KUALA TERENGGANU: Newly-appointed special officer on non-Muslim affairs Dr G.K. Balachandran (pic) hopes to break down racial barriers and promote better understanding between communities here.
Although he is a Hindu, he does not see being someone of a certain race or religion as a hindrance in bringing together non-Muslims and Muslims in the PAS-ruled state.
“To make non-Muslims feel at ease with the current state government, we need to open up and interact with each other.
“In this way, we can effectively disseminate relevant information to everyone,” he said at his office here yesterday.
Dr Balachandran, who is also Terengganu PAS Supporters Wing chief, was appointed to the post on Sept 21.
He said his main task was to advise Mentri Besar Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar on the religious and cultural needs of non-Muslims in Terengganu.
He will be working closely with state chairman for welfare, women and family development Hanafiah Mat.
Dr Balanchandran said he prepared himself for his duty by brushing up on his knowledge on religion and culture as he believed religion must unite, not divide, people.
“Those that use it to divide or sow hatred must ask themselves if they are really practising the faith they claim to profess or merely to satisfy their own egos.
“We aim to counter hate with love,” he said.
He added that one of the first things that he would do was to organise interfaith dialogues to develop better understanding of each other.
Dr Balachandran said while he was aware some people might be unhappy to have a person of another race and religion to represent them, he believed that appointing representatives based on racial lines was a thing of the past.
“We can never move forward if we put race before anything else.
“I don’t see how I have to be of a certain race to understand common problems like hunger and poverty.
“I just need to be human, so please don’t judge before you get to know me,” he said, adding that his door was always open to anyone who wants to inform him of issues in their community.
Dr Balachandran aims to do away with narratives along racial lines and hopes non-communal politics will be accepted within five years.
“I hope to see us put aside our differences and work towards similarities,” he said.- thestar