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No place for these extremists
Published on: Friday, March 24, 2023
By: David Thien
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No place for these extremists
From left: Dr Johan, Prof Tajuddin and Datuk Zainie unveiling the book at the launching ceremony.
Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia has no place for those who believe they are racially superior or that their faith or religion is correct and not those of others.Renowned columnist Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, who chose the Tanjung Aru State Library multi-purpose hall to launch his “Resetting Malaysia – Education, Faith and Society” book, said:

“Change must start with us, every single one. We the rakyat are the owners of this country. We shall set the solutions, and should not be the problems.”

The Professor of Architecture at the Tan Sri Omar Centre for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy Studies at UCSI University Malaysia, feels the country is under threat. “It is not the economy, not the skilled education but we lack the most important ingredients that build a family of nationhood; trust, acceptance and the ability to self-change. “We have shown we can build buildings and cities…industries and other economies. What we have not shown is simply the act of kindness, compassion and tolerance to others who are not of our own culture and faith. What are we or who are we without each other?”

He said only an education of senseless imitation, mindless tradition and ceaseless work with no meaning can produce the kind of people that no nation on earth would desire as its people. “Education is taught not to keep our children safe in their little boxes of race, religion and careers. Education must be taught to our children so that they have the tools and the smarts to meet the world head on so that they can manage their growth with every challenge and prosper in all their innovations. Our children’s paths must be their own and we are here only as a beacon to show the new passages of life yet to be undertaken,” Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin, said.

NGO Sabar head Datuk Dr Johan Samad said any resetting of Malaysia must start first in Malaya first. “The Sabah model is a good example for Malaya to emulate. Hence, it was apt for Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin to launch his book in Sabah,” he said, and thanked organiser Lim Hock Song, producer and director of the film ‘KITA’, and Sabah BOD chairman Datuk Zaini Abdul Aucasa.

“The main intention of this book is rather simple – to reset Malaysia into what we, the citizens, want for all the people, not just for a select few.

“This book puts forth ideas and suggestions on how each and every one of us can change into something that will eventually bind us all into a single nation that respects the faith, culture and life,” said Datuk Dr Johan.

He said most people would also question whether speaking up would be worthwhile for them. And if the answer is negative, self-rationalising inaction often becomes the order of the day.

“And so, I was forced literally to rethink my approach towards change in this country in a non-confrontational way.

“The result is a series of articles predicated on the idea of how each citizen can change this nation by changing our attitudes, mindsets and inherited perspective, narratives and perceptions. I chose to divide the book into three parts: Education, Faith and Society,” Dr Johan said.

Prof Tajuddin’s journey stems from his conviction that every intellectual has a duty to compel society to think.

“As a university academic of 34 years, I am especially blunt and direct at the failings of higher institutions of learning in building a solid nation. Academics and universities seem to serve themselves and not society.”

He urged Malaysians to unlearn a few basic narratives, perspectives and attitudes towards their inherited knowledge.

“I then suggest how we might think in a different way in order to start the chain reaction of change from individual to family to friends and then to society at large.

He said after years of reading, practice and contemplation on religious thought, he came to the conclusion that spirituality is about treating others with dignity and compassion while treating ourselves with a dose of critical assessment.

“Society is about instilling change in a wider framework of family. Society can change if and only if the universities closest to it can contribute to social development. What kind of society do we want in the future? No future is possible unless the past is clearly critically understood.”

He makes it clear that we must start by focusing on the things that unite us. And we must ultimately let go of the petty squabbles that divide us. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

“I am standing here in Sabah as a minority Melayu by race and culture. Later this evening I will board an airplane that will take me to Kuala Lumpur and still there I will be a minority Melayu. “Ladies and gentlemen, citizens of Sabah, I am a minority Melayu who believe in the dignity of all Malaysians and human beings regardless of race, religion, ideology, and gender.

“I am a minority Melayu who believe that we will grow strong in Malaysia. I am a minority Melayu who also believe that our spirituality depends entirely on our humility, our shared heritage, and our personal experiences in life towards defining humanity outside of mere academic or traditional classifications,” he said.

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