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All Together to Pray for Peace

September 21 is International Day of Peace and some non-governmental bodies are celebrating it on a large scale.

CANDLE-LIGHTING for peace and a peace quiz are among the activities lined up by the Taiping Peace Initiative (TPI) for the day of peace on Monday.

For the past nine years, TPI has been celebrating the event to promote a concept of “triple” peace —

  • inner peace,
  • social peace and
  • earth peace

— so the world would be a better place.

This year, the event at the Taiping Sentral Mall is expected to pull in 20,000 people although it is the second day of Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

“We are confident that many people will turn up because besides the peace initiative, the event will have a festival-like atmosphere.

“It will be an interesting day indeed,” said TPI co-founder and coordinator Beh Yang Toh.

TPI is the brainchild of Taiping Tourist Association which partnered with Taiping Municipal Council, the United Nations and Universiti Sains Malaysia to build a foundation which supports world peace.

The group, established in 2001, also promotes Taiping, which means “everlasting peace” in Chinese, as a peace centre.

Beh said the celebrations this year would kick off with the “Seed of Change” exhibition, organised by the Soka Gakkai Malaysia, on earth preservation.

He said a peace candle lighting would be held at the mall compound to deliver the message of peace to the public.

“The crowd will also have a chance to participate in a peace quiz and watch cultural performances by teams from Germany and Belgium.

“Before that, we will observe a moment of silence to pray for a better future for the country and the world.”

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by the United Nations as an annual observance of global non-violence and ceasefire.

Every year on Sept 21, people worldwide honour peace in various ways.

Beh said on that day, they would show a live video message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Poland’s ambassador to Malaysia, Eugeniusz Sawicki, will also be at the event.

Ten thousand bookmarks with peace messages in four languages will be distributed to the public.

In Kuala Lumpur, TPI’s wing — Partners for Peace Malaysia — will hold prayers for those who have lost their homes in the Sri Lankan war.

The prayers will be held at Temple of Universal Spirit in Puchong at 10am.

“We have been promoting peace awareness for the past four years and do not want to miss the celebration this year.

“We are expecting Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to launch the event,” said coordinator Stephen Nah.

He said last year, the team participated in a peace convoy from Petaling Jaya to Taiping and had a buka puasa function as it was Ramadan.

They also had a peace art competition and planted a “peace” tree at the Peace Park, a 0.64ha plot at Taiping Lake Garden.

In the past, there were a peace parade, cultural performances and the “light for peace” displays in Kuala Lumpur and Taiping.

Nah said they expected only 300 people to attend the ceremony this time. Nevertheless, he is excited that an Orang Asli group will be joining them.

Malaysian Armed Forces Veterans Council president Datuk Abdul Hamid Ibrahim said it would not commemorate the International Day of Peace this year as it coincided with Hari Raya.

He hoped that they would be able to mark it next year.

Last year, about 5,000 armed forces veterans gathered at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur under the “Veterans Walk of Peace” programme to support world peace.

Veterans from at least nine organisations, including the armed forces and social and sports groups, participated.

Watch it on the Internet

THOSE wishing to mark the International Day of Peace in the comfort of their homes can do so by visiting on Monday.

The Culture of Peace Initiative website will be the Internet anchor for the United Nations “IDP 2009 — 24 Hour World Peace Celebration”.

It will highlight the important work of the United Nations and its humanitarian agencies. There will also be a message from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

There will be video presentations on the UN Public Service Awards and UN’s initiatives around the world.

Celebrity peace activists such as George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Jude Law, Michael Douglas, Charlize Theron and others will be featured in these broadcasts.

Shuhada Elis – 18 Sep 2009 – NST