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Discrimination a bar to M'sia's progress, says Obama

Publication Date : 28-04-2014


No country will succeed if part of its population is put on the sidelines, US President Barack Obama said.

"No country is going to succeed if part of its population is put on the sidelines or discriminated against," he said during question time at the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) townhall meeting at Universiti Malaya here Sunday.

"All of us have within us biasness and prejudice of people who are not like us, who are not raised in the same faith or come from a different ethnic background.

"Malaysia won't succeed if non-Muslims have no opportunity. Myanmar won't succeed if the Muslim population is oppressed.

"Embrace the culture, be proud of who you are, your background. Appreciate your language, food, how you worship God," he said.

Obama said one should not look down on someone else.

"Part of the way to do that is to stand on other people's shoes and see through their eyes. Treat people the way you want to be treated," he said.

Obama added that the right environment had to be created, where rights of every citizen regardless or race, gender, religion, sexual orientation were both protected and respected.

Asked about Myanmar and encouragement for the next generation as it went through its democratic process, Obama said all had to be treated equally based on principles of justice, rule of law and not based on race or religion.

"If you look at biggest source of conflict, war and hardship around the world, the most important reason is people treating those not like them differently.

"Myanmar is going through a transition after decades of repressive government.  They are trying to open things up and make the country more democratic which is a courageous process," he said.

Obama, however, said democratising a nation had to be done on principles of justice, rule of law and democracy, and not based on religion or ethnicity, which would lead to conflict.

Rights of the minorities including in countries such as Myanmar and Malaysia, he said, should be protected.


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