Free Malaysia Today 4 July 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Liberalism can be a counter to the influence and ideology of the Islamic State terrorist group, said policy analyst Khalid Jaafar today.

He said the Islamic State group espoused an intolerant, bigoted ideology which could only be resolved through tolerance.

Khalid, who heads the Institute of Policy Research, said he believed that Malaysia could protect itself from extremism by adhering to liberal principles.

“How do you respond to extremism? You respond to extremism by having more tolerance, educating people to be more tolerant, these are liberal principles,” he said.

The rise of the IS group, including its influence among some Malaysians, was an outcome of the government heading towards authoritarianism and totalitarianism, as opposed to becoming more liberal and tolerant.

“The government needs to be more liberal and have more liberal policies, policies that uphold the rule of law, policies that uphold human rights, and respect for human dignity,” he said.

Asked whether he felt Malaysia was ready for a liberal political party, Khalid said liberal political parties had been in existence since Merdeka.

“Umno used to be quite a liberal party which believed in the principles of liberalism, the Rukun Negara articulated a vision of a liberal society,” he said.

Although Umno should be credited with bringing about liberal ideology to the country, the very same party had made a public stance against it.

“Our task is to resurrect liberalism,” he said, at a forum on whether Malaysia is ready for a liberal political party, organised by the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs.

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