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Former Aussie ambassador to UK praises Malaysia’s anti-extremist efforts

john dauth

Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

KUALA LUMPUR – January 20, 2016: A former Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom (UK) has praised Malaysia’s efforts in countering the rise of Islamist-inspired militancy.

In his article published by the The Telegraph, John Dauth was of the opinion that Malaysia is a model for other countries as to how Muslim societies can provide a positive alternative to the perils of reactionary Islamist ideologies.

“In Malaysia, the government has introduced a radical economic development programme aimed at offering vulnerable young Muslims a viable alternative to following the path to radicalisation.

“Fifty-eight per cent of Malaysia’s population is Muslim – the overwhelming majority of whom are far from being radicalised and seek a successful future in an interdependent world,” he wrote.

He added, the extent of the challenge the Malaysian government faced in tackling Islamist-inspired terrorism was revealed at the close of last year when Malaysian security officials discovered several prominent Malaysian politicians – including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak – were on Islamic State (IS) hit list.

Dauth wrote that Najib was on the list because of the courageous stand he took against Islamist-inspired extremism at last November’s Asean summit of South East Asian when he declared that IS was responsible for this “new evil blasphemes against the name of Islam.”

“Thus successive Malaysian governments up to and including Mr Najib have worked hard to harness the benefits of economic growth to build community harmony and reduce the potential threat posed by domestic extremism.

“Nonetheless, some of the less developed rural Malaysian states – notably Kelantan and Terengganu in the North East and Kedah and Perak in the North West – have had a historic problem of Islamic extremism.

“In the late 1990s, the militant Al-Ma’unah group established itself in the forest areas of Perak, culminating in a siege with Malaysian security forces in July 2000.”

Dauth said in order to counter the “alarming rise in Islamist-inspired militancy”, the Malaysian government has worked hard to spread economic opportunities to the affected areas.

“The states Kedah and Perak are part of a ‘Northern Corridor Economic Region’ to develop the region’s infrastructure and attract private sector investment.

“In the first half of 2015 alone, the programme attracted £1.2 billion worth of private investment – and is expected to create 12,000 new jobs,” Dauth wrote.

He added that the Malaysian government’s method can ultimately defeat the “poisonous ideology” that spawns Islamist terror.

“Because Muslim can see that they can have a peaceful, prosperous and respected place both in their own country but also in the global community.

“Successful economic and social reform will be indispensable to winning what (British Prime Minister) David Cameron has called ‘the struggle of our generation,” Dauth wrote

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at [email protected]