KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — Malaysians who are moderates must be bolder and speak up for mutual respect and unity to strengthen democracy in the country, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.
The deputy prime minister warned that sectarian politics was growing domestically and the national narrative was in danger of being “hijacked”.
“We should not let it be hijacked by bigots and hatemongers,” Dr Wan Azizah said at the Workshops of the World Communicate 2019 (WowComm) at Marriott Hotel here.
She said that it was useless to merely vent to each another about the negative vibes created by bigots and hatemongers, and urged Malaysians to be more proactive.
“The rakyat must speak out and define our identity and democracy. Otherwise the voice of hatred and animosity will gain momentum and become like a runaway train that will hurt us one day.
“Instead, focus on creating a narrative of togetherness, kindness and mutual respect to define us. Make this positive narrative the dominant and loudest one,” Dr Wan Azizah said.
She cited the example of South Africa’s first post-apartheid president Nelson Mandela, who called for calm and eased tensions between the black and white communities following the assassination of youth leader Chris Hani in April 1993.
“It was not easy to tell Hani’s followers to remain calm. South Africa was on the brink of civil war, and it was easy to just unleash anger at the time.
“Instead, Mandela went on TV and appealed to black and white South Africans to stand together against the men who worship war and to move forward to what is the only lasting solution for the country,” she said.
In this manner, the deputy prime minister said more Malaysians should speak out for the sake of preserving democracy, their hard-won freedom as well as their children.
Among the other topics that Dr Wan Azizah spoke on at the workshop included the need to communicate with the right conscience, communicate with others instead of merely speaking to them without listening, and to communicate for the long term and future building.
Malay Mail and Bernama are media partners of the WowComm event.