Wednesday, September 29, 2010

James Fallows on Malaysia...and it is refreshing!

Atlantic's James Fallows..

I met James Fallows in Kuala Lumpur many years ago, where he once lived with his wife at Lorong Kuda Lari near Ampang. The house was a huge colonial bungalow and when he came to receive me he was a tall, gangly and smiling and said "come in!"

I went there simply because I wanted him to autograph a copy of my Atlantic magazine that I had subscribed for the last four years until 1989. He is now a National Correspondent for The Atlantic, an influential magazine read by every decision maker of the USA, if not the rest of the English speaking world.

This 25-year veteran of the magazine and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, wrote recently on Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak (while the PM was in New York) and an impression that he wrote in his magazine is something worth mentioning.

James Fallows is a National Correspondent for The Atlantic. A 25-year veteran of the magazine and former speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, he is also an instrument-rated pilot and a onetime program designer at Microsoft.

He is the National Correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for more than 25 years, based in Washington DC, Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and most recently Beijing.

He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford. In addition to working for the Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and has been an Emmy nominee for a documentary "Doing Business in China." He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His two most recent books, Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards from Tomorrow Square (2009) are based his writings for The Atlantic. He is married and has two sons. Below is what he wrote:

MalayisanPM.jpgFor the moment, a notable speech yesterday at the United Nations General Assembly from Najib Tun Razak, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, about the need for members and leaders of the world's major faiths to censure and reject their own extremists and jointly support a "movement of moderates." That is him giving the speech, at left. Eg:
>>The real issue is not between Muslims and non-Muslims but between the moderates and extremists of all religions, be it Islam, Christianity or Judaism. Across all religions we have inadvertently allowed the ugly voices of the periphery to drown out the many voices of reason and common sense. I therefore urge us to embark on building a "Global Movement of the Moderates" from all faiths who are committed to work together to combat and marginalize extremists who have held the world hostage with their bigotry and bias. We must, and I repeat, we must urgently reclaim the centre and the moral high ground that has been usurped from us. We must choose moderation over extremism. We must choose negotiations over confrontation. We must choose to work together and not against each other. And we must give this effort utmost priority for time is not on our side.<<
And this conclusion to the speech:
>>It is time for moderates of all countries, of all religions to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalise the extremists. This "Global Movement of the Moderates" will save us from sinking into the abyss of despair and depravation. This is an opportunity for us to provide the much needed leadership to bring hope and restore dignity for all. With greater will and collective determination, we will build a more peaceful, secure and equitable world.<<
OK, it's just another UN speech; talk is cheap; and so on. The significant point is: Malaysia is a Muslim-majority country. Over the decades, PM Najib's predecessors would sometimes have crafted such a speech to emphasize the Zionist menace or Western hegemonism as trumping all other threats. This prime minister took a different approach. The next time someone asks, Why is there no Muslim voice of moderation? you can say: Well, here's more here if you wish!


Anonymous said...

I know him, he is a fair man! Mallot does not like him!

Ex-Embassy Gal!

Pasquale said...

Its funny though that I noticed when I wrote something good about the country no body makes any comment, including UMNO bloggers that I know, what a buch of moron we Malaysians are!

Anonymous said...

Very nice indeed I’ll probably download it. Thanks.