The campaign was a resounding success. Many could identify with our clarion call for the silent majority to stand up and speak out.
They understood that the voices of moderation had to rise many notches to drown out the voices of extremism.
Readers are encouraged to share their views on #moderateMY or thestar.com.my/moderatemalaysia.
But what we learnt, as the campaign progressed, was that the voices of moderation extended through all generations. It was not just about the older citizens reminiscing about the time when Malaysians interacted with one another freely – celebrating our diversity instead of accentuating our differences. We found that the younger citizens too felt strongly about a united Malaysia. They too want their voices to be heard.
Which is why we embark today on the next stage of our campaign where the primary focus will be on the young ones – especially those in colleges or entering the working world for the first time.
And we are glad to work with the Global Movement of Moderates to reach out to as many students as possible in 60 universities and colleges throughout the country.
We want to encourage more Malaysians to stand up for this cause – to respect and recognise the rights and beliefs of others.
Today is also the International Day for Tolerance. It was on Nov 16, 1995 that Unesco member states adopted a Declaration of Principles on Tolerance.
Among other things, the declaration affirms that tolerance is neither indulgence nor indifference. It is respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.
Along with injustice and violence, discrimination and marginalisation are common forms of intolerance.
Education for tolerance should aim at countering influences that lead to fear and exclusion of others, and should help young people develop capacities for independent judgement, critical thinking and ethical reasoning.
The diversity of our world’s many religions, languages, cultures and ethnicities is not a pretext for conflict, but is a treasure that enriches us all.
We in Malaysia, being such a rich and diverse nation, can and must live up to such principles.
In fact, for us, it is not just about tolerance, but acceptance.
And even as we continue with our moderation campaign, we also hope for the day when there is no longer a need to remind one another to be moderate.
If we accept and embrace one another, extreme views and thoughts, in whatever form, will surely fade away.