PETALING JAYA: Building an inclusive society free of championing only single perspective agenda will ensure a healthy future for the nation, academics, activists, think-tanks and politicians pointed out yesterday.
The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham) delved into these talking points during a discussion titled, Malaysian Agenda 2013 and Beyond: Building An Inclusive Society On The Foundation Of Human Rights and Responsibilities at the Malaysian Institute of Management, here, on Monday.
Moderated by Proham secretary-general Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, the discussion was held in conjunction with the launch of his book, Malaysia: The Need for Inclusiveness, published by the Institute of Ethnic Studies.
The book was compilation of 22 articles from his Meeting Halfway column published in The Malay Mail.
Proham chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun opened the discussion by rekindling his childhood days in pre-Merdeka Sabah, then called North Borneo, which had been a more inclusive society than the current "fractured" modern community.
"There never was trouble back then when non-Muslims said the word Allah," he said.
Assoc Prof Dr Ramy Bulan from Universiti Malaya's Centre of Malaysian Indigenous Studies stressed on the importance of substantive equality and equality of open access to opportunities to create inclusiveness.
She urged academics to understand the need for minority groups to be judged based on their own merits.
Women's Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah said Jayasooria's book should be translated to Malay, Chinese and Tamil.
"In fact, this open discussion should be aired on national television," Josiah said, rejecting the notion that Malaysian society was not ready for open discussions.
She said as a progressive country, no subject should be too sensitive to discussed.
The final speaker of the day, Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah praised Jayasooria's articles saying they were key elements able to drive the country's progressiveness forward.
He noted the importance of freedom of expression in the media to create an inclusive society, praising certain newspapers, including The Malay Mail.