Negara-Ku starts roadshow to reclaim Malaysia from extremism

New people’s movement Negara-Ku is set to carry out its “reclaim Malaysia” agenda nationwide with a roadshow beginning in Malacca tonight to return rationality, open and civil discussion, moderation and harmony to Malaysia.

Published: 12 November 2014

New people’s movement Negara-Ku is set to carry out its “reclaim Malaysia” agenda nationwide with a roadshow beginning in Malacca tonight to return rationality, open and civil discussion, moderation and harmony to Malaysia.

“Kembalikan Negaraku” or “Return My Country” aims to take back Malaysia from racism and extremism, and provide a platform for safe debates, even on controversial issues such as the court’s recent decision on Negri Sembilan’s Islamic enactments on transgenders.

More than just focusing on issues themselves, the movement’s founder and chairperson Zaid Kamaruddin said they wanted to promote a climate where Malaysians could discuss matters without getting emotional.

Their aim was to also put forward the fact that all differences could be discussed with the Federal Constitution as a reference.

Zaid also said the roadshow was not just about promoting the movement but to draw all other civil society groups that wanted to promote healthy relationships among communities. Years before Negara-Ku, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak launched his 1Malaysia concept when he took office in 2009 but the slogan has since petered out.

“We  support all other efforts that promote the coming together of Malaysians, to be able to express what they want,” he added.

Zaid said this was “absolutely necessary” because of continued extremist rhetoric over race, religion and social issues, which Negara-Ku felt it had to counter by advocating moderation, peace and harmony.

Using the recent court decision on the Negri Sembilan transgender case as an example, Zaid said that there was concern over the way people perceived the decision.

“When discussing an issue like this, we should look at what the constitution says and be able to take the differences in opinion in a civilised manner without getting overly emotional,” he added.

The Court of Appeal had on November 7 declared unconstitutional a provision in the Negri Sembilan Islamic religious enactment which made it an offence for Muslim males to dress and behave as women.

The three appellants in the case are transgender women who have experience humiliating treatment and arrest several times for violating Section 66 of the state’s Shariah Criminal Enactment.

Reactions to the court case have bordered on instigation to violence, the group Lawyers for Liberty had warned in a statement yesterday.

Some of these reactions included calling transgenders “a cancer” to society, as persons who had “challenged God’s law”, as well as calling for “jihad” to be waged against them. Some of those who made such statements included prominent and influential religious figures, groups and the Ulama Council of political party, PAS.

Negara-Ku’s roadshow will cover seven states, and will kick off in Malacca tonight at the Heng Ann Association.

Speakers include PAS politician Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa, who is also the chair of Gerakan Anti-Perkauman; Al-Mustaqeem M. Radui, coordinator of Lingkaran Islam Tradisional; and also Zaid.

Mujahid has been a prominent figure in interfaith dialogues, participating in forums with speakers representing other religions, visiting churches and speaking up for other faiths.

After Malacca, the roadshow will make stops in Perak, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Penang, Sabah and Kuala Lumpur.

Zaid also said that the roadshow was aimed at bringing back the essence of Malaysia as a country formed on equality, secularism, guaranteed fundamental rights and a prosperous state where everyone feels at home.

These attributes appear to be under threat these days, he said, adding that if nothing is done, Malaysians may no longer be able to recognise their country in time to come.

“If we keep idle while insensitive quarters continue propagating racism and intolerance amongst us, it is an indication that hate speech and extremism are acceptable.

“It is certainly not and that message must be clearly sent,” Zaid said.

Next year, there are plans for the roadshow to head for east coast states.

Negara-Ku was launched four months ago, with the aim of bringing Malaysians from all backgrounds together to counter negative developments threatening the social fabric of the country.

Negara-Ku aims to bring Malaysians back to the country’s basics in the Federal Constitution, Malaysia Agreement and the Rukunegara.

Endorsed by over 60 civil society groups, the movement’s patrons are former Bersih co-chair and prominent lawyer Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, national laureate Datuk A.Samad Said and former vice-chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.

Ambiga had said that Negara-Ku was an initiative by concerned citizens unable to remain on the sidelines while leaders did nothing to stop certain quarters from destroying the nation’s harmony.

She had also previously said the movement sought to provide information and education for people to face challenges in Malaysian society.

This would be done through videos, social media and forums and talks “to get people to listen, to question and to think,” she had said. – November 12, 2014.