In early 2014, The Star newspaper initiated the ‘Voices of Moderation’ campaign to pave the way for pledges for open, rational and moderate discussions from balanced voices on a variety of issues affecting the country. ‘Voices of Moderation’ ran parallel with The Star’s ‘Brave Views, Bold Ideas’ campaign that was launched later to encourage Malaysians to espouse moderation while being open, rational and balanced in their discussions.
At the launch, the ﬁrst question asked of The Star was what they meant by moderation. Some thought moderation meant taking a neutral stand as “a counterpoint to the growing voices of extremism that found their oxygen of publicity through the clever use of social media.” The voices of a few individuals and groups were ampliﬁed to the extent that there were increasing calls for the silent majority to make their voices heard as well. While that may be one reason which prompted the newspaper to start the campaign, the main concern was that public debate on a myriad issues in Malaysia had taken a turn for the worse because Malaysians did not seem capable of engaging in any discourse that can be considered intellectual. They could not seem to disagree without being disagreeable. Everything appeared to be seen through a prism of race and religion, thus allowing a dangerous cocktail to brew, especially when those in authority seemed reluctant to act against those fanning the ﬂames of discord.
In this new book, unadornedly titled Moderation, some of the country’s most prominent thinkers and writers attempt to make sense of the current state of the nation, where it is now, the problems faced today, and ideal steps forward.
The 28 essays touch on different views of moderation in an ever-fragmenting country. Many Malaysians will be familiar with most of the writers, among them Azmi Sharom, Marina Mahathir, Idris Jala, Zainah Anwar, Ramon Navaratnam and Michael Yeoh. Some of the writers may be new faces, but their views are equally pertinent as the future of this country will be shaped by them. Also included are three popular cartoonists – CW Kee, Lat and Reggie Lee. What links them all together are influential statements articulated in a manner that is not offensive.