Publisher out to promote harmony

PETALING JAYA: A publisher of a Malay daily has launched a campaign to promote interracial harmony in the country.

Datuk Dr Hussamuddin Yaacub (pic), managing director of Kumpulan Karangkraf which publishes Sinar Harian, has urged the government, politicians, NGOs and Malaysians of all ethnic groups not to incite racial and religious tension.

He also called for Malaysians to support the “Uninstall Hatred: Reboot Malaysia and Global Harmony” campaign, which he wrote about in an opinion piece in the daily on Friday.

In the piece, he wrote that there had been tension between the ethnic groups in Malaysia for the past 20 months and urged them to stamp out any hatred between the races so that everyone could live harmoniously.

“Everyone, especially leaders, need to stop talking about such issues and stop fanning the flames. We have to be rational and offer a solution, ” he said.

He also called upon the government, headed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, to take drastic action in addressing the growing rift between the races in the country.

Referring to the recent backlash over the Chinese New Year decorations in a Puchong school, he said racial and religious ties in Malaysia had frayed.

“There was protest over the decorations, to the point that seven ministers, including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, had to visit the school to douse the fire. It was then that I saw something amiss.

“When I was younger, we played with lanterns. We bought lanterns and celebrated (the festivities) with the Chinese, ” he said.

Hot button issues, he said, such as the introduction of Jawi into the national curriculum and the presence of controversial Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, should not be allowed to prolong.

“My advice to all the leaders is this: take the right action and not just the ‘popular’ action. I urge all leaders, members of the public and the media not to play up such issues, ” he wrote.

The controversy surrounding Zakir, said Hussamuddin, had been played up too much, including the criticism that followed when an exam paper in a Malaysian university called him an icon in the Muslim world.

“What can Zakir Naik do? He is just one person. Why are you so scared of him and become hysterical at the mere mention of his name?” he said, describing it as a “small matter”.

“When people speak, they don’t evaluate the consequences of what they say because they want to be the heroes of the Chinese or the Indians, and the Malays retaliate by wanting to be the champions (of their race), ” he said.

On the introduction of Jawi in vernacular schools, Hussamuddin said people should look at the matter with an open mind.

“DAP and PKR leaders must understand the content of the three pages of Jawi (that are to be introduced in the primary school textbooks). They have to organise talks to explain and convince the public so that all can accept this with an open mind.

“When they are able to do that, the Malay community will not question the Chinese New Year decorations because that (tradition) has been accepted for decades.

“If we want peace, both sides (have to be open-minded) and my message to the Malays is that we must change and we cannot be too riled up.”

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