Malaysia's Muslim prime minister broke new ground in national race relations yesterday, appearing for the first time at a Christian gathering to dismiss the notion that his country was governed as an Islamic state. \nIn an emotional speech, which followed a moving Christian prayer for his cancer-stricken wife, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wiped away tears in front of dozens of priests and nuns as he appealed for religious dialogue and moderation. \n"As prime minister of Malaysia, I am not a leader of Muslims but a Muslim leader of all Malaysians," the former Islamic scholar told a conference of the World Council of Churches (WCC), an umbrella group of most Christian denominations. \n"Therefore I have a responsibility not just to my fellow Muslims, but also to Malaysians who profess other religions as well," he said before finishing his speech with a call for religious unity and quoting from the Bible. \nAbdullah took the leadership of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference last year and has tried to galvanize a group speaking for a fifth of humanity into more effective positions on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. \nBut at home he runs a secular government ruling over a population where Muslims are a slim majority and the state religion is Islam. Almost half the population, with big ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, follow other faiths or beliefs. \n"I do not want to claim that there are no problems among the different ethnic and religious communities in Malaysia," he said. \n"There are still very many things that we need to work on, but if the world ever needed a lesson in diversity and making it work, I am confident Malaysia can be a showcase," he said. \nWhen asked after his speech why he had shed a tear, the prime minister said his mind had turned to all the suffering in the world. \nBut it was clear the prayer for his wife, led by a Malaysian bishop, had moved him before he rose to speak. \nAbdullah's wife has been undergoing breast cancer treatment in the US.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
LIFELONG LOSS: Jiro Hamasumi, who was not quite born when an atomic bomb hit Hiroshima, lost his father and other relatives, but said he thinks about his father daily As Japan marks 75 years since the devastating attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the last generation of nuclear bomb survivors is working to ensure their message lives on after them. The “hibakusha” — literally “person affected by the bomb” — have for decades been a powerful voice calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. There are an estimated 136,700 left, many of whom were infants or soon to be born at the time of the attacks. The average age of a survivor now is a little over 83, according to the Japanese Ministry of Health, lending an urgency as they share their testimonies