SPEECH BY YAB LIM GUAN ENG
“MAJLIS PELANCARAN PROJEK PUSAT HARMONI (HARMONY CENTRE), JALAN SCOTLAND, DAERAH TIMUR LAUT, PULAU PINANG”
19 APRIL 2018 (THURSDAY), 9.30 AM
A very good morning to all of you.
Cultural and religious diversity and tolerance in Malaysia are the hallmarks of a harmonious and progressive society. Only a harmonious and progressive society can a state be international and intelligent.
Where else , in the world can you find a Street of Harmony, where 4 major religious buildings/temples are just meters apart from each other along a short 800-meter street:
- For the Chinese we have the Goddess of Mercy Temple
- For the Muslims, there is Kapitan Keling Mosque
- For the Hindus, we have Sri Maha Mariamman Temple; and
- For the Christians, the St George’s Church
The proximity of these places of worship shows Penang’s rich multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious population that has respect for each other and able to co-exist in harmony. In the old days, Harmony Street was the main street in George Town where people meet, work, play and pray in peace. Hence, the appropriate name of Street of Harmony was coined.
The idea of this Harmony Center is built upon this premise where the unique and rich diversity of Penang people from various cultural and religious backgrounds, especially for religions other than Islam, can share a common venue, to hold and promote their various activities throughout the year.
The Harmony Centre will be a permanent home and activity centre for all religious bodies in Penang, potentially becoming a universal community space for religious activities for all walks of life. This Centre is set up to manage affairs specifically for Penang Non-Islamic Religions Executive Council portfolio
Four major functions intended for the Harmony Centre: -
- Events; and
- Meetings & Seminar,
which are programmed into different spaces within the existing 4,300 sq.ft.bungalow, such as offices, function rooms, dining areas and conference rooms. A new building of 2,800 sqft community hall will be constructed beside the bungalow to accommodate larger events. The centre is expected to have a capacity of 300 persons at once. It will be complemented by the vast green lawn around the site which will be used for public outdoor activities in the future.
This Harmony Centre will be a venue for religious activities and events that are non-Islamic. These events can be in the form of yoga lessons, meditation sessions, arts and music, religious talks/seminars/ conventions and meetings.
The State government has allocated RM3 million to refurbish and expand this building and we target to open this by February 2019.
The State Government will continue to support and has implemented 11 measures to uphold the Federal Constitution's guarantees of freedom of worship.
- Establishing a Penang Executive Council (EXCO) for religions other than Islam portfolio that is headed by the Penang Chief Minister
- Allocating land for places of religious worship for religions other than Islam
- Providing funding amounting to RM30 million since 2008
- Granting approval by local government councils for construction of places of religious worship for religions other than Islam
- Granting a yearly allocation of RM1.5 million to the Hindu Endowment Board
- Giving a building in Macalister Road for Hindu Endowment Board to manage theirs affairs
- Ensuring that housing developers must provide for an equal amount of religious land for religions other than Islam
- Giving a building in Scotland Road to manage affairs specifically for Penang Executive Council (EXCO) for Religions Other Than Islam portfolio
- Annual allocations of RM50,000 to Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taosiam (MCCBCHST)
- Annual allocations to missionary or religious-based schools registered under the Ministry of Education.
- Apply for approval of paid leave for state government servants to non-Muslims conducting religious pilgrimage similar to Muslims performing their haj and umrah.
The Penang State Government has pledged to ensure that the Federal Constitution's provision of freedom of worship is upheld and we have proven by delivering our commitments since 2008.
I hereby officiate the RM3 million Harmony Centre Project.
YAB Lim Guan Eng
19 April 2018