On December 8, 2014, a group of 25 prominent Malays called on moderate Malays, Muslims and Malaysians to speak out against extremism. They included former secretaries-general, directors-general, ambassadors and other prominent Malay individuals who have contributed much to Malaysian society.
By openly expressing their dismay over the unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws and the rise of intolerance and bigotry, the group gave moderate Malaysians like me new hope. Following the widespread publicity given to G25′s open letter to the Prime Minister, many ordinary Malaysians stood up and courageously spoke their mind. People from all walks of life stood by each other as they vowed not to let the 25 brave Malaysians fight the battle alone. Extremism is the enemy of the Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman envisioned and we are not going to sit around watching extremist scumbags destroy our beloved nation.
Standing hand in hand with G25, thousands of Malaysians made bold statements, chanting #KamiJuga25, a manifesto declaring that extremism has no place in our society, that only through tolerance and respect could we promote harmony in Malaysia.
It has been more than six months now. Despite the overwhelming media coverage and support from the ordinary Malaysian, the moderates seem to be all quite now, taking a back seat while the extremists are creating waves. Now and then we would hear something from one G25 member, Noor Farida Ariffin. Two days ago, she condemned the National Civic Bureau as “ultra-Malay racist” and demanded that it be disbanded. Yesterday, she suggested that PKR, DAP and progressives from PAS merge into one party. But that’s about it. Condemnations, demands and suggestions, coming from one G25 member.
As a moderate Malaysian, I am upset. We have stood up and made our voices heard against the surge of extremism and religious bigotry. But what now? Is this what moderate Malaysia is all about – for the extremists to be given space to feed from controversies and conflicts while the moderates are merely given comment boxes?
The ruckus over sports attire, the JPJ sarong incident, marital rape, the demand to remove a cross from a church and speeches warning Muslims against the threat of Christianisation are just some of the controversies arising from incidents taking place in every corner of our country every day. But what have we done as courageous moderates beyond fighting a battle of words as keyboard warriors? And even then, we’ve had to fine tune our words in fear of the Twitter warlord.
Seriously, G25, being “deeply concerned about many issues of conflict in Malaysia” isn’t enough. Being a signatory to an open letter is also not enough. Having a dialogue is not enough. Speaking out is not enough. Condemning is not enough. Something more must be done. But what is this something?
The only way to unite every race, faith and ideology under a united Malaysia is by limiting the space given to the extremist scumbags. But is that even possible when the captain of our ship is a pirate himself?
In proclaiming our independence on August 31, 1957, the Tunku said our country “shall be for ever a sovereign democratic and independent state founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and seeking the welfare and happiness of its people.”
But is there liberty and justice? Are we happy as a nation?
Come on G25, we rose to the occasion when you needed support. Please guide us. Don’t abandon us now. Lead us, your fellow moderates.
Clearly moderate Malaysia cannot merely be about making a lot of hoo-ha. We have important tasks to accomplish. Policies must be changed, extreme leaders must be replaced, religious scholars must toe the line and racists should be shown the door.
With so many things to do, we cannot just create platforms for dialogues. Seriously, how many dialogues would it take before we can see changes? Or perhaps that was the plan all along – to yap, yap and yap about being a moderate.
For God’s sake, I wish everyone would just stop asking the moderates to stand up. Can’t you see that we are already on our toes? We have been standing for far too long that our feet are starting to ache. Please tell us what to do next.
Writing open letters is good….but it is not good enough.