Close down Putrajaya’s moderation bandwagon, urges G25

GMM head Nasharudin Mat Isa. Nasharudin has been criticised over the movement’s failure to speak out against Malaysia’s drift to conservative Islam. (Facebook pic)

PETALING JAYA: Prominent moderation advocate G25 has urged Putrajaya to abolish the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM), saying the body which was formed to portray Malaysia’s moderate image overseas has failed to speak out against intolerance practised by religious authorities under the previous government.

Instead, the group said, the task of promoting moderation overseas should be taken over by the foreign ministry with help from civil society groups.

“Foreign policy first begins at home, and if moderation is to be pursued as a major foreign initiative, moderation and tolerance must first be practised at home in Malaysia, a multi-ethnic and multi-religious nation,” said G25, which brings together former senior civil servants who include veteran diplomats and public officers.

GMM was launched in 2012 by then-prime minister Najib Razak. A year later, former deputy higher education minister Saifuddin Abdullah was appointed as its CEO.

Following his resignation from Umno, the government appointed Nasharudin Mat Isa as the movement’s head.

The former PAS deputy president was however criticised over GMM’s failure to speak out against Malaysia’s drift to conservative Islam, as well as a series of actions by the government seen as contradicting its claim to moderation.

G25 said the body also failed to protest excesses by Islamic authorities, including a ban on a book published by G25 and curbs on academic events to discuss Islam.

“Amid all these ugly repressions, GMM has proven to be totally ineffective in living up to its name. It is best, therefore, that this institution be abolished to avoid wastage of public funds,” said G25, adding that Nasharudin should voluntarily resign as he had been the wrong candidate from the start.

“The task requires someone who has the necessary credentials as a true and compassionate moderate, and is good at engaging both state and non-state actors. Razali Ismail and Saifuddin Abdullah, his predecessors, fit well into that role,” said G25, referring to PKR’s Saifuddin, who sworn in as the new foreign minister yesterday.