Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Enhance not disrupt racial integration

June 28, 2006


I refer to your report “Ulamas want kongsi raya celebrations reviewed” (Star, June 14).

Since the ruling by the Ulama Conference against “kongsi raya”celebrations, many Malaysians of all faiths, including the prime minister himself, have expressed regret over the decision. This is not the first time such a call is made against the fostering of racial unity in our country.

We can take comfort in our Prime Minister’s moderate stance on this issue and his reassurance that activities like “kongsi raya “would continue to be held. I hope every leader at all levels will take heed of the PM,s call to encourage ethnic interaction.

Mammoth celebrations like “kongsi raya and deepa raya” may not be the best means to develop inter-racial unity but nevertheless they do allow some degree of interaction and goodwill among the races. If even these celebrations are forbidden then how can we hope to promote a more personal and deeper interaction among the races?

If this type of narrow thinking continues to gain momentum, then it would make a mockery of the slogan “Malaysia truly Asia” that is often promoted inside and outside the country. It does not auger well for the future of a truly united Malaysia, where all races live happily together in peace and harmony.

The majority of Malaysians are moderate and would willingly compromise for the sake of creating a nation united in diversity. We must not allow the minority to disrupt the achievements of the majority. We must look more for ways to promote ethnic integration not to disrupt whatever that exists.

The government should take stern measures to promote ethnic integration from an early age in schools. Our national schools must be truly multiracial to reflect the ethnic composition of the country. It is important to impress our young the importance of racial unity in a multiracial country. This will go a great deal for them not to succumb to the ideology that promotes interracial hatred and intolerance.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Consider feedback from parents not trainees

June 26, 2006


I refer to your front page report “NS trainees keen to handle M16 rifles” (Star.June 26).
It was indeed shocking revelation that the government is proceeding to go ahead with arms training for the NS trainees using live ammunition despite acknowledging that most parents are not in favour of it .

Equally distressing is the fact that it will be up to the trainees to choose whether they want to go through with the practical part of firearms training where they will get the chance to shoot with live bullets. It is ridiculous and dangerous trend to introduce firearms training just because these youngsters want that, instead parents should be given a choice to decide not their under aged children.

Two years into the National Service (NS) programme, five deaths had occurred in different training camps throughout the country. Two of the trainees succumbed to some bizarre illness, two drowned and one beaten to death. Apart from these there have been many lesser untoward incidents. No amount of reassurances on the safety of the trainees will satisfy the parents especially now with the handling of live ammunition

In fact many rights groups have cast doubts on the quality of the trainers, saying that they may not be professional or capable enough to carry out their NS duties..
The government should seriously address these inadequacies. It should consider the feedback from parents and public seriously, not those of the trainees who are just 17 years old. .
I
t is important to stress the original aims of the NS is the integration of the youth of various races. I am skeptical that a three-month stint for school leavers after eleven years of segregation in schools would ever achieve this aim. On the contrary we had witnessed all forms ugly incidents in our NS camps since its inception.

The need for the NS as it is implemented now should be reviewed. Instead we should channel all our energy and resources to actively promote and inculcate ethnic and religious integration in our national schools. If we succeed in promoting this in schools, there would never be a need for the controversial and hazardous national service for our school leavers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, June 19, 2006

Street protests

June 19, 2006

Encourage constructive criticism


I fully support the government’s call to shun street protests especially unruly and violent ones. I am sure most citizens would agree to that. Peace of the nation should never be compromised for whatever reason. It should be safeguarded at all costs not only by the government but by all Malaysians.

Having said that, it has to be emphasized, it is also the obligation of a democratic government to provide proper channels for the expression of public views especially dissenting ones. Why do people resort to street protests? The government must get to the root cause of it.

It is because they are strongly against certain policies that they consider as unwise and be even detrimental to the nation. As all legitimate avenues for their expression are inaccessible to them, they resort to street protest.

The media must be free to investigate and report on projects and developments undertaken by the authorities. In developed countries the media play a very important role to check abuse of power and corruption. A free and independent media will augur well in the fight against graft as pledged by our prime minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Furthermore the people must be given freedom to organize dialogues and forums to air their views in peaceful and civil manner.All problems can be overcome by dialogue and discussion if only these are encouraged from an early age so that they become a way of life for our people.

Not only the government must provide channels for expression of varied opinion, it should also consider these views especially dissenting ones seriously as constructive criticism is of utmost importance for progress of society. History as shown that a nation which suppresses the freedom of expression of its citizens never progresses.

The government must encourage feedback from the rakyat. Unfortunately, there has developed a trend that considers complainants and the opposition as trouble makers, traitors and anti-government. In fact on the contrary, the vast majority of those complain are peace loving citizens who are concerned in the welfare of the nation. It is time we grow up and accept the opposition as equal partners in the development on our nation.

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

Dr.Chris Anthony

National Service and arms training

June 18 2006

Weapon training not the priority

The move to compel all National Service(NS) trainees to use M16 rifles is move in the wrong direction and should be reconsidered.

To my mind the aim of NS at the age of 17 is to instill good values and discipline in order to foster better understanding and tolerance among the various communities in our country. I for one am skeptical that a 3- month stint with school leavers after 11 years of segregation in schools would ever achieve this aim. On the contrary we had witnessed all forms ugly incidents in our NS camps since its inception, from racial fights, rape and even murder.

I fail to see how firearm training can foster these aims. In general firearms symbolize hatred and violence and should be kept away especially from youngsters. I have undergone military training before and it is the playing, eating, living and even praying together that brings about comradeship and goodwill among the young men and women not firearm training.

We are reassured that proper safety measures would be taken at all times during the training and that the majority of trainees wanted firearms training. Whatever safety measures are taken mishaps can and do occur and many parents are not convinced by these reassurances, as grievous hurt and even deaths have taken place in our NS camps. Moreover it is ridiculous to introduce firearms training just because these youngsters want that, instead parents should be given a choice to decide not their under aged children.

Training to use weapons certainly should not be a priority in NS and definitely not at an impressionable age of 17. This could be done at a later age in the armed forces. I am sure there are many youngsters who are keen to join the forces if only given the chance.

No doubt firearms training are a useful additional skill but it is being taught to the wrong people at the wrong place. Instead we should channel all our energy and resources to actively promote and inculcate ethnic and religious integration in our national schools.

If we succeed in promoting this in schools, there would never be a need for the controversial and hazardous national service for our school leavers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

National Service (NS)

June 19, 2006

Reconsider NS

Two years into the National Service (NS) programme, five deaths had occurred in different training camps throughout the country. Two of the trainees succumbed to some bizarre illness, two drowned and one beaten to death. Apart from these there have been many lesser untoward incidents.

This scenario has prompted concerned citizens and parents to request the government to re-think this national plan of getting young Malaysians together for the purpose of racial integration, instilling discipline and a sense of patriotism in them. All these deaths among the young are unfortunate and are unwarranted and it would be grievous fault on the part of the authorities to brush aside as isolated mishaps. It is a tragic loss to the families. Imagine the hopes and aspirations the parents would have had after toiling 17-18 years to bring them up only to result in their sudden tragic deaths in the form of national service that is not aimed to defend the nation.

As for trainees Nurul Ashikin Karino and S.Theresa Pauline who died of illness, the treatment provided in the initial phases were of questionable standards. It appeared that the authorities were not really fully prepared to handle such medical emergencies and took them rather lightly.

There must be more discussion and planning involving the public on the implementation of the NS programme. In fact many rights groups have cast doubts on the quality of the trainers, saying that they may not be professional nor capable enough to carry out their NS duties.

The government should seriously address these inadequacies. It should consider the feedback from parents and public seriously, not those of the trainees who are just 17 years old.

The need for the NS as it is implemented now should be reconsidered and stopped if possible before more of our children lose their lives.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Judiciary and the rakyat

Judiciary must take care of the rakyat

I read with interest your dramatic front page report “Justice for sale: Are some judges corrupt?” (NST June 2).

Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim had admitted to having received several poison-letters claiming corruption among some judges.

Apart from poison -pen letters, there are coffee-shop gossips and whispers that affirm the presence of corrupt judges in our country. This is a general perception among Malaysians that corruption is rampant at all levels of the administration including some among the judges. The government and judiciary must take drastic measures to change this perception among the people.

While agreeing that in general, poison-pen letters should not be entertained, it must be remembered that some of them may be genuine and written in frustration in being the poor victims of injustice of a corrupt judicial system. They could however provide useful clues into the investigation of such corruption.

Of course it is right that the Chief Justice take appropriate action against corrupt judges as and when proven. The biggest hurdle to rid the system of the errant judges is to prove their guilt.

We are often told that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. The judiciary must be seen to be clean in the eyes of the rakyat. In this context, it is of utmost importance for the judges to act and behave in a manner appropriate to the responsibility entrusted upon them, which is to safeguard the rule of law at all costs. The rights and welfare of the rakyat must be the only consideration when they deliberate and deliver their judgments.

The ordinary man on the street has nowhere to turn to justice except the judiciary and if that institution, that is established to grant him justice fails, it would be a great tragedy not only to the person who seeks fair play but also the institution itself. This is clearly stated by the Chief Justice himself, "If the judiciary is corrupt, the prosecutors will be frustrated, the defense will be frustrated and everyone will be frustrated. There will be no one to turn to. Only the judiciary can take care of the people”.

Increasing the number of judges to preside over trials to reduce corruption would have limited effect as those who resort to bribery are the rich and powerful and not the poor man on the street. It is more important to choose the right person for the job, one with high integrity and passion to do justice to mankind.

Dr.Chris Anthony







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