By: Azman Zakaria
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 - A three-pronged approach to build the capacity or ability of civil society organisations and grassroots communities needs to be initiated in the initiatives to counter violent extremism towards targeted groups such as the youth.
A study by two senior lecturers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and an independent think-tank institute, IMAN Research, concluded that firstly, it should begin with preventive initiatives from both the social and public policy perspectives.
Dr. Siti Irma Fadhilah Ismail and Dr. Tan Kit-Aun from the Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UPM and IMAN Research said that it is imperative that security considerations and development of goals go hand in hand in eliminating the root causes of violent extremism such as poverty, mass migration due to economic factors, and racial and religious discriminations.
The study titled ‘Normative Beliefs towards Countering Violent Extremism: A Study on Malaysian Youth’ was carried out in Selangor and Sabah.
The findings of the study were released at a press conference here today. The findings denote that prevention and rehabilitative aspects were necessary as well as the need for more effective and tailor-made strategies to combat violent extremism among rural and urban communities in Malaysia.
The study focused on the ‘public health’ viewpoint in determining normative beliefs among the youth with regard to violent extremism and other aspects of normative beliefs related to violent extremism from the demographic, psychosocial and health characteristics of the youth viewpoints.
The second approach suggested giving equal attention to rehabilitative aspects.
According to the researchers, the current rehabilitation and deradicalisation programmes implemented by the authorities focus only on correcting intentions of religious rituals which are based on the public’s assumption that violent extremism stems from religious ideology such as Wahabi/Salafi.
However, according to them, the study indicated the existence of several combinations of factors such as demographic, psychosocial and health characteristics that trigger a person’s inclination towards violent extremism.
“As such, rehabilitation initiatives under existing laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) and the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) need to be looked at in depth to focus on addressing the ‘dark traits’ present among certain groups of individuals who are inclined to support violent extremism,” they said.
They added that the third approach, which is more holistic and important, is the implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) that involved Malaysia and all ASEAN countries.
According to them, efforts towards developing a comprehensive NAP has been put on the backburner for some time, especially with the change of government in May 2018 general election.
They added that NAP is an important policy instrument in preventing and protecting everyone from violent extremism.
“Therefore, it is high time that this initiative is given a priority status under the new government’s agenda,” they said. – UPM
Date of Input: 14/02/2019 | Updated: 14/02/2019 | hairul_nizam
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