Firstly, it feels great to be back at work, after being absent due to health reasons for almost two weeks. Having contracted chicken pox at my mature age, it was prudent to heed the doctor’s advice and rest at home.
Nonetheless, the outpouring of get-well-soon messages and prayers from all of you both touched and amazed me. Not only do I feel comforted by the positive thoughts of my fellow Malaysians, but by the fact that we are still able to connect with each other virtually instantly. It is exactly this phenomenon that I had intended to address at our dinner, instead of under these regrettable circumstances.
Last month, the release of a global study revealed that Malaysians are the heaviest users of social networks worldwide and have the most social network friends on average. Considering our modest population size, and that broadband penetration in the country is still growing, our readiness to embrace social media and build our online social network reflects a high degree of acceptance among connected Malaysians towards others.
Should we be content with this recognition? It is a good achievement for us, but I believe we have the ability to transform it into a greater one.
In recent months I have tirelessly pushed for a global movement to bring the voices of the moderates to the forefront, most recently conveyed at the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi last month. It is a message I have reinforced in my blog posts and with good reason. We as a people have ably demonstrated a moderate’s viewpoint in the spirit of 1Malaysia, as evidenced this past year on issues of national sovereignty, religious tolerance, and many more.
Hence, our remarkable online connectivity presents both an opportunity and a responsibility for us to communicate as moderates. Our interactions in cyberspace are an imprint of ourselves as individuals and Malaysians. Our strength should not lie just in the number of online friends we amass, but in the number of intelligent, mature and open dialogues we engage in with them. We should take the lead in guiding our social media connections towards constructive conversations, whether on Facebook, Twitter, or other social networks of preference. Granted, there are and will be small groups propagating extreme ideologies and behaviour, but let that not be an impediment to our voice of moderation and wasatiyyah. Let us not be swayed to respond to coarse and immature online provocations with similar behaviour; instead, let us take an approach that best reflects our integrity and culture as a people. We must continue onwards, encouraging others to do the same and amplifying the voice of the moderates. This is a measure of our progress towards developing a first-class mentality, of being truly 1Malaysia.
What are your views on promoting a culture of moderation online? How do we supercede extremist behaviour on our social and information networks with more moderate and balanced discourse? I welcome such constructive discussions on my website, Facebook, and Twitter, and urge you to do the same within your own online social networks. It is my sincere hope that we are able to initiate a global movement with our online presence. In the meantime, I hope to set a new date for the postponed dinner, and hope you all look forward to it as much as I do.