PETALING JAYA: Amanah vice-president Mujahid Yusof Rawa has warned of a rise in incidences of hate speeches in the coming year as the general election looms.
In an interview with FMT, he urged Malaysians who oppose bigotry to continue denouncing politicians who exploit racial and religious sentiments.
He said “opportunistic hatemongers” would step up their hate rhetoric in the belief that it would give them political advantage, but he voiced confidence that mature Malaysians would be on the side of “inclusive and progressive” politicians.
“Those who aspire towards a true Bangsa Malaysia will stand for a Malaysia that is harmonious and united,” he said.
The general secretary of the Malaysian Council of Churches, Hermen Shastri, said he was concerned about the apparent reluctance of the government to act decisively against people displaying bigoted attitudes.
He pointed to the recent controversy over the refusal of two laundry businesses to accept non-Muslim customers.
He said it was unfortunate that the government did not act firmly against such behaviour.
“The government does not give clear signals on such issues,” he said.
Therefore, he added, any move to reject communalism would have to be driven by the public.
Last September, the United Nations’ special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said Malaysia had much to lose if the authorities did not heed warning signs that the country’s culture of tolerance was under threat.
“Malaysia has over the years risen to the challenge of building a society inclusive of its broad cultural diversity, but it could be at risk if steps are not taken to meet current challenges,” she said.