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HANDING OVER: Regional grouping will ‘operationalise’ the GMM at the local, national and international levels
NO idea, no matter how novel, operates in a vacuum. Internal and external stimuli are key to the birth of any international relations concept.
This is all the more the case with an idea like the Global Movement of the Moderates (GMM).
GMM was originally articulated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the 65th General Assembly of the United Nations in September 2010.
The goal was to rally the moderates from all over the world to stand up for what they believe, lest the "noisy minority" at the periphery were to crowd out the voices of moderation. There are two reasons why GMM is needed.
First, the prime minister was genuinely concerned with the oversight of many governments and non-governmental organisations with regard to the future of international relations.
Popular ideas like the "clash of civilisations", "China threat" and "the rise of the rest" had made inroads into international discourse. They became the lens that framed international relations.
Yet, the battle between moderates versus extremists was completely left out, even though this was a signal event in the world, too.
"The future is one between the moderates and the extremists," as the prime minister subsequently acclaimed at the Asia Europe Meeting, the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Asia Pacific Europe Meeting (APEC) and finally Asean between 2010 and last year.
Second, in spite of the clarity of many problems, such as climate change, global human trafficking, illicit flow of funds, over-leverage in international banking, and massive credit bailouts, there were repeated denials and foot-dragging by various quarters in the developed world.
As the prime minister accurately pointed out in the International Global Conference on the Global Movement of the Moderates in Kuala Lumpur in January, the cost of saving the international financial system in 2008-2009 alone was "many times more expensive than the military forays into Iraq and Afghanistan".
International banking has backed itself into an extremist position, which requires government intervention of equally unprecedented scale, invariably, at the expense of taxpayers.
Although camouflaged in different forms and shapes, the trajectory of international relations, and international economic relations, were both going off tangent.
Extremism was no longer in the religious realm, as post-Sept 11 accounts of international relations would have it.
It was alive and growing within our midst, even in the developed world. In more ways than one, it had penetrated what the world in general had regarded as the secular sector -- banking, economy, and finance.
If extremism is trying the same failed formula again and again, the world has practically used up all its nine lives. Flawed policies were promoted by different administrations even when they had for decades fumbled or fluttered, completely. This was clearly the case in the manner with which the great powers dealt with the Palestinian issue.
The Global Movement of the Moderates Foundation (GMMF) was formed by Najib to look into various manifestations of extremism, especially how moderates can make their presence felt in areas like sustainable development, education, conflict resolution, rule of law and democracy, economy and finance.
In other words, there was a need to think outside the box.
What is just as vital is that this initiative has passed from Malaysia to Asean. A Concept Paper on GMM is now in the hands of Dr Surin Pitsuwan, the Asean secretary-general.
Due to its track record of maintaining peace and prosperity -- often at great odds -- Asean has been entrusted with the responsibility of "operationalising" GMM at the local, national, and international levels.
In this context, GMMF serves as the centre of first resort in the dissemination of important information on GMM throughout the region, and ultimately, the rest of the world.
Ultimately, what empowers GMM is increasing the number of like-minded governments and non-governmental actors that can see the value of uniting around common interest, and moving away from orthodoxy.
This is because extremism survives and thrives on the unwillingness of moderates to challenge it logically, systematically, and creatively.
GMMF is there to take on extremism in all three realms, and it will succeed for the plain reason that moderation is rooted in true democracy and creative-thinking, while extremism is linked to none.