May There Be Many More Such Encounters!

I congratulate Ustaz Sheikh Mahmud for bringing Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi and Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim together recently for a luncheon honoring Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

I also applaud Anwar and Abdullah for their very public display of civility towards each other on that occasion.


Along the same vein, I am pleased to see on the last day of the UMNO General Assembly Tun Mahathir and Abdullah Badawi shaking hands. Despite the many harsh exchanges between them recently, at least they could still manage a brief show of courtesy. Supporters and commentators may read many things on that, but the fact they could bury their personal differences even if only momentarily is praiseworthy enough.


Such public gestures of cordiality and mutual respect are sadly lacking in our society today. As with everything else, we could only change that if we have some very visible examples set by our leaders. We can do without such obscene displays as when a supposedly “Honorable Member” calling the Deputy Prime Minister a murderer in the hallowed hall of Parliament, or the Minister of Education branding the leader of the Opposition “a traitor to Malays!” Splendid example for our school children!


I wish academics as well as heads of NGOs, think tanks, and professional bodies would emulate Sheikh Mahmud. They too should bring together our leaders to discuss issues that deeply affect us in settings other than the political arena.