KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The opening of the Permanent Residence and Chancery of the Apostolic Nunciature in Malaysia would lend further impetus to elevate Malaysia and Holy See relations to greater heights, said Deputy Foreign Minister Reezal Merican Naina Merican.

“Besides enabling further collective efforts at global peace building, we now have an essential platform on which to enhance other areas of bilateral cooperation such as in the education field,” he said at the opening ceremony here last night.

Reezal Merican, on behalf of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, also congratulated Substitute of the Secretariat of State and Representative of Pope Francis, Archbishop Angelo Becciu and Apostolic Nuncio, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Holy See to Malaysia, Joseph Marino.

Also present was Ambassador of Malaysia to the Holy See, Bernard Giluk Dompok.

He said six years ago, on July 27, 2011, the Malaysian government took a positive step in establishing diplomatic relations, and since then, the ties between the two countries has witnessed a positive trajectory, based on mutual respect, understanding and underlined by the common desire to promote global peace and security.

“The commitment of Prime Minister (Najib) to foster stronger ties with the Holy See saw Malaysia open its Embassy to the Holy See in March 2016. Malaysia’s first Resident Ambassador to the Holy See (Bernard Dompok) arrived in Rome in April 2016 and presented his Letter of Credence to Pope Francis on June 9, 2016.

“Another milestone in our ties was the productive visit of Foreign Minister Anifah Aman to the Holy See, during which the minister officially inaugurated Malaysian Embassy to the Holy See in May 2017. These milestones, achieved within a relatively short span of time, would not have been possible without the seriousness and commitment of the government of Malaysia,” he said.

Reezal Merican said the Malaysian Prime Minister had once stated that Malaysia was committed to working with the Holy See in promoting reason and moderation in the fight against negative forces.

He said Malaysia in itself embodies the true meaning of harmony and the rights of every citizen and community are protected by the Federal Constitution, including the right to profess and practice one’s religion.

“This Constitutional protection, along with the commitment of our leaders in ensuring excellent race relations, has created a nation whose demography consists of a mixing pot of different cultures living peacefully under the same roof. The peaceful coexistence has enabled Malaysia to develop and thrive to what we are today,” he added.

He said Malaysia has a thriving Catholic community who along with other existing religious communities in Malaysia are free to profess and practice their religion, adding Prime Minister (Najib) and the government have always been committed to safeguarding the welfare of every religious community in the country, including the catholic faithful.

“It is with our strong experience in protecting the rights of all communities and fostering positive interfaith relations that the Prime Minister has initiated the concept of Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) which expounds the practice of moderation as the fundamental element to foster greater integration, ensuring peaceful coexistence through the rejection of extremism that undermines the universal values of religion.

“We believe that the GMM initiative could provide an essential platform on which to promote and encourage understanding and mutual respect. This government is keen to work further with the Vatican in promoting this initiative,” he added.