COMMENT | G25 has often been labelled as “liberal” by its critics, using a word that is becoming a derogatory term in Malaysia to describe Muslims who believe in universal values of democracy, human rights, gender equality and respect for multiculturalism and diversity.
“Liberal” is a word that has also been abused by the religious authorities and extremists to demonise those who have different opinions on matters of race, religion, and politics.
We, the members of G25, would like to remind our critics that in the Rukun Negara, the word liberal has a pride of place in the five principles of the national ideology aimed at bringing the various races together for national unity and development.
In the preamble to the Rukun Negara, it states that one of Malaysia's aims is: “menjamin satu cara yang liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaannya yang kaya dan berbagai corak”. In the English version, it is translated as: “Guaranteeing a liberal approach towards her rich and varied cultural traditions”.
Note that the word “liberal” is used in both versions in the context of something positive and beneficial to our ambitions to become a united, happy and prosperous country.
The members of G25 subscribe fully to the aims of the Rukun Negara and would like to take this opportunity to express our admiration that at the recent National Day Parade at Dataran Merdeka, in front of the Yang di Pertuan Agong to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our independence, the whole crowd from different races recited in unison the five principles of the national ideology, and waved the flag with pride and emotion that we have achieved so much to become a successful country.
While there is much to celebrate, there is also much to be concerned about the growing intolerance for our differences. G25 observes that tolerance and respect for our diversity in languages, religions, cultures and traditions have been declining.
This is regrettable, considering that diversity is universally recognised as a valuable asset among the factors for successful development. Indeed, it is for this reason that there is an emphasis in the Rukun Negara to uphold the constitution and rule of law so that we can protect the multicultural character of our population and human rights in the country. This will also ensure moderation in the application of Islam in the daily life of Muslims. We are encouraged that in his visit to America recently, our prime minister reiterated to the world that Malaysia believes in moderation and diversity.
G25 has made several proposals for reforms in the administration of Islam and in the governance system of the country, so that there will be transparency and accountability among public institutions in the running of the country. Such openness will strengthen our democracy and protect citizens against abuse of power among those holding positions of authority.
In view of the financial scandals happening in the public sector, there is urgency for reforms to cultivate a culture of integrity among all the institutions of government.
We in G25 will defend the country's secular democracy based on the Federal Constitution as the Supreme Law of the country. The Constitution was written with the intention that, while Islam is the religion of the federation, the laws of the country should follow the universal values of justice, which have been in existence long before independence.
The system of government provided for in the Constitution is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, which means that it is the rakyat who ultimately decide on how they should be ruled. Our nation’s founding fathers decided this formula was the best for our multiracial country. They have been proven right. With a constitution that satisfies the aspirations of all races for a united country, Malaysia has remained a peaceful country, making it one of the most successful countries in the developing world...