Media statement by Tony Pua, DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara on Monday 4th November 2013 in Kuala Lumpur
I have watched the cringe-worthy 12-minute interview with Dato' Seri Najib Razak hosted by Christiane Amanpour on CNN last week and read various exclusive interviews given to international news agencies.
At the CNN interview, the Prime Minister's facial expression tells the world how uncomfortable he was in answering the questions thrown at him which exposes the facade of a global "moderate" statesman with one which panders to the forces of extremism and religious conservatism to "ensure peace and harmony".
Dato' Seri Najib Razak began the interview preaching "moderation" as the panacea to global conflicts, particularly of the religious nature. At the U.N. General Assembly in New York last month, he said that the greatest threat to Muslims now “comes not from the outside world, but from within.”
He said "It’s very alarming to see what’s happening in the Muslim world... And it’s about time we come to our senses and realize that moderation is the only path that will ensure peace and stability for the Muslim world, and for the wider world."
However, once Amanpour directs the spotlight to Malaysia's increasing religious conservatism and extremism, the Prime Minister sang a different tune. “My priority is to ensure peace and harmony in Malaysia. That is uppermost in my mind,” Dato' Seri Najib said.
What the Prime Minister is telling the world is that while it is hunky-dory to make the glamourous pitch for "moderation" at international platforms, "moderation" takes a back seat to "peace and harmony" by all means domestically.
"Peace and harmony" in the above context, is merely euphemism for pandering to religious far right and restricting the rights of the minority. As an example, the Prime Minister told Reuters that "the curb against the Catholic weekly, Herald, using the word Allah was necessary to protect public security and national harmony, going as far to describe the Herald as a publication with wide circulation... People must understand that there are sensitivities in Malaysia, but what is important is public security and national harmony."
By "wide circulation", he meant a distribution of only 14,000 issues in churches in a country of 30 million people. Instead of justifying his "peace and harmony" priority, his defense only proved the persecution of minorities in Malaysia.
The Prime Minister has obviously chosen not to preach "moderation" to the religious far right in Malaysia, for such "moderation" is perhaps only applicable to other countries. Instead, the Prime Minister admitted to the international audience that he is more than willing to sacrifice "moderation" to keep the reactionary forces happy, trample on the rights of the minority and to maintain his Government's definition of "peace and harmony".
Dato' Seri Najib is even willing to defend the untenable and paradoxical position of the "Allah" ruling, claiming that it is only applicable to parts of Malaysia making a mockery to the claims of exclusivity to the term "Allah" to Muslims. "With respect to the court ruling it only applies to the Herald paper, which has got wide circulation, and doesn't apply to the situation in Sabah and Sarawak," he said.
If Dato' Seri Najib Razak cannot even successfully practise what he preaches at home, then he certainly does not have any locus standi to be a statesman for "moderation" at international forums. His pretentious call for the "Global Movement of Moderates" only leads to being easily exposed as a hypocrite at the global arena and become an embarrassment to the country.