Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or party affiliation, must steadfastly speak up for peace, harmony, tolerance and goodwill to foil designs of those who want to spread hate, extremism and strife in plural Malaysia
The latest news from the Philippines that over a hundred people have died in the city of Marawi on the southern island of Mindanao in less than a week as fighters affiliated with Islamic State (IS) engaged in violent clashes with government forces, coupled with the gory reports of the senseless bombings and killings of over 50 people in Manchester, Jakarta and Egypt, in the past week are sad reminders of the troubled world we are living in today.
They are also challenges to Malaysians to preserve the country as an oasis of peace, tolerance, harmony and goodwill in a plural society where the greatest religions and civilizations meet in confluence.
Is there something Malaysia can teach the world? I think so.
We can show the world that the confluence of different races, religions, cultures and civilisations need not be one of conflict and strife, but can be one of peace, harmony, mutual respect, tolerance and goodwill.
This is why it is important that Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or party affiliation, must steadfastly speak up for peace, harmony, mutual respect, tolerance and goodwill to foil designs of those who want to spread hate, extremism and strife in plural Malaysia.
Recently, the voices of hatred, intolerance and extremism seem to have reared their ugly heads, designed to keep races, religions and cultures mutually suspicious and distrustful of each other like the demand that the Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and non-Muslims be barred from breaking fast with Muslims – contrary not only to the teachings of Islam but practices in Malaysia and all over the world.
My Muslim friends tell me that fasting in Ramadan is not just abstaining from food and drink, but also from bad practices like malice, suspicion, vulgarity, immodesty, arrogance, ignorance and thinking ill of others - in the journey to become good Muslims.
Malaysians should all be guided by the Malaysian Constitution and the Rukunegara principles, and the first Rukunegara principle called on all Malaysians to be good Malaysians by being good Muslims, good Buddhists, good Christians, good Hindus, good Sikhs or good Taoists.
A good Muslim is not a threat to a good Buddhist or a good Christian or a good Hindu and vice versa.
If we follow these precepts in our Constitution and the Rukunegara, Malaysia can be an example to the world as an oasis of peace, harmony, mutual respect, tolerance and goodwill with a multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-religious and multi-cultural citizenry.
Yesterday I suggested a national movement to save the country from the politics of lies, hate and fear to ensure that what happened in Manchester, Jakarta, Egypt and the Philippines in the past week do not happen in Malaysia so that (I) Malaysia can set an example of peace, harmony, mutual respect, tolerance and goodwill as a plural society;and (2) Malaysia can compete with the rest of the world and not to fight among ourselves to be more divided and lose out in the international race of nations for development and progress.
There is no meaning or purpose in Malaysia preaching the Wasatiyyah principles of moderation, fair play, justice, balance, mutual respect and excellence on the international stage if we these are not living values in our daily national life.