For immediate release

21 April 2015


Look to Sabah for lessons on national unity

In a frank closed-door dialogue that IDEAS held on Saturday, 18 April 2015 in Kota Kinabalu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department responsible for national unity YB Tan Sri Joseph Kurup shared how Peninsular Malaysians could look to Sabah for lessons on national unity.

During the dialogue session, Tan Sri Joseph stressed how Sabahans are able to live in peace despite coming from multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds. In the closed-door discussion, various issues that affect social cohesion were touched, including the need for infrastructural development, the problem of illegal immigrants, and regional differences between East and West Malaysia.

The meeting was part of the IDEAS National Unity Youth Fellowship programme, which is a nine-month intensive programme with the objective of raising a generation of young Malaysian leaders who share a common vision to improve the state of interethnic and interreligious relations in the country. During the programme, IDEAS brings the 21 Youth Fellows to different all the states in Malaysia to meet with local community leaders and visit national unity initiatives at grassroot level.  The will culminate with a National Unity Conference to be held on Malaysia Day, 16 September 2015.

The IDEAS National Unity Youth Fellowship programme is run by IDEAS together with the Department of National Unity and Integration at the Prime Minister’s Department, Institut Integriti Malaysia and Negara-ku.

At the meeting, YB Tan Sri Joseph Kurup said “Extremism, in any form is threat to our national security and our unity. Extremism and intolerance if it goes unchecked will eventually paralyze our vision to build a balanced and just societies, where different faiths live and prosper in peace will be an impossible dream to achieve. The moderates, the silent majority should confront, oppose and wage war against extremism. It is essential and necessity for us to always find an amicable solution to our issues, without resorting to unwarranted hate speeches and bigotries which only deepens our fault lines.”YB Tan Sri Joseph added: “It is important, to keep reminding ourselves that everyone have the right to express their opinions but if those opinions are motivated by extremism and to perpetuate bigotry then we have a problem. And when certain segment of the society exceeds or crosses the line of decency and violates the freedom of others for holding different opinions, animosities and feuds are engendered leading to an end of good feeling and neighbourliness. Defamatory, disparaging and provocative phrases that hurts the feeling of Malaysians needs to be stopped at all cost, before we reach a point of no return. We should not allow racists, religious bigots and other trouble makers to hijack our unity and take away the peace and tranquility that we have been enjoying thus far.”
Commenting on the speech, IDEAS’ Chief Executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan said, “Hearing Tan Sri Joseph’s views was refreshing.  As a Sabahan he is able to see the importance of peace for prosperity and development.  When looking for a solution to our race and religious challenges, many tend to look abroad.  But the reality is that Putrajaya does not have to look that far.  There is a lot to learn from Sabah alone.”Wan Saiful also added that “The Youth Fellowship started on 7 February this year and we have visited Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Sarawak, and now Sabah.  Looking at how things are in both Sabah and Sarawak, I cannot imagine protests like the one that took place against a church a Taman Medan recently would happen in these two states.  Such protests stem from a feeling of insecurity that are unjustifiable.  I just hope the diseases in Peninsula will not be exported to East Malaysia and that the positive values from Sabah and Sarawak can be brought to this part of the country.”

About the IDEAS National Unity Youth Fellowship

The ultimate objective of this initiative is to develop and support a group of youth leaders so that they can become advocates of the Rukun Negara that says “mendukung cita cita hendak menjamin satu cara hidup liberal terhadap tradisi-tradisi kebudayaannya yang kaya dan berbagai corak.”.  The current 21 Youth Fellows were selected via a competitive process.  The programme runs from February to September 2015, during which the Youth Fellows go through a series of capacity building workshops to build their skills to promote unity and “turun padang sessions” to meet with local communities in different states.


IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit


Media enquiries:
Wan Saiful Wan Jan (+60-13) 2786 334

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