Ersatz moderation will not suffice, PM

By G. Krishnan

Surely any right-minded Malaysian will find it impossible to disagree with the prime minister that we cannot allow racism to destroy us. And surely all of us who cherish the virtues of moderation must find ourselves whole-heartedly agreeing with the prime minister that we cannot allow extreme attitudes on racial and religious issues to compromise national unity.

As such, it is precisely for these reasons, Mr. Prime Minister that moderates such as myself continue to remain perplexed and puzzled about the glaring discrepancy that continues to persist between the messages you espouse and the reality that persists in the manner your government conducts itself.

I must admit, I was struck by your re-affirmation of the principles of the Rukun Negara; something that merely one month ago, I noted in one of my articles should be given far greater prominence in our national culture, especially in place of the religious one-upmanship.

To be precise, I stated that,

In place of such religious invocations, might we not be better off – and would it not be more consistent with our desire for more national unity – if it became more commonplace instead to recite the Rukun Negara or the national anthem.

In a multi-religious country, specific religious invocations are by definition not universal; however, on the other hand, inclusive invocations such as the much-neglected Rukun Negara may well be a nationally universal and valuable unifying force.

But surely you will understand why most moderates such as myself will continue to be puzzled at the lack of practical commitment to the virtues of moderation, and instead at the continued pandering to the religious and racial extremists who insist not on dialogue but demagoguery and intimidation.

And you will also understand why most moderates continue to be skeptical that you want to promote unity and mutual respect, and not imposed control on minorities, when genuine minority voices – irrespective of their political affiliation – continue to be drummed out by the entrenched and vested interests who have come to lack credibility in the eyes of the man on the street.

You will surely understand as well, why moderates struggle to genuinely rally around your clarion calls for moderation when extremist and racist propaganda emanating from some mainstream media are persistently and consistently allowed to be liberally disseminated – and without repercussions – while we find the Home Ministry being overly sensitive and inflexible with independent media.

You will, of course, appreciate the difficulty moderates in the country will continue to have with your apparent commitment to moderation and diversity, when in fact, credible alternative voices in the media are curtailed and marginalised by such seemingly prejudiced regulatory measures.

How, Mr. Prime Minister, moderates such as myself are left asking, should we not continue to have reservations about your government’s commitment to religious acceptance and harmony when your own minister seeks to fan the flames of religious animosity by crassly and blatantly exploiting the case of Teo Nie Ching’s visit to a surau.

To be frank, Mr. Prime Minster, far from reflecting well on your stated claim to moderation and unity, such episodes merely smack of nothing less than blatant hypocrisy and short-sighted opportunism.

These are just an obvious handful of items that speak volumes about what I have called the glaring inconsistency between the rhetoric and practice that persists. Moderation and unity can only be built with mutual trust and mutual respect. Sadly, these are two traits absent from the tenor, tone and posturing of those espousing an even deeper racialisation of our society.

Such vocabulary – let alone practices associated with mutual respect and trust – seems glaringly absent from the worldview of religious extremists and hate-mongers, the very kind, for example, who have indulged in the intimidation of Teo Nie Ching.

So, Mr. Prime Minister, it is obvious to us moderates, that unless you can better reconcile the glaring inconsistencies between the rhetoric and practice – which have, incidentally, also plagued your predecessor, moderates will remain deeply skeptical and reluctant to come on board. Quite the contrary – they will continue to in fact abandon your ship.

Every August 31 we should remind ourselves not just of our potential, which, as you have rightly noted, is immense, but also of the sacrifices we have all made individually and collectively – irrespective of our race or religion – for each other.

But such mutual coexistence and cooperation cannot be maintained with continued political intimidation that some quarters are prone to indulge in.

I submit that it would indeed be very reassuring and compelling to moderates across the political spectrum if your leadership and government is defined increasingly by its deeds with regards to nurturing moderation and unity rather than by its mere rhetoric.

Moderation and mutual accommodation are, after all, only genuine, when practiced.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 2 September 2010 - 4:41 pm

    I still say, the main problem with Najib is that he believes in very little – he is prodigal inheritor of a bad legacy. Prodigal inheritor only know how to take care of himself first and foremost and have little independent ability to take care of anything or anyone else. They have no strong commitment to anything else other than themselves. Najib is no hawk or anything else for that matter. He just don’t care enough about things that are important to us.

    This at a time where the nation need a GREAT leader. Not just an OK or passable leader and I am doubtful Najib is actually passable if Badawi did not make huge mistakes. Honestly, Badawi should have made Muhiyiddin the DPM, then things would have fallen apart faster instead of this charade of trying to do something that is never going to happen.

  2. #2 by dagen on Thursday, 2 September 2010 - 5:41 pm

    To my mind, there are only two ways out. If pakatan wins ge13 (very possible but hopefully a decisive win) then the entire umno system would be revamped. If pakatan loses, then mass migration will escalate in which event umno would get what they wanted i.e. “cina balik china” and “india balik india” etc.

  3. #3 by rahmanwang on Thursday, 2 September 2010 - 6:58 pm

    Dagen,why should the Chinese go back to China & Indian to India? Then Toyol should go back to Indonesia.Correct Correct Correct.

  4. #4 by DAP man on Thursday, 2 September 2010 - 8:54 pm

    This is Krishnan’s hardest-hitting piece. Well done.
    Normally, I don’t give a damn to what Najb says. There is a mismatch in what he say and does.

    Najib’s stand on racism is no different from Tiger Woods stand in infidelity.

  5. #5 by dcasey on Friday, 3 September 2010 - 1:51 am

    Yes a well done piece indeed. Whilst the BBC is going soft when talking about Malaysia, we are proud to see yet again one more fabulous hardtalk being delivered by none other than our local Malaysian Mr Krishnan to our Pee1M Nah-jib. Although full of diplomacy, the message given is hard-hitting. I believe majority of Malaysians, regardless of race, are generally wholesome rakyats who are moderates and rational thinking. They comprise the group known as the silent majority. People from this group are the hard working ones toiling daily, ever silently to keep food on the table for their loved ones. And these are also the same people who are shaking their heads in disbelief by seeing the govt of the day acting in concert with extreme NGOs in stirring racial sentiments to remain relevant in order to stay in power. It is high time that this silent majority STOP being silent, come out in unison with one loud and clear message that enough is enough, say no to racism – say no to BN.

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