Rakyat being consumed by ‘extremist’ politics, says Salleh

(FMT) – Former Sabah chief minister and federal minister Salleh Said Keruak said the current “extremist” politics was worrying, as it was leading to the waning of unity among races.

He said the values of moderation which underpinned unity have been swept away by the currents of the religious and racist politics of today.

“The rakyat has been instigated and are becoming victims of manipulation by parties with political interests. Every day, we hear stories that are not so nice.

“The embers of racism and religious extremism, if not controlled, will burn us all,” Salleh, a former communications and multimedia minister, said in a blog post today.

He said that when it comes to the unity of races, Malaysia has always focused on the main three races – Malays, Chinese and Indians – putting aside the 57 ethnic groups found in Sabah and Sarawak.

“We are all Malaysians regardless of ethnic or sub-ethnic groups. But today, our voices are drowned by voices of racism and political extremism.

“We have to cooperate, regardless of our racial background,” he said.

Recently, a Buy Muslim-made First (BMF) campaign spearheaded by a Muslim-interest group has been fiercely objected to by many parties, especially DAP.

The party’s secretary-general, Lim Guan Eng, had criticised the silence of MCA and MIC on the alleged support for the campaign by Umno and PAS, adding that the campaign was a form of boycott of non-Muslim made goods.

Former prime minister Najib Razak said it would be a big mistake to stop the BMF, adding that Guan Eng and Lim Kit Siang were the “most inappropriate people” to be the face of the government’s efforts to quash the campaign.

The nation has also been shocked by the arrests of Shia adherents, including foreigners, by state Islamic authorities.

On Sept 6, 23 people were detained in Gombak, Selangor, in remembering Ashura, while another eight were detained in Kempas, Johor.

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has characterised the detention as a form of human rights violation, as it deterred people from practising their own faith.

Lawyers for Liberty also said the detention of Shia adherents violated international norms which assured freedom of religion and protection to minorities from discrimination by the authorities.