Leadership Conference for Malaysian MPs
Written by Genie Kagawa, UPF International
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Washington, DC and New York, USA - Thirteen Malaysian Parliamentarians, led by Dr. Chong Young Yoo of UPF-Malaysia, attended a special International Leadership Conference for Parliamentarians convened in Washington DC, USA on the theme of “Leadership, Good Governance, and Interfaith Cooperation.” The July 11-17 visit to the US was sponsored by Universal Peace Federation.
The special International Leadership Conference for Parliamentarians provided an opportunity for participants to learn more about the vision, programs, and accomplishments of the Universal Peace Federation and about the life and teachings of its founders, the Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon.
The program also featured expert speakers on topics such as interfaith cooperation for peace, the role and responsibility of the media in building a good society, threats to religious freedom around the world, principles of conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and the renewal of the United Nations.
In addition to the program sessions, the participants had the opportunity to meet with members of the Congress and other US government leaders, as well as religious leaders and NGO leaders in the USA to discuss issues raised during the conference. The program also included sightseeing and a visit to New York City.
The welcome banquet on July 12 featured Arnaud de Borchgrave, Editor-At-Large, and Tom McDevitt, President and CEO of The Washington Times. Arnaud de Borchgrave, in his long career, was able to tap the thinking of numerous world leaders and has made significant contributions to world peace and understanding. He gave an impressive account of his life experience. Tom McDevitt described the vision of the newspaper, founded by Dr. and Mrs. Moon, and the innovative changes made in efforts to keep up with the digital era.
On July 13, at a one-day conference cosponsored by The Washington Times Foundation and Universal Peace Federation, religious leaders and activists offered perspectives from various parts of the world. A morning panel, chaired by Tina Ramirez of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, featured 12 religious leaders who reported to the gathering the problems their faith groups are experiencing: from Uygur Muslims in China to Greek Orthodox believers in Turkey, Sikhs in the United States, several groups in Pakistan, Coptic Christians in Egypt, Scientologists in Russia, and several others.
Several speakers urged reauthorization and strengthening of the International Religious Freedom Act, a bill proposed before the US Congress by Rep. Frank R. Wolf, a Republican from Virginia, which would give more power to the State Department to advocate for religious freedom abroad. Suzan Johnson Cook, US Ambassador-At Large for International Religious Freedom, gave her assurances that she would work for every person around the globe to enjoy religious freedom. Rev. In Jin Moon, Senior Pastor of the Unification Church of America and daughter of UPF founders, urged fellow religious leaders to do more than simply “tolerate” or “coexist” with people from different faiths. She encouraged all the different faiths to look at each other as brothers and sisters, as one family that has the responsibility to safeguard each other in allowing others to pursue their life of faith. A subsequent session highlighted speakers who offered solutions to the challenges that people of minority faiths are experiencing in their own nations.
On July 15, the Malaysian Parliamentarians were welcomed at a luncheon at the United Nations and received greetings from the Malaysian Ambassador to the United Nations, H.E. Dato Hussein Haniff. He described the work of Malaysia at the UN, in particular its leadership in the 3rd Committee on Social and Humanitarian Affairs. Ambassador Anwarul K. Chowdhury, former Under-Secretary-General and High Representative of the United Nations, spoke eloquently about his more than decade-long struggle to introduce the Programme of Action of a Culture of Peace at the United Nations. The luncheon was followed by a lengthy tour of the UN Buildings. Later, Mr. Kook Jin Moon, President of the Tongil Foundation and son of the UPF Founders, welcomed the delegation at an afternoon gathering and gave them encouragement in their quest for interreligious tolerance and understanding.
Malaysia is a nation striving for unity and peace in its diversity as a multi-racial, multi-religious, and multi-cultural society. The Malaysian parliamentarians gained a global perspective on issues of inter-religious harmony and understanding and were encouraged to support freedom of religion as a core element of democracy and peace.
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