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Malaysia's 10 major Buddhist organisations have met with the Finance Minister II, Datuk Seri Johari bin Abdul Ghani, to discuss recent amendment to the Income Tax Act resulting in the religious groups having to pay tax.
On the said day, the nearly 30 representatives of said Buddhist organisations who attended the session are from the Malaysian Buddhist Consultative Council (MBCC), Malaysia Buddhist Association (MBA) Selangor Branch, Fo Guang Shan Malaysia (FGS), Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM), Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia (BMSM), Vajrayana Buddhist Council Malaysia (VBCM), Theravada Buddhist Council of Malaysia (TBCM), Malaysian Fo Guang Buddhist Association (BLIA), Dharma Drum Mountain Malaysia (DDM) and Buddhist Tzu-Chi Merits Society Malaysia (TCM) Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Branch.
In addition to the Finance Minister II, Deputy Minister of Finance II, Dato Lee Chee Leong and the Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, Datuk Wong Nai Chee also attended the discussion.
During the meeting, Datuk Seri Johari said that the subject had been satisfactorily resolved. He also said all registered Buddhist groups would be exempted from the said tax, including interest on their fixed deposits, investments and rental, but he reminded all Buddhist groups to handle their accounts properly and to ensure that their funds are used to support religious activities only.
Datuk Seri Johari said the amendment was made to ensure that the public donations to religious groups are not for profit-making activities.
At present, Datuk Seri Johari said a guideline has been signed, adopted and gazetted that all religious groups will continue to enjoy tax exemption. Should there be any religious organisation encountering problems in tax matters, they may send a letter of inquiry or meet with Datuk Seri Johari to seek a solution.
Representatives of the organisations who attended the event were very grateful to Datuk Seri Johari for taking a timely approach to this issue so that the subject could be satisfactorily resolved.
The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) views with serious concern the recent attempted assault of Venerable Sri Saranankara, the Abbot of Sentul Sri Lanka Buddhist temple, by some unruly protestors.
According to news report, about 50 protestors had gathered and demonstrated outside the Sentul Buddhist temple after receiving hearsay that the former President of Sri Lanka, Mr Mahinda Rajapakse was going to visit the temple. We understand that the chief monk had clarified the rumour with the protestors but some protestors had hurled abusive language against the chief monk and even attempted to attack him but fortunately no one was injured in the alleged assault.
YBAM is highly concerned about this incident and condemns the unruly acts of these protestors for being so insensitive and disrespectful towards a place of worship and a senior religious teacher. We call upon all parties to show their respect for the sanctity and holiness of religious sites of all faiths, and similar respect must be accorded to all religious teachers.
Therefore the irrational act of these protestors must be censured and such act of provocation against a Buddhist temple and a senior Buddhist monk must stop immediately.
At the meantime, YBAM calls upon all parties to remain calm and be rational in dealing with any rumour to avoid further misunderstanding and alarm among different faith groups.
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The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) welcomes the Government’s proposal to amend the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976. With the amendment, the civil courts will have precedence in mediating divorce and child custody cases of marriages registered under Civil Law to resolve interfaith child custody conflicts due to the religious conversion of the spouse.
YBAM agrees with the three principles of the government on which the amendments were proposed: (1) Any issues relating to divorce for civil marriages to be settled in the civil courts first to safeguard custodial rights and child maintenance until adulthood; (2) Both parties to have chance to resolve civil marriage issues at the civil court and continue with their new life after that; (3) Conflicts between the civil and syariah courts resulting from one party’s conversion to Islam to be resolved and legal overlap in existing laws to be overcome.
YBAM also urges the government to look seriously the bill tabled by Dato’ Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in Parliament on the amendments of Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355) in May 2016. The Act 355 was enacted in 1965 to define the jurisdiction of the Syariah Court and restricted it as a District Court and to only have jurisdiction on minor personal offenses committed by Muslims, so that prevented the Syariah Court to be above Federal Laws. However, after the amendments in 1984, the jurisdiction of Syariah Court has been expanded since then.
If the Act 355 is amended again, the Hudud Laws advocated by PAS will be enforced immediately, and the country will be ruled by theocracy. This will lead to the collapse of the Secular System of the country.
In times of adversity, the Buddha’s teachings (Dharma) always serve as the guidance in our life and help us to find peace in heart. By penetrating the true meaning of Sutras, we will learn better about Dharma and practise it in life. With this, we can help ourselves and others to lead a better life.
Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia has invited its Religious Advisor Ven. Chuan Wen and her Dharma Practitioners team to conduct a study group for the YBAM volunteers from May – Aug 2016. ‘Review on the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch’ written by Ven. Guo Yu was used as the study material of the study group. The study group was completed on 23 August 2016. The participants benefitted a lot from the study group. YBAM is also considering organising similar study group in the future.
One of the participant Ben Xing shared that, ‘Nowadays, whenever I notice there’s negative emotion in myself, I’ll remind myself learn not to attach on the form of the occurrence, but to recover the truth of ‘Voice is just a voice’ and remove the preset mindset and response in me. This is reducing my personal problem, simplifying and enhancing my life quality.’
The launch of the Calligraphy and Drawing Charity Exhibition had been successfully held on 29 June 2016 at 7.30pm, at Shaw Parade, Kuala Lumpur. Ven. Chi Chern and Malaysian Chinese author & artist Duo La attended the event to share their experiences of “Calligraphy, Drawing and Life” with the attendees.
Geshe Dorji Damdul Dharma Talk Series ended successfully. Geshe Dorji Damdul is the official translator of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama. Attendees were given opportunity to expose to four topics included “Understanding & Practice of Heart Sutra from the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition"", “Relevance of the Nalanda Tradition in Modern Society”, “The Secret of Success” and “ The Essence of Tibetan Buddhism and Its General Misconceptions”. Attendees felt vitality, wisdom, warmth and integrity from the talk.
2017 New Year Speech by YBAM President Bro. Sek Chin Yong
“The Need of the Leaders of People”
2016, we see the country is showered with a mixture of issues of race and religions, and we also see that the minority trying to instigate the sensitivity of the religion, turning it into a political issue, and destroy the harmony among the religions in the country. Politicians keep publishing destructive remarks that turns into the concern of the society, and this has also slowly diminishing the harmonious society that has been built throughout the years.
There are even some politicians who tried to bring the country into the “One Country, Two Systems” condition through the amendment of the Federal Constitution. The Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) (Amendment) Bill was proposed by PAS, and how has handled over to the Federal Government for the proposal in the Parliament in March 2017. The enforcement of such bill will cause the different punishment to be imposed to the citizens of different religions. On the other hand, the passing of the amendment of the definition of father and mother’ （Ibu dan Bapa）to ‘father or mother’ （Ibu atau Bapa） in the Malay version Section 117 (b) of the Administration of Islam Enactment 2006 (Perlis) is also potentially imposing negative effects on the conditions of changing of religions in the future.
It has been known to everyone that this country is formed by people of different races, different languages and different religions since its independence, and this is the fact that has to be recognised by all people, from government leaders, political leaders, to every citizen of different beliefs, skin colour and cultural background. This is Malaysia, and this the home that belongs to everyone. We will not be seeing Malaysia if not because of the efforts that has been put by the past leaders through mutual understanding, tolerance, and respect.
People in the country will only be able to live in harmony if a fair policy is imposed to everyone, and each citizen is treated equally. This is the foundation that we have built during the development of the country, and this is also the success factor for the future of the country. As the leader of the country, we need to take care of the need of every single citizen, listen to the them, and answer to their voice, and most importantly, to develop a mutual understanding and tolerance on the difference of races and religions.
Let’s hope that 2017 will be a harmonious and peaceful year for all of us, and it will also be a starting of the year where the leaders of the country lead the country based on the needs of the citizen.
2016 Merdeka Speech by the President of Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia
Bro. Sek Chin Yong
Protecting our home country with our life and love
Due to my work nature, I am always tasked for overseas business trips ranging from two weeks to 18 months. When being asked about which is my favourite country, my answer is always the same – “Malaysia, my homeland is the best!” In this land, I am blessed with beloved family, delicious food, familiar languages and nice weather.
My university is located near to the neighbouring country. Upon graduation, my friends moved to the neighbouring country to seek for better career opportunities. I choose not to leave the country as my country has nurtured me using a lot of resources. Hence, it is my time to contribute to my country.
Nonetheless, the harmonious atmosphere in the country has seen to be in the downhill fall since the independence of the country. There are some politicians who propagate policy of singular race and language in order to win in the election. This has further differentiated the beliefs of multicultural nation among the people.
We are seeing provocation and opposition replacing unity and inclusivity in the country. This is something not to be happened in our country – a multicultural and multi-religious nation.
As Malaysian, we need to work hard to maintain the harmony in the country, and to abandon any idea or remarks that promote singularity in the country. We should encourage multicultural, free and fair policies to be implemented in the country.
We often see people talking about migration due to the unfair political policies in the country. We need to keep these people in the country, and those who supposed to leave the country are the ones who destroy the harmony in the country. We need to stay in this country in order to develop the country and create a better place to live.
This is our country, and we are the master of the country. We may be having different cultural backgrounds, different languages and different religions, but it is our duty as Malaysian to maintain the harmony and unity in the country. Let us be united again, to protect our home, and let the country standing proud in the eyes of the world.
A veteran of YBAM posted a photo showed a gathering of some veterans in one of my social communication groups. A few young council members were asking on who are those people in the photo. “Dear President, do you know them?” I was asked by one of the veterans. “Of course I know them all!” I then listed the name of everyone in the photo, together with how I came to know them.
I said, “Looking at you all as the veterans in YBAM, it brings me back to the days when I was young and ignorant, I am glad to have you who educated and nurtured me to who I am today. In the younger age, we were carefree and simple, if there were any “major issues”, we knew that you all will sure be at the frontline to protect ourselves.” The Secretary General also added, “Now is the time for us to be at the frontline, to nurture the younger generations, and to face the challenges!”
This is the spirit of YBAM – seeing the leaving of one generation, and welcoming the arrival of another generation, to continue the vision and mission of YBAM. The passing down of the baton of responsibility is for the Buddhism, for the benefits of people, and for bringing everyone to a better life.
The organisation is 46 years old; notwithstanding this glamorous organisational age, if each generation is not able to continue the vision and mission of YBAM, and not able to serve the need of the people of the era, the organisation is then merely like a new-born, two-year-old organisation.
Today, the light of wisdom and responsibility has been passed to us, and we have the ultimate duty to continue the journey, to nurture the future generation, just like how we were taken care by the fellow veterans.
Has the 46-year-old YBAM grown up? Let’s ask ourselves the question, and perhaps you will find the answer within.
May YBAM continue to stay strong in this journey of thousand miles, and may you be well and happy.