DAP’s contribution in the beginning of this series of dialogues among Muslim and social democrats have its genesis in the fact-finding visit by DAP MPs to Jordan and Egypt in April, followed by a visit to Tunisia and Turkey in October, last year.
It stems from the belief that Malaysians can contribute to the international dialogue among among Muslim and social democrats to draw on the values and principles of Islam and social democracy to establish a common core agenda for a free, just and good society.
It is recorded that during Prophet Mohammad’s time, there were about 5,000 people in pre-Islam Mecca and the first batch of Muslims numbered 60 – 70 people.
In pre-islam Medina, there were about 15,000 people. The ratio during the War of Badr in 623 AD had been given as 313 Muslims and 1,100 non-Muslims.
Today, over 1,400 years later, Islam is the second largest religion in the world with some 1.6 billion adherents, and is set to become the world’s largest religion by 2070, ending two millenniums of Christian dominance.
The question which must challenge mankind down the ages is how they could contribute to the development of knowledge and wisdom when Muslims could grow from a few thousand followers to 1.6 billion adherents in 1,400 years.
The reasons for DAP MPs’ fact-finding visits to Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey last year were not only to learn about the life and thinking of Malaysian students in the Middle East but also to learn from leaders in these countries their insights and vision about about what constitutes a good society and the future.
This need not be a one-way traffic, as Malaysians of diverse faiths and beliefs should be able to contribute to the international dialogue especially among Muslim and social democrats, to draw on the values and principles of Islam and social democracy to establish a common core agenda for a free, just and good society – to seek inspiration from the values and principles of justice, freedom, equality and human dignity which founded Islam 1,400 years ago and to give them fresh meaning in the new age, and not just to recreate the structures, institutions and even the laws and regulations suited for a particular context or situation in the seventh century.
These values and principles have in modern times been been embedded in concepts of human rights; democratisation; the rule of law; accountability, transparency and good governance.
The inaugural dialogue between German political scientist Thomas Meyer and eminent Egyptian academic Dr. Abdul Mawgoud Dardery on “The Democratisation of the Economy” is a tentative step in this direction towards finding common ground among Muslim democrats and social democrats that could suit the needs of the both the developed and underdeveloped countries in the world.
(Remarks at the Inaugural Lim Kit Siang lecture on “Democratisation of the Economy: A Muslim Democrat and Social Democrat response” at Parkroyal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 18th March 2016 at 10pm)