Doing her part: Munirah posing in front of the van used to distribute free food to the homeless at several spots in the city.
KUALA LUMPUR: The media should not give space to those who advocate extremist views, said social activist Munirah Abdul Hamid, who heads the Pertubuhan Tindakan Wanita Islam (Pertiwi) soup kitchen.
“Negative and extremist stories are not good and they do not help in building a moderate and tolerant society. Tolerance is building bridges and not bearing grudges.
“The majority of Malaysians want peace and harmony. Malaysia is a beautiful country. Let us keep it that way and work towards making Malaysia a moderate nation,” she said.
The Pertiwi soup kitchen feeds about 300 homeless people four times a week in Kuala Lumpur.
Expressing support for The Star’s moderation campaign, she regretted that there were bloggers and certain social media which played up extremist stories that disrupt the unity of the people.
“I don’t understand the need to elevate any one group, race or party. Stop highlighting differences. We are all the same and strengthen the social fabric of our society by focusing on the similarities of our cultures and lifestyles,” she said.
She called for more positive leaders and not the racist type so that Malaysia could move forward.
Munirah is also the executive director of Malaysian Genomics Resource Centre (MGRC), a public-listed company.
To ensure the continuing success of the moderation campaign, she urged those who advocated the move to focus on the young, including school children.
Munirah has been a volunteer with Pertiwi since it was set up in November 1967.
To unite the people, she said: “We must all work hard for the prosperity of the country and all Malaysians. Everyone must be treated with respect.
“There should not be arrogance, discrimination or hatred in our lives.”
Born in 1950 in Alor Setar, Kedah, Munirah’s house was halfway between Sultan Abdul Hamid College and Sultanah Asma School. There was also St Michael’s School nearby and a mosque in Derga.
Her early childhood taught her to respect all races as she was deep in a multi-racial community with a Catholic church along that stretch of Jalan Langgar where she was born and where she spent the first 12 years of her life.
In the barracks near her house was where most of the town council workers lived, who were mostly Indians.
“On the right, a rich Chinese family lived there until I was nine. They then moved nearby. We all knew basic Hokkien and Tamil,” she said.