I fully support the views expressed by Dr Toh Kin Woon, the Gerakan State Exco Member of Penang in his statement to Malaysiakini yesterday, regarding the importance of the right to dissent and the right to freedom of speech.
Dr Toh was commenting on the “growing trend towards stifling dissent”.
I also wish to recall the speech given by Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nasrin, some time back in April this year.
In a keynote address on “Prospects and Challenges for Nation-building”, the respected and learned Raja Nasrin expounded 7 steps for National building:
Step 1. A sense of belonging and a common destiny, binding Malaysians of all races, religions and origins together in a common purpose.
Step 2. Don’t just wish away problems, as nation-building is premised on the fact that there are differences in society.
Step 3. Nation-building required accommodation and compromise.
Step 4. Avoid enforced solutions, as coercion or threats of violence would nullify nation-building. Nation-building required society to be open, tolerant and forward-looking
Step 5. Inclusiveness, to enable the various sectors of society to be productively engaged. Malaysians need to guard against all forms of extremism, chauvinism, racism and isolationism.
Step 6. Political, social and economic incentives should exist to reward good behaviour and penalise bad.
Step 7. The greatest challenge to nation-building was balancing the need for change with that of continuity, particularly in facing globalisation.
We should really listen to the advice given by the wise prince.
Nation building depends on the ability to accomodate differences of opinion and tolerate dissenting views.
There is an old Chinese saying ” A Minister ‘s stomach must be big enough to accomodate a ship”. Of course, this is a figure of speech, but this ancient wisdom teaches us that leaders must be big enough and magnanimous enough to accomodate differences and tolerate dissent.
That is what leadership is about. That is what nobility is about.