Monday, 21 July 2014

Negara-Ku Initiative

Sin Chew Jit Poh
20 July 2014


The Negara-Ku initiative has been receiving quite a lot of press recently. Fundamentally it is a group of NGOs which have got together with the specific purpose of providing a voice against racism and religious extremism. To counter such practices, they propose that there is a return to good governance, democratic practices and the rule of law.

It is all very basic and simple and I can’t see how any right minded person can oppose it. I guess that is the key term: “right minded”. This is because there are plenty without that quality. Already we see accusations that the group is anti-Malay and anti-Islam. Of course such accusations are completely and utterly without any evidence to show how this can be so.

Then there are the usual accusations that the Negara-Ku initiative is really a Pakatan lobby in disguise. Again there is no evidence proffered to such a claim. But then, what else can one expect. If people are actively against non-discrimination and religious tolerance; then logic can’t really be their strong point. To paraphrase the song: “what’s so wrong about peace love and understanding”?

One of the challenges about being a liberal is that we respect the right of all people to have their view and to express it. This is very different from the fascists in our midst who are more than happy to shut people up if they don’t agree with them.  So, we must endure the utter rubbish that is spewed by the small minded, and patiently prove them wrong. Ignoring them is not an option. Many in pre-war Germany ignored Hitler as a joke, and see what happened there.

I am afraid that bigots and racists must continuously be stood up to, no matter how tiring and boring it gets. The alternative is to give the impression that their worldview is the accepted worldview and this is intolerable.
This brings me to another criticism of the Negara-Ku initiative. There are those who, although they agree with the sentiments of the group are questioning the need for its existence. I can see the logic to this criticism because there are lots of NGO’s and NGO coalitions which already speak out for equality and tolerance.

However, to my knowledge, Negara-Ku is specifically and only about this particular issue. It is not really bogged down by election reform, or education, or legal changes, as such. It is there to simply provide a counterpoint to the extremists in the country.

And this is very important because the people in Malaysia who are right minded are desperately looking for a voice to speak up against these destructive forces in our country. Not everyone has access to write in the newspaper or to be on television, but this does not mean they do not worry about what is happening to this country of ours.

An initiative as focussed as Negara-Ku, specifically dealing with racism and bigotry, and putting up a united front against those who threaten to drive our country into the gutter, is an absolute necessity. This is because like I said earlier, bigots and racists must be faced down and secondly, the good people of this country must know that they are being faced down. Without a concerted opposition to these dark forces, many will lose hope.

It is for these reasons that I endorse the Negara-Ku initiative.

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