By TK Chua
I really think that Malaysia is in a confused state now. Sometimes we hear very enlightened views, but sometimes we hear the worst of bigotry and chauvinism.
I think that as a nation, we have lost what we want to be. We have lost track of the fundamental values and have become inconsistent in our arguments. If the nation’s trajectory is wrong, it does not matter if along the way we find some beacons of light.
Occasionally, we get very wise counsel from our leaders highlighting the absurdity of certain religious and political ideas and practices. But I think they have to do more. They have to help set the nation’s trajectory right, not just provide beacons of light along the way.
The trajectory of Johor (I impute it as Malaysia’s too), as succinctly put forth by the sultan, is “Johor (Malaysia) belongs to people of all races and faiths, and is a progressive, modern, and moderate state (country)”.
When we say we are moderate and tolerant, we must accept that others are different. When we say we value freedom and progressiveness, we must be wary of authoritarianism, pervasive indoctrination and extremism in whatever form. When we say we are modern, we must value equality and inclusiveness and hate chauvinism, holier-than-thou attitudes and dogmas.
Trajectory is important. All leaders, be they political, royal, or religious, must help to keep the nation on the right trajectory. We must forever remain a progressive, modern, moderate and inclusive nation.
Right now, the forces of extremism are directing the nation on the wrong trajectory – a trajectory of exclusiveness, of holier-than-thou attitudes, of inequality, of religiosity, of ignorance, and of opaqueness and intolerance. Some of our political leaders, out of expediency, are too afraid to change the course set forth by extremists.
We mustn’t just look at the forms and manifestations of intolerance and absurdity that keep popping up in our midst. Instead, we must look at the forces of extremism, ignorance and authoritarianism providing the impetus behind them.
The route to any extreme ideology, be it authoritarianism, fascism, theocracy, dogmatism or ignorance, is a one-way street. There is no U-turn. Even if there were one, it would be painful. The best prevention is not to embark on it in the first place.
TK Chua is a FMT reader.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.