PHNOM PENH: Asia, as a burgeoning economic zone that is a lynchpin of global trade, cannot afford any disruption or destruction caused by extremism or terror, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
Asian political parties had an important role to play towards this end, he said, as he continues his quest for a global movement of the moderates against extremism.
“I urge political parties across Asia to join Malaysia’s call for a global movement of the moderates and reject the politics of hate and any form of extremism,” he said in his keynote address at the 6th General Assembly of the International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP).
He said as members of the Asian family, they had a vested interest in ensuring that this region remained free and safe from ideologies espousing conflict, destruction, disunity and hostility in the name of their unholy cause.
“The forces of globalisation and the emergence of China and India as economic juggernauts have changed the way the world views Asia, and indeed how Asia views itself,” he said.
Recalling his message at the United Nations General Assembly last September, Najib said he had called for a global movement of the moderates to reclaim the centre and the moral high-ground that had been usurped from them.
He had called for moderates to marginalise the extremists and terrorists who had held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias.
Najib said nowhere was this more important than in Asia, where in some places cells of extremist groups continued to exist to spread their message of hate.
He said the proponents of extremism would always attempt to draw lines in the sand, dividing one side against the other, creating the spectre of a nemesis when in fact there was none.
“I have said repeatedly that the real issue is not between Muslims and non-Muslims, but rather between extremists and moderates of all faiths be it Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or any other faith,” he said.
Najib said Asia could not allow extremists and terrorists to hijack societal discourse and determine the direction of their respective national conversations as reason and common sense must prevail.
The moderates, he said, must always be the only dominant voice, whereas cooperation and negotiation must always be the preferred path over that of enmity and confrontation.
“Whatever their causes may be, political parties must refrain from taking the extreme path. There are always peaceful means of conflict resolution, and no short-term political gains are worth sacrificing national and, indeed, regional peace and harmony,” he said.
Najib said that ultimately what was important was the well-being of their people and the preservation of their values, culture and way of life.
Indeed, political parties need not resort to extremist posturing to remain relevant and popular, he said.
Najib said that, on the contrary, in this enlightened age of information and technology, the most popular political parties would be the ones most visibly responding to changing times and adapting to the wants and needs of the people they served.
He said extremists preyed on the fearful and the seemingly threatened and if the moderates made it clear that there was no cause for fear and no looming threat, then extremists became irrelevant.
In calling for a global movement of the moderates, he emphasised the importance of linkages and networks in furthering the ideals of moderation.
Apart from bilateral and multi-lateral government ties, Najib said, informal networks such as this forum would be essential in conveying the right message to specific audiences.
He strongly encouraged all the Asian political parties to build and strengthen their relationship with each other, exchanging knowledge and experiences, and subsequently transmitting this common message of hope back to their people.
“All of you here are leaders in your community, and are therefore uniquely positioned to spread the word that moderation is the key. If we are able to drive this message home, to our people and our communities and it becomes a creed by which they live, then extremism will have truly been debilitated,” he said.
Then, he said, a true global movement of the moderates would have taken effect, and added that it was not just at the leadership level, but right down to the grassroots.
More than 300 senior leaders of 317 Asian political parties, comprising governing, opposition and independent parties, from 51 countries participated in the ICAPP meeting. -- Bernama
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