YBBM and TCLC jointly organise a forum on Buddhism and Chinese Traditional Religion

Front row, from left: Mr Low, Monash University Malaysia academic Dr Angeline Wong, Ms Wong Sook Kim, Dr Chin, Dato’ Ang, Prof Dato’ Ewe, Dr Phua, Mr Kenneth Lee, FCI academic Ms Yong Xin Yi and Mr Tan

Yayasan Belia Buddhist Malaysia (YBBM) in collaboration with UTAR Tun Tan Cheng Lock Centre for Social and Policy Studies (TCLC) organised a forum titled “The Buddhism and Traditional Chinese Religion: The Road Ahead” on 5 November 2023 at Sungai Long Campus.

Present at the opening ceremony of the forum were YBBM Chairman Dato’ Ir Ang Choo Hong, YBBM Honorary Chief Operating Officer Ms Wong Sook Kim, UTAR President Ir Prof Dato’ Dr Ewe Hong Tat, TCLC Chairperson Assoc Prof Dr Chin Yee Mun, Faculty of Creative Industries (FCI) Department of Mass Communication Head Mr Kenneth Lee Tze Wui and Taylor’s University Faculty of Business & Law Head of Programme Assoc Prof Dr Chang Yun Fah.

Prof Dato’ Ewe said, “I am filled with anticipation to hear the forthcoming reports and discussions at this forum. I believe that these discussions will pave the way for new directions and paths in the continued development of Chinese traditional religions. Let us collectively look ahead with great enthusiasm and optimism as we embark on this enlightening journey, and may we all join hands in fostering the success of this forum.”

Prof Dato’ Ewe delivering his speech

After the speech, Dato’ Ang delivered a keynote speech titled “The decline and revitalising of traditional Chinese religions in Malaysia”. In his address, he emphasised the importance of having both the Buddhist and the Chinese communities come together to address the decline of traditional Chinese religious practices and work collaboratively to overcome this challenge.

Dato’ Ang supported his argument with statistical data, pointing out that the traditional Chinese religion, which incorporates elements of Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, and folk beliefs, has decreased from 92 per cent of the Chinese population in 1970 to approximately 84 per cent in 2010. He stressed that this decline is a valid cause for worry, not only for the Buddhist community but for the broader Chinese community as well. Furthermore, he urged social science researchers and the Chinese community to take a keen interest in this issue, highlighting that shifts in religious beliefs have far-reaching implications for societal changes, including aspects such as Chinese identity and shifts in the Chinese worldview.

Dato’ Ang asking the Buddhist groups and the Chinese community to come together to address the concerning decline of traditional Chinese religious practices

A group photo after the book presentation ceremony for authors

Subsequently, five scholars, namely Ts Dr Phua Yeong Nan from UTAR Lee Kong Chian Faculty of Engineering and Science (LKC FES), Mr Tan Yang Sheng from UTAR Faculty of Creative Industries (FCI), Mr Low Yaw Dong from International Medical University (IMU) School of Medicine, Mr Kenneth Lee Tze Wui from UTAR FCI and Mr Lee Jenn Yuan from UTAR TCLC were invited to present their research outcomes on Traditional Chinese Religion, conducted from the year 2021 until 2023 to the attendees.

The collaborative research projects between YBBM and UTAR aimed to explore the causes behind the decline of traditional Chinese religions among Malaysian Chinese. The study utilised a comprehensive methodology, encompassing surveys and interviews with individuals who have converted to non-Chinese traditional religions, those with atheist beliefs, and individuals who have recommitted themselves to traditional Chinese religions. Additionally, the study involved organisational observations and focus group discussions with leaders of various Chinese traditional religious organisations.

From top left, clockwise: Dr Phua, Mr Tan, Mr Kenneth Lee, Mr Lee and Mr Low

The forum also featured a breakout session, involving five special interest groups. Among the topics discussed were Children’s Education, Mass Education, Ritual Innovation, Life Care, and Organisational Leadership.

Breakout session

Dato’ Ang concluding the forum

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