KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 27 — A healthy democracy, good governance, social justice and inclusivity in economic and social development are vital to stemming the rise of terrorism, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
Speaking on the subject at the United Nations Association of Malaysia dinner here, the prime minister said his government believed addressing those issues, which are among the four pillars in UN global counter-terrorism strategy, was more effective than using purely force against terrorist ideologies.
“The first pillar is especially critical; addressing the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, such as prolonged unresolved disputes, lack of rule of law, human rights violations, discrimination, political exclusion, socio-economic marginalisation and absence of good governance,” Najib said in his speech.
“A military action alone is inadequate without addressing the root causes and adopting a multi-pronged approach,” he added.
Najib went on to say that policies of moderation, tolerance and understanding are key to the fight against terrorism, particularly in a multi-racial society like Malaysia.
“But this is our history. For centuries, South East Asia has been enriched by the assimilation and integration of different peoples and traditions, with a culture that has welcomed and benefitted from diversity.
“We in Malaysia and Asean must strive to maintain this way of life, and reject extremism and exclusivism,” he said, admitting later that religious extremism has spread to Malaysian shores.
The Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman added his initiative to promote moderation, the Global Movement of Moderates, was even more relevant now in the face of growing religious extremism, especially that of hardline political Islam manifested in groups like the Islamic State.
GMM, he noted, was active in organising programmes, inter-faith and cross cultural dialogues at international and national levels in a bid to foster better social inclusivity and weed out extreme views.
Najib also said that the threat of terrorism justifies the enactment of the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act, which allows for preventive detention.
He said the recent spate of arrests of several IS supporters who plotted to bomb popular locations in the capital city "vindicates" Putrajaya's decision to propose the law.
"No one should doubt that we need it, and we need it more now," he said of the security law.
Rights groups have expressed fear that the introduction of preventive laws would be abused to silence the government's critics.
Earlier today, the Human Rights Watch released a 145-page report detailing politcal arrests made by the Najib administration and accused Putrajaya of reneging on pledged reforms, and instead used criminal laws to crack down on its critics.
Among others, the report cited arrests of people seen to be critical of the prime minister and his administration, the suspension of two newspapers, the blocking of websites and the declaration that peaceful protests were unlawful.
The group also noted how “repression” intensified after the ruling BN coalition lost the popular vote in the 13th General Election, and that the government’s active use of criminal laws to silence peaceful expression is a violation of international legal standards.