A group of 25 prominent personalities comprising mostly former top civil servants wrote an open letter dated 7 December 2014 calling on the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak to act against the racial and religious disturbances caused by the extremists, and asking moderate Malaysians to stand up and be counted against extremist, immoderate and intolerant voices as represented by Perkasa, Isma, etc.
We applaud the good itention of this Group of 25. Their press release is available here. The Group is led by the prominent and outspoken Dato’ Noor Farida Ariffin, the former Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands.
There were 2 fundamental flaws with the good intention of this Group of 25. They wrote to a leader of United Malays National Organisation (Umno) and Barisan Nasional coalition (BN) to seek leadership against racial and religious extremism in the country.
- By writing to Umno/BN, they have submitted to the notion that only Umno/BN can provide solutions to the extremist problems in the country. This trust on Umno/BN to act against extremism may be ill-founded.
- There are several political parties which have been out-rightly speaking and acting against extremism. Umno/BN is not one of them.
- Umno/BN has been ruling Malaysia after taking it over at the end of British occupation in 1957. British, as the then colonial master, was practising 'divide and rule' tactic to control the local populations. Umno/BN has been responsible in prolonging this tactic to 'divide' the multi-ethnic Malaysians into race and religion, and then 'rule' them by acting as the only master that can safeguard the interest of each race or religion. You can read more here.
- This 'divide and rule' tactic can only work if the multi-ethnic Malaysians remain divided. It works best by way of extremism. The more deeply divided the Malaysians, the better this 'divide and rule' tactic works.
- It is against the existence of Umno/BN and its reign of power in Malaysia to weed out extremism. In order to thrive, it must not see Malaysians united in their own country.
- Hence, I believe the call by the Group of 25 for anyone in Umno/BN to exercise political will and leadership to promote moderation is futile.
- By calling on Najib to resolve the problems, they look up to Najib; believe Najib is fully in control of Umno/BN; and he is capable of making a change. The trust and belief are misplaced.
- Najib, as the head of Umno/BN, can not possibly act against the interest of Umno/BN to hang on to power.
- Since Najib took over as the prime minister in 2009, the extremism in Malaysia has proliferated like wild mushrooms and taken a more obvious, albeit inappropriate, central stage of Umno/BN politics.
- Perkasa's leader, Ibrahim Ali once admitted that he was only answerable to Najib.
- There is doubt if Najib is fully in control of Umno due to his 'cakap tak serupa bikin' (talk but act differently or failure to walk the talk) character which has resulted in many serious policy U-turns. He has also been nicknamed 'Bapa U-turn Malaysia'
- Najib's frequent policy U-turns spell out clearly that he is incapable of bringing about any major change. He changes his mind before any change can be implemented.
The Group of 25 might be more successful should they be calling on all Malaysians, especially the moderates, to stay away from extremism and abandon any political party or politician that does not have a moderate stance. They can justifiably call upon all Malaysians to vote against any political party or politician that allow or condone any form of extremism whether expressively or implicitly.
The majority of Malaysians should be awakened to heed this movement for moderation in the interest of the nation. Umno/BN's hold onto power by using extremist 'divide and rule' tactic can then be ended. Malaysia will be revitalized as a nation of true moderation, inclusiveness and progression. Perhaps, this is the most democratic and effective way of installing moderation in Malaysia. 'Think Moderate, Vote Moderate'.