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A tough fight

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

More and more individuals and organizations have stood up in support of "moderation." However, the battle between moderation and extremism will remain an uphill task and we need to amass more support in order to defeat elements of extremism.

Even though it appears that that the campaign in support of moderation is gaining momentum, because of a wide array of factors, such a force is yet to become truly significant.

First and foremost, the moderation campaign lacks political backing. No doubt politics is controlling the power and without political power to hammer extremism, success will be limited.

Although the 25 prominent Malays have already issued an open letter and many distinguished social leaders have voiced their support, the attitude of Umno leadership remains ambiguous while the Malay community is largely silent over this matter, which is not a good thing at all.

While Umno is trying to distance itself from the moderation campaign, at least other BN leaders should stand up and voice their support. Unfortunately so far we have yet to see a leader from a BN component party strong enough to exert pressure on Umno. People's Progressive Party (PPP) president M Kayveas has even said that the big boss is always right. How do we expect anything from a BN leader of this kind?

A currently divided MIC will not have time to do so; neither can we expect MCA and DAP to stand on the same side to battle extremism. Disunity among Chinese Malaysians will only further erode their collective force to fight extremism.

Pakatan Rakyat, which received tremendous support from young urban voters during the last two general elections, remains divided between the more liberal and the conservative. The Kelantan state government is convening a special sitting of the state legislative assembly later this month to amend the state's Islamic criminal code. The hudud law will very much remain a dividing force for Pakatan.

Meanwhile, Pakatan has yet to resolve its own problems, for instance, Sabah PKR's Inanam state assemblyman Roland Chia has suddenly tendered his resignation.

It remains skeptical whether Pakatan would counter extremism in full force because some might fear that this would help Najib resolve the current crisis, thus consolidating his grip of power.

Because of political differences, the force to counter extremism continues to be fragile. There is no way to contain extremism unless the ruling coalition takes a tough stance and instructs the enforcers to tackle elements of extremism

Secondly, such extremist and conservative thinking has not been borne overnight but because of the government's conservative policies over the years.

Dr Mahathir amended the Constitution in 1988 to elevate the status of syariah courts in a bid to diffuse the religious competition between Umno and PAS.

Such maneuvers have intensified religious sentiments to an extent that many have failed to see what is right or wrong.

It is imperative that the government readjust its policies again, probably spend another decade of time, to restore the accommodating spirit of mutual respect among Malaysians of different ethnic and religious backgrounds.

Thirdly, there is a dangerous trend that those in power are leaning towards conservatism.

Religious controversies are no strangers to this country, and this shows that indeed our administrative institution has been infiltrated by religious thinking. In the latest incident, the MCMC slapped a RM10,000 fine on local English radio station BFM for airing an interview with Iranian-American Muslim scholar Reza Aslan over the "Allah" controversy.

So far we have also seen some 30 Muslims, including senior government officials and university professors issuing a joint open letter to rebuke the moderation campaign of the G25, most of whom are already retired while their attackers are mostly still in office.

In the meantime, The Star has reported that more and more civil servants are sympathizing with terrorist organizations and joining their ranks.

If civil servants fail to remain neutral, how do we expect the spirit of moderation to be implemented in our public services sector?

As such, we have done far less than enough to claim victory over extremism. It will be too late to wait until the next general elections to teach irresponsible politicians a lesson.

At a time when the plunging international oil prices are posing severe threats to our national economy, the rise of extremism will only expedite the withdrawal of foreign investors. Extremism will also hamper the country's advances towards the developed country status. This is going to be a very heavy price we need to pay for our wavering political stand over the past three decades.


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