I AM responding to Jenny Wong’s reply article where she tries to justify why Najib’s Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) foundation is neither global, a movement, nor moderate.
First, let’s look at the origin and meaning of the term “moderate”. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term comes from the Latin term “moderat-”, which means “reduced” or “controlled”.
Amusingly, the word “violent” appears eight times in her reply article, but she cannot provide any evidence of any reduction or control of neither violence nor extremism by Najib’s GMM Foundation, either directly or indirectly. This is after seven years of operation.
It’s also worth noting that the words “achievement”, “target” or any performance-related terminology appear zero times.
Instead, her reply completely misses the point – she awkwardly goes into a sort of “Gish Gallop” (drowning one’s opponent with a torrent of poorly constructed and unsubtantive arguments), where she attempts to describe five examples of GMM “processes” – specifically, one roundtable, one luncheon talk, one comic-strip workshop, one seminar, and one media briefing.
But last time I checked, I’ve never seen any Islamic State (IS) or Perkasa followers change their minds by reading comic strips.
Notice that only one of these five example “processes” she mentions was from 2017, even though we are more than halfway through this year. Isn’t it time for a mid-2017 checkup report to the Malaysian public?
Indeed, GMM is all just peripheral elites talking about “can’t we all just get along” nonsense, because they fundamentally misunderstand the anthropological, psychological, military, and sociological causes of any given global conflict. And GMM’s participants are outrageously distant from each conflict – most of the time, these participants are not even known to the principal negotiators or stakeholders on either side.
Even the so-called Tunisian “government leader” whom she mentions that Najib met this month, Sheikh Rached Ghannouchi, is 76 years old and resigned from Tunisia’s government in January 2014! Ironically, he was criticized and pushed out by Tunisian government leaders because he was seen as too religiously extreme.
Lastly, GMM also repeatedly claims it is “recognised” by international actors overseas, as if recognition is a substitute for accomplishments.
In contrast, exemplary organisations like Peace Direct, Search for Common Ground, Interfaith Youth Core, or Seeds of Peace increase global moderation through community outreach and mass social organising of everyday grassroots people. They do fieldwork in poor kampungs with risky youth, get their hands dirty on the ground, as well as transparently monitor, evaluate, and report their progress toward goals and numerical targets.
GMM does none of these.
The cold truth is that the GMM Foundation (GMMF) is a poorly designed, lavishly expensive talking shop that cannot reduce or control extremism, either directly or indirectly. Worse than useless, it was doomed from the start by design.
Instead, GMM’s activities can be encapsulated as, “We burned through millions of dollars of Malaysian taxpayers’ money over seven years, but here’s a box nasi lemak lunch and a hastily-signed MoU with no follow-up strategy for majority building. Now what?”
Therefore, here are 10 questions for GMMF to answer to the Malaysian rakyat –
- Why doesn’t the GMMF operate like the vast majority of foundations, with quantitative or qualitative targets to reach, quarterly or annual progress reports, and financial reports?
- Why does she claim that the GMMF is not “linked” to the Malaysian government, even though the website clearly says that it is sponsored by Najib?
- How much Malaysian taxpayer money is being lost on “processes” like lunches, seminars, travels overseas, etc. etc.?
- What is GMM’s working definition of a “moderate”?
- What would success look like, and which targets have been achieved, as per most standard foundations’ targets?
- Why does the website display Mat Isa’s numerous grip-and-grin handshake trips overseas, but with no explanations of what he discussed, nor these meetings’ outcomes?
- Why doesn’t the research section of the website have any research?
- Where is the evidence that these processes resulted in an increase in the number of moderates worldwide, and that they are coalescing into a global movement?
- What is the purpose and unique value of the GMMF, without duplicating other organisations’ efforts?
- Why does the GMMF still have no mission and vision statement, as per most standard foundations?
All of Wong’s talk about processes leads us to a larger point about the current Najib government –
Malaysians need more government achievements, not processes.
Instead of focusing on numerous processes like programmes, initiatives, projects, discussions, media briefings, and so forth, it’s time for all Malaysians to demand from their current government the evidence of results.
Transparency and accountability is all.
Finally, during this urgent time of increasing global violence, extremism and terrorism, GMM has not delivered. Instead, at the end of her reply article, Wong throws out the most overused, tired, defensive old proverb from the Tao Te Ching to justify GMM’s lack of progress – “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
In response, I will conclude by answering with another famous Chinese proverb – “A year’s harvest depends on spring. A person’s success depends on diligence” (一年之际在于春. 一生之际在于勤.) – July 27, 2017.
* Athena Angel reads The Malaysian Insight.
* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.