Excerpts of the speech by Lim Guan Eng in Sultan Hotel, Jakarta during the 2nd World Peace Forum organised by Muhammadiyah In Co-operation With Cheng Ho Multi-Culture Trust Released in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 26th June 2008: 

An educational framework based on peace, a loving family unit, religious and civilisational dialogues and understanding are not sufficient to stop violence; a government practicing ethical and moral leadership is a necessary condition 

Evil exists because good people do nothing. Violence exists because peacemakers do nothing. The 2nd World Peace Forum is an effort by religious leaders, scholars, peacemakers and good people to do something.

The 2nd World Peace Forum organized by Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia with 30 million members, together with Cheng Ho Multi-Culture Trust is part of continuing efforts to reduce and finally stop the violence that has only caused much tragedy, pain and sorrow to many parts of the world. The organizers must be applauded for carrying out such difficult work and unrewarding work for the good of humanity with much persistence and dedication.

Violence between individuals though shocking is not as horrifying as state-inspired violence committed by governments against masses of people for selfish political or national interests. South-East Asia has witnessed such violence as late as the ’70s during the Vietnam War and in Pol Pot’s Kampuchea that scarred two generations with death, injury and inhumane genocide of millions of innocent civilians. For this reason whilst we may go back to our basic spiritual roots of family and education, such efforts will be in vain if we do not rein in governments from committing violence.

In other words, an educational framework based on peace, a loving family unit, religious and civilisational dialogues, and understanding are not sufficient to stop violence; we would still require a government practicing ethical and moral leadership as a necessary condition. Let me go back to the ethos of this World Peace Forum based on the triple bonds of “one humanity, one destiny and one responsibility”.

My interpretation of this triple bond is that we are one humanity because we all belong to the human race regardless of our skin colour, our race, our religion, our gender or even our political beliefs. We all belong to one species. We have a single destiny together to rule the planet Earth as the dominant species. With power comes responsibility. We have been entrusted with the singular responsibility to leave this planet a better place.

And yet despite our shared humanity, destiny and responsibility, we are prone to violence. Some will say that violence is inherent in carnivorous living beings pointing to predatory animals like lions, sharks and tigers. But predators kill to survive and do not commit mass murder like governments that carries out mindless and barbaric violence. Humanity has committed too many atrocities not only against each other but also against other species resulting in the extinction of many plant and animal species. If we are not careful, we may cause more extermination including the human race.

So why do we engage in mindless and barbaric violence when we are supposed to have the capacity to think? Part of the reason lies in misconceptions of manhood, power and dominance where human greed is allowed free rein. Has it not been said in all the holy religious books, that
the resources on Earth is sufficient to meet all the wants of the entire humanity and all creatures created by God but is never enough to meet the greed of one individual?

This greed is given validity in statecraft such as realpolitik and geopolitics. Realpolitik and geopolitics sanctions the use of violence to achieve its purposes. The use of war appears to be even a natural outcome of geopolitics. Geopolitics is sometimes defined as the relationship between space and people. When a growing population fills up the geographical space in a state, the need of more space justifies war and violence to gain more territory to feed and accommodate its growing population.

The ends justifies the means approach has caused great injustice and oppression. Geopolitics and realpolitik has held sway for centuries before being challenged in the new century by the onset of globalization. Unlike geopolitics relationship between space and people, globalization is more about the relationship between people and people. Globalisation stresses on human interconnectivity where ability, expertise and diligence counts more than privilege, preferential treatment and entitlement in this flat world ruled by computers and Internet that has broken down borders as described by Thomas Friedman in his book “The World Is Flat”.

In this new borderless flat world, human capital formation has suddenly become the most critical element of productivity and economic growth. With the stress on human capital formation, the people suddenly matter more than in the past. Government cannot dictate as they please but must heed public opinion. Even dictators must cloak themselves with democracy and popular support to attain legitimacy.

For this reason, globalization and the borderless world of the Internet has given ordinary people who normally are inconsequential in the decision-making process the leverage to compel governments to forsake war for peace and to preach non-violence over violence. Only when governments who start wars practise moral and ethical leadership, can we stop violence.

As a corollary to human capital formation of globalization, this humanizing of government by necessity requires spiritual capital formation. Spiritual capital formation would be helped by civilisational dialogues and religious interactions that focuses on universal values that unite us. All religions revolve around sound education, family and a basic adherence to spiritual values of faith, hope and love. Governments must also profess and give faith, hope and love. The people must have faith that governments are there to help, not harm them; the government must give hope to the young that there is a bright future with equal opportunities and social justice; and that the government must show love for the people based on human dignity, compassion and a caring society.

In short, human capital formation from the purely economic perspective centred on CAT principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency is crucial for good governance. But it is not enough. Spiritual capital formation is also required for a government to practise ethical and moral leadership based on faith, hope and love. Only with both human and spiritual capital formation in government, can we succeed in ending violence globally.

* Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister, DAP Secretary-General & MP for Bagan