PETALING JAYA - Extremist groups, if left unchecked, will be the biggest obstacle to the country's growth, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.
He said these groups could be considered the nation's public enemy number one as they instilled fear in society and jeopardised unity.
"With all the racial and religious bigotry, the Government is now seen as failing the people, especially the minorities.
"This is the unpleasant reality faced by the country at the moment and this is due to groups using religion to fuel violent extremism," he said in his keynote address at the 17th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference organised by the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli) here yesterday.
Kurup said there should be no tolerance for extremist ideas especially since they threatened the country's harmony.
"The Government understands that extremism and extremists need to be defeated and the key now is to focus on the voices of the moderate majority to confront them (the extremists)," he said.
He said the extremists included the growing number of Malaysians joining the Islamic State terror group.
"The IS has attracted recruits in South-East Asia and one major concern is that some of these individuals may be going to Syria to seek training so that they can come back here and carry out attacks," he said.
"The Government is determined to solve all these issues and is doing its best to address these challenges."