Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Racial disparity among teachers

Political will needed to correct racial disparity

I refer to your report Racial disparity 'hinders national integration' (NST,April 21).

Many concerned Malaysians would give a sigh of relief reading the statement by Education Minister,Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein that imbalance between Malay and non-Malay teachers in schools is undermining national integration.

We are glad that the Education Ministry is working towards an equitable ratio to change the image of national schools as being Malay-dominated and national-type schools as the domain of non-Malays.

As the Education Minister acknowledges schools should have a conducive and balanced environment and the ministry must have the political will to handle this well and not make it a racial issue.

We are waiting with great hope for Datuk Seri Hishammuddin and his team Datuk Hon Choon Kim and P. Komala Devi to successfully enforce the political will at all levels of the ministry to correct this racial imbalance of teachers.

One of the main reasons for the development of racial intolerance is the existence of overwhelming majority of a particular race in an organization. This is a normal phenomenon that exists in every human society.

The racial prejudice and intolerance in any society can be greatly diluted by ensuring a racially balanced population in that society. Mere presence of other races in sufficient numbers would make one be more cautious of his word and deeds regarding them. They would become more sensitive to the feelings and sentiments of those of a different culture.

We have witnessed this phenomenon in our own society. Most Malaysians will agree that there was more ethnic and religious tolerance in the sixties and over the years it has eroded slowly but surely. The schools and civil service then had a balanced ratio of the various races all going about their jobs harmoniously.

Today we seem to be happy to stay isolated helping and interacting within our own communities. Our children hardly work and play together as Malaysians. This unfavorable situation has to change and it has to start early in school.

Hishammuddin and his team have a monumental task ahead to redirect the education system in right direction towards fostering racial integration and tolerance in our schools. The first step in this endeavor is to correct the racial disparity of teachers and students in all our schools. We hope they have the political will to persevere until they succeed.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Shortage of nurses

Shortage of nurses,same old song

I refer to your report “More male nurses soon” (Star April 21).

I welcome deputy Health Minister’s statement that that his Ministry is increasing the intake of male nurses to overcome the acute shortage of nurses. Male nurses have a definite role in the management of patients in hospitals.

What I don’t understand is why there is a perpetual shortage of nurses in the country even after 48 years of independence. This situation is not something new, as the shortage of doctors and nurses have been there even when I joined the medical service 30 years ago. Till today we are still singing the same old song of shortage of doctors and nurses.

These do not seem to have changed although all other aspects of life have considerably. In fact these days we are told there is a shortage of almost every category of staff in almost every department. We are short of doctors, lawyers, engineers, judges, policemen,teachers and even unskilled labourers.

A country with the resources like ours should not experience this acute shortage of nurses if we have taken positive measures to keep them in service. Numerous nurses’ training schools have sprung up all over the country; both in the public and private sector churning out large numbers of nurses yet we are still acutely short of these members of an essential service.

The main reason for this perpetual shortage of nurses is the exodus of many to foreign countries like Suadi Arabia,Kuwait.UAE,Brunei, Singapore and Australia. The vast majority of them are experienced and dedicated and their exit is a great loss to the nation.

In an attempt to compensate we import nurses from other developing countries, who are not only less capable, but also have problems of communication due to language. It is just impossible to understand why the government prefers foreign nurses to our own who are better and well trained.

These nurses are unfairly accused of abandoning for higher remunerations overseas. I am sure the Ministry of Health cannot be so naïve as to seriously believe in such a simplistic reason for the exodus. Many of these nurses have families and children and it is not an easy decision to leave their loved ones behind to go to an unknown far away land just for monetary rewards. In fact it is truly an emotion wrecking experience in most cases in making such a decision.

Most of these nurses leave because of frustrating working environment. The two most important factors that that provide incentive to work are appreciation and reward. These nurses are not appreciated and rewarded appropriately for their services in their own country.

The solution is not difficult but it has to be seen and recognized. Unless we come out of the prevailing denial syndrome, we will continue to sing the same old song for years to come.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Improving English

Use freely to improve English

There has been a lot of talk and campaigns to improve the standard of English but I am afraid there are no genuine efforts are put in towards that aim. Fluency in English or for that matter any language, does not come overnight out of nothing. It has to be nurtured from very early in school.

Our major national dailies are competing with one another to provide free newspapers to schools and colleges. This gesture should be commended but provision of free newspapers alone by itself is not going to improve the standard of English. Most of our children and even office workers do not have adequate basic knowledge and vocabulary in English, which is essential before they can read newspapers.

The language is not used widely and freely among the pupils and teachers. Very often teachers and pupils shy away from using language to communicate with one another. In government offices too English is not widely used. The few who attempt to use it are ridiculed as trying to behave like “Mat Salleh”.

The school activities, like assemblies, meetings and co-curriculum should also be conducted in English and the teachers and pupils be encouraged to converse in the language besides the national language. Similarly government departments too should try to conduct their meetings and other activities in English from time to time.

The government must impress the rakyat on the importance of English as a second language and work towards implementing it as one. No one denies that English is of utmost importance in today’s fast moving, competitive and global world, where survival of the fittest is the norm.

There is fear that the use of English will undermine the position of the national language or for that matter our own mother tongue. This fear is unfounded. Many of us from the era of English medium schools are fluent in not only English but Malay and our own mother tongue as well.

There was no problem of English undermining the place of these languages which still remain dear to us. We are not less patriotic than those who only conversant in the national language.

Unless we accept the use of English freely without fear and suspicion, we will not succeed in improving its standard to the desired level.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Dr.M and referendum

Media unfair, to whom?

I refer to your report “Dr M's ex-aide tells Syed Hamid to quit” (Malaysiakini April 17)

If was amusing to read Matthias Chang, the former Dr.Mahathir’s political secretary for Chinese affairs challenging the media to publish his remarks in full. It was even more amusing that he claimed the media was unfair to his former boss.

Where was Mr.Chang when, for the past 2 decades, the people and the opposition were challenging the same media and accusing it of being unfair to them?. Why didn’t he come out in support of those oppressed people then?. Has he forgotten that some of them were even detained under the ISA?.

Mr.Chang, we all know it was Dr.Mahathir who made Syed Hamid the foreign minister. In the same context, it is relevant here to ask who made Dr.Mahathir the prime minister? The rakyat of course.

The same rakyat are the ones who have made Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi the prime minister and he just fulfilling their aspirations.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Anwar to return to politics fulltime

Anwar's return would strengthen opposition

I think Malaysians in general would only too happy to have Anwar back into active politics.In fact they were pretty disappointed that he had to away for so long.I'm sure he has good reasons to do so.

There has been a change in the leadership of UMNO with a new prime minister who is more tolerant of opposing views and does not play on racial or religious sentiments to gain popularity in his party.He seems to be less nasty with the opposition and accepts everybody as rightful citizens of the country.

A whole new generation of Malaysians have grown up being less tolerant of divergence and suspicious of each other.The new PM I feel would be able to dilute these effects to a certain degree but much more has to be done to achieve a truely peaceful multiracial Malaysia.

I feel the active involvement of Anwar would further enhance these favourable developments in the country.His bitter experiences over the last 5 years would greatly contribute towards building a more democratic country which is in dire need of a strong opposition in parliament.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The crooked bridge

Referendrum? Dr M?

It is unreasonable for Mahathir to criticise the present government for failing to carry out his project of the crooked bridge linking Johor with Singapore. It is also ridiculous to call for a referendum on the bridge.

There were numerous such calls from the people during his tenure as prime minister, but did he heed any of them? His answer to all those calls was ‘If you are not happy, vote us out’.

Now is the time for Mahathir to exercise his power as a citizen to vote for a change in the government at the next general elections.

In this era of sophistication and diplomacy, there is no place for a combatant style of leadership which will only lead to conflict and war.

As Malaysians, we are confident that our Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will do what is best for the nation. He has been given the biggest ever mandate ever to administer the country for the benefit of the rakyat.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Democracy and voice of rakyat

Caring for people’s voice

Most Malaysians would laud the action of the government in scraping the scenic bridge between Malaysia and Singapore.By doing so Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has demonstrated that he cares for the voices of the people.

This is a positive milestone in the political history of the nation, where a major project is shelved as a result of the people’s disapproval.

I was impressed with the prime minister’s statement, "It is the Government of the people, for the people, by the people. If they are not prepared to accept the conditions, there is no need to force. There are other issues that we should be giving attention to".

The prime minister has shown that the voice of the rakyat is the most important consideration in running of the country. We hope his example will be followed by other ministers and all leaders at every level of the administration.

He also rightly pointed out that there are other issues to be given attention. Some pressing issues are high accident and crime rates, rampant corruption, police abuse, racial polarization, increasing unhealthy lifestyle diseases, education system in disarray and so on.

Datuk Abdullah should go one step further to encourage the rakyat to freely give feedback on all the activities of the government without fear of reprisal. The people’s views, suggestions and sentiments on all the issues especially major projects must be seriously considered.

Listening to the voice of the rakyat is not a sign of weakness. In fact implementing the wishes of the rakyat for their benefit is what democracy is all about.

Dr.Chris Anthony

The flawed "A"syndrome

Poor students,not smart ones, need extra coaching

The gathering of all the smart pupils into one class to ensure the highest grades from that “best” class is a standard practice in most schools today. The best teachers are also reserved for this class.

This practice of selecting the only good students also happens at private tuition centers, as some tuition teachers actually reject weak students. This is due to the obsession with the “A” syndrome of our education system

Schools do this to attain personal glory whereas private tuition centres do it to enhance their reputation by producing excellent results thereby attracting more students in subsequent years. Parents and pupils are rushing to register at those centres that produce very good results in the exams.. Who would want to sent their children to centres that do not produce excellent results?

Gone are the days when extra coaching and tuition were only meant for weak students. Today good tuition is only for smart students whereas such privileges are not available to the weaker one who really needs such help and guidance.

The “A” syndrome is also unfair to the pupils from the lower income families. Quality private tuition has become so expensive that it is beyond the reach of these poor pupils. Private one- to- one home tuition is becoming a standard for those who can afford them. Obviously the chance of a student without these expensive tuitions, scoring straight As, is much less than those who have those advantages.

Judging a student with just the number of As without considering his socio-economic background would be rather unfair to those from poorer families. Offering scholarships to only those with maximum As would offer an unfair advantage to those from affordable families who would have access to all the best tuition facilities.

There is a need to device a more comprehensive system to select candidates for scholarships and other awards, a system that takes into consideration of the socio-economic conditions and not just straight As.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Social ills,not parents alone to blame

Political climate not parents alone to blame

Of late there has been lot of public discussion blaming parents for the increasing social ills in the country.

Definitely parents bear part of the blame, but our current social problems and increasing crime rate is largely due to the very materialistic and consumerist attitude of our society. Society now puts material wealth above everything else in classifying the social status of an individual.

Gone are the good old days when status in society was based on education, profession and contribution to society. A division one government officer was placed in high esteem even though they were paid a meager salary. Today the situation has changed, it is the material wealth that matters not the educational or professional status or good character.

This has created the need for the rapid pursuit of material wealth, often by unethical and sometimes by unscrupulous means. Moral values are totally irrelevant in this pursuit. In their quest for wealth, many parents have forgotten or neglected their roles to their children. It is sad to note that many of them do not know how to be parents, let alone be good parents.

Over the years, we witness a decline in moral values especially among the younger generation. Many have become rather selfish, rude and highly materialistic. There is disrespect for the elders, whose invaluable life experiences are brushed aside.

Can parents be solely blamed for improper development of their children? Can they be blamed for their quest for wealth? In today’s world, despite paying all forms of taxes, one has to pay a hefty sum for even basic essential services like health, education, housing and transport. These can go into hundreds of thousand of ringgit.How can one earn this amount of money without neglecting the family?

The main cause of this unfavorable situation is the misguided policy of rapid forced industrialization to achieve a developed status within a short time frame. In the enthusiasm of rapidly becoming a developed country, we started to privatize all our services, including the basic essential ones like health, education, housing and transport, thereby making the beyond the reach of the ordinary man on the street.

This has made it mandatory for parents to leave the children,uncared, to earn the money to provide the all important education, housing and health care for them. Unless the government can find ways to reduce the burden of the parents, children will continue to be neglected resulting in a further deterioration of ethics and morality. This does not augur well for the future on the nation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, April 07, 2006

Diabled are citizens too

Provide more disable-friendly facilities

All caring Malaysians generally were flabbergasted to read the report “Council taking disabled woman to court over parking fees” (Star,April 3).

It is rather ridiculous that the Klang Municipal Council (MPK) issued “Notice of Court Action and Warrant of Arrest” on paraplegic Gurdip Kaur for failing to pay the parking fee. How could they enforce a rule when she has no way of obeying it in the first place due to her physical disablement?

One has just to drive around to witness the rampant abuse of parking rules daily all over the country to which the authorities are blind, but very quick to pounce upon a disabled woman who could not pay the fee due to the disable-unfriendly system.

What was even more distressing is the arrogant response of the authorities who have hardly any compassion for the plight of the disabled.

It can be difficult to find parking spaces for even normal people in most cities, let alone for disabled people. The MPK and all local councils must in the first place provide sufficient parking and other disabled-friendly facilities.

When the authorities just don’t have compassion for disabled citizens, what can we as normal people expect? What has happened to the campaign Teladan Melalui Memimpin?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Sports neglected in schools

Bring back the glory of sports

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. 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 do not even have a proper playing field let alone proper training. 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

9MP - Feedback vital for success

Give importance to people’s feedback

I refer to your report, “NGO: Public role in 9MP is vital” (Star, March 31).

I agree that public participation is important in the implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) in ensuring of its success. It should not be left exclusively to various department, officials and politicians.

It is heartening to note that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has taken a deep personal interest in this plan and that he would go to the ground to monitor them.
The government and the implementers of the 9MP should be clear in their minds who should benefit from it – the rakyat, regardless of who they are. Citizens must feel more involved as the projects will benefit them, and all departments involved in the 9MP should be open to public feedback.

There is genuine fear that there would be are serious leakages, resulting in the funds not reaching the intended target groups namely the poor both urban and rural.

The rakyat themselves will be the best people to check this leakage but the government must provide proper channels for their feedback. It should genuinely encourage the people to give feedback and take these seriously in implementing their strategies.

Nowadays it appears that peoples’ comments are not given serious attention by the authorities and this result in a sense of frustration on the part of the citizens who are genuinely striving for the betterment of the community.

Newspapers, both print and online, carry numerous constructive criticisms, suggestions and opinions to improve productivity and standard of servive, but these are not taken seriously by the authorities. Television and radio only carry views of those aligned to the ruling elite and not the ordinary man on the street.

Suggestion boxes in various departments have become mere show pieces. They should be given due importance and the people encouraged to use them to provide useful feedback that is badly needed. Head of departments should study these comments with an open mind and not go no a witch-hunt to trace and reprimand those who gave the feedback.

Similarly complaints to head of departments should investigated and prompt action if found true. There is an unhealthy trend that the complainants are being considered as enemies and this must not be allowed to continue if we want to progress.

We fail to realize that complainants are also citizens and tax payers and as such have the rights to participate in the proper running of the nation and that is democracy is all about.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Becoming doctors

Career guidance in schools

I refer to your report “Would be doctors’ first lesson” (NST March,30).

It is really puzzling how our authorities can come up with ridiculous but unique ways to solve problems, in this case the method to select suitable candidates for medical studies.

It is normal for young school leavers to be afraid of blood, sight of badly injured humans, mutilated dead bodies and similar gory stuff. If they are unperturbed by such sights, then there might be something wrong with them. We cannot use the absence of such fright to select suitable candidates for medical studies.

A caring and empathetic attitude towards fellow humans, regardless of race, religion and social status are the most important prerequisites for those aspiring to become doctors. They must have the burning desire to alleviate the pain and suffering inflicted by disease, both physical and mental.

This positive character in children can only be recognized by parents and teachers who should counsel them accordingly. They should also take into consideration their aptitude when advising them the career to choose.
t is timely that our schools actively undertake career counseling of the students because today, choosing the right career has become a formidable and complicated task to be left to the children alone. The wisdom and experience of the counselor would be of great benefit to the students when deciding on their career.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Non-Bumis,strangers in own country

I refer to the letter “Non-bumis unworthy for vc post?” (Malaysiakini,April 3)

It is just not the vice chancellor’s post, in fact non-bumis seem to be unworthy for all posts in the public service. As loyal citizens, our forefathers have fought successfully hand in hand with their Malay brothers for independence against the British.

Subsequently they set up the government and ruled the nation together as loyal citizens of our beloved nation. The non-Malays participated actively to build and develop the nation to what it is today. They held important posts in the government and carried out their responsibilities with full dedication and zeal.

All so suddenly we have become useless and unworthy of any posts in the government. Today there is hardly any non-bumi in high office. Even the labor force in the public sector is devoid of non-Malays. These services are privatized and the jobs given to foreign workers. The large population of these foreign has created new social problems for all.

Our politicians say they want to increase the non-Malay participation in the civil service but they do nothing to improve the promotional opportunities for them. It is a unwritten law that all the important top posts are reserved for the bumiputras only.

It is sad that after all these years of sacrifice and loyal service to the nation; the non-bumis are slowly but surely becoming strangers in their own country.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Doctors allowed locum practice

Heartless medical services

I refer to the letter by T.Y.K., “Exorbitant charges a shame to medical profession” (NST.March 23).

I agrees with him that exorbitant charges by doctors are wrong but he must not make such a generalized statement. The majority of doctors are humane and their charges are reasonable.Thereare many among us who forgo our fees for deserving patients.

I do not dispute that there are doctors who charge exorbitant rates, but can we fault them alone. The doctors in private practice are caught in a commercialized system of medical services.

The main culprit is in fact the government that has embarked on this rapid privatization of medical services.

Malaysia is a young developing country and it is the duty of the government to provide a reasonable quality of medical care to the citizens at an affordable fee. We should develop our standard of service to a satisfactory level before we can go private. We should do things at our own pace to suit our own needs, not follow blindly what the developed countries are doing.

The government should never have allowed the medical profession from being turned into a money-spinning profession. This has resulted in a brain drain from public to private sector and stagnation of skills in both.

The only way out now is to strengthen the public hospitals by attracting qualified specialists, retaining dedicated doctors and nurses, promotion based on merit and instilling ethics into service. Instead of rectifying the problem, the government, is in the process of creating a bigger mess by sanctioning locum practice.

After years of trying to improve the government medical services, suddenly an overnight decision to allow locum practice appears to solve all those problems. I just wonder whether our past leaders were that stupid as to have overlooked such a simplistic solution to a complex problem.

Dr.Chris Anthony
Love begins when we grow old

On a recent trip back home, I happened to meet an elderly gentleman, whom we fondly call ,Uncle George I have not met for many years. I used to know him since I was a schoolboy. His greatest gift was his perpetual cheerfulness. As a matter of fact we have never seen him angry or sad. Because of this gift of his he was well liked by all, especially the children.

He now lives alone with his wife, both in their eighties, and spends all his time taking care of her, who is now handicapped due to an accident. He still cycles out to town several times a day to get food for himself and his wife.

I greeted him and invited him to join my wife and me for breakfast. His meal cost me just RM2.20. He told us about his family and his wife who happened to be rather sickly of late.We wished him well and left.

A week later I was surprised to receive a letter from him praising me and my wife with such fantastic words, praises that we don’t really deserve. The following paragraph in his letter really touched me and my wife. I quote,

“This year I am 86 and my wife is 82.If we can live till 28.12.06 we will be married for 60 years and we can live to celebrate our diamond jubilee. Yes, you know doctor true love begins when we grow old; I think I love my wife more than I first met her. But soon we will have to part”.

A mere two ringgit, few encouraging words and the willingness to listen was all that was needed to touch a life in the form of Uncle George. In return his invaluable experience of “TRUE LOVE” managed to touch us deeply. His experience in life is a reminder to us that love, contrary to what we think, never fades, it only grows with time.

This reinforces by fervent belief that there are still lot of good things in life that cannot be obtained with money and power and that, is the greatest gift of God to us.

Dr.Chris Anthony
The Thread in Our Lives

A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.

"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered - he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning. "There is a Mousetrap in the house!
There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me.I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured, you are in my prayers."

The mouse turned to the cow and said "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house -- like the sound of mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer's wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient.

But his wife's sickness continued, so friends and neighbors came to sit with the farmer around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

The farmer's wife did not get well; she died. So many people came for her funeral, the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

So, the next time you hear someone is facing a problem and think it doesn't concern you, remember -- when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this journey called Life. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another.


One of the best things to hold onto in this world is a friend....

This story was sent to me by good friend,Prances Sooza, who is serving in Liberia under the United Nations.

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...