PETALING JAYA: One-fifth of Malaysian university students or 21% of them feel that terrorism is an effective strategy to achieve an objective, a survey has found.
There were similar figures found among Indonesian, Filipino, Singaporean and Thai students surveyed – with 24.24%, 23.78%, 30.95% and 31.81% respectively agreeing that terrorism was effective to achieve their objectives.
The survey findings were published in a 274-page paper titled "Undergraduate Radicalisation in Selected Countries in Southeast Asia" by the South-East Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism that comes under the Foreign Ministry.
"This could possibly be attributed to the rhetoric and propaganda pushed by groups like Daesh (Islamic State).
"This could also serve as a wake-up call for the relevant authorities in Malaysia to realise that some undergraduates are holding on to dangerous beliefs and ideas when it came to the value of the effectiveness of terrorism," said Thomas Koruth Samuel, the author of the paper, which was released last week.
The survey was conducted among almost 2,000 undergraduates from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Universiti Tenaga Malaysia (Uniten), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).
The survey was conducted over a span of one-and-a half years from 2016 until this year.
About 7% of Malaysian students surveyed felt that terrorism, even when defined as taking the lives of civilians as not illegal or unethical.
"While the figure remains small, it is important to note that the number of undergraduates in the country are continuing to grow and that 7% of that growing number could pose a challenge," said Samuel.
On whether terrorism was illegal – 8.22%, 9.64%, 10.52% and 7.68% of Indonesian, Filipino, Singaporean and Thai students agreed with the statement.
The majority of Malaysian undergraduates (65.34%) believed that they were targets for extremist teachings while 52.41% of them felt that it was possible for them to develop violent radical ideas.
More than half (51.87%) of the undergraduates felt that it was possible for them to move from having such violent radical ideas to actually conducting violent acts such as terrorism.