Home TA Online Siti Kasim’s Maju group packs them in at maiden event

Siti Kasim’s Maju group packs them in at maiden event

Overwhelming response - Photograph: Simon Tan

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Benedict Lopez reports on how this fledgling group is drawing in the crowds with its more inclusive vision.

And you thought the long struggle to save Malaysia had ended with the 9 May 2018 general election, which witnessed regime change.

Close to 2,000 people thronged the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night for a forum titled “The Battle is Not Over after May 9th – Be Empowered to Save Malaysia”.

It was the first leg of a roadshow organised by the newly formed Malaysian Action for Justice and Unity Foundation (Maju). The overwhelming public response surpassed the organisers’ expectations.

Launched on 28 August by activist lawyer Siti Kasim, Maju hopes to bring together Malaysians of all ethnicities and religions, irrespective of their background, to network with the goal of creating a more inclusive nation. This is critical as the nation is now divided along ethnic and religious lines – which could be detrimental for future generations.

The group has an advisory committee made up of some familiar names – Tajuddin Rasdi, Lim Teck Ghee, Patrick Teoh, Tawfik Ismail and Joe Samad.

The event last night began with the singing of the national anthem and a pledge to uphold the tenets of the Rukun Negara.

In her speech, Siti Kasim noted that the majority of Malaysians are peace-loving and want to lead a good life. The nation urgently needs to forge greater unity among these people of various ethnicities and religions with common aspirations and goals.

Malaysians have worked hard to make our country what it is today, and they continue to contribute to its development and prosperity, observed Siti. Many of them even struggle to eke out a living on a daily basis.

The Maju founder pointed out that government and politics require different values. “Progress comes through incremental changes” based on the needs of society.

Quoting a phrase from Abraham Lincoln’s legendary Gettysburg Address, Siti Kasim said any government should be “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

The country’s needs and desires should be voiced by the people who elect the government. Liberty, she said, does not come from the government but from the people in the country.

In this, Maju hopes to catalyse change in the socio-political landscape and mould a more progressive Malaysia.

But it will always remain “an apolitical organisation”. If necessary, Maju might field or endorse independent candidates in the next general election if the political parties are unable to fulfil the people’s aspirations. The group hopes to be the conscience of the people.

The next speaker, popular columnist Prof Tajuddin Rasdi, envisioned a progressive and a more inclusive Malaysia for all its people.

Prof Tajuddin received a warm welcome as he entered the hall

He highlighted three commonalities for all Malaysians:

  • This country belongs to all Malaysians and not political parties or individuals
  • Only Malaysians – and no one else – are in charge of their destiny
  • Malaysians own this country – not government agencies or individuals

Prof Tajuddin asserted that when any minority is attacked, it is an attack on Malaysia.

To achieve its goals, Maju aims to build a strong base of supporters from all walks of life. For only RM50 a year, any Malaysian can become a Maju supporter.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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