KUALA LUMPUR – Preventing youths from becoming radicalised is the greatest challenge to national security in Malaysia, said Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.
He said this was important for Malaysia given its multi-religious and multi-racial character.
Speaking to 1,500 young participants at the 3rd National Aspiration and Leadership Symposium (NALS) here today, Hishammuddin outlined three steps in meeting the challenge, including the need to champion the concept of moderation.
“To me moderation particularly in a Malaysian context is about acceptance. The key is for us to accept our differences, find common ground on the problems we face and go forward together,” he said.
Hishammuddin said another primary measure was the need for a comprehensive effort to ensure that “our society’s most vulnerable members, especially young males, are given alternatives to radicalism”.
“If we are to defeat extremism, it is not enough for us to limit our efforts to restructure our society to be more socio-economically balanced, neither can we rely on security measures and laws,” he said.
On that note, he believed that volunteerism could also play a strategic role in strengthening Malaysian society and lessening the lure of extremism.
He said youth-oriented volunteer activities from the ground up could promote harmony, lessen social exclusion and strenghten sense of ownership of the
Willingness to discuss and debate difficult issues without oversteping the boundaries of civility and the law was no less an important measure, he said.
“We need to go the extra mile to understand each other. Muslims must try to understand non-Muslims better and vice versa. We must also try to understand our individual communities better as well,” he said.
Acknowledging the steps were not an immediate solution to extremism, he said it could be a force to draw the people closer together.
“Let us not forget that ultimately the goal of extremism is to subvert the values of its target. Therefore, our response should be an even stronger commitment to our values, particularly peaceful co-existence and the celebration of diversity,” Hishamuddin said.
He said programmes such as the National Service (PLKN) could contribute vastly towards meeting this end.
NALS 2015 is an initiative of the Australian Club of Umno (KUA) in collaboration with the Overseas Umno Club (KULN) to create a platform for students and youths to hone and nurture leadership characteristics as well as to produce future leaders.
Besides Hishammuddin, the symposium, themed ‘A Globalised World : Principles of Innovative Leadership’, roped in 18 other personalities including Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and KakiSeni president Low Ngai Yuen, who are scheduled to share their experiences and knowledge on various issues.
Speaking at a press conference afterwards, Hishammuddin said the transformation
of the PLKN which was now undergoing a review for improvements, among others would stress on patriotic values and volunteerism.
The transformation was important because it could help mould a cohesive society, he said.
Mindef and the Youth and Sports Ministry are undertaking the restructuring of the PLKN, which has been deferred temporarily as part of the austerity measures announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak following economic challenges as a result in the steep drop in world oil prices. – BERNAMA