by Robin Freeman September 14, 2016
If you are expecting a blog filled with Malaysian tourist spots and tips, you might be disappointed. That material can be discovered in a split second. Yes, Malaysia is filled with captivating sights and exquisite cuisine. In the old street markets, you will find rich flavorful food stalls filled with fresh-cooked spiced fish, pickled vegetables, meats, noodles, and soups. It’s unique, tasty, and not even comparable to the local Asian restaurants that dot the streets of my hometown.
Instead, I wish to share something more unique: the co-existence I saw between Malaysia’s different religious groups. It can best be described as a spirit of mutual respect. You have your faith and practices and I have mine. I like my faith, you like yours, now come over for a cup of tea this afternoon and let’s not discuss our differences.
One perk of living in Saudi Arabia is its closer proximity to Europe and Asia. It is now officially vacation time in the kingdom. School doesn’t begin until the end of September and the hot weather months drive many to destinations around the world. Our family chose a trip to Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia. Our two nephews and niece are students here in Malaysia, studying English at the British Council. This is my first visit to the Far East, and I revel in the unique culture that exists here, plus the chance to see our relatives and Malaysian friends.
The uniqueness comes from the camaraderie shared between the three main groups. The original Malay population who follow Islam, the Chinese Malaysians who primarily practice Buddhism, and Indians whose faith is based on Hinduism. Likewise, other sects, practices, and people coexist in Malaysia. but these are the larger populations. You can find a church, a mosque, and different temples together on the same street.
I asked my Malaysian friend how the population accepted each other when the rest of the world struggled so hard to get along. She then explained respect for one another was such a deep part of their tradition; they could not imagine living any other way. In addition, the hospitality extends to countries that share a border with Malaysia. Indonesia and Singapore also honor their next-door neighbors, regardless of race or faith. If only these unassuming islands in the Pacific Rim can beam their “spirit of respect” around the world, maybe the daily news headlines of rage and hate will disappear.
Interested in a visit to Malaysia: