Pak Lah’s inaugural blog most welcome but is he prepared to consistently take up the cudgel to champion moderation against baneful developments like the upsurge of intolerance and extremism and the sedition dragnet which have created a climate of fear
Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s inaugural blog on Malaysia Day yesterday is most welcome, especially as it addressed the biggest issue haunting Malaysia since his premiership – the rearing of the ugly head of intolerance and extremism among a raucous few preaching the politics of hatred and falsehoods, causing the worst racial and religious polarization in the history of plural Malaysia.
As a result, we have the sad spectacle yesterday of the former Higher Education Minister, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who as Chief Executive Officer of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM), which is one of the initiatives of Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who have to ask for no media coverage of a forum on the country’s future co-organised by GMM because of the climate of fear engendered by the recent selective and malicious sedition dragnet.
Although the “no media coverage” was to protect the participants at the GMM forum from falling victim to the current sedition spree, there is the feeling that even Saifuddin himself may not be safe from the sedition dragnet, although he was former Deputy Minister and hand-picked by the Prime Minister himself to be the CEO of GMM!
It would appear that the only persons who need not fear the sedition dragnet are those who had since Abdullah’s premiership and who have become more blatant in the Najib premiership been inciting racial and religious hatred and conflict through lies and falsehoods, the very people who had succeeded in forcing Abdullah’s early retirement as the fifth Prime Minister of Malaysia in the first place.
In his inaugural blog themed “The meaning of Independence and Unity”, Abdullah rightly said that Malaysians cannot only be united when celebrating something or in facing tragedy or disaster and warned against using the disastrous politics of fear to foster unity.
He said that the May 13, 1969 racial riots should be a lesson to all but not something to be brought up all the time.
He said: “Stop bringing it up. We should look ahead towards the future.”
It is sad and tragic, and an ominous sign of the recent times, that no top government leader, from the current Prime Minister to key Ministers, had spoken up against the irresponsible and unscrupulous exploitation of the May 13 tragedy, spinning a whole tissue of lies and falsehoods in furtherance of the politics of fear, utterly reckless of their adverse consequences on nation-building and promoting national unity out the diverse races and religions in the country.
Public funds were even expended to demonise the Opposition in the film Tanda Putera.
Abdullah lamented that the focus now is no longer on the nation’s diversity but differences in the form of political thinking, race, religion, social status, which have resulted in quarrels.
He blogged: “Tolerance and respect have declined. The freedom to express which we have now is used to express hatred in the social media and internet.
“I am saddened by what is happening in our beloved country although there are efforts to foster unity among the races.”
The former Prime Minister’s concerns are most valid and justified.
But is he prepared, through his blogs, to consistently take up the cudgel to champion moderation against baneful developments like the upsurge of intolerance and extremism and the sedition dragnet which have created a climate of fear in country, as if we are in the midst of a “white terror” in a prelude to Ops Lalang 2?