World must reject jingoism and xenophobia, says Malaysia's PM-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim

Pakatan Harapan and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah won 121 seats in the 222-seat federal Parliament in the keenly contested general election in May 2018.
Pakatan Harapan and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah won 121 seats in the 222-seat federal Parliament in the keenly contested general election in May 2018.PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW DELHI - Malaysia’s prime-minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim said global peace and security are increasingly being threatened by rising xenophobia and jingoism. 

"The resurgence of ultra-nationalism is a global phenomenon. It is a precursor to fear and a present danger to peace and security," national news agency Bernama quoted him as saying in his speech at the Raisina Dialogue geopolitical conference in New Delhi on Thursday evening (Jan 10).

"Extreme identity politics and polemics contribute to the conditions in which the seductive call to violence festers. We must reject it."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines jingoism as extreme chauvinism or nationalism marked especially by a belligerent foreign policy, while xenophobia means fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.

Datuk Seri Anwar is currently on a five-day visit to India, which began on Tuesday. 

Mr Anwar, who is the president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) - a component under the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) goverment - said nativist economics in America and nationalism in Europe were startling. 

"With the doubling down of its semantic cousins such as 'xenophobia' or 'ultra-nationalism' or 'jingoism', the anti-immigration discourse has morphed into toxic mutations of domestic racism, religious animosity and communal hatred with chronic race-baiting and incitement to violence becoming an increasingly common occurrence," he said.

 

Turning to Malaysia, Mr Anwar said said the world should learn from PH in ousting Barisan Nasional (BN) during last year's general election while at the same time, managing a pact that comprised former rivals and different races.

He said Malaysia now has entered a new era under PH, describing the peaceful transition of power from the former ruling BN coalition as “nothing short of remarkable”. 

“And I strongly believe that one of the most important reasons for this exceptional phenomenon is our very firm and consistent policy on communal and race relations,” news portal Malay Mail quoted him as saying.

“If the world were to take one lesson from the Malaysian story, it is this. Mind you, managing a coalition of bitter rivals and different ethnicities and religions is, at times, Olympian in the effort required."

“But we must not shy away from what is fundamentally right and good only because it is hard. I believe the generations which follow will look back at this inflection point in our history with appreciation that we fought tooth and nail for a country that embraces all,” he said.

PH and its ally Parti Warisan Sabah won 121 seats in the 222-seat federal Parliament in the keenly contested May 9 General Election, while BN secured 79 seats, in results that were ready by the wee hours of May 10.

The regime change was a first in Malaysia’s history.