Regional Peace Conference in Kuala Lumpur
Written by Dr. Robert S. Kittel, Education Director, UPF-Asia
Monday, June 20, 2011
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Building on the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week program organized by UPF-Malaysia in February of this year, a special dinner reception was held at the prestigious Bankers’ Club in the Amoda Building in downtown Kuala Lumpur on June 20.
The event was a three-in-one program: 1) invitational speeches on the theme “Business Engine for Global Peace,” 2) the awarding of Ambassador for Peace certificates to several prominent Malaysians, and 3) the launching of the Regional Peace Conference.
The program opened with recitations from the Holy Qur'an by Mr. Mahadi Mohd. The master of ceremonies for the program, Mr. Joachim Ng, kept the program moving and interjected humor to keep the spirit lively.
Tan Sri Devaki Krishnan, president of UPF-Malaysia, welcomed the guests. In her loving, light-hearted, and forthright manner, she told Senator Koh, “Please invite the prime minister of Malaysia to our next Regional Peace Conference.”
Senator Koh began by graciously acknowledging that this was his second UPF program. Last year he attended the Legacy of Peace ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, in which the lives and accomplishments of legendary Malaysians who had passed away were celebrated and commemorated.
Senator Koh then praised his fellow countrymen for helping Malaysia make it into the top 20 of the Global Peace Index this year. In 2008, the first year of this index, Malaysia was 38th and each year since then it moved up. This year Malaysia was ranked 19th out of 153 nations.
“Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-cultural, and multi-linguistic nation,” he said “that defied doomsday predictions that the country would never be able to stay united.” The key, Senator Koh emphasized, was that “Malaysians learned to practice moderation and inclusiveness.” They did it by everyone taking ownership of the national motto “1 Malaysia.”
Next the international president of UPF, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, spoke about the work of UPF worldwide and introduced the international speakers, two children of UPF founders, Rev. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon. Rev. In Jin Moon, senior pastor of the Unification Church in the US, expressed her hope for bringing about a world of peace at this time in history using the family as the paradigm. UPF advocates building an ideal world focusing on creating lasting marriages and loving families.
“This model of world peace and harmony is very practical,” she emphasized. “It is based on the most powerful force in the universe – true love.” She continued by saying, “True love brings us together as a family. This creates the heart of respect, the lifestyle of moderation, and the attitude of living for the sake of others, of thinking about the well-being of others first.”
Her younger brother, Dr. Kook Jin Moon, president of the Tongil Foundation in South Korea, began by expressing his appreciation to the prime minister of Malaysia, H.E. Najib Razak, who called for a “Global Movement of the Moderates” in his address to the United Nations last autumn. In an effort to combat religious extremism, the prime minister repeated this call at the University of Oxford just last month, and Dr. Moon said this concept was “very much in keeping with the teachings of my father and deserves the support of religious persons everywhere.”
He then read from his father’s autobiography, As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen, the chapter entitled, “The Power of Religion to Turn People to Goodness.” He emphasized the statement: “There is no difference between Islam and Christianity in their commitment to bring about a world of peace.”
The next part of the program honored Senator Koh with UPF’s Ambassador for Peace appointment. Ambassadors for Peace are prominent individuals coming from every walk of life and represent all races, religions, nationalities, and cultures of the world, forming a network of peace leaders.
Other new Ambassadors for Peace included:
- Dato' Dr. G.K. Alfred Kumaraseri, former High Commissioner to Nigeria; Director General of the Association of South East Asian Nations
- Y. Bhg. Datuk Ketheeswaran a/l M. Kawagaratnam, President of Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry and Chairman of the Malaysia-India Business Council
- Ven. Kririnde Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thera, Chief Incumbent of Buddhist Maha Vihara
- Dr. Amir Farid Isahak, Chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship
- Jagatguru Maha Maharishi Paranjothiar, Founder of the Universal Peace Foundation
- Datin Zamnah Zainal Abidin, UPF-Malaysia Council/Committee Member
The grand finale was the launching of the Regional Peace Conference. Well-known religious leaders were invited to the stage as an expression of Malaysia’s inclusiveness: Dr. Amir Farid Isahak (Muslim), Ven. Kririnde Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thera (Buddhist), and Jagatguru Maha Maharishi Paranjothiar (Hindu).
Dignitaries on the stage unfurled the Regional Peace Conference banner while three banners along the side of the dining hall unrolled, officially launching one of UPF’s newest peace initiatives.
As dinner was served, saxophonist Alexandre Huard, who is from France but working in Malaysia, played background music.
Musical delights continued into dessert. Rev. In Jin Moon brought part of her Lovin’ Life musical ministry to Malaysia. Named, Sonic Cult and featuring Ben Lorentzen, Joe Young, and Joshua Cotter, the trio wrapped up the evening with powerful renditions of Bob Dylan's “I Shall Be Released” and “Wonderful World.” Spontaneous shouts of “Encore,” unusual in Southeast Asian audiences, yielded another song, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
The main organizer, Rev. Sam Yeoh Koay Seng, who is the Malaysia liaison director for the Universal Peace Federation, summed up the eventful evening calling it a nice prelude to plans for a regional peace conference to be held later in the year.
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