I REFER to the editorial piece “Be brave and beautiful” (Sunday Star, Aug 10) in which The Star has initiated a campaign to promote moderation in our country which I feel is most timely.
Most Malaysians are tired and fed up of the repeated extremist comments from the minority of racists and religious bigots in our midst. They are a threat to our national unity and often get away scot-free.
Our Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has boldly acknowledged this sad situation and the Government is now preparing to amend the Sedition Act to make it more effective in fighting extremists.
The National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) has strongly recommended improvements to the Sedition Act to enhance freedom of speech and combat racism and religious intolerance. This is indeed a difficult balance to sustain.
The NUCC’s draft Harmony Bills have been designed to achieve this important balance. Hopefully most of the substance of the Bills will be accepted by the Government.
The challenge is to ensure the right equilibrium so as to strengthen national unity. This has to be done urgently and definitely before the extremist fringe poisons and undermines the silent majority.
Unless the moderate views of our silent majority are given fair coverage in our usually restrained mass media, the minority extremist groups will gain the upper hand and soon dominate our lives.
This has happened at a frightening pace in many other countries. This dangerous and negative trend can also take root here.
Thus the campaign by The Star has to be firmly backed before the racists and bigots gain ground.
Otherwise it will be too late and all our counter measures will be more easily thwarted and be of no avail.
The racial and religious polarisation is becoming more serious in our country. We cannot carry on this way. Enough is enough.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his moderate Cabinet need all our support to take tougher action against extremists from all quarters.
We need to be braver and bolder now, so that our beloved country will continue to be beautiful and not become ugly.
We hope The Star and the mass media will build a new tradition of condemning extremism and promoting moderation and views of the moderates.
All extremists must be monitored. They should be diligently discouraged and professionally charged for sedition without fear or favour.
More importantly we should vote against extremists at all future general elections.
Then Malaysia will continue to be united, progressive and certainly prosper, for the benefit of all Malaysians.
TAN SRI RAMON NAVARATNAM
Asli Centre of Public Policy Studies
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