THE hallowed corridors of the renowned Sheldonian Theatre at Oxford University have been the scene of the entry of many luminaries whose speeches elucidated its audience.
Monday was no different when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak delivered his address. The packed hall had students, academicians, diplomats, businessmen both local and Malaysian, and even a disgraced politician.
Najib’s speech on moderation, peppered with quotes from the Quran, the Torah and even the Bible, went on to outline Malaysia’s success as a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural society.
He said: “In managing our plurality, we have decided on integration as opposed to assimilation. Malaysians accept their diversity. We do not merely tolerate each other but we also embrace and celebrate. By leveraging the robustness and dynamism of our diversity, we have created a foundation for our national resilience.”
Touching on Islam and extremism, he said the solution lies in not for more Muslims to speak up but for the entire world to stand up.
“Just as Muslims need to make their voices heard, so do the Christians, the Jews, the Buddhists, the Hindus and the atheists who are sickened by intolerance, violence and terror and need to make their voices heard. We need to hear the concerted voices from moderates in all countries and from all walks of life. And when we do, the prize of peace is there for all to see.”
This was not the first time Najib had called for the voices of the moderates to drown out those of the extremists. At the United Nations in September last year, he called for a Global Movement of the Moderates that would see government, intellectuals, religious scholars and business leaders across the world take a united stand – a the spirit of moderation or balance.
Malaysians sitting in the audience must have been left wondering as to why their leader’s philosophies and ideals are not enshrined in the minds and hearts of some politicians back home.
If the PM is an advocate of moderation, tolerance and acceptance, why have the voices of extremism overpowered and threatened what we have done and achieved over the past 50 years?
Are certain elements deliberately defying the PM? Are certain individuals in disagreement with the PM by covertly and overtly supporting the voices of extremism? While the PM has the support of the majority, is the PM walking alone in his bid for religious and racial harmony?
From afar and from reading what is happening, there has been unnecessary tension based on hearsay, half-truths and lies. Hatred is being spewed without basis and the minds of Malaysians of races are being clouded by uncalled for claims, allegations and statements.
In the buses plying in certain suburbs of London there are posters stating “Hate Hurts”. It is a constant reminder that hatred based on race, religion, colour, creed or gender is totally unacceptable.
Najib quoted Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in a prison in Staten Island. When asked how he got through that period (most of which was in solitary confinement), the anti-apartheid campaigner declared: “I would like to be bitter, but there is no time to be bitter. There is work to be done…”
Every right-thinking Malaysian will embrace the PM’s wisdom and prophetic words on moderation, tolerance and acceptance.
He concluded his speech with these words: “Our choice is clear. Come together in action for a future of justice, freedom, hope, compassion and goodwill for our children or it will be replaced by a future of injustice, tyranny, hopelessness, cruelty and hate.
“Because the real divide is not between East and West or between the developed and developing worlds or even between Muslims and non-Muslims.
“It is between moderates and extremists of all religions. Together, let us embrace moderation as the best course of action and for the best way forward.”
Will all those seeking fame and glory by flaming the fire of hatred in the hope of occupying the seats of power listen to the clarion call for some semblance of temperance?
Can those who in the past had made idiotic, unacceptable and deplorable statements for selfish purposes keep their mouths shut? Will those who were involved in acts aimed at provoking peace-loving Malaysians end their charades?
Everyone wants a harmonious Malaysia. Those who have sowed the seeds of hatred and abhorrence have no place in society, and that in a nutshell was the PM’s message to the world, especially his fellow Malaysians.