PETALING JAYA: Two captains of industry have chosen to speak out on social issues affecting Malaysians because “it would be very sad if we have gotten to a point where leaders are afraid of championing unity”.

CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak and AirAsia Group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes are known to actively express their thoughts on issues affecting Malaysians.

“I am also a Malaysian and a leading figure in the community. I have a responsibility to stand up and speak on behalf of greater unity among Malaysians,” said Nazir.

Fernandes referenced the actions of American corporate leaders, some of whom had stepped up to condemn controversial decisions that would affect the people there.

“It’s interesting to see how they have been powerful advocates for issues like immigration, with some even resigning over a lack of response to the race-based violence in Charlottesville.

“Malaysian corporate figures won’t have much of a profit and loss statement to focus on if Malaysians all end up fighting each other,” he said.

Nazir and Fernandes, who were staunch advocates of multiculturalism and moderation, asserted that these elements contributed to happier workplaces.

“It is because we have successfully promoted multiculturalism in the workplace that we have been able to internationalise our businesses effectively.

“Malaysians, when they get along in the workplace across cultures and religions, are actually much better at travelling for business,” said Nazir.

Fernandes said the spirit of moderation and multiculturalism was the bedrock of AirAsia’s success, and that of his partnership with fellow AirAsia co-founder Datuk Kamarudin Meranun.

“You could not have gotten two more different people – I am super liberal while he has conservative religious views.

“However, that’s the beauty of moderation – we treat each other with respect instead of forcing our beliefs on each other,” he added.

Asked what kind of legacy they wanted to leave behind, Nazir hoped to institutionalise the moderate mindset and for CIMB to always be a beacon of multiculturalism, while Fernandes wanted future leaders to continue building on the foundation he had set.

Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai observed that captains of industry were in a position to influence and shape the opinions of others, and they should therefore advocate a moderate stand.

“Most corporate leaders are happy looking after their quarterly results and shy away from other things, which is unfortunate.

“As leaders, they are in a position to push for unity and all the good things the country needs. Malaysia needs happy news, Malaysia needs heroes,” he said.

Wong added that Star Media Group advocated moderation and that he was happy to have partners who believed in the cause.

“We have to continuously emphasise our commonalities instead of our differences,” he said.


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