Extremism, the enemy of unity: PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak today called on Malaysians to fight extremism which he described as the enemy of unity.

He said extremism could exist in any religion, but this did not warrant anyone to generalise the religion's followers as extremists.

Najib stressed that people should not be judged based on their religion, skin colour or culture.

Instead, every person should be looked at based on his or her personal character, he said.

"The problem is not with the religion we embrace; the problem lies with extremism," he said.

"We have Muslim extremists such as Daesh, we have Buddhist extremists such as in Rakhine, Myanmar, we have Christian extremists, Jewish extremists," he said when addressing almost 1,000 participants of the 'Moment of Unity' programme at the Perdana Botanical Gardens here.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia President Datuk Ter Leong Yap.

Calling on everyone to uphold mutual respect and empathy, Najib said continued unity could only be achieved if it was always in one's heart and mind.

"We are all in this park, we breathe the same air, we do things together, we are Malaysia, we love this country.

"If we can tear down the walls that divide us, if we are compatible with one another, then we can foster national unity and integration," he said.

Najib said maintaining unity, peace and harmony should not be the sole responsibility of a prime minister but a collective effort by everyone.

"I hope that everyone, wherever you may be, as true Malaysians, as true patriots, will do your part to build a united, stronger and more resilient Malaysia.

"If we have this spirit, I am convinced and I believe that we will be a top-20 nation in years to come," he said.

Reminiscing about his younger days, Najib said he missed the time when Malaysians of various races sat together harmoniously and cheered the Malaysian team during 'Pestabola Merdeka' or the Merdeka soccer tournament.

"When I arrived for this programme just now, I exchanged greetings with (former Malaysian footballers) Datuk Soh Chin Aun and Datuk Santokh Singh. It reminded me of my younger days, watching Pestabola Merdeka.

"We were together in the stadium cheering the Malaysian team. At that time, the standard of football was much better than today," he said, adding that watching matches of national shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei had also united Malaysians.

At the event, Najib announced the appointment of Chong Wei as Malaysia's 'Unity Icon' and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia as the country's 'Unity Ambassador'. He then presented the appointment certificates.

The Prime Minister said the government would expand the unity internship programme and make it an annual event to enable it to further contribute to national unity.

"I express my thanks to all the 161 Bumiputera companies involved in this programme. After this, I am made to understand, Bumiputera retailers will recruit non-Bumiputeras for training in their companies," he said.

Najib said this was crucial in further developing national unity as the success of every race was also the success of the nation. — Bernama