Extremism is so yesterday
The Prime Minister in his latest UN speech last week made an international appeal for the global movement of moderates (wasatiyah) to denounce the ISIS force.
Malaysian prime ministers have always appealed for moderation at international forums and when addressing their audiences.
In fact, Malaysia is known as a moderate country whose multiracial groups live harmoniously and have equal rights and privileges.
But the reality on the ground is far from what the outside world understands and knows.
Apartheid in Malaysia is practised by the very people calling for moderation at international forums.
It is the same Datuk Seri Najib Razak, appealing for moderation when abroad, who made calls to Umno members to emulate the bravery of the Isis militants if the Malay nationalist party wanted to survive.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled with an iron fist for 22 years, was a respected progressive leader internationally.
But, back home, he initiated racially-slanted discriminatory policies that promoted and supported race-based affirmative actions and sacrificed needs-based policies.
These actions have perpetuated a high level of nepotism and corruption in all spheres of governance.
Today, the current Prime Minister and his party sponsor racial and chauvinistic parties like PERKASA, ISMA and PERKIDA.
These groups are funded by the National Security Council, Prime Minister’s Department and the Home Affairs Ministry.
These groups can say anything and get away with it, but when a Law Professor like Azmi Sharom interprets the law that highlights the actual reality, he is charged under the Sedition Act.
The Biro Tata Negara (National Civics Bureau or BTN), with an annual budget of RM500 million under the Prime Minister’s Department, is a racial indoctrination camp that distorts history and propagates Umno’s own version of it.
All these have happened right under the Prime Minister’s nose but he looks the other way and chooses to ignore the issues.
But at international forums, it is moderation, meritocracy and other nice things that are sung!
The Prime Minster does not need to look far to notice religious extremism.
Back home there is a steady rise of religious hardliners who are imposing do’s and don’ts on innocent people.
They have grown politically powerful to the extent that even the politicians have to take orders from them.
Tun Dr Mahathir yesterday urged them to condemn ISIS.
But will they speak up against religious extremism?
Religious conversion of minors and unilateral conversions are religious practices that divide the pluralistic population of Malaysia.
They are contrary to basic human tenets. Yet the Malaysian Prime Minister is silent.
Extremism and parochialism have never developed any community or country, but instead have ruined and destroyed harmonious societies.
In the recent PAS Muktamar, the deputy president of the party, Mat Sabu, advised the religious hardliners in his party to remain relevant to capture the support of Malaysia’s youth.
It is timely advice given at the correct forum which hosted religious hard-core and political leaders.
But the hardliners would not take his advice kindly.
Religious hardliners feel that they are holier than others and that they are the self-appointed worldly representatives of God.
Their remaining insular and extreme is all right, but their imposing their views and demanding mandatory compliance with their interpretation of Scriptures and religious documents does bring hardship, strains relationships and restricts the social and economic upward mobility of innocent people.
Religion has dominated politics for a long time in many countries. In Malaysia recently, it has taken centre stage.
Hard-core religious personalities are increasingly becoming influential politicians who propagate their uncompromising, dogmatic, unscientific, religious agenda and use their political position and power to control the minds of the innocent and the naïve.
Our founding fathers would never have approved of the racial, religious and narrow-minded path UMNO has steered itself into.
It has to change course very soon, or the nation will veer off a cliff.