Education, compassion only way to steer extremists onto right path, says Maszlee

Education Minister Maszlee Malik, addressing teachers in Penang, says he is shocked over arrest of terrorists plotting to attack non-Muslim places of worship.

GEORGE TOWN: Education Minister Maszlee Malik today said the spread of extremist ideologies can be only countered through education that is underpinned by love and empathy in the long run.

This followed the recent discovery by police of a plot by local terrorists to attack non-Muslim places of worship. Four men were arrested.

Maszlee said these arrests were shocking, coming at a time when all had thought such radicalism was over and the Islamic State largely defeated.

Maszlee said what was more worrying was the spread of radical ideology locally through the internet, with some youths at great risk of being affected.

He said the only way to steer extremists onto the right path was through love and compassion.

“When someone is devoid of love and happiness, they will be more easily influenced by extremism and radicalism.

“They do not love themselves. They feel, if they die, it is okay, so long as their ideology is spread far and wide.

“If they really loved their country, family and their local community, chances are that they might not fall into this extremism trap.

“This terrorist ideology or extremism has to be countered with a humane education, an education based on love, happiness and mutual respect.” he said in his opening speech to teachers and exhibitors at the opening of a teachers’ appreciation event at the National Teachers’ Festival at the Spice Convention Centre in Bayan Lepas here today.

Federal police had said the four suspects they detained had been running a terror cell, plotting to kill high-profile personalities and attack several non-Muslim places of worship and entertainment outlets.

They were planning to attack in the first week of Ramadan. Police said six improvised explosive devices were found on them, together with pistols and ammunition.

They were also planning to avenge the death of fireman Muhammad Adib Mohd Kassim, who died during the Seafield temple riot last year.

Police are tracking down three other members of the cell – Syazani Mahzan and Muhamad Nuurul Amin Azizan, both 27, from Bedong, Kedah, and Fatir Tir, an Indonesian, whose last known address is in Banting, Selangor.

Meanwhile, Maszlee said parents should prepare their children to be “more human and not robots” in the race of preparing themselves to face the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

He said the key features children should have are empathy, ability to work with others and the ability to think “in many layers” and not a single-track mind.

“Education must make humans human. An education that appreciates love, an education that promotes happiness and an education that promotes mutual respect.”