Wednesday, May 30, 2007

30 May 2007

Rules and agreements must be honoured at all costs

We are indeed sad that MU visit to Malaysia has finally been cancelled.What saddens us most is the way our politicians handled the whole issue with the AFC.

We may have a large following of MU fans in the country,the event may attract millions of tourists bringing along huge monetary gains,AFC and MU may be indebted to us some way or another and the event could be the highlight of our golden jubilee celebration of our nation’s independence. Do these reasons justify dishonouring an agreement we signed with AFC? If so why do we have rules and agreements in the first place? What kind of message are we sending to our children? Break the rules when they are unfavourable to us?

It is indeed sad that we have to put so much pressure on the AFC to submit to our demands which are clearly against the rule of law. It is only fitting and honourable for us to stick by the rules we agreed upon even when they are unfavourable to us at some time.By doing so we will earn more international respect and admiration.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, May 18, 2007

Teachers’ Day 2007

To sir with love

In many cultures, a teacher is placed in a very high pedestal. In fact they are next to our parents in the hierarchy of influence and homage in our lives. Various honorific names are given to them -Teacher, Master, Guru, and Sir and so on.

As Malaysians we too regard our teachers with great esteem. Every time we meet an old classmate, we spend hours talking about the greatness and peculiarities of our old teachers. We always end up by concluding that today’s teachers cannot be compared to those of yesteryears.

Our nation just celebrated Teachers’ Day with great pomp and fanfare. The government for its part conferred the national-level Tokoh Guru Awards and the Education Minister’s Special Award for Educational Leadership. Yes, these recipients are the unsung heroes of our classrooms and there is no doubt that they deserve this recognition as educators who have worked hard to ensure that their students succeed.

While honouring the few selected teachers for these awards, we must not forget the vast majority of fantastic teachers serving all over the country, from the most remote areas to the busiest cities.

There are many of them out there in the “wilderness” working with full dedication without any complaints. Many of them are simple and politically “unconnected” but continue to serve despite the unfriendly and sometimes unjust administrators.These silent and unassuming character molders are the real “Tokoh Gurus” who need to be equally if not more honoured for their relentless services to the nation.

At a time when society is driven by consumerism, it is gratifying to note that are still many teachers, though the numbers may be dwindling, dedicated to their profession. We must pay homage to these men and women who have placed the interest of students above theirs.

We must not forget the teachers of the past, many may have retired, others seriously ill or mentally and physically incapacitated and some might have even died. It was their services in educating us that had made us what we are today. Their sacrifices were major factors that contributed to the development of the nation and to bring to the present respectable stage in the world.

It is only fitting and right for us to recall their contributions to our success and express our gratitude to them in some way or another.

We still remember the joy and pride of our school teachers when we returned to see them after gaining admission into the university. They did not hide their pride when we visited them after our graduation, when they introduced us to their colleagues as “He was my student, now a doctor, lawyer, engineer, accountant …..”.Many of us may be in much higher position than them, but that was a source of pride not jealousy.

Many years ago, as a young doctor, I can still remember an old teacher of mine, a very fierce one, when he came to seek treatment in the hospital. I could still picture the joy in his face when I introduced myself as his former student. Even today there are still a few teachers, now in their sixties and seventies, who still make it a point to attend every of our reunion dinners even if they have to travel miles to do so.

As we wish our teachers a very happy Teachers’Day, we hope that our teachers of the past be an inspiration for those of the present. To those who have retired we wish and pray they have many more years of healthy and happy lives with their families. To those still in service we wish the Lord grant them not just the knowledge but also the wisdom to guide our children to a safe, sane and prosperous future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Keeping nurses in service

Improve working environment to reduce exodus

I refer to your report “Serve locally, PM urges nurses” (Star, May 15).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s call to trained nurses to serve locally rather than go abroad is timely and is in the interest of the nation as a whole. It is distressing to note that about 400 of our nurses leave the country yearly to serve overseas. Most of these nurses are well trained and experienced and their exodus is a real lost to the nation.

Nursing is an important and essential part of the medical profession dedicated to the care of the sick. A dedicated and empathetic nurse goes a long way to comfort, allay the fears and subsequently hasten the recovery of a patient from his ailments. It is the nurse, more than the doctor, who plays the role of a reassuring mother to those terminally ill and dying.

It takes a long time to train a nurse and longer still for them to acquire the necessary experience and skills in nursing the infirm. Not everyone becomes a good and dedicated nurse. It is a vocation to which many are called but few remain faithful.

We hope the Malaysian Nurses Association (MNA) and the Health Ministry will heed the call of the Prime Minister to work together to ensure that our country does not run dry of experienced and capable nurses.

The migration of our nurses is one of the causes of their perpetual shortage in our health and medical services.

It is important to look at the causes why our nurses leave the country and take remedial measures to arrest their exodus. These nurses are unfairly accused of abandoning for higher remuneration overseas. I am sure the Health Ministry cannot be so naive 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 faraway land just for some monetary rewards. It is truly an emotion wrecking experience in most cases in making such a decision to migrate. In fact many of them are paid well locally in government and especially in private medical centres

The main reason for them to leave is unsatisfactory and unhappy working environment where their hard work is least appreciated and rewarded.

Most of our nurses work under very stressful conditions. Very often, they are managed in a regimented manner where dissent is not tolerated. They are forced to accept unfair decisions regarding work shifts, leave and overtime without protest.

In a system that is so commercialized and profit motivated, dedication among the staff, is the last thing that is recognized and rewarded.

The Ministry of Health must strive to create a more conducive environment at all medical and heath facilities for our nurses where their services are recognized, appreciated and appropriately rewarded. This will go a long way to reduce the migration of our trained nurses to greener pastures abroad.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, May 14, 2007

Working to create a wholesome education

Revamping is more complex than abolishing examination

The Malaysian Examinations Syndicate’s (MES) proposal to abolish the two major public examinations – the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) in Year Six and the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) in Form Three has created much debate among Malaysians.

Of late our education system had come under severe criticism of being too exam orientated resulting in the production of book-worm students who are unable to come out with critical thinking. These criticisms had even prompted the education ministry to come with plans to revamp our education system to make it a tool for the wholesome education of our children.

The suggestion to abolish public examinations (UPSR and PMR) in Malaysia and replace them with a form of standardized assessment developed by the Ministry of Education may be seen as part of that revamp.

The plan to abolish centralized examinations is a very drastic move and naturally Malaysians of all walks of life are very concerned and fearful whether it is a right move. As long as anyone can remember such examinations has been the key feature of our education system that had produced many outstanding personalities of international stature. It is also the key to success of the nation in the various fields and taken the country to the present respectable position in the world stage.

Despite the drawbacks of centralized examinations, they are nevertheless part and parcel of not only school life but throughout ones working career. It may not be an ideal and foolproof method of gouging the capabilities of an individual but it is one easily available tool for this purpose. Abolishing this would only be denying our future generation of this tool.

Centralized examinations are necessary not just locally but also for ensuring and maintaining international standards. It is the only way we can compare ourselves with those more advanced than us is any particular field.Standardized assessment at local levels while being effective may not allow this comparison with those better than us.

The real problem is not with the examinations themselves but rather the over-emphasis on them. There is a need to strike a balance between achieving academic excellence on one hand and sports and other extra-curricular activities on the other. We did that reasonably well in the sixties and seventies but over the subsequent years we lost out on sports and other extra curricular activities, resulting in a highly academically polarized system.

Overcoming these flaws in our education system is a very complex problem that needs extensive planning by the experts in the field. We should not be taken away by an over- simplistic solution to this rather complex problem. There is also a need to look closely, without prejudice, at other leading countries that have succeeded before us.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Maybank’s move discriminatory and retrograde

Encourage fair competition among Malaysians

It is with deep regret that we read the report on the move by Malayan Banking Bhd.(Maybank) requiring legal firms on its panel to have a minimum of three partners, at least one of whom must be a Malay with a minimum stake of 50 percent in the firm.

This move by the largest bank in the country is not only discriminatory and non-competition, but a retrograde one as well. It comes at a time when the leaders and citizens of all races are in active pursuit of fostering racial unity.

We are about to celebrate our 50 years of independence on such a grand scale to show the world we are a strong united Malaysian race. In actual fact are we a strong united race as we project to the world?

The Prime Minister has repeatedly called for racial unity and assured that all communities have a stake in this land. He has called on all races to work together for the success of the nation. Discriminatory policies like the one being introduced by Maybank are the deterrent forces that act against these calls for unity and progress and are sure ways to self destruction in the long run.

In an era of globalisation and trade liberalisation in the world economy, Malaysians must strive to be more resilient and competitive. There should be free and fair competition based on real merit not ethnicity or favouritism.It would be foolish of us to impose restrictive laws on our own people, based on race, which would only be counter-productive to goals.

If we want to succeed we have to be capable and equipped with the latest knowledge and skills. In a country like Malaysia the diversity of the population is a real asset that provides the best source of this highly skilled workforce. Our diversity in cultures makes us unique. It offers us the source of strength that others do not possess.

The potentials of all, regardless of race must be tapped and utilized if we want to succeed against the giants in international trade and business. If we want to mount a credible challenge against these great powers we have only one option – all races must unite and pool all the resources at our disposal especially the human capital and compete as Malaysians, or face self-inflicted destruction and failure.

We hope the authorities will reconsider this retrograde move by Maybank.Being the biggest banking group in the country, it should take the lead in adhering to free market mechanism where fair and equal competition prevails and not to resort to racial orientated policies which would only be detrimental to us on the long run.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, May 07, 2007

Forget the bad,remember the good

To forgive may be divine but to forget is human

Life these days is so competitive that it has become so stressful that many of us have lost the peace and tranquility of the innocent and carefree childhood days. Most of the time the unhappiness in our inner self is due to our own making – taking to heart the bad others do to us and forgetting the good they have done. If we can reverse this situation then our live may be more peaceful, contended and happier. The following story illustrates this fact very nicely.

There were 2 good friends who set out on a journey across a desert to another town. As they were walking on the desert sands it was hot and they were getting tired and exhausted. There were some disagreements between them on a certain issue. In the spurt of anger one of them slapped the other for passing a sensitive remark.

The man who received the strike took it calmly but he wanted to record his displeasure at what his friend has done to him. As they were all alone in the middle of the desert, there was nobody for him to narrate his displeasure of what his friend had done to him. All he could do was write down on the sand the words, “My best friend slapped me today”.

They continued their journey not talking much to each other until they reached an oasis. There was a stream and they decided to take a bath and freshen up before proceeding with their journey. While they were in the stream a swift current swept the man who was hit before into the depths of the river and as the man could not swim he shouted for help. There was no one else in the vicinity except his friend who had earlier slapped him. His friend quickly without hesitation dived in and saved him.

Soon when they had finished washing up they wanted to continue their journey. The man who almost drowned wanted to record the latest incident as well. He saw a large rock standing near by and he carved the following words on it, “My best friend saved my life today”.

They then continued their journey and reached their destination. After completing their business there they returned home along the same path a few days later. At the same oasis they noticed the words on the rock written earlier very clearly, “My best friend saved my life today”. On reaching the place where the man was slapped they could not see the words written on the sand, “My best friend slapped me today”. The winds had blown and erased those words away.

The friend who slapped asked the other for the reason for writing the way he did. To that his friend answered, “the bad you did to me I wrote on sand which was blown away but the good you did I wrote on rock and that it will remain forever.You are my friend,I will keep to heart the good you do to me not the bad”.

This is what we should do in life, forget the bad others do to us but remember forever the good they do. If we can do that life will be more peaceful and happy.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, May 04, 2007

Plight of migrant workers

Malaysians need to demonstrate our kindness

In a fast moving global world, migration in search of better opportunities has become not only easier but necessary as well. But this migration brings with it a lot of problems for the host country and the migrants themselves, especially unskilled workers. Our country too has been hit with such problems. What are the some of the problems faced by these poor migrant workers in our country?

From the time of recruitment in their own country till they leave after their contract expires, they are subjected to inhumane treatment by the employment agencies and the employers themselves. I do not say all these agencies are evil but many of them are. Most of us employ such workers at home and factories and we do appreciate their problems.

The majority of these workers are promised the heavens but when in fact they are given hell. Inspired with the rewards promised, they mortgage their houses, sell their properties to pay for greener pastures in a foreign land. They leave their spouse, children and parents behind to earn the meager salary for the well being of their future and that of their loved ones.

Only when they reach the Promised Land do they realize that they have been cheated. Some of them are smuggled into the country to become the fashionably called “illegal immigrants”. Many are left stranded in the airports and in some unknown places without food, shelter or money until some good soul comes to their aid.

Others find themselves in police lockups and detention centres where they are verbally and physically abused. At many of these detention centres their living condition is atrocious. They are denied proper food, water and medical facilities and they lack proper sanitation.

Those who manage to finally reach the place of their work, new problems await them. Many domestic helpers were not even told the nature of their duties although we were assured they are fully trained in the tasks we require of them. Many of them were promised factory jobs but ended up with us as domestic helpers and this may explain their rebellious behaviour. Can we blame them totally for that?

Those lucky ones end up with considerate employers who treat them with kindness and consideration but by enlarge the majority of them are not treated well. For the first 4 months or so they are not paid as their salary is used to offset the exorbitant administrative charges incurred in bringing them over.

They are overworked, without proper food and place to rest. Some of them are asked to work in a number of households .They are not given adequate clothes and the expenses on basic amenities like soap, tooth paste, shampoo and sanitary pads are deducted from their already meager pay.

The other major problem is medical expenses. No proper arrangements are made to cater for medical treatment. Our health system, both government and private, is not at all compassionate to these workers. We have known of workers who spend huge sums on unwarranted medical investigations and treatment, almost depleting all that they have earned.

We, Malaysians often claim that we are generous, compassionate and friendly. It is time to demonstrate these in our actions, especially when dealing with those more unfortunate than us.

I do not deny the migrant workers also create numerous problems for us. Increase crime is without doubt a real problem for us all. All these social problems can definitely be minimized by our right attitude towards them and if a proper screening system is used to recruit these workers. We must change our attitude from one of exploitation to one of service.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Paying tribute to all mothers

When love makes sacrifice a pleasure

Once again Mothers’ Day is just around the corner. The mass media is these days are full of advertisements on the various offers to celebrate this day. Many of us make elaborate plans to celebrate the day in ways unique and special to us. Expensive gifts and grandeur banquets are common ways of commemorating this auspicious day dedicated to our mothers.

Amidst all the celebrations and joy let us go back in time to relive the days we spent with her. She gave birth do us, fed us, took care of all our needs as helpless babies, supported us during school going days, then as young men and women, was a maid to take care of our kids and keep our house.

Now she may be healthy and fit, striken with illness of various sorts, bed-ridden, terminally ill or she may even in her death bed waiting for a last glimpse of the children she loved so much. Some of our mothers could also be dead and gone. Whatever her state she may be in let us reflect a little on our lives with this extra-ordinary creature of God who was a servant of sorts to us throughout her life.

We make a lot of sacrifices for advancements in our lives but often we do them for a reward. There is only one person who enjoys sacrificing her time and energy as it is done for the real love for the other person. Undeniably it is none other than our own mother. For this special person, her immeasurable love for us makes her sacrifice a pleasure not pain.

As kids we did not realize all her sacrifices as our vision was masked by her love for us. It takes a long time, sometimes even 50 long years, to really appreciate all the sacrifices that our mother has done and is continuing to do for us. When we were young we took all her sacrifices her for granted. Only now that we are ourselves parents, wives and mothers we begin to truly appreciate the fine qualities of the love and affection our mothers had for us.

In the early days there were many children in the family and it was a real wonder how our mother could take care of all of them equally well. Every one of us was equal in her eyes although the weakest did get some special privileges as far as food was concerned. We can recollect the sleepless nights she spent taking care of us when we were sick, the moments of anxiety she went through when we were involved in some accidents and the tears she shed during their intense prayers for our recovery.

All she lived for was for the well being of our future not hers. She did all that without any ulterior motive that one day we will repay that gratitude in cash or kind.

Today being parents ourselves, we understand insurmountable the pain and anxiety she would have endured when we suffered from all forms of ailments and failures in their lives. We realize the severity of the heartache we would caused her when we refused to heed her advice and meet disaster as a result.

In those days cooking was a real chore without all the modern gadgets we have today. Everything from grinding to cutting was done manually and you can imagine the difficulties encountered in preparing at least 3 meals a day for an extended family of over 10 people daily without fail. This has to be done with the meager income of their husbands who were the sole bread winners.

Apart from being a great mother to us she was an exemplary wife especially in those days when men were very over-demanding. We would agree that most of our fathers, however high and mighty, are totally dependent on mom for their successes. It is a fact that many men in advanced age do not survive long after the death of their views.

Sadly today many of her sacrifices are not appreciated by us, the children, which really hurts her to the core. Many of us simply forget the good old days when she toiled endlessly without sleep and rest for our well being, to make us what we are today. We are too busy with our own lives that we forget to spend time just talking and listening to her.

Among the siblings, we become calculative of who should take care and provide for her especially when she is left all alone after the death of her husband, our father. When she becomes ill or handicapped we conveniently pass the responsibility of caring for her to others. We give the excuse we are too busy and have no time and money.

Many of our mothers are now elderly and may be riddled with so many ailments. They are living in fear of loneliness at the twilight of their lives. The only companion they had, their husbands are gone. We may not be able to cure all her illnesses, but the least we can give her is reassurance that we care and love her. We easily forget the days when as children, her loving embrace could allay all our fears. She did that willingly and with great love and passion.

Let’s not forget that our mother, in whatever state she may be, is our responsibility to care and love. We cannot and should not run away from that obligation of ours. It is not our money, gifts and food that she yearns for but for something priceless - our company, reassurance and love.

To a mother there is nothing more comforting than to see her children in good health and happiness. As children if we can convince her that she was the source and inspiration for our success and happiness in life, she would be the happiest mother today.

Happy Mothers’Day

Dr.Chris Anthony

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