The problem with 'extremist' rhetoric

S Thayaparan

Modified 1 Apr 2019, 5:03 am

Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those who have it.”

- Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life

COMMENT | Howard Lee’s rather opaque article on how extremism was an impediment to nation building is the problem with Establishment politics in this country. I have often argued that “religious extremism” is the existential threat facing this country, but this is not what Lee’s article was about. In fact, this is the kind of propaganda that clouds issues when it comes to Harapan’s racial and religious politics.

Let me give you an example. Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin recently chided PAS for questioning the Harapan government’s allocation of funds to Sisters In Islam. Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Ministry minister Hannah Yeoh – who was queried by the PAS political operative on the funding – said the government did the right thing in providing an allocation for SIS. What we are talking about here is encouraging a different Islamic narrative.

When the government funds Islamic schools and funds the Islamic bureaucracy only, they are encouraging a specific kind of narrative. Allocating funds is the first step to encouraging a plurality of voices when it comes to religion. What would have been great is if Mujahid Rawa, the Islamic affairs minister, had a meet and greet with representatives from SIS, thus legitimizing their social work in the Islamic context.

This would be a far better method of battling the “extremism”...

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