Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Moderates from rival Malaysian parties team up to fight racism


BY ZULKIFLI SULONG, FEATURES AND ANALYSIS EDITOR
Published: 5 August 2014
Datuk SaifuddinAbdullah (left) and Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, seen here with consultant Anaz Zubedy (centre) during the launch of their book last June. – The Malaysian Insider pic, August 5, 2014. 
Datuk SaifuddinAbdullah (left) and Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, seen here with consultant Anaz Zubedy (centre) during the launch of their book last June. – The Malaysian Insider pic, August 5, 2014.

Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, two politicians from PAS and Umno deemed as moderates, have decided to join hands to form a movement to end the growing problem of racism in Malaysia.
It is not clear if their respective parties have endorsed their plans but they have roped in PAS's Tamrin Ghafar, son of the late deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba, for the fledgling movement's first meeting next week.
"We have agreed to set up the NGO with Mujahid as the chairman and Saifuddin as his deputy," Tamrin told The Malaysian Insider. 
Tamrin is confident with strong grassroots support from both parties towards the two leaders, the initiative will bring a new dimension to racial unity in the country, where Bumiputeras form 60% of the 30 million population with significant Chinese and Indian minorities.

"We will gather all parties in this movement, including those from PAS, Umno and MCA. We have succeeded in getting the support from several Chinese and Indian leaders, but now is not the right time to announce it yet," he said.

This new movement comes less than two months after the formation of Negara-Ku, a coalition of more than 70 NGOs formed to heal Malaysia and restore hope, given the recent challenges that threaten the peace and harmony of its multi-ethnic and multi-faith society.

Negara-Ku, headed by Zaid Kamaruddin, with lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan and national laureate A. Samad Said as its patrons, is aimed at mobilising and empowering people to return to the basics of the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Agreement and Rukunegara.

Commenting on the yet-to-be-named NGO, Mujahid told The Malaysian Insider the movement would have a huge impact on the struggle to put aside racial politics in the country.

"We will strive to cooperate with other NGOs with the same objective, and this includes Negara-Ku," he said.

Asked why they did not join Negara-Ku, Mujahid said their aim may bedifferent but he is confident that they can get more support to promote racial harmony based on their track record.

Mujahid is well known for his efforts to foster interfaith relationship with the Christians and had been holding dialogues in churches across the country.

Saifuddin, the former Temerloh MP who heads the Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) set up by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is also famous for his moderate stand, a departure from other Umno leaders.

Both Mujahid and Saifuddin are also in the Putrajaya-backed National Unity Consultative Council.

The new NGO comes when Malaysia is facing an acid test over its race relations, with many racial religious issues cropping up.

This includes the ban on the use of the word Allah - the Arabic word for God - by Christians, the seizure of Malay and Iban-language Bibles by the Selangor Islamic authorities, and interfaith custody disputes.

To worsen the situation, many Malay rights groups have entered the fray, telling non-Muslims not to question the rights of the Malays and Muslims in the country. – August 5, 2014.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/moderates-from-rival-malaysian-parties-team-up-to-fight-racism#sthash.mTbDtCHv.dpuf

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