‘False sense of security’ holding Malaysians back, says sociologist

Syed-Farid-Alatas-malaysia-protest-1KUALA LUMPUR: Most Malaysians live with a “false sense of security” and feel no urgency to speak up against poor governance and increasing religious intolerance in the country, says a sociologist.

Prof Syed Farid Alatas of the National University of Singapore said many Malaysians believe their situation is not as bad as that of people in other Southeast Asian countries.

“They feel our situation is not that bad since there is no chaos and the shopping malls are full of people. It is a false sense of security.

“They feel there is no point in speaking up against poor governance. They feel the government is too strong,” he told a forum titled Islam, Secularism and Nihilism here.

Syed Farid, the son of former Universiti Malaya vice chancellor Syed Hussein Alatas, said people must speak up as the country was moving into increasing religious conservatism, racism and xenophobia compared to a decade ago.

He said Malaysia has a good democratic system and the country would excel if there was no corruption and racism.

“Just like many countries around the world there is a sense of entitlement by politicians as they are in power,” he said.

Despite this, he said there was no moral outrage among the people.

“Malaysians should be angry. There is persecution of Shia Muslims including fellow Malay Shias. But the majority of Malaysians are silent.”

It was the same, he said, when protesters forced a church in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, to remove a cross it had hung on its facade.

“We are so indifferent (on the issue). They are having a field day on the so-called Islamisation,” added Syed Farid.

He urged Malaysians to fight for equality for all and debate on issues affecting their daily lives, such as work related and labour issues.

“We have to think beyond race and religion to unite all Malaysians and fight for good governance. We have to make sure it does not continue to the next generation,” he said.

He said if Malaysians did not speak up, more Malaysians, especially Malays, would migrate to escape from racism and religious intolerance.