Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bali Did Not Cover up

A Balinese statue is seen along a main road in Denpasar, Bali, on March 8, 2017. Photo: AFP

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud (above photo) was in Jakarta, Indonesia for a 3-day state visit – after which he proceeded to Bali for a vacation scheduled from March 04 to 09.

When he met President Joko Widodo for talks in Bogor, near the capital, officials hid some naked statues in the grounds by covering them with cloth and putting plants around them as a sign of respect for the Muslim monarch.

Strict interpretations of Islam forbid the creation of images of living beings – such as statues of women – and worship of idols.

But in Bali – a pocket of Hinduism in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, the local authorities did not extend the same courtesy.

The resort island, which attracts millions of foreign visitors every year, is home to many statues of Hindu gods and bare-chested women. In the past, Balinese women often wore only sarongs that did not cover their chests.

"We're just going to leave (the statues) as they are, we don't have to cover up anything because it is our culture," Bali local government spokesperson Dewa Mahendra had informed AFP. He said that they "are cultural creations, they are art".

Certainly, King Salman and his entourage of 1,500 people staying at five luxury hotels in Nusa Dua were not offended.

In fact, the beauty of Indonesia's most popular tourist destination captivated the royal visitor that he decided to extend his stay for another three days.

Malaysian Muslims should learn from King Salman.

Today, I was at the Sai Masters Toastmasters meeting in Petaling Jaya.

A wee attendance of just nine Toastmasters but yet they still managed to successfully infuse the meeting with joyful bursts of explosive energy. And I was given a double role – as a Toastmaster-of-the-Day and as a speech evaluator.

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