Moderation and tolerance

By Thursday July 21st, 2011 No Comments

Moderation maintains multi-racial harmony while tolerance reflects manner and wisdom.

During a recent meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that Malaysia has drawn on the values of moderation to ensure continued harmony, stability and prosperity.

Also, the Prime Minister’s Department has issued a statement refuting the Jewish conspiracy theory mentioned in an editorial of the Utusan Malaysia and stressed that Malaysia is a moderate and tolerant country.

These have proven that the government has been committed to a moderate and tolerant administration. However, various factors have made its efforts counterproductive.

Take the July 9 rally as an example, the initial reason of the authorities to stop the rally was to maintain social stability but it has in fact affected the image of Malaysia as a moderate country.

Outsiders might not be able to understand the government’s given reason of stopping the rally to prevent disturbance as rallies are considered a norm in their countries, while the request of a fair election is also a democratic demand. The government’s reactions have triggered the doubt on tolerance.

Another example is the government’s move to blackout parts of The Economist’s article on the Bersih 2.0 rally. Why are they still doing such things in the Internet age?

In terms of moderation, there are still much room for learning and improvement. For example, the Utusan Malaysia claimed that the Bersih 2.0 rally would lead to a Jewish-led siege on the country. It is not consistent with the moderate values and would undermine the Prime Minister’s efforts in attracting foreign investment.

Also, detaining six Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members under the Emergency Ordinance but not charging them in court has also been seen as a move of depriving their rights of a fair trial.

In addition, some organisations are advocating values contrary to moderation, such as Malay rights group Perkasa. Its chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali has always made extreme remarks, including threatening to wage a jihad, but still receives much support.

UiTM’s Institut Pemikiran dan Kepimpinan Melayu (Impak) has also planned to introduce the Ibrahim Ali Award as a recognition for students who have displayed “clear and consistent” principles in upholding their race.

If the government does not stop frustrated political activists from keep playing with racial issue, the public and academics might be misled and how could the Islamic doctrines of harmony and goodwill be implemented then?

In my opinion, international standards must first be achieved to maintain the moderate country image of Malaysia, including abolishing laws violating human rights, amending the Parade and Assembly Law and the University and College University Act, as well as reviewing the Printing Press and Publication Act which is restricting the freedom of the press.

The government should also refer to examples demonstrated in foreign countries to improve its means and attitude in handling problems, including standardisation to avoid overreacting.

Government officials should also have enough self-confidence to calmly and professionally face any expected or unexpected events. Once they are panic, they might lose their judgement and screw things up.

Another approach to reduce mistakes is stop politicisation and political consideration. Involving politics in everything will only lead to the loss of moderation and tolerance. The Pakatan Rakyat state governments have now talked less about politics but focused on the implementation of people-friendly policies, such as the Penang state government is considering a proposal to give RM100 cash to parents of newborn babies.

In fact, there is still a very long way to become a moderate country.

Source : MySinChew

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