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Eye of the Tiger

Published: Tuesday December 16, 2014 MYT 11:19:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday December 16, 2014 MYT 11:32:29 AM

A timely wakeup call

OVER the last few years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) claiming to represent the majority of Malay-muslims in the country have sprung up. And these groups have slowly but surely implanted ideas of extremism in the minds of their members.

News and developments in the country, which are not in line with principles of these NGOs, are termed anti-Islam or anti-Malay. These views, needless to say, stand in the way of progress in a moderate country like Malaysia. 

Few prominent Malay politicians, however, have dared to speak out against organisations like Perkasa and Isma. Perhaps they worry their popularity might be affected. After all, race and religion are delicate subjects in Malaysia.

But perhaps the tide is finally turning.

On Dec 8, via an open letter, 25 moderate Malaysian Malays, consisting of mostly former top civil servants voiced their concerns over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic law in the country. They also pointed out how certain NGOs have made attempts at rational discussion and conflict resolution difficult.

Perhaps this is the wake-up call that is needed.

What makes the open letter significant is that its 25 signatories are not just your average man on the street. They are concerned prominent Malay retirees who have had a hand in developing Malaysia.

The 25 include former secretaries-general of ministries such as led by Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Din (Home Ministry), Tan Sri Ahmad Kamil Jaafar (Foreign Ministry) and Tan Sri Dr Aris Othman (Finance Ministry). Other signatories include former directors-general of several ministries and government agencies, former ambassadors, a former Court of Appeal judge, a former head of the Malaysia Royal Intelligence Corps, and a co-founder of the National Heart Institute.

In the open letter, the group has stressed that the Federal Constitution is the supreme law of the land and any law enacted cannot violate the Constitution. This, to me, is an important point.

A country with clear laws and principles of justice provides clear direction to its citizen to toe the line. It is also a massive pulling factor for international investors to invest in our country. More investors means shorter the duration we are from our vision of becoming a developed nation. No investors will want to invest their business in a religion extremist country. No investors will have a second look at a country with no concrete law in place.

Now that the group of 25 have spoken, I look forward to more of my moderate Malay comrades speaking out against extremism. Hopefully, the open letter is the catalyst for moderation to sweep over Malaysia.

> The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

Tags / Keywords: moderation, open letter, prominent, perkasa, isma

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