chinese make up a quarter of the population. Ethnic Indians comprise about eight percent.

The policies are credited with helping create a Malay middle class and maintaining harmony despite tensions.

But critics say they have become a millstone in a competitive global economy and are abused by the Malay elite.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • FactCheck
    Oct 11, 2013 - 2:17PM

    Stop pandering Kerry. If world took up the Malaysian model for multicultural society, the world is $crewed.

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  • BlackJack
    Oct 11, 2013 - 4:06PM

    He doesn’t have the guts to openly preach to the Muslim world – instead cloaking his intent in meaningless praise directed at a larger audience.

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  • Kafir
    Oct 11, 2013 - 5:19PM

    The guy is clueless or lying deliberately. There is straight forward preferential treatment of Muslims in Malaysia. May be he meant it is not Pakistan yet.

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  • Mj
    Oct 11, 2013 - 5:26PM

    Malaysia persecutes Shias, Ahmedis, and atheists, so it’s hardly a role model. Still, it’s heaps better compared to some other countries.

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  • Rex Minor
    Oct 11, 2013 - 5:36PM

    John Kerry aides have not told him that homosexuality in Malaysia is punishable by death!!

    Rex Minor

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  • shahid
    Oct 11, 2013 - 6:04PM

    Countries who have a bit of excess cash are the darkings of US. Today they owe 1.7 trillion dollars cash to China; now they are kissing & smooching India aka HINDUS-tan to get some money from them by selling junk weapons and third grade equipment; Malaysia has some extra cash, so Islam and Islamic government is a model for others. So, at least these 2 stupid countries will be forced, fleeced, and money snatched away from them, OTHERWISE, US will bring DEMOCRACY (US Style) to their countries; just see, Egypt, Syria, Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, and of course PAKISTAN. Bring US enforced democracy and have mentally, morally and physically Corrupt leaders, making people part of the corruption mob,

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  • sid
    Oct 11, 2013 - 6:47PM

    @shahid:
    So Pakistan’s F-16 are junk???????

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  • Sexton Blake
    Oct 11, 2013 - 7:12PM

    @shahid:
    Dear shahid,
    I was tempted to make a submission in regard to Mr.Kerry’s nonsense, but you said it all. Jolly good work.,
    Regards,
    Sexton.

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  • raj
    Oct 11, 2013 - 7:18PM

    @shahid: ahh y u venting anger against usa…. u beg from them so much and this is how pay them back?? shame ;)

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  • unbelievable
    Oct 11, 2013 - 10:01PM

    @Kafir:

    There is straight forward preferential
    treatment of Muslims in Malaysia.

    Perhaps – but they aren’t killing anyone and they are still the best Muslim country when it comes to treating other religions.

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  • Fitri
    Oct 12, 2013 - 12:18PM

    Malaysia is a true multicultural country and its people worked hard to come as one before independence. Until now, despite races and religions, all malaysian live as one and you never see any blood spills..I hope someday Malaysia will become a world’s numbet 1 model for peaceness..About the bumiputra & malays, the government are helping nowsdays bcoz many of them are from rural area and lower and middle class people. There are still elites but not many compared to chinese elites. Still, we gains same benefits in all aspects…all for one and one for all. <3

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