Malaysian NGO groups launch unifying 'people's movement' | Asia Pacific

Malaysian NGO groups launch unifying 'people's movement'

Malaysian NGO groups launch unifying 'people's movement'

Updated 14 July 2014, 11:48 AEST

A new movement has been launched in Malaysia to counter misinformation and racial division.

The new 'people's movement', made up of 68 NGOs, is called Negara Ku - translated to mean, 'My Nation' - and it's also the title of Malaysia's national anthem.

Negara Ku's mission is to reach all Malaysians with information that will dispel untruths, rumours and unfair statements.

The movement says it aims to build a peaceful and prosperous nation within the framework of the Federal Constitution.

Presenter: Sen Lam

Speaker: Zaid Kamaruddin, chairman of Malaysia's new people's movement, Negara Ku

KAMARUDDIN: Recently, we have seen more cases where issues could break up the national harmony and have effect on national unity, because we are a multicultural, multi-religious, as well as people of diverse thoughts and ideologies. It is very important to maintain peace and harmony, for the sake of the prosperity of our nation.  Because if we project the things that have happened with even politician putting in challenges to each other, referring to the May 13 incident in 1969, where there was a racial outburst, racial riot. So concerned individuals and civil society organisation leaders have decided that this trajectory is not good and we have got to do something about it. I think the issues has been played up by our media as well and, of course, our social media, so people can have a different spin on issues.
 
LAM: When you refer to media, are you referring to Malaysian government-owned media or just media generally in Malaysia?
 
KAMARUDDIN: Media generally in Malaysia.
 
LAM: One of your patrons, of course, is the former Barisan co-chair, Ambiga Sreenevasan . How different is Negara Ku from the Bersih movement?
 
KAMARUDDIN: The Bersih movement was specifically meant for free and fair election, so it's a very specific purpose. And Ambiga was actually the chair of the Steering Committee, and she's elected. This actually is not led by Ambiga. We have a Steering Committee consisting of civil society activists.
 
LAM: Negara Ku has been accused of being a vehicle for the Pakatan Rakyat Opposition and the government says that you are being used by the Opposition?
 
KAMARUDDIN: On our side, we see that this is a civil society initiative and in fact, we've made a clear decision not to involve political parties in this effort, even though we welcome the support of all political parties. It is going back to the basics, that is the Constitution of Malaysia, the Malaysia agreement, as well as the concept of Rukun Negara.
 
LAM: And, can you tell us who is funding this movement? Where do you get your funding from?
 
KAMARUDDIN:  Actually, we are not funded by anybody yet. We have not talked about how we're going to fund this movement, but we probably think that we will be self-funded, from people who agree, from among those who support us or any other people who think that this is a worthy cause to.
 
LAM: So, basically from donations?
 
KAMARUDDIN: Ya. Basically - but we have not actually come to discuss this, we've just launched it , we'd think that generally, it (funding) will be from public donations.
 
LAM: The Islamic group, ISMA, has accused Negara Ku of being another anti-Islam, anti-Melayu, anti-Malay body. How would you to respond to that?
 
KAMARUDDIN: I think they're entitlted to their opinion, and I think we have got to prove it through what we do in the future. Of course, people can react to it. We thought that they should not have reacted that way, because, after all, nobody would say coming back to the three basic principles that I mentioned to you, as something that is anti-anybody. In fact, we specifically said, this movement is not against anybody, whether political parties and the other NGOs or even individual, because what we want is to actually call everybody back to the basic principle that has worked before.
 
LAM: Some UMNO supporters have asked you to guarantee that Negara Ku will not take to the streets and cause disruption. Will you give that guarantee?
 
KAMARUDDIN: There are things that are within our rights and according to the laws that are permitted. Why should we say so, because there is such a thing as freedom to state our opinion together and then so on, peacefully.
 

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