KUALA LUMPUR: Two prominent advocates of moderation who have been involved in the Global Movement of Moderates have left the body.
Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, a pioneer trustee to the GMM, tendered his resignation to chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail two weeks ago.
He cited his intention to commit his time to “domestic moderation issues” and the media business, of which he is The Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer.
Former ambassador Datuk Redzuan Kushairi, who had played a key role in the GMM, has also informed Razali of his intention to move on.
Redzuan has served as ambassador to Uzbekistan, deputy high commissioner to the United Kingdom and deputy permanent representative to the Malaysian mission to the United Nations.
He did not hold any official post in GMM but with his vast diplomatic experiences, Redzuan provided important input to the body.
Wong, when contacted, confirmed that he submitted his letter to Razali but declined to elaborate on his decision.
It is understood that Wong and his fellow moderation partner Anas Zubedy will be focusing their resources on reaching out to Malay youths, especially in rural areas, using the social media platform while keeping their urban support base.
GMM chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah resigned from his post in October 2015 when he decided to join PKR.
His post has been taken over by former PAS deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, whose appointment has met with some criticism.
He has maintained that he had always championed moderation and was ready to make something of the GMM.
In explaining his take on moderation, Nasharudin told The Star in an interview that “it should not have to come at the price of one’s principles.”
“For example, you let someone challenge the supremacy of the law or the position of certain articles in the Constitution.
“When this happens, it means you are compromising your principles. Yes, we are moderate in our principles, but GMM needs to be a principles-based movement,” he was quoted as saying last year.
However, it is understood that some advocates of moderation were not comfortable with Nasharudin’s continued membership as a PAS member and his Islamist stand.
His criticisms of the Group of 25 (G25) comprising eminent retired Malay civil servants and personalities, who are seen as moderation advocates, had not helped him to improve his image.
The last straw for these moderation advocates, who had already been uneasy with Nasharudin’s appointment, came when he reportedly warned that G25 was too extreme even for a democratic country like Malaysia.
Nasharudin reportedly chastised the group and said its individuals should be more aware of Islamic law and Islam’s position in the country.
Elaborating further, he was quoted as saying that the views espoused by G25 were dangerous and could be seen as challenging the religion’s position.
“If we look at some of the positions they have taken (on certain issues), they are extreme.”
“When it touches on the position of Islam, and challenges Islamic institutions, challenges Islamic jurisprudence, it cannot be taken lightly,” he told reporters last December.
Supporters of G25 including several prominent advocates of moderation felt that the GMM CEO had "gone overboard with choice of words in his criticism."
They said Nasharudin did not have a record in moderation activities and that his strong words against the G25 did not help.
Related story in The Star:
Propelling Malaysia’s moderation to the world
Pioneers Wong and Redzuan opt out of GMM