Urgent lessons from Indonesia for Malaysia

J D Lovrenciear

Modified 18 Dec 2020, 3:08 pm

LETTER | According to news reports, Indonesia is taking stringent measures to curb radicalism in this majority Muslim nation.

For us here in Malaysia, where race and religion are being played to the gallery each passing day, we should learn a thing or two and do something similar before it is too late.

Indonesia has launched a website that allows the public to report “radical” content posted by civil servants.

The country is also replacing 167 Islamic textbooks in its efforts to crackdown on radicalism.

The reasons for this unprecedented action in Indonesia sounds very much similar to our own growing concerns here in Malaysia.

Indonesia, which is officially secular, has been witnessing a rise of conservatism with some politicians demanding a larger role for Islam, and some groups even calling for an Islamic state.

Our closest and historical neighbour, Indonesia, is indeed taking the right steps under Jokowi's leadership to battle with content containing elements of hate, misleading information, intolerance and even anti-Indonesian sentiment.

Even commenting positively on content deemed radical on social media will be acted upon, including removing textbook content used in schools with traces of intolerance for the minority population that is non-Muslim.

The Indonesian director-general of Islamic Education explains, as reported by the news portal Free Malaysia Today on Nov 12: "The intention is so that religious teachings can make students more tolerant and appreciate others who are different from them.”

The Pakatan Harapan government must explore this same path taken by Indonesia before its too late here.

With so much of threatening emphasis and clamouring for Malay Dignity, Malay Rights, and even the push to seeing Malaysia as an Islamic nation foremost, etc, we certainly have much to worry about.

The mushrooming religious schools that often hit the headlines for poor management and scandalous behaviour cannot be overlooked.

The growing intolerance for all things, other than Malay or Islamic, must be addressed with fervour like what is being done in Indonesia.

Nationalism must supersede all else in Malaysia if we want to be a democratic space in the global map.

In fact, given our comparably tiny population to that of Indonesia, the government of the day should be quick to plug radicalism.

Our Rulers, too, have time and time again expressed their concern and appealed that our multiracial and multireligious landscape should not be trampled upon by any form of extremist thought or action.

Hopefully, now that the government has allocated a sizeable, unprecedented budget for Jakim, we will be able to witness quick measures being spearheaded, not only by Jakim but also by all and sundry who are committed to making Islam great again in the eyes of the minority population that is non-Muslim.

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