Sunday, January 10, 2010

Firebombed churches burn tourism

On Friday morning, a colleague turned to me and said: "So is your church alright?" Puzzled, I responded by nodding my head slowly but at that point little did I know by Monday Malaysians would be reading reports on how seven churches were attacked.

At first, I thought my colleague was trying to associate what happened with Calvary Church with my own church but he was not.

We all know the story now so lets not get into the politics of that again. I just wanted to bring up a point made by the Tourism Ministry which feels that these disgusting episodes might deter foreign tourists from visiting Malaysia.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen was quoted as saying the religious tension could cause fear among foreign tourists wanting to visit Malaysia.

She said the church attacks were sending the wrong message to foreign tourists when Malaysia was always touted as a harmonious country despite its multi-racial and multi-religious society.

On your left, an article from the reputable TIME which unfortunately for Tourism Malaysia does not paint the nation as being very religiously tolerant.

Maybe it is time our industry stepped in and offered up some advice. Would launching an advertising / public relations campaign help or worsen things? What would need to be done?

I went to church on Sunday and there was a full attendance for all three services -- no one seemed panicked or worried the church might suddenly erupt in flames from another attempted fire bomb.

Domestically at least, there isn't a lot of fear but it's not us the tourism ministry is worried about.


manfred said...

you have only to look back into history to Germany of the thirties
that all started with a few bombs thrown by the Hitlers Brown shirts.
And the public at he time weer not worried ether.
Malaysia has always beeen able to sweep things under the carpet, I hope that a loss of tourism ir not the only thing effected.

Marcus said...

I think a more worrying thing than the loss of tourism dollars is how the violence has escalated from one attack to eight. The media didn't really have a choice and did its job by reporting the first attack. And I don't think they were too sensationalist in the reporting. But I just feel the publicity might have felt like an added incentive for the perpetrators (and any other like-minded person) to commit more hate crimes.

SP11 aka. Mr. Pertz said...

Google "Malaysia" and this issue comes out on number 4 ( This says a lot about the effect of the behaviour of some people here. I agree with Manfred. It starts with a few acts of violence.

Today, a business partner (ordering goods from Malaysia) skyped me "I hear the situation in Malaysia is serious. Is it dangerous?".

It is not only about toursim (90% of tourists to Malaysia are Singaporeans. Are they just going to JB for a good time???). It is about the foreign investors. Lose them, add the brain drain ( 300 000 + Malayisans leaving last year), stirr it all up...

We shall see...

Marcus said...

According to today's papers, the PM and his deputy have already taken the "everything is under control" message to investors and tourists in London.