Thursday, August 30, 2007

Continuing the work of our founding fathers

We must continue the work of founding fathers

I refer to the report “Najib: Don’t use contentious issues to gain support”(Star,August 29).

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s call to politicians not to sow hatred and suspicion by bringing up contentious issues just to gain support is very timely and gratifying. Not only politicians but all Malaysians should heed his call to refrain from resorting to such degrading and unscrupulous tactics. Politicians from all parties should take the lead and set an example for the people in staying clear of racial politics that would only be detrimental to all.

We are celebrating our 50th year of independence and apart from the economic and physical developments, our greatest achievement is unity among the various races that have made this country their home. All these we have been a model nation for the world as far as ideal inter-ethnic relations are concerned. We should continue to strive to maintain this hard earned reputation of our forefathers and not allow myopic short- term policies to disrupt the peace and harmony we have achieved so far.

We have fought the external forces, the colonialists and the communists, before with a true spirit of comradeship and patriotism.Now as Malaysians we must unite to fight the enemies from within – those out to divide the nation along communal lines by repeatedly resurrecting issues that have already been long settled. They keep doing these for their own selfish gains,both political and monetary.

As Najib said these people are doing disservice to the spirit of the nation and memories of the founding fathers by harping on what kept them apart and not what kept them together for half a century.

Our founding forefathers, having realized the diversity of the people, had carefully formulated the Constitution as the reference for continuing peace and harmony of future generations. The formula of patriotism and unity has all been incorporated in that document. It is important that we realize their ideals and visions contained therein and act accordingly to preserve and cherish them.

It is equally important for us to pass these ideals to our children so that the fundamentals on which our nation was built will continue to be upheld. There is no better way of honouring our founding fathers other than continuing their work during our lifetime and this should be our solemn pledge for this merdeka.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jesus,beer and cigarette

Jesus’ positive message in a negative image

The publishing of a picture of Jesus holding a beer can and a cigarette by the Tamil daily,Makkal Osai recently was a despicable act which must be condemned. However the Christian leaders, including Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, have rightly reacted with restraint and sensibly to that irresponsible action. We too in general have accepted the apology from the editor in the true Christian spirit of forgiveness. This goes to show that as followers of Jesus, we are a peace loving people whose faith in Him cannot be shaken by such provocative acts.

The decision by the Internal Security Ministry to suspend the publication permit of Tamil daily Makkal Osai for one month is not only unwarranted but was done in bad faith as it was carried out contrary to the advice of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS).In fact Archbishop Murphy Pakiam said he was “perplexed and bemused” by the suspension.

Jesus is known for his mercy, compassion and love. He did not just preach these virtues but lived and even died by them. Would He have wanted to punish the perpetrators of this irresponsible incidence further despite their repentance? The suspension of the daily would result in a hundred workers losing their livelihood.

It is very obvious now that the whole incident had some underlying political motives. The suspension seem to have little to do with safeguarding the religious sensitivities but was a means to punish the highly critical Tamil daily.It is sad, that these days even the name of God and His prophets are being manipulated by certain individuals for political gains.The real culprits in this whole fiasco are the politicians not the editor or staff of Makkal Osai.They are willing to go to any extent just to gain glory and power in keeping in keeping with the maxim,the end justifies the means.

The daily had published a picture of Jesus Christ purportedly holding a cigarette in one hand and a beer can in the other, with a caption saying: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits him”. What was portrayed may be a negative feature but if we reflect deeply, we will see that that Jesus may be trying to convey certain positive messages for us, not just Christians but all mankind.

Firstly, Jesus may be telling us to rid ourselves of our sinful ways if we want to enter his kingdom. The beer and cigarette represent the sins due to greed, lust and hate, which are so rampant in the world today.

Secondly, Jesus is telling us that he is among the poor, destitute and the sinners. He is inviting us to be with him with the masses. Unless we give up our pride and reach out to those marginalized and oppressed, we will never encounter God.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Merdeka : a day to celebrate and reflect

Merdeka : a day to reflect on our shortcomings

We are just days from our 50th.National Day. There is an air of festivity and excitement throughout the country. Various generations celebrate in ways peculiar to their own experiences in life in our beloved nation, as it turns 50.The government has lined up a host of events and activities to mark the occasion.

Our achievements since independence are definitely a cause of celebration and joy. At the same time it should be also a day to recollect our failures and shortcomings. While celebrating our victories it is also the time to resolve to right the wrongs in our country.

A number of issues need to be urgently addressed otherwise all our achievements will be meaningless. Some of theses include the deteriorating racial and religious tolerance, rampant corruption, high road accident rate, unacceptably high crime rate, unavailability of affordable quality education, costly basic health care, poverty, unemployment, arrogant and indifferent civil service, lack of freedom of expression and respect for human rights and an alarming deterioration of moral and human values.

A truly independent nation should fulfill the aspirations of all her citizens alike. No distinction should be made based on ethnicity, religion, political alienation or socio-economic status. It must meet the following criteria:

1.A democratic system of government that is sensitive to the needs of all

2.Rights of all, including the minorities are assured and protected.

3.The rule of law must be upheld at all costs.

4.Eradication of poverty should be above race, religion and politics

5.True meritocracy in the recruitment to the institutions of higher learning, public service, police and armed forces.

For the ordinary rakyat, Merdeka will only be meaningful if he has a decent job, decent food, proper shelter, proper transport, affordable health care, reasonable education for the children, freedom to worship, an independent justice system, and a safe and secure environment for him and his loved ones.

Above all, he needs to be appreciated and respected for his contributions to his country, however meager they may be. In short, he needs to be treated as a legitimate citizen and not as a stranger or an alien in his own land

Unless these needs are fulfilled, Merdeka will not and have any meaning for the ordinary man on the street. To him it will just be another public holiday to witness the various celebrations that have been lined up.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, August 16, 2007

National day, more than flying of flags

Fairness builds patriotism

As we approach our 50th.National Day this August 31, our national media is full of reports of the various ways people celebrate our hard earned independence. Various generations celebrate in ways peculiar to their own experiences in life in our beloved nation, as it turns 50.The government has lined up a host of events and activities to mark the occassion.

To demonstrate our patriotism to the nation, we are encouraged to hoist the national flag in our homes, offices, shops and on cars. It is becoming increasingly more common to see cars fully draped in the beautiful colors of the Jalur Gemilang. Some of our politicians even go to the extent of castigating those who do not hoist the national flag as being unpatriotic and ungrateful for what the country has done for them.

In schools our children are asked to wave flags as they sing the national anthem and other patriotic songs. Almost daily the schools organize assemblies, eloquent speeches and other activities towards this end. Being children as they are, most of them are very happy to participate in all these as they create an environment of festivities during the month of August each year.

Is national day all about waving the national flag, singing patriotic songs, having parades and parties? Definitely it transcends these physical expressions of joy of our independence. It should be a day to recollect our achievements and failures over the years since independence. While celebrating our victories it is also the time to resolve to right the wrongs in our country.

A number of issues need to be urgently addressed; otherwise all our achievements will be meaningless. Some of theses include the deteriorating racial and religious tolerance, rampant corruption, high road accident rate, unacceptably high crime rate, unavailability of affordable quality education, costly basic health care, poverty, unemployment, arrogant and indifferent civil service, lack of freedom of expression and respect for human rights and an alarming deterioration of moral and human values.

As loyal citizens we must ask ourselves how we can contribute to the peace and harmony in a multi-racial and multi-religious country. To make “merdeka” more meaningful for the rakyat, serious concerted efforts by all parties must be made to correct these wrongs in our society.

Displaying flags, singing patriotic songs, wearing special costumes, participating in parades and banquet are just superficial displays of patriotism.These do not instill true and lasting patriotism. Nationalism and patriotism are not inborn in us. They should be cultivated from an early age just like how parents nurture them in their children..

The nation, like parents, must provide for her citizens all the necessary needs before it can expect undivided patriotism and loyalty.Only with the provision of the basic needs, can true patriotism develop in the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Comments

true..very true

By sakun,22, 18-Aug-2007

Your interpretation is correct and unfortunately, the term 'fairness' in this country has been interpreted to ensure political correctness and hanging on to powers and financial richness [of those in powers] to the neglect of national integration in the truest sense.

Fields in sports, education, promotional opportunities, business opportunities etc are all tainted with UNfairness. Yet the under-well treated communities have also not be able to voice out in open forums. Any discussion may rub salt into the wounds of many people who have to live as though such wounds do not exist.

The powers to bring to courts for example, those who are considered to be in the wrong are also vested in only one person, the AG, who is deemed 'demi God'.The agencies that do the monitoring appear to be hopeless or one-sided as well.

By mzaffendi, 18-Aug-2007

Well said. Unfortunately most of the Rakyat today are "seperti Lembu dicucuk hidung". The path to Hell is laden with blind devotion, smoothen by greed,encouraged by selfishness and concealed by lies. May your writing dislodge some ' nose-chains'.

By nagahakim, 18-Aug-2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

All citizens must be made to feel as Malaysians

Let’s heed the Selangor Sultan’s advice

I refer to the reports “Selangor Sultan: Keep politics out of N-Day celebrations” and “Sultan expresses concern over host of issues” (Star August 13).

We are at the brink of hailing our 50th year of independence. While the whole nation is gearing up to mark the historic day with grand celebrations, The Sultan Sultan of Selangor,Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has called on politicians to put politics aside and refrain from bringing up contentious issues ahead of the 50th National Day celebrations.

He also called on all to rid the nation of the numerous ills plague our society today. He has highlighted 6 major areas of serious concern which if not overcome will ruin the nation. These are corruption, bureaucratic red tape, race problems, religious intolerance, the brain drain and crime.

The underlying cause of these problems is due to the increasing politicization and commercialization of our institutions and government machinery. This has resulted in the loss of professionalism in the management of the various sectors of administration in the civil service, police and judiciary.

Race relations have been on the decline since independence and this is a real cause for worry. The warning by the Selangor Sultan to all politicians not to play the race card to gain political support is appropriate and timely. We hope all parties heed his call to curb such practice.

The Sultan also expressed his concern over the country’s brain drain, lamenting that talented young people were leaving the country. The brain drain has incapacitated us to an extent that if it is not checked we will be the losers in the global world that is so competitive. Poor political planning, intentionally or unintentionally, and unfair policies are the major causes of the brain drain that has reached a critical stage.

We fully agree with him that no one, irrespective of his race, should be denied any opportunities in his own land. The talents of all must be tapped if we want to stand a chance to survive in today’s world. Just as we needed the unity of all the races to achieve independence and fight the communist insurgency that followed, again we need that unity of all to withstand the economic onslaught by big and powerful countries.

The Sultan has reminded all of us that Malaysia’s reputable position in the international scene today is because of the blood, sweat, tears and sacrifice of all Malaysians be they Malays, Chinese, Indians or the other ethnics groups. As such this country belongs to all Malaysians and everyone has a right to feel as Malaysians.

This should be emphasized at all levels and in all avenues – the schools, offices, places of work and recreation. Everyone, however small, must be made to feel wanted and it is this attitude that creates a sense of belonging to the nation, which is so essential to dissipate our energy towards nation building.

Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has conveyed, in his ‘no holds bared speech’, one of the best messages for the 50th national Day – we must put aside our political, racial and religious differences and unite as Malaysians in our strive to bring our nation to greater heights in the next 50 years.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Bring back the spirit of Merdeka too

Let’s look at the commonness not the differences

I refer to the report “Vintage car for N-Day event”(Star August 7).

It was very interesting to read that a vintage car, similar to the one Tunku Abdul Rahman rode will be brought in from the United States for the launch of the 50th Merdeka Month celebration. Equally interesting are the various programmes that are lined up throughout the month for the celebrations. It is indeed fitting and proper to mark the historic day with such elaborate celebrations as it occurs just once a life time.

Great efforts are being made to bring back various physical items of the past to remind the present generation of Malaysians what really happened at Merdeka in 1957.While these may be good and should be encouraged, it would be even more meaningful if we also bring back the real spirit of Merdeka that was prevalent among the leaders and people at that time.

Hoisting and waving the national flag, singing the national anthem, shouting “merdeka” at the top of their voices and hosting elaborate banquets and other events were just symbolic gestures of independence. The true spirit of Merdeka that filled the air in 1957 was one of unity and goodwill among Malaysians of all races, what we used to call muhibbah.Without this unity merdeka is meaningless.

At that time Malaysians of all races, led by Tunku Abdul Rahman, celebrated their hard-earned independence as one united nation. All of them at that time happily and proudly shared the common brotherhood in the new-born nation, Malaya.

It is sad that after fifty years, the spirit of brotherhood that existed among Malaysians appears to be slowly eluding us for sure. Each community seems to have become comfortably confined within their self-made cocoons. The cultures and believes of each has become alien to the other. Strains in the inter-ethnic relationship are emerging which is becoming a main cause of worry in our multiracial and multi-religious country.

Much has to be done to arrest and improve this deteriorating race relation in the country. There is an urgent need to remind our young, the important contributions all races to the development of our country. We must emphasize on the commonness that bind us as Malaysians rather than keep repeatedly harping on the few differences among us which is threatening to tear the nation apart.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments

drchris,

The essence of Merdeka that you so passionately pointed out is so true that it hurts. Your unity call to us is so painfully clear. How I wish our current leaders could feel like you.The tears we shed for our country as one brother and sisterhood flowed unnoticed into a political abyss. We are voices in a sound-proof room. The key to letting our voices heard is held by our leaders. We kept on calling out to be heard but all we get is an engaged tone with a lady telling us that..."nombor yang anda dial, tiada dalam perkhidmatan, terima kasih"....somebody wrote this sad statement last week," I love Malaysia but does Malaysia love me?"

My name is Muhammad Hakim. I am Malaysian and I will teach my children to be Malaysian so they can show their friends that it is alright to be Malaysians.'Muhibbah' was not a dream. I was there and I felt it's magic and I still do. I hope our children will have the opportunity to feel that same magic as we did. It is up to us to show them how. Thank you drchris for this headsup post. Hidup Malaysians.

By nagahakim, 17-Aug-2007





Thursday, August 09, 2007

After fifty years - a real test of patriotism


Marginalization of minorities


Some time ago,the Minister Mentor of Singapore,Lee Kuan Yew, accused the Malaysian government to have systematically marginalized the citizens of Chinese origin. This was vehemently denied by the Malaysian government including its own Chinese Ministers in the cabinet. The accusation created considerable debate on this issue of marginalization of the minorities in the country.

What is marginalization? Is it true that certain communities in the country are being marginalized?

The Oxford Dictionary defines marginalization as 1.relating to or a situation at or in a margin. 2. of minor importance. Therefore when we say a community is marginalized it means it is pushed to the periphery and given minor importance.

In accordance with this definition we can safely say marginalization is a universal practice of the majority against the minority. In a truly democratic state the minorities are protected by law against blatant abuses and discrimination against them. The ruling majority is entrusted to ensure that the rights of the minorities are genuinely protected.

The political system, the judiciary, police and armed forces are in place to ensure that the rights of the minorities are protected in accordance with the laws of the country. This is practiced more satisfactorily in most developed democratic nations of the West as compared to developing and under-developed nations.

In Malaysia too the Federal Constitution, enacted by the founding fathers of the nation, clearly spelt out these provisions. Do we as the minority non-Malay and non-Muslim communities enjoy this protection from the government agencies? Are our legitimate rights for equal participation in the various institutions and economic activities granted freely without fuss?

The present unprofessional handling of inter-ethnic conflicts by our politicians, police, judiciary and the civil service in general has cast serious doubts in our minds as to the willingness of the majority to protect not only our rights but our security as well.

This was clearly demonstrated in a number of incidence lately such as violent disruption of the peaceful Article 11 forum in Penang, the false SMS fiasco in Ipoh, seditious speeches and kris waving at the last UMNO General Assembly, the warnings by UMNO youth leaders and so on.

After fifty years of independence instead of getting more united we are on the contrary becoming more polarized along ethnic and religious lines.

At the brink of our 50th.year of independence,when the whole nation is in festive mood,preparing to celebrate our national day,let’s ponder what is taking place in our own multiracial and multi-religious country which our leaders acclaim to be a model for others to emulate.

Segregation begins early

The first act after a child is born is the registration of its birth which requires one to state the ethnicity and religion of the newborn. So even at birth Malaysians are categorized as Malays, Chinese, Indians or others. Why can’t we do away with just stating we are Malaysian instead of classifying according our ethnic origin? In school In school the child is again repeatedly asked to state his race and religion in all registration forms.

Even streamlining of classes is based on race. It is not uncommon to group all Malays into one class and non-Malays into others. The reason given for this is to facilitate religious instruction for Muslims and moral for non-Muslims. Religious instruction for children should be encouraged but it should be for all, regardless of religion. Moral classes, emphasizing universal values, should also be common for all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Why are Malaysians at such a tender and innocent age exposed to separate moral and value systems? Prayer sessions in schools, before important functions and examinations are held only for Muslims. The non-Muslims are left to idle away during these sessions. Isn’t this segregation of our children in schools for religious purposes amounts to discrimination?

Selection of students for posts as prefects, heads of clubs and sports are again based on race. Non-Malay students unless possess extra-ordinary skills, which not many do, are not selected to represent the school or state.

Teachers, who are predominantly Malays, these days don’t even know much about the background of their pupils of other races. Then there is different dress code for Muslims and non-Muslims which further segregate the kids even at primary level.

At university level

Entry into public universities which is based on two totally different examinations, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia(STPM) and Matriculation, is profoundly unfair. There is widespread perception that the selection process for university entrance favors the matriculation over the STPM students. Less than 10% of the matriculation seats are offered to non-Malays.

As STPM carries less weight for entry into public universities, many of the non-Malay students, even those from poor background, are forced to shun away from this once popular local examination in favor of A-levels. The latter, apart from being a foreign examination is also very costly, tuition fees alone coming up to more than RM15,000.By this unfair practice, slowly but surely the non-Malays are systematically eliminated from being considered for courses in public universities. Why can’t all races sit for the same common exam?

Every year we see numerous non-Malay students with maximum results in STPM exam being blatantly denied places in public universities for critical courses like Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Law and Engineering. Many of these students are from extremely poor financial background and cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by the private colleges. Scholarships are not awarded to them based on merit as claimed. What do we expect them to do? Can we blame them if they resort to criminal activities to earn a living?

The vast majority on non-Malay students, including the brilliant ones from poor families, are forced to further their education in private institutions, with questionable credentials, at exorbitant costs, often amounting to hundreds of thousands of ringgit. Many poor parents have to mortgage their houses and properties to finance them. Highly precious EPF savings are utilized leaving the parents at the mercy of their children at the twilight of their lives.

Job opportunities

After completion of their studies job opportunities are also hardly available to non-Malay Malaysians. The posts in civil service, police, armed forces and even government linked companies (GLC) are “reserved” for bumiputras leaving the private sector highly competitive for the non-bumiputras.Forty percent of the population are given less the 10% of jobs in the government sector. If this isn’t discrimination what is it?

For those few, who are lucky to be employed in the public sector, promotions by real merit are difficult to come by. Post for heads of departments, state directors of the various departments, director generals, state secretaries and chief secretaries of ministries are all exclusively for bumiputras.

Religious segregation

In the years following independence Malaysians of all races mixed freely, playing, eating and even praying together. They celebrate all the festivals together in the true spirit of muhibbah.Today each community celebrates its own festival among the members of its own community. In fact these days our Muslim friends are reluctant to dine in the homes of non Muslim friends.

Although Malaysia is a secular country where the federal constitution guarantees freedom to practice ones own religion, this freedom of religious worship, in actual fact, is greatly impeded.
Local authorities are reluctant to approve the building of churches and temples let alone providing funds for such projects.Civil laws are being replaced by Syariah laws that are slowly becoming the supreme law of the land. There seems to be 2 sets of laws in the country, Syariah for Muslims and civil for non-Muslims. Of late there has been attempts to impose syariah laws on non-Muslims as well.This has caused great deal of anxiety among them.

Inter-faith problems are sensationalized and dialogues to solve them are denied. The reluctance of the government to the establishment the Inter-faith Commission is a serious setback to solving such disputes in a civil manner.

Conclusion

Lee Kuan Yew said the Chinese are marginalized in Malaysia and in return the Malaysian government claims that the Malays in Singapore are marginalized. Both these may be true but what is also true is that the indigenous groups and Indians in both countries have been pushed out of the margins, a situation we call elimination, which is more extreme than marginalization.
Even the poorer class of bumiputras are marginalised from the mainstream of development.

We claim that Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country, and truly it is. Our leaders claim we are a model nation for the world to emulate as far as ethnic relations are concerned, sure enough it should be.

We have all the great religions in our country, Islam, Christianity, Hinduisms and Buddhism. All of them are unanimous in their teachings - to share what you have, however scanty it may be, with those who are less fortunate regardless of race or creed.

Malaysia is blessed with abundant natural resources and there is plenty of wealth for all its citizens. All we need is to be true followers of our respective religions and share what we have with fellow countrymen, regardless of color or creed.

At the end of the first fifty years of independence, we are beginning to get a sense of hopelessness and despair. Occasionally we see a ray of hope in some moderate statements of the Prime Minister but it is quickly subdued by racist remarks of some young ambitious politician. We are encouraged by the recent calls for racial unity by the Regent of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah but will his sole voice have any lasting impact on the government?

Our patriotism to the nation which was unshakable before is being severely tested. If this discrimination and marginalization continues our future in the country we loved and toiled to develop appears to be doomed. Let us all implore divine help to get rid of our selfishness in accordance of our religious teachings, as only that will be able to deliver our country from the clutches of racists and fanatics.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

We need national champions not ethnic

KJ : Why bring in the Americnas and Jews?

It was appalling to read the statements by Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaludin as reported by Star August 3,2007 “Anwar a traitor to Malay cause, says Khairy”. Such racist remarks from the dominant member of the ruling coalition are the least required in a multiracial country.

Khairy described Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as a traitor to the Malay cause. He said Anwar is a puppet of the United States and the Jews, thus he must be hounded until there is no more place for him to run to. This accusation was made just because Anwar wanted to do away the New Economic Policy (NEP).

According to Khairy the coming general elections is not about politics but the future of the Malays. Does he ever think of the future of the non-Malays? Like all elections this too must be for the future of all Malaysians.

He also warned the component party leaders against making demands for extra seats for the parties in the coming general elections.

It is significant that he chose to make these statements at an UMNO Youth gathering attended by 5,000 people and at the brink of the next general elections. His motive is clear – to garner the support of the Malays for the election. It is sad that he had to resort to such low level racist tactics to get that support.

According to Anwar the NEP only benefited the rich Malays. The rich were getting richer and the vast majority of the Malays continue to remain poor. In fact with the escalating cost of living they are getting poorer. What Anwar actually wanted was for the benefit of the Malays in general. Does that make him a traitor to his race? Why bring in the Americans and the Jews? What have these people done to the detriment of the Malays?

Leaders of the component parties are very senior ministers. Is it befitting a young leader of the youth wing of UMNO to issue such threats to these senior members of the coalition which preaches fair play and goodwill? Is this the new Barisan way?

Where have the lessons on respecting the elders all gone to? Are we now teaching our kids to show respect to only the elders of our own race?

The racial unity and harmony that had been built by our forefathers is slowly eluding us. We have enough of ethnic champions. It is time we have leaders who would champion the rights and needs of all Malaysians regardless of race or creed.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments



KJ: ‘Young chiku’ who has got nothing to show

YeeAug 8, 07 2:02pm

Jamaluddin was calling Anwar Ibrahim a traitor to the Malays and a stooge and puppet of the Americans and Jews, the former deputy prime minister was having a private dinner with the newly re-elected prime minister and deputy prime minister of Turkey (a Muslim country) in their private homes in Istanbul. He had also just flown from Jakarta after a meeting with top leaders of Indonesia (also a Muslim country). The legendary Nelson Mandela, during his visit to Malaysia, requested a tea meeting at Carcosa Sri Negara, with Anwar and his family.

It seems that leaders from all over the world honour and respect Anwar Ibrahim as a statesman but Umno Youth wishes to see him as a lover of the Jews and a stooge of America. Anwar Ibrahim relates to the ordinary Malaysian in the Malay ‘kampungs’, the Chinese villages and the Indian estates and yet is able to hold a presence with kings and diplomats from all over the world.

He speaks against injustice and fights for the poor and marginalised irregardless of race or religion. If this man is not the prime minister for Malaysia then who is? Anwar Ibrahim’s resume beats any of those in government today. He is a man not without flaws but at least he is tested and proven and the best man to lift Malaysia back to its former glory. I suggest that if

Khairy’s desire is only to rouse up the audience and get a standing ovation then he should find a better subject and cause to speak about. This ‘young chiku’ has not even stood for a single election nationally. If not for his father-in-law, where would he be today? Sad, isn’t it, that someone can think so highly of himself when in reality there is little to show for.

Constitution the guardian of peace

Emphasising the importance of the Constitution

The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah’s call to young Malaysians to protect the integrity and sanctity of the Federal Constitution is very timely and encouraging. He rightly pointed that the rule of law and inviolability of the Constitution, economic and social justice for all, and a thriving civil society will allow an effective and sustained nation building in a pluralistic society.

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and abiding by it is every citizen’s way of displaying his patriotism. Everyone regardless of his race, creed or social status should respect and abide by the provisions of this supreme law. If any group is allowed to go against these provisions there is real danger of the nation falling in a state of lawlessness that will only lead to chaos.

Raja Nazrin also rightly pointed out that the Constitution clearly provided for adequate checks and balances against excesses through the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches and the many conflicts and social ills that plague us today are due to our disregard of the principles embodied in that sacred document.

There is a need to create awareness of our rights enshrined in the Constitution and these rights must be respected by all groups. Study of the Constitution could be in cooperated into our school curriculum so that our children from a young age be instilled the importance of abiding by the provisions in it. Parents and teachers must impress upon them the importance of the Constitution as the guardian of peace and harmony of the nation.

We share the serious concerns of Raja Nazrin that ethnic and religious identities appear to have become more explicit in recent years and that Malaysians were sadly showing signs of polarisation along these lines. There has been over emphasis on our differences rather than our commonness. I am afraid this unhealthy trend is causing suspicion and even hatred for those from other communities, despite all being Malaysians.

The government should be more serious in putting a check on the deteriorating race relations in the country which is at its ebb in fifty years. We would be in a state of denial, if we assume it is excellent, just because there are no riots like in many other countries.

Ethnic integration and harmony must be seen as an asset by all citizens. The government should take proactive measures, not only to check racial disintegration but also to enhance its integration at all levels, schools, universities and places of work by providing greater opportunities for the various races to mingle and interact freely.

Raja Nazrin call should act as a reminder for leaders at all levels to refrain from capitalizing on racial issues for political mileage. They must put the interest of the nation above their own. Instead of emphasizing on our differences they must repeatedly stress at the many similarities that bind us as Malaysians.

All of us, regardless of race or creed, have an important role to steer the nation in the direction of moderation and tolerance. If we want to show patriotism to the nation, there is no better way to do that than abiding by the provisions of the Constitution and actively participating in endeavors to rid the nation of racism, in whatever form it may take. For lasting peace and harmony, there is only one way – the rule of law must be supreme and it must prevail and safeguarded at all times and at all costs.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Abiding by the Constitution

Rule of law must prevail at all costs

All peace loving and law abiding Malaysians will welcome The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah’s call to young Malaysians to protect the integrity of the Federal Constitution. He rightly pointed that The Constitution is the supreme law of the land and abiding by it is every citizen’s way of promoting national unity.

The Federal Constitution is the highest law of the land and all other laws should are constituted based on its provisions and therefore should not supercede it for whatever reason. Everyone regardless of his race, creed or social status should respect and abide by the provisions of this supreme law of the land. If any group is allowed to go against these provisions there is real danger of the nation falling into a state of lawlessness that will only lead to chaos.

The judiciary has a pivotal role that the provisions of this supreme law are applied to all. It must ensure that the trust placed in it to mete our justice for all citizens, without fear or favour, should at all times be guided by the provisions of the Federal Constitution and not personal emotions and convictions.

We share the serious concerns of Raja Nazrin that ethnic and religious identities appear to have become more explicit in recent years and that Malaysians were sadly showing signs of polarisation along these lines. There has been over emphasis on our differences rather than our commonness. I am afraid this unhealthy trend is causing suspicion and even hatred for those from other communities, despite all being Malaysians.

There is a need to create awareness of our rights enshrined in the Constitution and these rights must be respected by all groups. Parents and teachers have particularly pivotal roles in instilling this love and respect for the Constitution and the rule of law in our young children.It would be of great help if study of the constitution is included in the school curriculum.

We must put aside our differences to come together to resist the rule by fanaticism and emotion that are threatening to destroy the peace and harmony that we have nurtured and cherished all these years. All of us, regardless of race or creed, have an important duty to steer the nation in the direction of moderation and tolerance.To do this we must look at the many common factors that bind us as Malaysians rather than allowing the few existing differences to divide us.

If we want to show patriotism to the nation, the is no better way to do that than abiding by the provisions of the Constitution and actively participating in endeavors to rid the nation of racism, in whatever form it may take. The rule of law is supreme and must prevail and safeguarded at all times and at all costs. It is the only way to preserve lasting peace and harmony.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Comments

Not only citizens but everyone else in Government/NGO etc ... EVERYONE.If people abuse their authority power etc. then it is useless. There are too many things and screw-ups in this country that are making the citizens lose hope.

By lbkooi, 7-Aug-2007


The Federal Constitution is the foundation of Malaysia. Since we do not have our founding fathers to tell us what are the true intentions enshrined in the provisions of the Constitution, we need the judiciary to interpret it for us.The judiciary and executive (government) branches are supposed to be independent on each other. However, we can see that this is not actually so since judges are appointed and can be dismissed by the Government.Perhaps it is time that Malaysia adopt the appointment of judges for life, like in the United States. This means that judges can be truly impartial to say their minds and need not fear of being dismissed by the Government. Appointments of judges will be by a select body, comprising of the Bar Council and others, and not solely decided by the Government. Judges can be impeached if clearly shown to go against or break certain rules.

By sleekk, 7-Aug-2007


We hear lots of talk about which education system is better. Here is a good opportunity for the Government to do something. Introduce a new subject, call it whatever you want - Law and Society to secondary school. This subject should incorporate the meaning of the rule of law, legal structure, parliament and state's, how laws are made, the court system, the big piece of paper called C, other legislations such as crime act, income tax and others. I am not talking about what they teach in University but to expose students to the country's legal system.If the students are interested to know more, they can find out themselves. Education is about "leading out", leading the young mind to the world of education and not "I lead and you follow".

By campuras, 7-Aug-2007


campuras: People upholding the law should and must be a great role model first ... get what I mean?

By lbkooi, 7-Aug-2007


All the above comments are very well made. However, one forgets that the Malaysian constitution is actually written in English!!! I bet a lot of our youths won't be able to properly read and understand what it says.

By ahvincent, 8-Aug-2007

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Celebrating our 50 years of Independence

Reflecting on merdeka - Are we truly independent?

Come this August 31, we will be celebrating the 50th.year of independence of our nation. The countdown has already begun. The nation is gearing towards marking this auspicious day with much pomp and splendor. The government has allocated hundreds of millions of ringgit to celebrate the occasion in a very grand scale. Apart from the usual yearly celebrations, this year the golden anniversary National Day celebrations are in-cooperated to be the highlight of the Visit Malaysia Year 2007.

We want to show the world our great achievements since we took over the reigns of power. We want to show the world how united we are despite our diversity. We want to show the world how the various races live peacefully with one another. We want to show the world how superior our political system of democracy is over even the sole superpower that preaches human rights and democracy to others. In short, we want to be a model nation for the rest of the world but are we really a model state for others to emulate?

As the nation prepares to celebrate its independence, are all communities equally excited and grateful for the developments that have taken place over the pat 50 years? Let us reflect on some of the changes that have taken place over the years to give us a picture of the direction we are heading.

Historical perspective

All citizens alike have contributed greatly to achieving our national independence from the British and subsequently in fighting the communist insurgents that followed. All races fought side by side like brothers, some even sacrificing their lives in the process. Despite our diverse origins we considered the nation as our motherland and together shared a common brotherhood. In the spirit of that brotherhood, we together formulated the Federal Constitution which was to be guide for the peaceful coexistence of future generations.

We have come a long way from a poor underdeveloped agricultural country to a highly prosperous industrialized one within a short span of 50 years. This is due to the hard and dedicated labour of all citizens.

In the process of achieving this rapid socio-economic development, we have also given way to the emergence of a number of undesirable situations that have begun to threaten the very foundation on which our nation had been built by our forefathers.

Deterioration of race relations

When we were young, we had friends from all races. We studied, played, ate and even prayed together. We cherish the pleasant time we had together as children. Those who performed well in examinations were allowed entry into local public universities without fuss.

We spent many years of our youth in serving the rakyat in remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak and in the dangerous border areas of Kelantan,Perak and Kedah. Irrespective of race or creed, we considered everyone as our own “Pa’chik” and “Mak chik”giving our very best to serve them. The thought of racial or religious difference never crossed us at any time. That was the spirit of our training in schools and colleges.

We worked hard to help bring the country to the present elevated state but unfortunately today we are now being seen as threats to the very institution we strived for. We are repeatedly reminded that we are kaum pendatang. It is ironical that our forefathers who actually came from elsewhere did not feel they were kaum pendatang but we and our children born and bred here are constantly reminded so. In fact many among us had never set foot on another land, how can we be kaum pendatang?



Today our children do not have real friends from other races. They are only comfortable mingling with those from their own community. They are fast losing the skills of inter-communal communication that came so naturally to our forefathers.

Although we are legitimate citizens, paying pay taxes, we are denied our rights to education at public institutions, civil service, armed forces and government-linked businesses. We are being increasingly marginalized from the mainstream of development. The Federal Constitution is being ignored and our rights enshrined in that sacred document are blatantly denied.



Increasing Islamisation

In recent times even our freedom of worship is being impeded. Millions of taxpayers’ money is spent on building mosques, suraus and religious schools but a negligible amount allocated to the building of churches and temples. Not only we are not allowed to erect places of worship but even existing such places are demolished indiscriminately.

Of late there has been number of incidence that indicate that we are moving towards a fundamental Islamic state where Islamic syariah laws are slowly being implemented even to cover the non-Muslims. Islamic values are being slowly assimilated into the civil service, armed forces, schools, sports and in fact into every facet of public life. This is causing anxiety and uneasiness among the non-Muslims who form a significant 40%of the population.

This is slowly but surely excluding us from all these institutions. In fact all these institutions and even sports are now dominated by Malays. We have no qualms about syariah laws but why impose onto us? There is real fear that soon it may be the supreme law of the land for all.

Secular or Islamic state?

Now on the brink of our 50th anniversary we are once again reminded that Malaysia as an Islamic state. This declaration comes from none other than our Deputy Prime Minister himself. When we try to air our displeasure, all such protests are banned. Even cabinet ministers are forbidden to discuss the issue. How are we to solve our problems if we are forbidden to even discuss them?

So the debate continues on the quiet, are we a secular or Islamic state? To the ordinary man on the street it is the least that matters. It is the politicians who keep bringing up this issue over and over to garner support, and they do it at the expense of unity and harmony among the races.

The vast majority of Malaysians, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, are busy with their lives, slogging away to make ends meet. The escalating price of commodities like food, petrol and toll is taking a heavy toll on the average wage earner. To make matters worst there is the increasing cost of housing, health care and education which can run into thousands. Under these prevailing conditions, they neither have the time nor interest to indulge in racial politics.

They are least interested as to whether the country is a secular or Islamic state. All they want is peace and freedom to practice their religion in the way they see it fit. They want others to respect and not belittle their religion. In fact it was the way it was and it should be the way it should always be.


Politicization of religion

We have already come to accept the special privileges of the bumiputras, Islam as the official religion and Bahasa Malaysia as the official language. These are already non-issues today and we have to go ahead from here, not bring back the past to create uneasiness and tension among the people.

It is the ambitious politicians who indulge in such divide and rule policies to gain popularity. They are the ones whole initiate, indulge and perpetrate disunity by repeatedly harping on these issues of the past that divide the people. The Islamic-secular state controversy is the latest of such issues.

Malaysia has enough resources for all and it would be selfish and unwise to make them exclusive to any particular community. To do so would also be against the teaching of all religions, which advocate goodwill and kindness to all mankind. As citizens, we are not asking anything that belongs to others, but what is ours as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.


Criteria for true independence

A truly independent nation should fulfill the aspirations of all her citizens alike. No distinction should be made based on ethnicity, religion, political alienation or socio-economic status. It must meet the following criteria:

1.A parliamentary form of government based upon the concept of one person, one vote. All groups must be proportionately represented.

2.Rights of the minorities must be assured. Their language culture and religion should be respected. There is a need to emphasize on universal moral values that are shared by all religions.

3.The rule of law must be upheld at all costs. All trespassers must be dealt with fairly without prejudice of favouritism. An independent police and judiciary force are of utmost importance.

4.Eradication of poverty should be above race and religion. The poor from all communities should be equally entitled to special assistance.
5.
True meritocracy to be employed in the recruitment to the public service, police and armed forces.

Based on these criteria are we really independent? There has been progressive erosion of these rights over the years which have resulted in the disruption of racial integration, increasing Islamisation, marginalization of minorities, rampant corruption, increasing crime rate, traffic chaos, decline in quality of education, indiscipline especially among the youth, poverty, escalating cost of commodities, health care, education and housing.


In fact we have lost most of what we possessed at the time of our nations independence. Real fear is gripping us as many are even contemplating emigrating to greener pastures. Will that solve our problems? Won’t we also be another kaum pedatang in the new land? What will merdeka mean to those who reluctantly and with heavy hearts are considering emigration as a way out of their perils?


Conclusion

For the ordinary rakyat,merdeka will only meaningful if he has a decent job, decent food, proper shelter, proper transport, affordable health care, reasonable education for his children, freedom to worship, an independent justice system and a safe and secure environment for him and his loved ones. Above all he needs to be appreciated and respected for his contributions, however meager that may be, to his country. In short he needs to be treated as a legitimate citizen and not a stranger or alien in his own land – the kaum pendatang.

Until these can be achieved, merdeka will not and have any meaning for the ordinary man on the street. To him it will just be another public holiday to witness the various celebrations that have been lined up. What else can merdeka mean to the kaum pendatang?


Dr.Chris Anthony

Instilling discipline in schools

Cultivating a right teacher-student relashionship

Of late there has been a number untoward incidence in our schools that have reveal that they are plagued with serious disciplinary problems not only among the students but teachers as well. If this is not checked it would result in very dreadful consequences some of which are already being felt today. The increasing crime rate in the country, some them are really gruesome in nature, is a definite reflection of this indiscipline originating from a very young age, in the homes and schools.

The present indiscipline among the youth is the result of a disruption of the harmonious teacher-student relation at all levels of education. This teacher-student relationship, based on mutual respect and trust is most vital for the sound development of the mind and character of our students so that they grow up to be useful citizens in the future.

We may spend billions of ringgit to build modern state of art schools. We may be able to equip them with all the sophisticated gadgets and facilities but if we do not have the proper teacher-student interaction, all our efforts will go to waste.

To cultivate such a favourable relationship between teachers and students we need teachers with a more professional attitude to their job, based on ethics and not sentiments and emotions. Apart from parents, the teacher is the next most important person who has the opportunity to develop and mold the character of our children, who are in their custody from a very young age.

I still remember as children there were many teachers whom we idolized. We admired the way they carried out their duties impartially and the great passion they had in teaching us. It is a great pity that our children today hardly have teachers who can be considered role models.

The government must ensure that only those with aptitude are recruited for the training of teachers. I agree times have changed and life has become more materialistic and competitive. Despite these changes, I am sure there are many young men and women who have burning desires to take up teaching as their vocation and carreer.Let us not deny them, for whatever reasons, the opportunity to display their patriotism and contribute to the development of our nation.

Blaming teachers alone would be unfair as many of them are under severe stress to continue to carry out the duties responsibly.Politicisation of our education system has resulted in favoritism in granting awards, transfers and promotions. This has caused severe frustration even among those most dedicated to the profession. Unreasonable expectations, pressures and suspicion by parents have demoralized even the most enthusiastic teacher.

We have succeeded in developing the nation to great heights physically. Sadly, instead of holding steadfast to our cherished values and principles, we are losing them all in the name of development and nation building. The best tool available to arrest this decline is education.

It is time to re-examine the basic functional unit of our education system – the attitude and performance of our teachers in their interaction with their pupils. Let us look at it rationally and recognize the flaws therein and take appropriate steps to remedy it.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Indispline in schools serious

Schools must be apolitical

I refer to your report “Schoolboy makes amends for action”(Star July 31).

It is indeed a relief that that the student who tried to strangle his female teacher has repented and made amends for his action. Deputy Education Minister Datuk Noh Omar, should be commended for his personal involvement to investigate and solve the matter amicably. But to consider the cased closed is premature and misleading and I am afraid by doing so we will only be sweeping the dust under the carpet.

A 17-year old boy trying to strangle his female teacher, which could even have caused her death, is not a trivial matter but a very serious crime. It just reflects that all is not well in our schools and the education system in general. By itself, the incident warrants a hard re-look at what is happening to discipline in our schools.

Of late the number of such cases is on the rise which seems to imply that our schools are genuinely plagued with serious disciplinary problems not only among the students but teachers as well. There is a disruption of the harmonious teacher-student relation that is so vital for the sound development of the mind and character of our students who are being groomed to be the future citizens and leaders of the nation.

The two main causes of this unhealthy situation in the schools are of education and inappropriate selection of candidates for the profession.

Politicization, like in all fields, has not spared our education system of its ill effects.It has resulted in favouritsm in the granting of awards, transfers and promotions. Hardworking and dedicated teachers often have no “connections” and are thus left forgotten in cold storage whereas those with such “connections” by-pass them.

This naturally creates a lot of despair and frustration even among the most dedicated lot. How can we expect one to function effectively in such an environment of bias and prejudice?Our schools are run by teachers and headmasters who are more loyal to their political masters rather than to their profession and students. Appointing headmasters who are apolitical would go a long way to enhance professionalism in the administration of our schools.

We do not have control over the choice of students but we do have control over whom we choose to become teachers. The selection process must be more stringent so as to ensure that only the best with the aptitude for the job are enlisted. The future of the nation depends a great deal on the quality and commitment of teachers today Teachers are very important for the future well being of a nation and it would be a tragedy to overlook their importance for short term benefits.

Despite the fact that life has become more materialistic and competitive, I am sure there are many young men and women with burning desire to choose teaching as their vocation and career. It would be very unfair to these youngsters and a great disservice to the nation if we deny them, for whatever reasons, the opportunity to serve the nation in the field they are passionate.

Dr.Chris Anthony




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