PETALING JAYA: Youths are calling on fellow young Malaysians to defend the country’s moderate stance in facing all social ills afflicting the nation.

“Ultimately, young people must know that the future of this great nation lies in their hands,” said 24-year-old Zaim Mohzani, a Bachelor of Arts graduate in political science and international relations.

The young community manager at a tech start-up company, who is a member of Toastmasters International and newly formed Organisation for National Recon­ciliation (ONE), among others, believes that apathy is among the biggest obstacles to moderation as people feel they cannot do much.

“The greatest injustice is surrendering our ability to make change to the politicians.

“It’s high time the silent majority stands up and speaks out. At the end of the day, it’s the rakyat who charts the course for Malaysia,” said Zaim, a former Perdana Fellows Programme participant.

By bringing people together, he said, there can be exchanges of views and ideas to foster moderation.

“The youths can promote moderation if they self-organise at the grassroots level to address local issues such as crime and dengue.

“Self-organising can be anything from gootng-royong to visiting old folks homes,” added Zaim.

Fellow ONE member Hannah Kam, 22, who holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, said moderate-thinking youngsters must not be afraid to engage those who hold extreme viewpoints.

“Moderates must communicate with extremists, whether via social media, college clubs and societies or debates to highlight the value of a society in which mutual acceptance and respect reign supreme.

“Young individuals should actively promote moderation and tolerance through their actions, words and deeds,” said Kam, who believes most Malaysians are moderate and happy to share each other’s traditions and customs.

However, she added there is a small number who promote extreme viewpoints that can be detrimental to the nation’s unity.

“Malaysians at a young age must be aware of the importance of a moderate and tolerant society in order to stop the spread of extreme and dangerous ideas,” said Kam.

Social entrepreneur Sunildave Parmar, who was born and raised in Kota Kinabalu, believes moderation promotes a harmonious environment.

“We ought to be proud of the diversity we have and work towards being more respectful and loving,” said Sunildave, adding Malaysia’s young people are the backbone of the nation.

“While it is important to be well read on current affairs, we ought to push towards educating others on what is important with the view of promoting solutions from the ground up.

“This way, the shift towards moderation would be accepted as the way forward, withstanding any voice of distraction that promotes radical ideologies,” he said.

“The region of east Malaysia has demonstrated comfort and harmony as a way of life.

“The same can be done in Peninsular Malaysia. This is a choice each individual would have to make,” he said.

Kam and Sunildave will be sharing their views on a regular basis in Sunday Star as part of the paper’s Voices of Moderation campaign.

Originally published on The Star on Sunday November 16, 2014 MYT 7:00:00 AM

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