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Watching The World

Published: Thursday July 17, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Thursday July 17, 2014 MYT 7:59:36 AM

Recognise the enemy within

If we keep looking under rocks for dangers that don’t exist, we will end up missing the real threats that are right in front of us.

SOMETIMES it feels like there is a war being fought by some people around us, even as the majority of Malaysians just try to muddle through in denial.

Time and time again, the indications are there that extremism has been allowed to flourish in our midst.

The constant arrests of Malaysian militants who were drawn to violent causes of the al-Qaeda and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) variety is almost a natural extension of the first batch of radicalism that was inspired in the late 1970s by the Iranian Revolution and the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

Since then, we have had the Memali standoff (1985), Al-Arqam arrests (1994) and Al-Ma’unah camp seizure (2000) and even an unusual Samurai sword attack in front of the Prime Minister’s office (2012) as flashpoints of extremist activity.

Additionally, there is ample evidence that those engaged in violent struggles in southern Thailand, southern Philippines and Sri Lanka have used Malaysia as a critical base for their activities.

No doubt the fact that almost any Asian can blend into our general population has worked in their favour.

So what can be done to reverse the tide?

I think it is absolutely critical that Malaysians learn to analyse situations properly.

For example, I understand one’s blood boiling at the injustice of the Israeli-Palestine conflict.

While killings happen on both sides, this is clearly a one-sided war that should have been settled by UN intervention a half century ago.

Still, sympathy for the Palestinian plight does not justify expressions of support for the abhorrent Nazi ideology and genocide.

I would like to encourage Malaysians who think that two wrongs make a right to march alongside neo-Nazis in the Western world and see just what a warm welcome they receive.

Honestly, I feel that many Malaysians are easily brainwashed to fall into line ... along the divisive lines of race, religion and language.

I think many have been brainwashed about the importance of Malay, Mandarin and Tamil in relation to the English language.

And that is insular thinking that is going to keep us sliding backwards in a knowledge-based global economy.

Most countries in the world don’t give two hoots about those other languages, while our advantage in having so many Malaysians proficient in the dominant global dialect is being whittled away every year.

Even when Malaysia garners bad press overseas you can see how some of us are pre-programmed to be negative ... so willing to think the worst about Malaysia and loudly proclaim those views to all and sundry in a manner that is two steps short of treason.

Another section of the population holds the converse view, invariably lauding our system and authorities and blind to any fault that we have.

The truth is clearly somewhere in the middle.

I have to say that I am concerned about just how much of the right kind of effort is being put into curbing the militant threat.

Five years ago when I attended a reunion of the Communist Party of Malaya guerillas, I was approached on three separate occasions by the Special Branch who seemed to be paying undue attention to a bunch of pensioners who had laid down their arms decades ago.

One can see also that the FRU is ready to be tough on Bersih protesters and the like.

But at the same time, it feels like every joker in the Philippines can come into Sabah and make kidnapping a cottage industry.

It feels like militant groups are allowed to spread their fatalistic and hate-ridden philosophies without experiencing any form of censure.

The most obvious difficulty is that violence can be committed in the name of religion.

Children must not be brainwashed into thinking that all someone has to do is mention the name of a religion and you surrender critical thought.

The brainwashing of the mainstream with overly conservative interpretations of religion plays right into the hands of extremists.

We need to recognise the enemy within and weed out those who are genuinely dangerous before they bring us all down with them.

The homeless are not the enemy. Communists are not the enemy. Atheists are not the enemy.

The embrace of violence is the enemy.

> Star online news editor Martin Vengadesan thinks that as long as we keep misdiagnosing the problem, we will continue to be sick. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Tags / Keywords: Martin Vengadesan

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