Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Healthy lifestyle

Instill healthy lifestyle from young

I refer to your front page report “Soi Lek on a mission to check lifestyle disease” (Sunday Star,March.26).Indeed it was really encouraging to see our Health Minister leading the nation towards a healthy lifestyle. Proper nutrition and exercise are the two most important contributing factors towards a healthy life.

It is however hardly surprising that only 80% of Malaysians exercise as situation in the urban settings is anything but conducive to exercise.

Importance of a healthy lifestyle must be instilled at a very young age. Our education system from the very beginning is all geared towards examination. Sport is hardly given prominence in schools. Physical exercise classes are taken over for extra coaching in examination subjects even in Standard 6 (UPSR) at the tender age of 12. This unhealthy trend continues well into secondary schools and subsequently into working life.

Furthermore the children do not get a nutritionally balanced diet as the school hours are long with no adequate breaks for proper dining. Therefore they settle for junk food.

Young adults especially in urban areas have hardly any time or venues for exercise. Traffic jams take a great toll on them as many of them travel miles to and from the place of study or work. They leave home very early in the morning and reach home late in the evening or even night.

Recreational venues are also badly lacking in the major towns and cities.Fields, parks, hills and beaches are depleted by the so-called development projects.

Today we have to drive many miles to the nearest recreational facility. In fact the risk of dying from road accidents while jogging, walking or trying to reach the recreational centers is very much higher than death from diseases due to lack of exercise itself.
According to the health minister, Government has agreed to allocate RM50mil for the Health Promotion Board, which will be set up under his ministry to carry out activities to promote a fitter Malaysia.

This money should be utilized to set up more recreational centers and gymnasiums in all cities at affordable cost for all. All government and private offices should also be encouraged to set up their own in-house gymnasiums.

Our schools must re-emphasis the importance of sports, so that the children are instilled the culture of exercise from a very early age.

The government should be serious in promoting a healthy lifestyle by providing more and easily accessible recreational places. It is useless to keep harping on healthy lifestyle when the basic facilities for that are hardly available to the ordinary man on the street.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Schools must provide wholesome education

Emphasise on sports in schools

Some years ago the government changed the name of the education ministry from Kementerian Pelajaran to Kementerian Pendidikan .The reason we were told was to change the image of the ministry from that of a purely academic institution to that of a wholesome education of an individual.

Sad to say what has happened since then is just the opposite to the ideals of that switch. Today our schools have become places just to collect A’s. All activities are tailored towards that aim. So much time is dedicated to examination oriented teaching. Many hours of extra classes are arranged and even physical education and art classes are taken over for academic subjects.

Extracurricular and sports activities are neglected and hardly any importance given to them. Pupils are made to adorn uniforms of boy scouts, girl guides, Red Crescent Society, St.John’s Ambulance, cadet and so on but no proper training and activities are organized for them. They are forced to stay back for these extra curricular activities but very frequently they are postponed at the last minute.

Most of the students join these societies not out of passion or love but to collect the valuable points that would contribute to A’s in their final exams.

Sports are even more neglected. Some schools, even the sekolah bestari, do not even have a proper playing field let alone proper training. School teams for the various sports are selected in a mysterious manner. The annual sports meet which used to be such an important and glamorous occasion passes by quietly without much publicity or enthusiasm. A vast majority of students do not even bother to attend the sports day. They take it as a holiday to stay home and study or go for extra tuition classes.

Those excelling in sports are not given due recognition in schools and in society. On the contrary excellent exam scorers are so over glorified by teachers, parents and even the media. In the sixties and seventies, bookworm students are frowned upon and even ridiculed, but today situation has reversed, in fact for the worse.

We, parents, teachers and all members of society, must convince ourselves that schools are for the wholesome education of our young men and women and not a place just to collect A’s, as it appears to be at present. If we continue with this misguided system which emphasizes just on academic excellence, I’m afraid our future in the globalize world would be bleak.

The government now has promised to rectify the problem by revamping the education system and we must give our full support and cooperation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Instill dedication among doctors

It's a vocation,make sure you are right for it

I refer to your report “Becoming a doctor” (NST,March 17)

Health Minister Datuk Dr.Chua Soi Lek has rightly pointed out the fallacies of becoming a doctor for sake of glamour. I think parents and students, who are considering medicine as a career, must take his advice seriously.

It is astonishing to realize we are churning out 1,600 doctors every year, with the number increasing to 2,500 annually by 2010. So the market is going to be very competitive, even for specialists, as we will have a glut of doctors by 2020.

It would take an average of 10 to 12 years or really hard work ant toil for an individual to become a specialist in a certain discipline. He would further need another 4-5 years to get the clinical experience before he is really ready to become an independent practicing clinician.

This is a very long time in the life of an individual and unless he motivated for the right reasons, he would not turn out to be a good and dedicated doctor. Unfortunately we have many such doctors in our fraternity these days.

Dr.Chua and his ministry is just interested in fulfilling the doctor-people ratio. They hope to achieve their target ratio of one doctor for every 600 citizens before 2020. This may be possible but it is more important to have quality rather than quantity. The latter can easily achieved but the former requires years of planning and training.

In the sixties and seventies we had very much fewer doctors and specialists but work went on reasonably well. All patients admitted were seen by the respective specialists daily without fail, sometimes more frequently as the needs dictate. Work goes on irrespective of whether it is a weekend of public holiday. Furthermore no overtime was paid.

Today we have 5-6 times more specialists in the hospitals but still very frequently get complains that specialists do not see their patients, even the critically ill ones, for days at a stretch. Their patients are managed by junior doctors with minimal experience. They are paid all sort of allowances today but there is simply no dedication on the part of our doctors to their profession and this is a very sad development in our country today.

Medicine has become commercialized and the government must stop this rot immediately. Educate and counsel our students so that only those who really have the vocation go ahead to do medicine.

The ministry should ideally strive for both quality and quantity of doctors, if we need to compromise on this it should be the latter.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Improving public transport

Provide better security at bus terminals

There has been a lot of discussion about improving public transport in the country. The public transport system is plagued with numerous problems that few are willing to utilize it.

A major reason why people shun public transport is because of the danger they are exposed to. Most of these commuters leave the homes very early in the morning when it is dark. The bus stops are usually located in lonely areas and not lighted.

Waiting for buses at such places is really inviting extortionist, robbers and even rapists. We are only too familiar with these crimes which occur almost daily. Sometimes these bus stops are inhabited by drug addicts.

These bus stops should be well lighted after dark and the police must regularly patrol bus terminals to ensure safety of the commuters. Mere presence of police patrol cars would be enough to deter would be assailants. With better security I am sure more people will be brave to resort to public transport.

Dr.Chris Anthony

There is more to life than passing exams

Don’t over glorify a few,encourage the majority

It was indeed sad to read your report “Girl jumps from third floor over SPM results” (NST,March 14).

Every year we witness a number of such untoward incidents as a result of examination failure, which simply implies a failure of our education system, which puts so much emphasis on academic excellence alone. The teachers are not alone to be blamed. We too, as parents and society as a whole, share the blame for the obsession with As.

Today school examinations have become like a race where we place our bet on the horses,our children.We go all out spending invaluable time,money and energy to ensure they win the race with flying colours.

It has become a practice of our media to over glorify those who score maximum A’s in their examination. They encourage the notion that collecting maximum A’s,is life all is about. This practice of the media aggravates the ill effects of the already examination orientated education system of ours.

We must realize that these top scorers are just a small percentage of the total student population. The majority are the average scorers with 4-6A’s.However much we encourage and coax our students, only a few will become maximum scorers and this is a fact of life we all have to accept.

These high achievers must be rewarded accordingly, but it is equally important to ensure the others are also taken care. It is more important to encourage the majority to excel in things for which they have a liking and aptitude. Opportunities must made available to these students as well.

By over glorifying these top scorers, tremendous psychological pressure is placed on the majority to ape them. This causes a great amount of stress on students in school these days. Those with average or even above average result are made to feel useless and a failure in school.
Every school should have qualified counselors to educate and help students overcome the trauma of examinations. Even those who fail miserably should not be discouraged. They should be shown other opportunities available to them, in which they can excel. After all, experience has shown us that, there is more to life than passing exams with flying colours.

Let us, parents, teachers and all members of society, reinforce ourselves that schools are for educating the minds of our young men and women and not a place to collect As it appears to be at present. This was exactly the reason for changing the name of the education ministry from Kementerian Pelajaran to Kementerian Pendidikan some time ago.

The government now has promised to rectify the problem and we hope it would do so fast.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, March 09, 2006

This story illustrates what richness truely is.

Rich or Poor?

One day a father of a very wealthy family took his son on the trip to the country with the firm purpose showing his son how poor people can be. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return of the trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Oh yeah” said the son.” So, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered, “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have important lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

We have small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

With this the boy’s father was speechless. Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Too many times we forget what we have and concentrate on what we don’t have. What is one person’s worthless object is another’s prize possession. It is all based on one’s perspective.
Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for all the bounty we have, instead of worrying about wanting more. Take in all you have, especially your friends.

A true story of true kindness


Posted by: cvames Star,feb18,06

This is real story and not pure fiction. I was walking along the streets in Penang recently, somewhere around Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and I came across something which I think needs to be shared around and pondered on.

There was this old lady lying down on a dirty old piece of rag by the five-foot walkway with two little children. Many passersby stopped to look at her but only a few offered food or money to her. What really touched me was her behavior.

A kind passerby donated a packet of rice to her. Upon accepting it she managed to put up a very visible smile and even said TERIMA KASIH.

As she was opening the package, a stray dog lingered and stopped in front of her. Instead of shooing it away, she opened the rice packet, divided it into 4 portions and gave 2 of it to the children. The 3rd portion was for her and the last portion was given to the dog.

I was really touched. Here she was struggling for food and kindness from humankind and in that struggle she still managed to say thank you and even better still share her food with the dog.

This made me think. True kindness is not only applicable to us, human but also to animals. So please do not forget about animals too.


Samy Vely returned unopposed for 10th.term

MIC must strive harder for Indians

Most Malaysian Indians would like to congratulate Datuk Seri S.Samy Velu for being returned president of MIC for the 10th.term.This is a feat that I’m sure no MIC leader can ever achieve. This resounding victory carries with it a heavy responsibility of leading the Indian community to greater heights.

I was very impressed by his statement, “I have been elected as a servant to serve you. I want to finish this journey and for me to do that, the Indian community needs a quantum leap economically and socially. I won’t give up on this as long as I remain president,”.

The MIC, being the only party in the government, has an added responsibility in crafting the destiny of the community. It should not rest on past laurels but wake up to face the new realities of the challenges in a fast moving nation and the world.

The two main problems that plague the Indian community are unemployment and high crime rate. Both are inter-related and the latter is going to keep increasing if the job opportunities do not improve. The Government, with the help of the MIC, must urgently address this issue.
The mindset of the community must change from one of reliance on government handouts to one of aggressive pursuit of available opportunities. In this struggle the community must equip itself to compete in today’s world where only the fittest survive.

Science, technology, information technology and commerce are developing at a rate that is difficult to cope unless we are well equipped. Mastering English is a must if we want to put up a tangible challenge in the fight for opportunities in these fields.

We must realize that nobody is going to help us achieve our economic and social targets if we ourselves do nothing about it. We have to do it by ourselves and ourselves alone.


Tuesday, March 07, 2006

True love

True Love of husband for invalid wife

A doctor relates what he believes love is all about. The doctor was on his rounds on a busy morning and glanced at his watch.It was 8.30am, when an elderly gentleman in his 80s, arrives to have stitches removed from a thumb.

The old man was in a hurry and said he had an appointment at 9am. The doctor relates: "I took his vital signs and had him take a seat, knowing it would be over an hour before someone would be able to see him."I saw him looking at his watch and decided, since I was not busy with another patient, I would check his wound.

"The wound was well healed, so I talked to one of the doctors, got the needed supplies to remove his sutures and re-dressed his wound. "While taking care of his wound, we talked. I asked him if he had a doctor’s appointment this morning, as he was in such a hurry. "He did not.

But he said he needed to go to the nursing home to have breakfast with his wife. I asked after her health. He told me that she had been there for a while and that she had Alzheimer’s disease.

"As we talked, and I finished dressing his wound, I asked if she would be worried if he was a bit late. He replied that she no longer knew who he was, that she had not recognised him in five years now. "

I was puzzled, and asked him, ‘And you still go every morning, even though she doesn’t know who you are?’"He smiled as he patted my hand and said: ‘She doesn’t know me, but I still know who she is.’"

I had to hold back tears as he left. I had goose bumps on my arm, and thought that is the kind of love I want in my life."True love is neither physical, nor romantic.

True love is an acceptance of all that is, has been, will be, and will not be.

Taken from Suday Columns - Kalimullah Hassan
New Sunday Times,Mar 5.2006

Fuel price hike,deliver the promises fast

Fuel price hike,deliver the promises fast

The government has aggressively defended the recent hike in fuel price. It argues that it cannot continue providing subsidies forever. We have to stop this practice sometime and now is that time. Instead of gradually tailing of the subsidy, it has chosen the cold-turkey treatment which will be more painful,especially to the lower income group.

Most Malaysians would agree with this line of logic, if the government illustrates its willingness to channel the money for greater long-term benefits. Its efforts in this respect must be seen to be done as past experience has shown that the money is actually channeled elsewhere for the benefit of a selected and privileged few.

It should now deliver fast on its promises of using the billions saved from the subsidies to improve public transportation. Urgent action is needed in reorganizing the internal bus, rail and flight services.This I admit is no easy task but we have to start somewhere and now is the time.

It is also timely for the government to review subsidies in all other areas. If we are to successfully compete in the globalize world, we must get rid of the subsidy mentally as it is the survival of the fittest out there.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

English schools alone will not create unity

I agree with HW Wong (Disunity: Gov’t policies to blame, not vernacular schools) that the main cause of racial disunity is not vernacular schools alone.

Introducing English-medium schools alone will not create racial unity overnight by itself. Racial unity does not fall from the sky into our concrete structured buildings called "schools". There must be first a willingness and then the will to bring about racial unity.

There are many "up there" who do not want racial unity as they exist and thrive on racial disunity.

Dr.Chris Anthony

No, no - education not cause of disunity

No, no - education not cause of disunityA Concerned MalaysianMar 1, 06 3:25pm
Dr Chris Anthony couldn't be further away from the truth when he blames the current education system which allows the existence of vernacular schools for the lack of unity among Malaysians.

According to him, racial unity can be fostered among the new generation by simply placing pupils of all races in one class so that they can interact freely with one another. In my opinion, this line of thinking is both naive and dishonest.

Following Dr Mahathir Mohamad's pontificating to the world that to tackle Islamist terrorism we must remove its root causes, I suggest that Malaysians, notably those who subscribe to the same way of thinking as Dr Chris Anthony's, make the effort to identify the root cause of our disunity and remove it.

Let us not resort to populist but hollow solutions in which the status quo would want us to believe. In fact, I think most Malaysians already know what the problem is this: the unequal treatment of Malaysians based on race which is the most fundamental reason for our disunity. I am not talking about everyday racism plaguing most multiracial societies. I am talking about institutionalised racism enshrined in our constitution which is amplified and enforced by the government.

How can we unite when we are formally partitioned into groups which have different sets of rights? How can we unite when we are constantly being reminded by the government through various application forms that we are either Malay, Chinese, Indians and others, but never Malaysians? How can we gel into a single entity when our ID cards explicitly say whether we are Muslims (and hence bumiputera) or not?

How can we achieve unity when our top politicians wield weapons in general assemblies to threaten the minorities just so they can score quick political points? How can we unite when pro-government politicians hurl racial abuses in parliament and get away scot-free? How can we tell our children to look beyond race, when one day we have to drag them back to reality by telling them that their race comes into account for scholarship applications and university admissions? Instead of viewing the popularity of vernacular schools as a cause, we should view it as a symptom of disunity.

I believe many parents send their children to vernacular schools as a sub-conscious protest against a system that perceivably favours one race over the others. As second-class citizens, preserving their cultural identities allows them to feel that all is not lost.

Even if vernacular schools are closed, our disunity will only manifest itself in other forms. Let any non-Malay Malaysian choose exclusively between the preservation of his mother tongue and equal treatment - I am sure the latter will get the overwhelming vote. A proof of this is the many Malaysians who have migrated to Western countries - do we see them insisting on letting their children study their respective mother tongues in school? Hence, my accusations of dishonesty towards those who prefer to throw baseless accusations at vernacular schools because it is easy and risk-free, but, due to fear of reprisals, dare not point the finger at the status quo although they are inherently guilty.

Furthermore, those who blame vernacular schools but not government sponsored Mara junior colleges and universities are pure hypocrites. At least vernacular schools admit students based on merit alone.

We all know that MRSMs and UiTM actively practise race-based selection policies. Why do you not propose closing down MRSMs and UiTM in your suggested revamp of the education system, Dr Chris Anthony? Do not forget that currently in national schools, we do have non-Malay students.

I have had the honour of befriending some of them during my university years, and I must say that in university, they too stick with their own kind although they can't speak their own mother tongue. In a system that promotes the proliferation of only one culture and shuns the others, it is only human nature to confide more in those who are categorised in the same racial group.

Therefore, it is absolutely naive to think that racial unity can be achieved by merely putting our children under one roof without ultimately treating them equally. Furthermore, we have witnessed the increasing Islamisation in our national schools which have multiracial students.

Hence, contrary to the belief of Dr Chris Anthony, cultural diversity and subsequently unity will not necessarily exist in national schools because they are being used by the government as instruments to carry out their political agenda.

Every year, we see many vernacular schools achieve record-breaking performances in major exams. This shows that at least academically, these schools have done something right, and are a valuable source of knowledge for us in the pursuit of improving the standing of national schools. Certainly, closing down vernacular schools is an option, but not only this does not improve unity, the country will lose a valuable asset.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for racial unity. But please, shift your attention to the fundamental cause of disunity. You are simply barking up the wrong tree when you blame the present education system alone.

Concerned Malaysian

Revamp education system for unity’s sake

Revamp education system for unity’s sakeDr Chris AnthonyFeb 23, 06 4:00pm

Communal ties are at their most delicate in nearly four decades. It is terrifying to realise how easily racial and religious sentiments can be aroused by the powers-that-be for political advantage.

The education system which has become more communal despite its supposed non-ethnic and non-religious status is the main reason for the growing division between the races. Initially, we had all races studying together in one class but then they were segregated by race for the purpose of religious and moral classes resulting in students of same race grouping together, but under the same roof. Today we have taken another backward step with each race studying in their own vernacular schools under separate roofs and rarely do they ever come together.

We need to revamp the education system to return it to its original status and aspiration of unifying the races through the national schools. Pupils of all races must be placed in one class so that they can interact freely with one another. Emphasis on their common identities rather than their differences should be encouraged.

There should also be a racially balanced mix of teachers as well in all our national schools. It is common knowledge that if there is diversity in the same environment then there will be more tolerance and goodwill.

We need politicians who are true national leaders and not ethnic champions. In the 60s, every citizen looked up to politicians as Malaysian leaders but now we consider them as leaders of either the Malays, Chinese or Indians. Even the prime minister, who should be the leader of all races, is now seen as the leader of the Malays only.

If we want to survive in this globalised world, we Malaysians - regardless of race - must unite and pool our resources and expertise so as to remain competitive.

We yearn for the day when Malaysians will share a single identity, but gauging by present developments in the country, this is fast eluding us. Our aspiration for a united Malaysia is not being appreciated by the present generation of leaders who are taking over the reins of power.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Small sacrifice for greater benefit

I refer to your report “PM: We have to sacrifice” (Star, Mar 1).

The 20% increase in petrol price will definitely hurt the people, especially those from the lower income group. It would aggravate their hardship further when unscrupulous businessmen take advantage to increase prices of essential goods as well.The rakyat will definitely welcome the statement by the Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that the estimated annual saving of RM4.4bil in fuel subsidy will be spent to improve the public transport system which is in a state of chaos in most towns and cities.

I am sure the people would not mind the sacrifice if only it would go to spare the lives of their loved ones on our roads. In this endeavor I am syre the rakyat will be solidly behind the prime minister.

The only demand by the rakyat is, the money saved should be spent prudently for what is intended. I’m sure this request by the people is not unreasonable. Misuse of the funds at federal, state and local council levels as well as in many government agencies must be checked.

The number of deaths from road accidents, approximately 6,000 per year, is unacceptable by any standards. The number of vehicles on our roads must be reduced if we want to reduce the accident rate to a realistic level.

Improving the public transport system in all towns is a definite way to reduce traffic woes. Unfortunately, public transport is not popular because it is not efficiently managed.It must be improved to encourage its use.

For a start,the government should revamp and reorganize the bus services, both within and between the various towns and cities. A federal and state level task force, comprising experts on the ground, should be set up to draw up comprehensive plans for this project.

Other mega projects,costing billions of ringgit,can be considered later as long term measures, after implementing an efficient and reliable bus transport system.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

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