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Extremism will see nation-building efforts aborted – MalaysiaCapture

ADUN SPEAKS | When regime change happened as a result of the 14th general election, we the people were thrown into a state of climactic euphoria celebrating our nation’s renewal and our love for each other as a people. 

Finally, we had removed a kleptocratic leadership, and Malaysia could now be thrust full speed ahead into greatness. This newfound optimism even had a name; we called it ‘the birth of New Malaysia’.

However, I posit that on May 9, a ‘New Malaysia’ was not yet born; it was merely conceived in the womb of a renewed democratic construct that is our motherland. Nonetheless, we were applauded worldwide as a beacon of hope for democracy.

This yet-to-be-born offspring of our half-century-long collective struggle is still in survival mode, fighting off threats on many fronts. Many parties with dark and selfish interests are concertedly resisting unifying and inclusive nation-building efforts. 

They have been working overtime overtly and covertly to incite an atmosphere of siege, threats and dangers.

In fact, they are the very same bearers of dangers that got a critical mass of Malaysians together in GE14; it is not just the common enemy hooked on corruption and kleptocracy, but also the same threats of rising extremism, terrorism and racism who have been usurping our long fought for the identity of New Malaysia.

Nothing to lose

In days gone by, these elements would take hold of society through abusing institutional and governing power. However, they had everything to lose if peace was jeopardised and stability compromised. 

Plus, they were checked and moderated by adversaries who were peace-loving freedom fighters for harmony and unity.

An enemy defeated is not an enemy expired. An army disarmed is not necessarily an army dismantled. A threat out of control is far more dangerous than a threat still in control. A lunatic in plain sight is one you can run or hide from; a lunatic hiding in the dark is one who can attack you anytime anywhere in any way.

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These threats and elements are still out there – defeated yet regrouping, lurking at the ready to assassinate New Malaysia – only now they no longer have a stake in maintaining peace and stability. 

Quite the opposite, in fact. Instability, mistrust and conflict provide the perfect breeding ground for them to supersize and further radicalise their grassroots, structure, messaging and ultimate endgame.

We now witness globally almost every week extreme acts of violence that are strategically orchestrated and choreographed to instigate tensions. It would subsequently be framed domestically into racial and religious issues to polarise society right down racial and religious lines.

This has become the turbocharger and the next levelling up of racial and religious identity politics. The recent aggression towards students and journalists, for example, are now tactically being projected by those quarters to the public through a racial frame.

The language by these organised quarters are also overtly warmongering and inciteful – whilst also subliminally propagating a siege mentality among and between different ethnic and religious groups. 

Unsuspecting members of the public could easily be entrapped by this rhetoric and become victims of misinformation, and end up helping to spread extremist narratives.

Spreading radicalism

Social media and messaging platforms like WhatsApp are as powerful in affecting positive change as they are in disseminating hate speech and fabricated accusations. This is fully exploited by this radical groups of players. 

Leveraging on social media experience and expertise gained and paid for by political patronage of the past, they are now expertly employing the same expertise gained to instigate instability and unrest to the nation.

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These dangerous tactics of wooing extremism are not new. This region is familiar with our neighbour Indonesia’s political turmoil that happened after Joko Widodo’s rise to power. 

We have observed how the parties defeated by democracy, took the path towards extremism by inciting hatred towards minorities that led to mass rallies and jailing of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

There are lessons to be learnt here. We need to be on high alert about these threats to our national security. The nation needs a new narrative, that takes nothing less than full cognisance of the real, number one threat: those hellbent on usurping power using extreme and hateful narratives to polarise our society into racial and religious conflicts.

They must not be allowed to rise or return to power. They must not be allowed to stop the birth of Malaysia Baharu.

They must be stopped from radicalising and terrorising our young and vulnerable into their violent and extreme ways. They must be stopped from negating our nation from realising real solidarity, unity, justice, dan democracy.

This is, in fact, nothing less than a global fight against extremism that we must start here at home; to ensure the birth of New Malaysia, and to protect and preserve world peace. 


HOWARD LEE is the state assemblyperson for Pasir Pinji.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MalaysiaCapture.

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