Catholic leader asks religion ministry for minority representatives
A CARDINAL is calling for minority religions to be better represented in the Ministry of Religion and Culture.
The leader of Myanmar’s Catholics, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, suggested at an interfaith meeting on Martyrs’ Day that the ministry launch desks for other faiths besides Buddhism.
The state counsellor hosted the interfaith prayer at her home on University Avenue Road, Yangon, in honour of her father, Bogyoke Aung San, and his eight colleagues who are commemorated on the anniversary of their deaths on July 19.
“The cardinal suggested that representatives of religions other than Buddhism should be available to advise the ministry,” said U Aye Lwin, the leader of the Islamic Council of Myanmar Interfaith Friendship Group, who was also present at the meeting.
Cardinal Bo said such representation could assist in national reconciliation, and with the peace process.
“His suggestion is good because the religion ministry has lacked the other religions’ representation. I’m also satisfied with it,” U Aye Lwin said
National League for Democracy patron U Tin Oo, State Counsellor’s Minister U Kyaw Tin Swe, and leaders from each religion all attended the interfaith meeting and observed a minute of silence to show respect.
According to data from the 2014 census released last week, of Myanmar’s enumerated population of about 50.279 million, 89.8 percent are Buddhist, 6.3pc, or about 3.172 million, are Christian, and only 1.147 million, or 2.3pc, are Muslim. However, more than 1.2 million people were not enumerated, and all or most of them are assumed to be Muslim, bringing the proportion of Muslims in the population to some 4.3pc, a slight increase on the 3.9pc recorded in the censuses of 1973 and 1983.
Director of the Ministry of Religion and Culture U Aung San Win declined to comment when asked for a response to the cardinal’s suggestion.
“I would like to remind everyone that according to the 2008 Constitution, all citizens have freedom of religion. They are able to observe their religious holiday. For example, Christians can celebrate Christmas, and Muslims can observe Eid,” he said. “I think the law is clear.”
The state counsellor hosted an interfaith prayer at her lakeside home on July 19.