I REFER to the report “Stop instilling fear in the people” (Sunday Star, Feb 1).
Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, who is a spokesman for the G25 and a panel member of the The Star’s “Moderation for our nation” forum on Jan 31, deserves a pat on the back for her courage to stand up and say, “...the rise of religious supremacists and racist groups had stirred up insecurities among the people”.
She strongly felt that “...the solution is to stop politicising Islam and to take stern action against anyone who makes racist statements...”
At the outset, the organising chairman reminded the audience that the forum was not meant to find fault with anyone, but was an attempt to create awareness on the meaning, spirit and significance of “moderation”.
Many had come to the forum precisely to find out more about the moderation movement and what prompted the G25 of eminent Malay moderates to speak out in the open.
Any right-thinking citizen should support this movement as it is in line with the teachings of all religions where the moderate path should be adopted.
But, what is a moderate? Would being on a five on a scale of 10 be considered a moderate? And those on one and 10 are extremists and liberals respectively? What is the criteria to be labelled a moderate?
One of the panel member, consultant and trainer Anas Zubedy, said that there are 10 principles that can guide one to be deemed a moderate. In essence, there must be mutual respect, mutual trust and the upholding of the Federal Constitution.
And yet, the label “moderate”, “extremist” and “liberal” are subjective as one panel member pointed out, “...We may not agree with what is being said, but we must try to understand where they are coming from...”
But when religious edicts are interpreted by the book, it is something that is hard to argue.
Many will not hold the bull by the horns mainly due to the fact that as Muslims they have been taught to accept Islam as given and not to question or to have the slightest doubt for fear of being condemned as “rosak aqidah”.
The forum is the right way forward where concerned citizens can have an intellectual discourse for the good of the nation. It was nice to hear one of the panel members say that the G35 of Malay professionals is seen to be moderates with their views when they responded to the G25.
Perhaps a forum should be held with equal representatives of G25 and G35 at a bigger auditorium like Universiti Malaya’s and organised by The Star.
A society that is closed to intellectual discourse will only court disaster, especially in a multi-racial society like Malaysia.
We have to remember that when we gained independence on Aug 31, 1957, our founding fathers, in particular the first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, laid the foundation for moderation as the best political formula for this multi-racial country.