KOTA KINABALU: The government is taking measures to prevent radicalism and extremism among youths in the country, says Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mohd Yusof Apdal.
He said such preventive efforts were focused on students at university and higher education levels to make them aware of certain negative influences.
"We need an early approach to prevent our youth who are in universities from being influenced by things like gangsterism and radicalism," he told reporters after opening the Prevention of Radicalism and Extremism: Challenges Amongst Youth seminar in Lahad Datu on Sunday (Nov 19).
Yusof said that the involvement of youth in radicalism in the country was worrying as about 80% of those arrested by police involved those under the age 40.
As of January 2020, he said 246 people were charged with terrorism related cases in court, of which 199 of them were found guilty and sentenced for various offences.
Yusof said 47 others were arrested under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) while 36 people were charged with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota).
"The data presented shows the seriousness of the extremist threats in this country, especially among the youth," Yusof added.
As such, he said his ministry continued to hold programmes to prevent radicalism and extremism in collaboration with academics and experts from higher education institutions as well as enforcement agencies.
He said it was important for youth to stave off extremism as they were the future leaders of the country.
"One of the major challenges in national security is preventing youths from getting involved in radicalism and extremism," he said.
He said the government had also introduced several legal measures through Parliament enactments that would help curb and control radicalism and terrorism activities among the people.
Yusof said the seminar provides an opportunity and platform for experts to share experiences in dealing with issues related to radicalism and extremism among the youth.
"This partnership is very important and critical to all youths. We hope through a programme like this we will be able to strengthen our identity, form our own personality while also be able to apply spiritual and human values as well as instilling patriotism among the university youths," he said at the seminar attended by 500 participants from universities, polytechnic and local community colleges.
The speakers included those from Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom), the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for the Prevention of Terrorism (SEARCCT), police and Prisons Department, the Sabah Security Council and University Malaysia Sabah.