Syerleena Abdul Rashid who is a councillor at the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) called Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s vision of moderation an illusion.
In an op-ed in the Malaysian Insight website, the councillor wrote that just recently, the Barisan Nasional-led federal government decided to unanimously ban G25’s book entitled “Breaking the Silence: Voices of Moderation – Islam in a Constitutional Democracy”.
But the book, according to G25 spokesperson Noor Farida Ariffin, consisted of academic articles by leading academics, prominent lawyers and progressive Islamic scholars.
It was meant to encourage debates about the Islamic religion.
“Certainly, the battle against extremism is one that can only be fought through continuous discourse and challenging the perceived status quo.
“The practice of banning books thought to be “prejudicial to public order” is not exactly a new thing and has become a rather common practice to silent dissenting voices,” she wrote.
She said decades of authoritative rule have given Barisan Nasional the upper hand and that practically every government institution is under their control and neutrality is an absolute foreign concept.
“Under Barisan Nasional rule, Malaysians have seen a feverish crackdown on student activists, opposition politicians, academics and ordinary citizens who just happened to ‘Tweet’ the wrong thing on social media.”
“Indeed, the illusion of a “moderate” Malaysian has persisted for several years now, despite its almost nonexistence in reality.”
“In other words, “moderate” Malaysians have now become somewhat of an endangered species,” she said.
Syerleena also said Malaysia, under the present ruling elite, has creatively exploited a psychological warfare of sorts, “by manipulating our hopes and creating a twisted sense of denial; the government clearly counts on ignorance and fear to assert their absolute control over its citizens.”
After reading Syerleena’s comments, one can only so much for Najib, the man who launched a movement of ‘global moderates’ but who has decided to leave Malaysia behind a wall of protectionism.