Danni Rais 

 Danni Rais

 Political and Humanitarian Activist

 

 

Malaysia has ushered in the new year with a hangover from 2014, still reeling from a national flood crisis, and another aviation air disaster involving international relations. In terms of experience, Malaysia certainly has no shortage, having have to dealt with an unprecedented account of 3 aviation disasters, and extreme flooding which has put the country on national alert in dealing with the issue that has plagued most states from Kelantan to Sabah, with an estimated 200,000 people dislodged from their homes, with no promises as to when they are able to return home.

All the while, we have been going through a slight identity crisis. To make matters worst, the worrying scale in which extremism seems to be rising is on the minds of many. The result of which has forced media publications and other non governmental bodies to pursue campaigns of moderation, as a torch in the darkness to highlight that the hope of a moderate Malaysia in both views and thinking, is well and alive.

Such efforts ought to be commended. Rather than being arm chair critics, such individuals or groups have taken it upon themselves to ensure that the silent voice of moderation does not succumb to the drama that is extremism. However, just how real this threat of extremism is, one can only wonder, as they are naturally provided a platform to air their views through vindictive news outlets intent on gaining readership and attention at the expense of repute and credibility.

It was not too long ago that the Star publication began their campaign for moderation, in which every day one can read at least one column highlighting the plight and importance of allowing for moderation to persevere. Then there was the G25 – a band of prominent Malays who wrote in a letter to the Government with their concerns on the rise of extremism, from racial polarisation of people, to the increasing influence of the Islamic State in Malaysia. Since then, there has been more individuals throwing their support of the G25, alongside other NGO’s, Malays and non-Malays, voicing out the same tune.

However, as this campaign continues, it cannot be avoided to think that as more is highlighted on Malays voicing out their concerns, that we think whether or not this is only a Malay issue. We must ask ourselves, are the Malays being sidelined in marginalised light under the assumption that indeed we are naturally not moderate in nature, and that only the Malays are needed to be fixed?

It is genuinely hoped that this is not the case. Unfortunately it is difficult to set aside. The campaign on extremism needs to have a more holistic approach, encompassing all Malaysians from all walks of life.

Let’s not even begin to wander into the thoughts of the rural areas, but seek the attitude of the urbanites. A non willingness to give the Malays the benefit of the doubt in being moderate stems from other races. Could this secretly be their view point? If so, does this not mean that an extreme view against other races also needs to be tackled?

Extremism exists in every race, in every individual. Whether extreme in thought against others, or in ideals to be implemented on those who do not concur, acceptance and toleration are characteristics that we need to re enliven for the sake of our future. We cannot go ahead and speak out for moderation when we ourselves do not practice it in our daily lives.

Moderation, and what it means to different people, is very subjective. What can be tolerated by some may be extreme to others. Moderation in essence is accepting the views of others and living harmoniously despite the differences. Being in a lift where all it’s occupants speak mandarin may be extreme to those who do not understand the language. Speaking Malay to Malaysians who can barely converse in their own national language may be seen as extreme as well.

The examples that can be provided is certainly non exhaustive. The embrace for moderation is indeed an intiative necessary right now. But most importantly, we need to be moderate ourselves before initiating that same concept on others. One thing is for certain, that this plight avails to all races and creed that calls themselves Malaysians, and not exclusive to only one race.

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