The destructive power of financial extremism is being addressed alongside religious extremism by the Global Movement of the Moderates with the Prime Minister telling the first ever GMM conference in Kuala Lumpur that both have the power to devastate lives.
In the opening address Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the 2008 worldwide financial crisis was one of the most “extreme events in recent history.” He says the solution to preventing a repeat of this event lies in a moderate, moral approach to international finance that delivers sustainable growth and social justice.
By focussing on financial extremism at the start of the three day event the Prime Minister was reminding delegates that the GMM is about promoting moderation in all areas of society. When he launched it at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2010 most of the subsequent media focus was understandably on what he had to say about religious extremism. Najib told the 300 conference delegates in KL that both forces have proven to be destructive.
“Compared to the shockingly violent images that were beamed around the world in the wake of 9/11…the pictures taken outside Lehman Brothers on another September morning some years later were much more ordinary, familiar even,” he said.
“Nothing too unusual or untoward – and yet, without a single bullet fired, the extremes and excesses of Wall Street would in a matter of days take the world as we knew it to the brink.”
Financial extremism was defined by the Prime Minister as the range of practices that became familiar to us as they helped create the 2008 crisis, including overleveraging, credit default swaps, derivatives trading in excess, mortgage securitisation, and subprime lending. The Prime Minister said that like some “monstrous creation of some crazy scientist” these practices rampaged out of Wall Street and left the devastated lives of millions of people.
The Global Movement of the Moderates solution to extremism can be found in its name. Rather than try to get world governments to try to impose moderation from the top down, Najib believes that the drive for moderation should be come from the bottom up as a grass roots movement. His Global Movement of the Moderates Foundation launched today will give ordinary people the information and resources they need to be part of that change.
Najib has been careful to ensure his involvement in the GMM project is statesmanlike and above politics but its very existence and the attention gained by this conference will challenge the moderation credentials of his opponents at GE13.
Anwar Ibrahim is religiously and socially moderate but since last week he has been causing fury in some quarters such as PAS, which now seems extreme, to by calling our laws on homosexuality “archaic” and “not relevant”. Anwar’s problem with moderation stems from the political company he keeps – and has kept in the past. Anything but moderate bedfellows in the 1970s as a militant youth leader or today, with PAS.
PAS can’t seem to decide how moderate it wants to be despite what it publicly professes. The gay rights row does not help. The internal meltdown at PAS that followed its failure to introduce hudud last year and the expulsion of hardliner Hasan Ali last week are potent and current reminders of this.
To work alongside the Global Movement of the Moderates Foundation the Prime Minister has separately formed the Malaysia Institute of Wasatiyyah to promote moderation and balance in all walks of life as well as an academic Chair of Wasatiyyah, operating under Universiti Malaya. The appointee to the post will be announced in the coming months.