(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): The Institute for Policy Research (IKD) should be commended for organising the three-day International Conference on Muhammad Iqbal And The Asian Renaissance which was opened by the Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yesterday.
The IKD has said that this second in a series of conferences on Asian thinkers which started with a conference on Jose Rizal in October 1995 is to "discover and recover" Asias intellectual and cultural wealth.
In the final analysis, if there is going to be an Asian Renaissance, it is more important to live than to debate Muhammad Iqbals ideals for justice, equity and freedom.
In one of his poems, Iqbal made the clarion call for the uncompromising battle against social injustices:
Rise and arouse the poverty-stricken
And shake the foundations of the palaces of the rich
Warm up the blood of slaves with the fire of faith
And make the sparrow dare to fight the eagle
The time of sovereignty of the masses has arrived
How and what would Muhammad Iqbal say and do if he is alive in current times?
What would Iqbal say and do in present-day Malaysia, for instance, in the case of DAP MP for Kota Melaka, Lim Guan Eng, who declared war against corruption and went to the defence of the underaged girl and brought down the Malacca Chief Minister but who now faces the prospect of disqualification as Member of Parliament?
What would have been Iqbals stand on the problem of rampant corruption in Malaysia, where despite the one recent case of a former Malacca state executive councillor being charged in court for corruption, the anti-corruption law and mechanism is more protective of the corrupt in high political places rather than to serve the larger national interests for justice and equity.
What would have Iqbal said and done over the case of Burma, where the long night of the Burmese people under military rule has still to see the dawn of freedom and whether Iqbal would have agreed and supported a decision to admit Burma under these conditions into the ASEAN regional grouping.
On the occasion of the International Conference on Muhammad Iqbal and the Asian Renaissance, it would be most useful if some thought is given as to how Iqbals ideals for justice, equity and freedom could be lived in the present-day world, whether in Malaysia, Asia or the international arena.