Do more to wake up silent majority

Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz

(The Star) – Religious non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporate bodies should do more to “wake up” the silent majority of moderates in the country to temper the voices of extremism by a few individuals.

Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) secretary-general Muhammad Faisal Abdul Aziz (pic) said recent incidents over religious and racial issues were a wake-up call for religious NGOs and corporate bodies to play a stronger role in promoting moderation among Malaysians.

“I believe that the majority of Malaysians hold moderate views but they are the silent majority.

“What is heard are the extreme voices of individuals who do not represent the majority,” he told The Star after attending the Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony Committee’s year-end luncheon here yesterday.

He said the image of certain religious groups that practise moderation was adversely affected by the extreme views of certain individuals.

Muhammad Faisal suggested that corporate bodies make promotion of moderation as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme.

“Instead of only focusing on social activities, companies could make moderation campaigns and activities part of their CSR,” he said.

National Unity and Integration Department director-general L. Gandesan said leaders of religious bodies can play an influential role in guiding their members towards the path of moderation.

“Leaders of religious bodies must do more to promote moderation in their organisations.

“They must show members that mutual respect and understanding is the key to harmony,” he added.

Earlier, some 50 members of the committee, comprising representatives from religious bodies such as the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism and several Muslim NGOs, donned The Star’s “moderation” T-shirts during the gathering.

The move, in support of the newspaper’s Voices of Moderation campaign themed “Brave Views, Bold Ideas”, reflected the committee’s wish to send a united and strong message on the importance of moderation to Malaysians, irrespective of their religious beliefs.

Also present at the closed-door event were Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom.

On Monday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called for greater national solidarity in view of growing racial polarisation.

Meawhile, MIC Youth applauded the courage of the 25 Malays who spoke up for moderation in the country.

“The 25 Malays who wrote open letters to the media decrying how extremists were dominating the political discourse should be praised for their bravery and courage to speak up for all moderates,” said Youth chief C. Sivarraajh

“They have stepped forward and have bravely given voice to the silent majority, who agree with them wholeheartedly,” he said.Sivarraajh said MIC agreed with the view of the 25 Malays that the Federal Constitution should be respected and upheld as the supreme law of the country.

“Nobody should seek to alter it, no matter the grounds or reasons that they might have,” he added.

The group, sent an open letter on Monday calling for a rational national dialogue on the role of Islam in a constitutional democracy, especially in relation to the Federal Constitution’s provisions on fundamental liberties.

The group included the former secretary-general at the Home Affairs Ministry Tan Sri Datuk Abdul Rahim Din, former secretary-general at the Finance Ministry, Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, and former Universiti Sains Malaysia deputy chancellor Datuk Dr Sharom Ahmad.