KUALA LUMPUR: Ordinary people need to actively stand up for moderation if they want to see a better Malaysia, said the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) CEO Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh.
He said the voices of extremism exist in both the Opposition and the Government, in various religious groups and races, but they were only a minority among the population.
Towards this end, it was important for the silent moderate majority, who are peace-loving, to organise themselves and speak up more actively against extremism, he said.
“If there is a people’s movement to support moderation, I think we’d have a better, more peaceful and united nation,” he said at a press conference on the eve of the National Unity Forum themed “Strengthening the Voice of Moderation, Moving Forward Together”.
Dr Yeoh said ordinary Malaysians could champion the cause of moderation without depending on political leaders to do so.
He said as the nation just celebrated Merdeka Day and would be marking its 51st Malaysia Day soon, it was important for the people to recommit themselves to national unity.
“There have been remarks and incidents by both sides of the political divide which have, to some extent, hurt national unity,” he said.
He recalled the strong unity among Malaysians in the past and noted that while the national day of mourning for MH17 had brought people from all walks of life together, some comments and actions had at the same time hurt the feelings of other races and weakened unity.
He added that Asli was looking into the possibility of developing an index to measure the level of national unity in the country.
The National Unity Forum, in which The Star is a media partner, will be open free to the public from 8.30am to 5pm today at the Palace of the Golden Horses in Seri Kembangan here.
The forum is in line with The Star’s Brave Views, Bold Ideas campaign to promote moderation in the country.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, who is in charge of national unity, will deliver a keynote address at the event which features a host of speakers including Global Movement of Moderates chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, National Council of Women’s Organisations president Tan Sri Dr Sharifah Habsah, Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong and Council of Churches Malaysia secretary-general Rev Dr Hermen Shastri.