As we celebrate a landmark in the history of our nation of Malaysia this 16th of September, we have much to be proud of. We are a developing nation that has excelled in many sectors such as tourism, banking and finance, halal, medicine and many more. We are blessed to be able to experience different cultures, food and religions without traveling far and abroad.
While we have achieved so much, it troubles me to see a rise in issues rooted in extremism in the nation. This is not limited to racism. Extremists are groups or inpiduals who subscribe to radical views and actions against others. They treat anyone who is different as an enemy and engineer fear in people who don’t conform to their thoughts or ideologies and, in some cases in people who simply look different. Hence, extremism here applies to a gamut of factors, including racism, arts, culture, way of life, and more. The late U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy once said, “What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents.”
I am strongly opposed to these types of behaviour. It saddens me that despite living in an independent multi-cultural nation for over 50 years, there are still those among us who cannot tolerate, much less accept the benefits of a diverse society. It saddens me because by rejecting our diverse way of life, they reject 1Malaysia.
While these groups are often small in number, their presence is amplified through their extreme sentiments and acts. Nonetheless, the Government continues to keep a watchful eye on such groups. We have dealt effectively with a number of extreme cases in Malaysia, such as militant groups that have instigated conflicts and posed a genuine threat to national security. We will continue to protect the Rakyat and the nation from threats from outside or within, through land, sea, air or cyberspace.
We have been exposed to examples of extremist behaviour, regionally and globally. I am glad that we have abstained from such acts, and instead displayed maturity as a people, as 1Malaysia. I urge all Malaysians to be calm and rational in the face of such extremism. To respond like with like only serves to escalate tensions between our countries and becomes a hindrance to our own progress. Economies have faltered because of acts of extremism, and the road to recovery is often long and hard.
As Malaysians, we can do our part to restrict the growth of extremism on our shores. By educating ourselves and participating in mature and rational dialogue, a deeper understanding can be reached between two parties with dissimilar views. We must nurture our intellect to be open to different opinions and ideas. We must train ourselves to apply diplomacy in our daily interactions with others, and to embrace 1Malaysia as our guiding philosophy in resolving conflict. It will serve us well as a people.
Happy Malaysia Day!