Malaysia must promote moderation at home before preaching it on the international stage, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Vicki Treadell told a forum last night.
"Moderation is a global agenda. Each of us has to look at how we manage moderation at home. How can we preach moderation in the global stage if we don't practice it at home?"
The Ipoh-born Treadell, who arrived in Malaysia as the British high Commissioner in October last year, said the nation will be under greater scrutiny internationally as it was elected as a non-permanent member to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), among other accolades.
"International rhetoric must be matched by what happens at home in terms of tolerance and moderation," she said in her opening address at The Great Debate: Everything in Moderation held in Kuala Lumpur.
Treadell referred to Malaysia being praised for its moderate outlook and concept, which had led to its seat in the UNSC.
But she is not the first to make such observations. Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under fire for abandoning his moderate principles from opposition politicians and activists.
They criticised Najib for using extremist approaches to quell dissent, and human rights records also dipped since he took over the helm as the country’s prime minister.
Treadell said last night that Malaysians should not take for granted what it already had in abundance, including its diversity and multiculturalism.
"For most Malaysians, there is a sense that the majority believes in moderation and inclusion and this majority should voice out the kind of Malaysia they want," she added.
Treadell said the lack of tolerance among the different races and religions in the country of late was distasteful.
She said there have been a host of changes in Malaysia from during her childhood in the country to her early adult life and when she returned as high commissioner.
"People always ask me if I have noticed the changes in Malaysia and it is always expected for me to say something positive.
"There's been huge positive transformation, of course. But what disappoints me is that there is little less tolerance in Malaysia.
Treadell said things were different during the early days of her life in Ipoh, Perak, before moving to the United Kingdom.
"Born in Ipoh, I know what Malaysia was like in the early 60s. I remember going to school with those of different races... Malays, Chinese, Indians and others.
"I know what the friends of my parents were like when we went to their homes during festive seasons like Hari Raya, Diwali, and Chinese New Year," Treadell said.
Treadell said back then, there was a sense that everyone was equal and each person practiced their different faiths in their own interpretations.
"What they did with their religion was between them and God," she said. – May 12, 2015.
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