Malaysia cannot succeed if the country’s religious and ethnic minorities are sidelined said President Barack Obama during his visit here.
During his first official visit to Malaysia over the weekend, Obama said that prejudice against people from different religions and races have no place in the modern world and must be eliminated.
“Malaysia won’t succeed if the non-Muslims do not have the same opportunity,” said the President of the United States in a town hall event at University of Malaya.
Obama added that non-Muslims in Malaysia are facing hostility and some have felt oppressed.
The president then compared the struggle for civil rights across the world to the long battle to get rid of discrimination against ethnic minorities in America, which led to him being elected as president.
He also said that countries including Malaysia will not make it if women, who make up roughly half of the population, are not given the same opportunities as men.
Obama then drew on Christian values on which he was raised, saying that people need to treat others the way they would like to be treated themselves.
He also stressed on how important it is in treating those who are seen as “different” with the same amount of respect as everyone else.
“Treat people with respect,” Obama told hundreds that attended the event organised by Young Southeast Asian Leadership Initiative.
“Expect your government to treat everybody with respect and you’re going to be okay.”