PETALING JAYA - Students here are wondering why adults seem to have difficulty navigating race and religious issues when the younger generation seems immune from this unease.
This was evident at the first series of the Voices of Moderation Youth Campaign held at Sunway University here yesterday, where many of the country's brightest young minds spoke their minds on what constitutes constructive dialogue on nation building.
Australian matriculation student Lim Yi Jia, 18, said there was just no point in arguing about race and it was time for leaders to discuss what was best for all Malaysians.
"I have friends from all races and while I do believe that we have to speak up for our own rights, there is no need to turn to racist remarks. Even as a young person, I know how to practise restraint and self-censorship," he said.
Lim was part of a large group of students who attended the roadshow targeted at institutions of higher learning under the auspices of The Star's Brave Views, Bold Ideas campaign aimed at encouraging young moderates to speak up against extremism.
Aishah Umairah, 20, said that in order to be level-headed, it was important to understand all facets of an argument.
"We should not be selfish or one-sided in our views," she said, adding that a negative trait here was that many Malaysians liked to generalise based on race or religion.
Aishah said this caused unnecessary tension, which could be avoided if people took the time to actually listen and understand all points of view.
R. Pravindren, 18, said most youths mingled with their peers freely regardless of background.
"This is why I am sometimes shocked by some of the comments from politicians or leaders which are obviously racist or insensitive," said the arts student.
Meanwhile, Star Publications (M) Bhd group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai said moderation was about taking the middle path.
"Instead of inciting hatred, we should encourage more compassion, tolerance, patience, love and forgiveness," he said as he conducted a dialogue session during the event.
Wong argued that focusing on commonalities instead of emphasising differences was the key that would bring the nation together in the realisation that all Malaysians were ultimately headed towards the same destiny.