"Malaysians should not create fear among each other": Ex-ambassador

"Malaysians should not create fear among each other": Ex-ambassador
The Star's "Moderation for our Nation" Forum. Left to right: moderator M. Shanmugam, G25's Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh, columnist Dzof Azmi, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and Anas Zubedy.

PETALING JAYA - Malaysians should not create fear among each other as this is leading the country down the path of immoderation, said former Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands Datuk Noor Farida Ariffin.

She said the rise of religious supremacists and racist groups had stirred up insecurities among the people.

"There are groups duping Malays into believing that the non-Malays are a threat, which is illogical. And we are seeing executive exuberance among religious authorities in cases like unilateral conversion in custody battles, fatwa against yoga, the Allah issue and the implementation of hudud," said Noor Farida, who is also a representative of G25.

"The solution is to stop politicising Islam and to take stern action against anyone who makes racist statements," she said at the "Moderation for Our Nation" forum in Menara Star yesterday.

Other panellists were author-entrepreneur and Usman Awang National Integration Award recipient Anas Zubedy, Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh and writer-columnist Dzof Azmi.

Yeoh suggested introducing codes of conduct for politicians and the media. He said it was important to "spell out" what politicians must do to reject extremism.

"The media on its part must adopt self-censorship and block out voices of extremism," adding that it was time for moderates to reclaim the country.

Anas called on Malaysians to adopt the principles of moderation.

"Be thankful and honest, see all problems as opportunities, treat others the way you want to be treated, embrace diversity, add value to interaction, be quick to forgive and forget, and be critical of yourself and your own community first," he said.

Dzof said it was difficult to have frank discussions if people were afraid to speak up.

It was wrong to condemn those with differing opinions, he said.

"We may not agree with what is being said but we must try to understand where they are coming from," he said, adding that there was a difference between saying something just to look good and expressing a genuine opinion for the good of all.

The forum was opened by Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

Present was Archbishop Emeritus Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam who came to show his support.

Datin Rohana Weiler, from Penang, said that she wanted to be part of the moderation movement.

"It's important I don't remain part of the silent majority. My family and I love this country. We must ensure the nation is for everyone. Anyone can play a part in making sure this voice gains strength," she said.

Melda Malek, who works in the legal business, said the panellists were "brilliant and insightful".

"Moderation is for everyone. It's not religious or racial or anything like that - it's about getting along."

Student Ang Eu Weng said interesting viewpoints were presented.

"Malaysians need a common ground. We have yet to find it," he said.

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