'Make heroes out of moderates'

 'Make heroes out of moderates'
Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

KUALA LUMPUR - More moderates should be made "heroes" for championing diversity and racial harmony to drown out the voices of extremism, said Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

He said the voices of extremism were silencing the moderates and if left unaddressed, this could jeopardise the country's unity.

"We cannot have people tearing us apart. We must be proud of our diversity," he said.

He spoke of how issues were politicised and "everything is either black or white. It is a 'me against you' mentality".

"Unity is the base of our social framework and if you don't fight racism, it will destroy the country," said Mah in an interview.

In view of this, Gerakan has endorsed "Stand Up for 1Malaysia" as the theme for its national delegates conference this weekend based on a conviction that moderation and inclusiveness are the middle path that would take the nation forward.

Mah, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, said Malaysians should work together to build the nation instead of constantly politicking.

"We should stop making heroes out of extremists and make heroes out of moderates instead," he said.

He said Gerakan members wanted to further push the agenda of nation building, starting by engaging with non-governmental organisations and the rakyat.

On the party front, Mah said the conference would amend its party constitution, among others, to limit the tenure of the president and state chairmen to three terms and enable women below the age of 35 to join Gerakan Youth.

Since becoming Gerakan president in October last year, he said he had been working hard to strengthen the party.

Admitting that morale had been low among members after doing badly in the past two general elections, Mah said the past months were spent re-strategising to strengthen the party internally.

He stressed that the party spent a lot of time servicing communities but this did not necessarily get translated into votes.

To counter this, Mah said Gerakan members were given training on government policies so that they could explain the real situation to the people.

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