Terror tops the agenda at the ongoing ASEAN summit here, with Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak underlining the need for the world to unite to defeat the evil Islamic State and cited Mahatma Gandhi and Mandela to make the point that the enemy needs to be countered with not just force, but ideas.
In a stirring speech at the opening of the ASEAN summit amid tight security, Mr Najib denounced the Islamic State as an “evil” terrorist group and declared that his Muslim-majority country is ready to join others to defeat it. He, however, cautioned that a military solution alone was not enough to defeat the enemy, but it needed to be combated with the power of ideas.
“What needs to be “vanquished” is the ideology of the Islamic State,” Mr Najib said. Emphasising that the world is in dire need of moderation, he cited the examples of Gandhi and Mandela. “This is how Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King won the hearts and minds of their enemies. They won by transforming their foes into friends,” he added.
Referring to Malaysia’s resilience in the backdrop of the recent terror attacks, Mr Najib said the ASEAN summit and 9 other Asia-Pacific summits are taking place in the country. Hitting out at the terror groups for their recent barbaric acts worldwide and underlining the tolerance of Islam, he said: “The perpetrators … do not represent any race, religion or creed. They are terrorists and should be confronted as such, with the full force of the law.” “Malaysia stands ready to provide any help and support that we can, and be assured that we stand with you against this new evil that blasphemes against the name of Islam,” he added.
The Malaysian prime minister also made an important comparison between peace in Southeast Asia unlike the volatility in the Middle East. Mr Najib said that peace and stability in Middle East owes it to the economic growth that has been the bedrock of the region’s relative peace and progress. The combined GDP of the 10 nations comprising 630 million people following Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism, Confucianism and Taoism was USD 2.6 trillion in 2014, an 80 percent increase in seven years.
The increasing presence of terror networks in Southeast is a threat to the peace of one of the most developed regions in the world. The Southeast Asian countries have been able to counter the threat largely due to a strong security apparatus.
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