Let the Global Terrorism Index 2014 be a wake-up call to all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians that we jeopardize the future of Malaysians if we do not check the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism and hew closely to the path of moderation
Malaysia has climbed 42 places in an international terrorism indicator that has cited religious extremism as the primary cause of terror attacks worldwide.
In the 2014 edition of the Global Terrorism Index produced by the Institute of Economic and Peace, Malaysia is now 48th in a ranking that has Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan at the top, having risen from 91st spot in the 2012 issue of the report.
Malaysia’s score on the index measuring the number of terrorist incidents, fatalities and casualties as well as damage to property has also risen steadily from 2012, going from 0.415 out of a possible 10 to the current 3.04. Ten signifies the highest impact of terrorism.
Regionally, the Philippines, (9th/7.29), Thailand (10th/7.19) and Indonesia (31st/4.67) scored worse than Malaysia. Singapore was 124th, with a score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism.
The Global Terrorism Index 2014 is bad news for Malaysia, for overnight, Malaysia has shot into the international radar of the top 50 countries under the world’s terrorism-watch, having overtaken 43 countries in a matter of two years as a country where terrorism is a bigger problem – overtaking countries like Uganda, Belarus, Saudi Arabia, France, Chile, Italy, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Tajikistan, Spain, Jordan, Switzerland, Zimbabwe, Sweden, Germany, Canada and Serbia.
What has gone wrong as Malaysia has always prided itself as a model for the world for inter-racial and inter-religious understanding, tolerance and harmony that we are now in the top 50 countries in the world in the Global Terrorism Index on the negative impact of terrorism, when Malaysia should be one of the countries with score of zero, indicating no negative effects from terrorism.
There are a total of 39 out of 162 countries in the Global Terrorism Index 2014 ranked 124 with a zero score indicating negative effects from terrorism, including Qatar, South Korea, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Finland, Gambia, Ghana, Malawi and Mauritius. In 2012, there were 43 countries with a score of zero with no impact of terrorism.
Let the Global Terrorism Index 2014 be a wake-up call to all political parties, NGOs and Malaysians that we jeopardize the future of Malaysians if we do not check the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism and hew to the path of moderation.
Malaysia’s adverse ranking in the Global Terrorism Index should set off the alarm bells in the country as it come at a most critical juncture of the nation’s history, with the recent lurch towards the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism with racial and religious polarization at its lowest point for over four decades to the extent that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s international call for a global movement of moderates to isolate extremism, including three speeches at the United Nations General Assembly in four years on the subject, has suffered in credibility and traction.
Najib is probably the only head of government in the world to have publicly praised the Islamic State (formerly ISIL/ISIS) terrorists, when he exhorted UMNO members on June 24 to emulate what he described as the “brave exploits” of ISIL/ISIS for UMNO to survive.
Although Najib has since denounced Islamic State unambiguously and unconditionally at the UN General Assembly on Sept. 26 and on Sunday condemned the beheadings of American aid worker Peter Kassig and 18 Syrian military personnel as “barbarism” and “abhorrent acts” which violate the teachings of Islam and the principles of Islamic law, they have not been able to completely wipe out the horror of his ill-advised initial praise of Islamic State in June.
The Global Terrorism Index’s findings that Islamic extremism was the cause of two in three terror attacks last year should be of particular concern to Malaysia, which is experiencing increasing religious intolerance in the country.
Although no direct terrorist attacks were recorded in Malaysia, the country has seen a number of its citizens taking up arms in the ongoing revolution in Syria under the banner of the Islamic State.
The country was also once home to several suspected key figures in groups such as al Qaeda offshoot, Jemaah Islamiyah, the terror group blamed for the deadly 2002 Bali bombings and numerous other attacks.
According to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, 39 Malaysians have been detected as having joined violent jihadist movement seeking to form a global Islamic caliphate.
This is why all eyes are on the UMNO General Assemblies next week, whether they will send out a clear and unmistakable message to Malaysians and the world of the triumph of moderation or whether the rhetoric and politics of hatred, intolerance and extremism are to continue their march in Malaysia.