Despite ‘Tea Party’-like voices, PM says keeping faith with moderate Malaysia

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak responds during a dialogue session at Invest Malaysia 2014 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, June 9, 2014. Najib said his administration will stay true to the Islamic principle of ‘wasatiyyah’, or moderation, despite demands from ultra-conservative groups. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak responds during a dialogue session at Invest Malaysia 2014 at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, June 9, 2014. Najib said his administration will stay true to the Islamic principle of ‘wasatiyyah’, or moderation, despite demands from ultra-conservative groups. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, June 9 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today acknowledged “unreasonable demands” from fringe elements here, but stressed his commitment to his “promise” of a moderate Malaysia for all,

Najib who is now in his second term, said his administration will stay true to the Islamic principle of “wasatiyyah”, or moderation, despite demands from ultra-conservative groups.

“Absolutely, this is my commitment and my promise to the Malaysian people,” he said during a dialogue session at the 2014 Invest Malaysia event here.

Najib was replying to former PWC Malaysia chairman Datuk Seri Johan Raslan’s question on his level of commitment to the ideal of “Malaysia as a moderate Muslim country for all Malaysians”.

Najib said Putrajaya viewed such “unreasonable” groups here as similar to the US’ Tea Party, an offshoot of the Republican Party that is seen as pushing the latter to adopt a more right-wing approach.

“There are some quarters who are trying to make very unreasonable demands. But as a government, these are voices from the fringe, like the American Tea Party equivalent in Malaysia,” he said, without naming these individuals or groups.

In Malaysia, parallels have been drawn between the US Tea Party and the likes of Perkasa and Isma, two hardline Malay-Muslims groups in Malaysia that are seen as nudging the ruling Barisan Nasional’s Umno lynchpin towards the right of the political spectrum.

But Najib today reassured Malaysians by saying he wanted them to feel that the government “will not abandon” the principle of moderation.