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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015, time for moderate Malaysians to stand up

Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam says 2015 will be even more challenging for Malaysia socially and economically, given the global challenges ahead. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 31, 2014.Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam says 2015 will be even more challenging for Malaysia socially and economically, given the global challenges ahead. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, December 31, 2014.
As Malaysians bid farewell to 2014, moderate Malaysians have been urged to stand up and beat back the tide of hate and bigotry that have inflamed communal relations throughout the year.
A group of progressive Malays today hoped that Malaysians would be able to reclaim the national conversation on race and religion and reject extremist elements brought about by certain quarters.
This, they argued, was because it was up to each individual to preserve the tolerance, moderation and respect that had been an enduring feature of the country’s pluralistic society.
“But because it is one of the ways which our country will remain peaceful and harmonious,” he said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider.
Musa said 2015 would be even more challenging for Malaysia socially and economically, given the depressing forecast on the world economy.
These humps in the economy and the social effects they entailed were why Umno Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed feels that calmer voices must prevail against those who are divisive.
“The economy is slowing down, so we need to remain calm. This is my advice to everyone. Chinese, Malays, Indians, Perkasa, everyone.
“Malaysia is a moderate country, not an extremist one,” said Nur Jazlan, who is known to be among the more progressive leaders in Umno.
The Public Accounts Committee chairman has been the target of insults by Malay right-wing group Perkasa, whose members have called him “bangsat” (despicable) for daring to criticise the movement and its cause.
Nur Jazlan also hoped there would be less race and religious issues being played up in 2015 and if they were, that people would not get too sensitive when talking about them.
Another Umno leader Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah hoped that more groups, such as the 25 Malay former civil servants who had called on the government to start a national dialogue to resolve conflicts between Shariah and civil laws, to come forward.
Other good examples, he said were the 33 individuals who have called themselves “Malaysian Moderates”, youth groups and students from the Middle East and the ones behind the #Iam26 campaign he said.
“We need to make 2015 the year of moderation, in our values, approach, our thinking and policies in all fields.
“Moderation is the soul of the Malaysian identity but lately, from an ethnic and religious stand point, it is seen as problematic,” said Saifuddin, who heads the Global Movement of Moderates.
For Aura Merdeka founder Tariq Ismail, the claim by a Muslim NGO, Isma, and Perkasa of representing Muslims and Islam was misleading, since the faith had never taught ethnic chauvinism.
“I can understand where Isma and Perkasa are coming from but their message is wrong,” said Tariq, who is a grandson of former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman.
“There is no racialism in Islam. So if you want to talk about Islam, you cannot talk about race.”
If there is something that could motivate more moderates to come out is the fact that in reality, they are the silent majority, whereas extremists are the vocal minority.
This was alluded to by Sisters in Islam leader Ratna Osman who said that extremists did not represent the majority of Malaysians.
"I hope that peace-loving Malaysians will rise up and not let the country by manipulated by these extremists.
“They do not represent us as Malaysians and we should not let them spread their evil agenda,” said Ratna, whose organisation has also been targeted by religious conservatives.
- TMI

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