KUALA LUMPUR: It is fine for young students to be activists, but they shouldn’t end up as lackeys or staunch party loyalists, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
“You want to be an activist? Okay, but don’t be macai (lackey) or ‘walaun’,” Anwar said during the Youth Empowerment Fair at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) on Sunday (March 19).
"Walaun" is a colloquial reference, which describes individuals who are staunch loyalists of PAS.
Anwar spoke about his experience being a university student activist, which he said had landed him in prison for two years at the Kamunting detention centre under the Internal Security Act (ISA) after he protested for the poor minorities.
He joked that the silver-lining behind his prison sentence was that he began reading books.
“I began reading books that I didn’t read when I was at university. That is why I’m a little smarter,” added Anwar.
Anwar was speaking during a youth dialogue session and it was moderated by actress Amelia Henderson.
Anwar said it was important to ensure development that is economically and socially balanced.
Without naming names, Anwar said certain desperate leaders who fell out of power had resorted to manipulating sensitive public issues.
“He also resorted to religious bigotry without any understanding,” said Anwar.
Anwar also warned that stern action will be taken against those who stoked racial and religious flames.
“For those who are expressing their opinions, we will protect your rights.
“But, those who are playing up racial and religious issues, dividing the people, and instigating violence, I will take stern action,” said Anwar.
The dialogue session between youths and Anwar began at 4pm, where the Prime Minister was seen fielding impromptu questions from the crowd.
On Friday (March 16), after chairing a Cabinet meeting, Anwar said he had ordered security forces to be on high alert against those stirring up racial and religious rhetorics ahead of a Malay Proclamation gathering on Sunday (March 19) that is set to be attended by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The event was called off after its organisers failed to secure the venue but Dr Mahathir will address a press conference on Sunday (March 19) evening.