If the prime minister could preach about moderation at the UN General Assembly a few months ago, why is he allowing these racial and religious extremists to “take over”, wonders W H Cheng.
We have all seen enough of the racial and religious extremist groups and NGOs, whose members are regulars in their bouts of shouting, yelling, screaming, and issuing threats and statements that could hurt and damage the unity of our multiracial society.
These racial and religious extremist groups and NGOs often create a sort of menace in order to justify their words, actions and threats of violence. They say the Malays and Islam are under threat, the Christians are proselytising to the Muslims – but in every instance, they have no proof to back up their claims.
Their various statements, actions, threats and violence have indeed done a lot of damage to the unity and stability of our nation and its economy.
To these racial and religious extremists, anyone who speaks to counter them are deemed by them to be anti-Malay, anti-Islam, anti-monarchy, traitorous and “murtad”. They refuse to accept facts, figures or even evidence. These negative elements have done far more damage to the reputation of the Malays and of Islam rather than “defending” the community and their religion.
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Even many Malays and Muslims themselves are getting fed up over the insanity of this racial and religious bigotry and not a few have indeed made up their minds to migrate elsewhere in their quest for peace and a more harmonious environment.
What’s more, the increasing encroachment of religion into other spheres of life such as sports, public health, the food industry and other service industries by religious authorities has worsened the situation. Some foreign investors are believed to be thinking of relocating their facilities to other countries to avoid such inconveniences and confusion.
While many in the religious authorities and their so-called scholars, those religious-based organisations have been growing in stature, so to has ignorance in education, expertise, knowledge, technology, evidence and professionalism been growing within the administration. All this bigotry penetrating the system of governance could push our nation backwards to the verge of destruction.
Today, many ordinary Malays have spoken up, the moderates have spoken too, all these reasonable people have come forward to defend this nation from being taken over by destructive elements. Many of us Malaysians truly believe in liberal and pluralistic views and in moving forward together instead of harping on the past.
We are now standing up for our fellow Malaysians, regardless of whether they are Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Dayaks or whatever; regardless of whether they are Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Sikhs or whatever.
We are Malaysians First, nothing else, and we are now vocal in standing up to all those bigots and extremists. Moderates need to speak up to isolate these negative elements and make them retreat before they further undermine our beloved nation.
Yes, the moderates now are speaking out against all those destructive racial and religious extremists. But the problem here is, the BN government under the leadership of Prime Minister and Umno president Najib Razak has yet to take their stand and acknowledge moderation as the way forward in nation building. Instead, this government appear to be choosing to outsource its communications to pro-government NGOs to talk to the moderates instead of dealing with them directly. Where is Najib’s sincerity in this matter?
Is Najib afraid of his own ruling party, Umno, which seems to be intent on appearing more Islamic and more Malay than then its political rival, Pas? Is Najib so heavily dependent on the support from the rural heartland and afraid of losing support from there?
If this prime minister could preach about moderation at the United National General Assembly a few months ago, why is he allowing these racial and religious extremists to “take over”, worsening the situation here and create further instability through their vile rhetoric and race baiting? Is Najib the prime minister of only one particular race and religion?
It shows that 1Malaysia is a mere decorative item or just a seasonal slogan. Until today, we have not seen any evidence that the idea of 1Malaysia is taking root within the administration and policy-making of this government.
Instead, what we are seeing today are these racial and religious extremists beating their drums louder. They seem to be acting like they are above the law, disregarding the rights of others, acting and playing God and invoking so much anger and hatred in the name of the religion they claimed to “defend”.
The nation will head towards destruction if these racial and religious extremists are allowed to continue “taking charge”. The BN government must act as it preaches, practise the real 1Malaysia and embrace the path of moderation in the the heart of the administration if the tide is to be turned.
W H Cheng, an Aliran member, is director of Inter-Research And Studies (IRAS), a Penang-based mini-research outfit and pressure group.