National Economic Action Council member Rafidah Aziz has told Putrajaya not to bow to minority groups that harped on race and religion issues.
She said those who continuously utilised religion and race were only a small group of Malaysians while the majority of Malaysians had right-thinking minds.
“Over the last decade, they showed a xenophobic tendency and colloquial instincts,” she said when speaking at an economic forum.
She, however, noted that this minority group would influence others via social media and other means with their xenophobic and colloquial ideas.
“This is something we really have to be cautious about as this kind of element has the potential to continuously stoke interracial and faith fissures,” said the former international trade and industry minister.
“When faith becomes a pond for politics, that’s when trouble starts. That’s when the Taliban starts and that’s when the people go into the fighting mode, killing mode in the name of religion,” she said.
She said these people were, in fact, fighting someone else’s political battle adding the people were waiting to see how the government will tweak policies just to please narrow-minded groups, added Rafidah.
“That’s no way to govern the country. You can’t govern by trying to please racial or religious groups.
“As long as we pander to groups with ulterior motives that are not for national development… this nation will never be a nation for all Malaysians,” she said in her keynote address at a forum by the Perdana Leadership Foundation in Putrajaya yesterday.
Speaking for more than 90 minutes on ‘Factors impeding Malaysia’s economic progress and how to overcome them’, she talked about the “20% principle” as a personal rule of thumb.
“If 20% goes astray, it’s okay. You can work on them rather than trying to please everybody and cause the whole country to go down the drain.
“Worse still is trying to please the 20% as that’s your gallery. When politicians start playing to the gallery, that’s when the trouble starts,” said Rafidah.
Rafidah cited US President Donald Trump’s politics as an example of how divisive “playing to the gallery” can become.
“When you have this gallery thinking, you will start formulating policies that are not for the nation as a whole, but for a small group of people. It’s like Trump, who talks about his base and forgets that he’s the president of the whole country.
“This is a phenomenon everywhere. Those who don’t play to the gallery find themselves out of the system. But it is better to be out of the system than in a gang of kleptos,” said the 76-year-old.
She said the majority of Malaysians, fortunately, are reasonable and accept differences in views.
She also urged Putrajaya to come up with a Malaysian agenda.
“This agenda can be taken up by successive generations. It needs to have core elements, such as basic aspirations and values.”
The government can then formulate policies that meet the needs of most Malaysians, “and not just parochial needs”, she said.