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More need to come forward

Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE
Sin Chew Daily

The open letter on moderation jointly issued by 25 prominent Malays (G25) has finally received a positive response from political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). The willingness of the silent majority to come forward is gratifying. However, further observation is required to see whether the social movement can truly implement the concept of surpassing racial group and religion, and become the consensus of the majority Malaysians.

The core of moderation is against extremism of all. We are calling so hard for moderation today as regardless of inside or outside the country, we are facing unprecedented threat of extremism. In foreign countries, the Sydney siege ended in bloodshed while extremists massacred over 100 of children in Pakistan; in the country, Perkasa is still making threatening gestures, extreme politicians are still clamouring, the 1Malaysia concept is drifting away, while racial polarisation has grown obvious. A kind of fear is covering the whole society. A polarised society is dangerous and it is political system that leads to such a dangerous trend. Due to political needs, some political parties and politicians take the risk and continuously create racial and religious issues, keep intensifying the problems, expanding differences and making contradictions continue to swell.

As long as the country is split into two, as long as such confrontations are intensified, the more irreconcilable it is, the more those racial and religious extremists will be benefited, and the more arrogant they become. It is because they found that only a polarised society is in line with their political interests.

To be honest, whether the "anti-extremism and support moderation" movement currently in full swing can succeed in the end and evolve into an influential social movement, to a great extent, depends on how Umno and PAS respond to it. It depends on whether moderate members of the two parties can take the courage and come forward to join the moderation group, saying no to racial and religious extremism, and halt the parties' internal and external strengthening racial and religious extremism, stopping the growing racial and religious extreme words and deeds, and preventing the polarisation phenomenon in the society from deteriorating.

Malaysia indeed needs a vigorous social movement to fight against the increasingly rampant extremism. And the movement should not involve only the Chinese community, but also the Malays, Indians and other minority racial groups. It should become the consensus of all and a truly social movement involving all Malaysians.

Reality told us that extremists will not stop there and the moderation movement will not be carried out so smoothly. Malaysia-China Friendship Association (MCFA) president Datuk Abdul Majid Khan opined that the moderation movement would not be able to effectively achieve its objectives, but would rather split the society into "the moderate" and "non-moderate" groups, resulting in a war of words.

Majid's worry might be too pessimistic, but we cannot deny that it is the biggest challenge for the moderation movement, particularly after former Prime Minister tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that the Malays have become "beggars" asking for support of other races. It is worth concerning how the Malay community would respond to it and whether it would trigger an anti-moderation movement.

In fact, Mahathir's "counter-attack" is just the first challenge for the moderation movement. More importantly, how would the situation develop next? How should the moderation movement sustain to effectively spread the idea of pluralism, openness and tolerance so that it become a cross-racial, cross-religious and cross cultural consensus? It will definitely be a bumpy road ahead.

We may have a lot of disappointment under the current national political atmosphere but we can never be despair. Being despair means standing still and everything will be finished. The moderation movement is undoubtedly a very difficult path.


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