Monday, October 29, 2007

Attack on police a wake up call

Citizens living in fear

I refer to “Musa orders thorough probe” (Star October 27).

The fury of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan over the slaying of two of his detectives by gunmen was understandable so is his frustration over the uncontrollable crime rate in general. The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) should go all out to track down the murderers so that they can be punished in accordance with the laws.

The death of two trained and experienced policemen is definitely a great loss to the nation especially coming at a time when the country is facing such a high crime rate that is threatening the peace and harmony that we were enjoying all these years. It would be great setback to the efforts of the police to stop the escalating crime.

Whether the unfortunate police raid was conducted properly and what really went wrong is for the PDRM to investigate in a professional manner and take remedial measures to overcome any shortcomings there may be. What is important is not who is at fault but rather what has happened, a very serious crime in the form of a well planned attack on the police. It is equally important to ask why it occurred. Were the raids well planned and coordinated and adequate precautionary measures taken?

It is also timely that to review the protective measures like the use of bullet-proof vests and patrol cars. Definitely these will go a long way to reduce the deaths among members of the police force while carrying out their on duties. There should be no hesitation in providing adequate protection for our men in blue however costly it may be. On the contrary it would be grossly unfair and even negligent to deny them these for whatever reasons.

This fatal attack on the police should be an eye opener for the police force. It is a sign that all is not well as far as public security is concerned. When armed criminals can fatally strike at the police, I dread to imagine what they could do to ordinary citizens. Who would dare come forward to lodge complaints against criminal activities?

The numerous complaints from the public on the fear created by the escalating crime is not unfounded and it is time that the authorities take these grouses very seriously. Not a day passes without some gruesome crime being committed and we wonder what our country is really coming to. We can hardly go anywhere without fear of assault, robbery, rape and even murder.

We have reached a critical state where citizens are living in fear even within their own homes behind heavily locked doors, grilles, sophisticated alarm systems and security guards. Even being caged in such heavily fortified homes do not appear to guarantee security for them and their families from criminals who seem to be better organized, equipped and even armed.

Our crime-busting authorities must take public complaints very seriously. They must devise ingenious ways and means to counter crime more efficiently and effectively. They must ensure that law and order prevail at all costs, failing which will only result in thugs taking over the running of the country.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

EPF should not abdicate its obligation

EPF should strive for higher dividends

I refer to “EPF scheme to help members save more for retirement” (Star October 23).

The Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) initiative to introduce the “Beyond Savings” scheme to help its members to save more for retirement should be commended.

The plan to allow all EPF contributors to withdraw part of their funds to invest in schemes like unit trusts may no doubt bring greater returns on the long run but it is not without risks. There is no guarantee that investing in such schemes will automatically bring bigger profits than that offered by the EPF itself.

Investing in such schemes requires knowledge and acumen to manage these funds which I am afraid many, even among the upper income group, may be lacking. To these contributors it may be better to depend on the dividends provided by the EPF that guarantees security rather than invest for greater profits in schemes that they are not familiar with. They run the risk of being victimized by agents who are out to make quick profits. The EPF management is in a better position to manage these funds more prudently and it should strive harder to provide higher dividends to its members rather than living it to them to do so.

The primary aim of the EPF is to provide post-retirement funds for its members by their compulsory savings throughout their working life. It should therefore be very careful in deciding the quantum of the “required amount” in the various accounts, the excess of which a contributor can withdraw for other more lucrative investment purposes. The amount available to the contributor at any one time must be adequate to support him and his dependents if any untoward happens to him. If this is not so it would defeat the very purpose for which the fund was set up.

Currently EPF contributors are allowed to withdraw their retirement savings for various purposes – unit trusts, medical expenses, children’s education and housing. If an average earner were to withdraw his savings for all these reasons I am afraid there will be not much left when he retires especially now when life expectancy is prolonged by better medical care.

The RM500 a month is a gross underestimate of the needs of a retired individual. It would be hardly sufficient to sustain oneself on that amount considering the escalating cost of living these days.

Providing investment opportunities outside for greater monetary returns for its members is definitely an encouraging move by the EPF. At the same time it must also consider the undesirable consequences of such moves – the premature depletion of hard earned savings by ignorant misuse.

The government on its part should not use it as an excuse to abdicate its moral obligations to the rakyat. It is the responsibility of the government to provide affordable and quality basic healthcare, education and housing for the people, particularly those from the lower income group. It would be unfair to expect them to use up almost all their retirement funds to “self-finance” these basic amenities which, as a result of over-enthusiastic privatization, have become beyond the means of the majority of the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not waiting for the cows to come home

Malaise, Chinese and Indians

Helen Ang
Oct 11, 07 11:30am

The good news is that Malaysian-Indians are no longer waiting for the cows to come home. The bad news is that after sacred cows are corralled, they're still not easy to slaughter.Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) chairman P Waytha Moorthy was busy working on the class action suit brought against Britain on behalf of Malaysia's two million Indians when I spoke to him.

This suit, among other things, will obliquely challenge Article 153 of the Federal Constitution on Malay special rights. "Malaysia is probably the only country in the world with racial discrimination explicitly written into its constitution, "

The Economist had once observed. For the first time ever, this never-ending privilege will be legally contested. But as the lawsuit is filed in London, the challenge is academic. Nonetheless it serves to break a mental barrier on a hitherto taboo subject, says Waytha, the lead lawyer on the suit. He explains the Reid Commission which oversaw Independence was negligent in not putting a written cap on the duration of special rights, which Malaya founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman had not asked to be instituted forever.

Waytha adds the lawsuit is a chance to break new ground to "undo the wrongs" of the departing British, at least on paper. But it is a start. While institutionalised racism has done its work to uplift the Malays, the discriminative policies facilitated by Article 153 have shut out Indians from their desired upward mobility. Waytha counts the absence of affirmative action for poor Indians as part of the government neglect which has led to the creation of an Indian underclass.

The suit catalogues a host of longstanding grievances of the Indian community and it is a legitimate list that needs to be looked into in all good faith. Lagging behind in everything In melting Malaysia's curry pot, the Indians are among the worst off. Doubtless they are over-represented in law and medicine. But Indians also predominate as "labourers, industrial manual workers, office boys, road sweepers, beggars and squatters," lawyer P Uthayakumar told IPS last month when speaking on the suit. When I was a kid, all the peons in my school were Indian.

Today and still, the evidence of our eyes bears out the truth of Uthayakumar' s statement. The Malaysian-Indian' s paucity of economic advancement and prospects – comparatively, they are doing well as professional minorities in Singapore and Western countries – has led to dire social consequences. According to Police Watch, Indians make up 60 percent of those arrested by police and news reports have quoted government statistics saying 40 percent of convicted criminals are Indians. This is a gross imbalance considering that Indians comprise a mere eight percent of the Malaysian population.

Thus, the setting up of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) has strong backing from Indians who are the main victims of police brutality and custodial deaths. Ranked among the top three issues of concern to the community are crime and gangsterism, a survey by the Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research found in the fourth quarter of 2006. Indians complain they are continually targeted by police, this bias further exacerbating the community's fraught relations with a uniformed force that is predominantly Malay. Police role in relentless temple demolitions and the Kg Medan clashes have not helped ease the tensions.

Negotiation is futile As Islamisation is being ratcheted up, Waytha believes the "aggressive conduct" of the Islamic authorities is a mutilation of individual rights, commenting on the Hindu cases including cause celebre M Revathi and P Marimuthu. "These are nothing but provocative acts designed to humiliate, frustrate and belittle the faith and belief of the non-Muslims, " he says. The destruction of Hindu temples is not something only happening this year or started last year. It has been ongoing for years and is a sustained campaign. The emergence of rights groups like Hindraf is symptomatic of Indians deciding they're not waiting for Godot, and "the BN way" of backroom dealing, to preserve their houses of worship and defend their rights.

Indians are also beginning to splinter into newer political parties and no longer remain in thrall to MIC as sole 'guardian' of the community. This emancipation from the previously entrenched acquiescence to BN has uncorked the bottled-up rumblings we're hearing now. Adding salt to the Indian's sense of injury is Putrajaya in denial. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is fast immortalising himself for inanity.

A week before Merdeka, he piously reminded Malaysians: "Don't mock any religion." After performing the groundbreaking ceremony for a new UiTM (university especially for Malays) campus built to the munificent tune of RM150 million, Abdullah delivered his groundbreaking homily: "Do not do things which may offend the believers of other religions ... this is not good" – and in the process rather lowering the bar for prime ministerial gravitas. Hindraf rejoined: "What about demolishing Hindu temples at the rate of one in every three weeks, Mr Prime Minister?"

Fairest one of all If you care to find out what Islam Hadhari is about, read the FAQ on the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) website or Abdullah's dozens of speeches, text on the Prime Minister's Office website.

A fair representation of Hadhari is distilled in Abdullah's declaration: "I have been fair, I want to be fair and I will always be fair. This is my promise to you." Under Hadhari-in-a- hurry, we've seen Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim suggest that the use of English common law be scrapped, Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail suggest that it be replaced with Syariah and Minister for religious affairs in the PM's Department Dr Mohd Abdullah Zin saying what a jolly good idea. Ahmad Fairuz had also written in his judgment on Lina Joy: "… seseorang tidak boleh sesuka hatinya keluar dan masuk agama". If we pay heed to the learned CJ's injunction, then 'fairly', an Indian cannot simply leave Hinduism at his whim and fancy to become Muslim at his whim and fancy.

Indian apostates outnumber Malay apostates by far. Among the famous names are Muhammad Fitri Abdullah (M Revathi's counsellor), Muhammad Shafi Abdullah (formerly T Saravan, husband to R Subashini) and Muhammad Ridzwan Mogarajah (formerly M Jeyaganesh, husband to S Shamala). Nobody's yet suggested that the men should have obtained permission from their state or national Hindu organisation in order to leave the religion they were born into. Or recommend that they be subjected to detention and rehabilitation before they are sanctioned to abandon Hinduism.

These hindrances would, of course, be against the spirit of Article 11. And illegal, don't you think? Go forth and multiply In any case, it is not that the Islamisation juggernaut can today be in any way hamstrung; we have passed the point of no return. Allied Co-ordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs (Accin) and Pertubuhan-pertubuh an Pembela Islam attacked the similarly NGO-backed Merdeka Statement and its provisions on promoting freedom of religion – in Malaysian context, the freedom of religions other than Islam – and marking their ever widening Muslim-only territory.

Meanwhile, the dakwah (proselytising Islam) movement is active on the ground with NGOs like Perkim, Yadim and JIM well-networked, and the state pumping the wind behind their sails. Last weekend, Abdullah said religious and racial divisions are an increasingly serious problem in Malaysia. However, on Aug 27 when he launched the Merdeka Award, the prime minister cited findings that said 81 percent of Malaysians believe ethnic relations to be "favourable" . Abdullah seems to have experienced quite a big perception shift within the span of a short month, wouldn't you say? Now which is it, increasingly serious problem or favourable relations? As with its racial discrimination, Malaysia is probably the only country in the world with definition of race also explicitly written into its constitution. Article 160 (2) defines Malay as a person professing Islam, habitually speaking Malay and conforming to Malay custom. An Irish is Irish, Inuit is Inuit but when is an Indian constitutionally Malay in Malaysia?

The international convention is that a child takes on the ethnicity of his father. Over here, this universal norm poses somewhat of a 'dilemma' to mixed(-up) leaders. Perhaps the 'who is Indian' conundrum can be best explicated by ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Confused Indian identity Abdullah vaguely mentioned our country's "most precious identity" in the run-up to Merdeka. But as far as the tub-thumpers of his administration go, Malay-Muslim is the only mould this precious identity is going to take. And knowing full well the Malaysian predilection for conformity, there will be enough takers. With Hindu temples and shrines bowled over like dominoes, Tamil schools dilapidated, hardly any state funds for religious activities and centres, or training and stipend for the priesthood, it is understandably much more onerous for an Indian to learn the religion of his forebears.

Thus Revathi was accused to have had "zero knowledge of Hinduism" and not receiving adequate instruction in faith from her Hindu husband. Exposure to the Religion of the Federation is comparatively more persuasive as proven by the healthy rate of conversion to Islam. It's technically possible to transmogrify into Malay as per Article 160 (2) and you can witness some Malaysians in the throes of such a metamorphosis shedding their old skin to crawl into a new one. Perhaps to avert segments of the minority communities plunging into an identity crisis, the government should seriously resolve to uplift the Indians and others by ensuring that everyone who deserves NEP help gets it.

There are those who may be under the misassumption that only Malays and pseudo-Malays are eligible for social benefits. Then there is the other popular notion that a Muslim name is a vehicle to acquiring preferential shares in stock-market floatation, contracts and other economic perks. What has the consistent actions of government shown about its approach to the "most precious identity" of Malaysian-Indians as Indians? Has national life displayed a genuine respect for Indian culture? Supported the teaching, dissemination and practice of Hinduism?

The Indians have pleaded themselves hoarse; now the PM finally promises he'll listen "even if the truth hurts". Abdullah promises, promises, sweet talks and honey-coats his words. Ants are practically swarming over all that sugar and termites over the temples that have come a-tumbling down. The Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research last year found that Malays identify themselves first and foremost as Muslim (correct!), Chinese by race (yes, naturally) and Indians by nationality (oh, I see …)

Proud-to-be Malaysians are living in a country shaped by confused leaders and a regime 22 years under a 'Malay Dilemma-ed' ex-premier, who perhaps unbeknownst to his own self suffered an identity crisis. Or maybe it was just a prolonged skin rash that refused to heal. This confused premier left us a confused successor and an inheritance of confused ministers; some like the Law Minister more confused than others. And top civil servants who are confused about the country's secular laws and battery-dead 'independent panels' confused about what laws they are empowered with. It's no wonder then that in this country not a few Malaysians too are confused about the race to which they belong. Bangsa Melayu should not be taken as synonymous with Bangsa Malaysia!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kudos to a brave judge

Hope others follow the example

The original dismay caused by the possible extension of the service of the Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim was alleviated, at least temporarily, by the encouraging the landmark decision by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to grant former ISA detainee, Abdul Malek Hussin,RM2.5million in damages over his unwarranted arrest and torture in 1998.

In making such a bold decision High Court judge Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus had demonstrated that there still judges up there who could rise up to the occasion to safeguard the integrity and independence of our judiciary. All Malaysians salute him for his brave act that shows his deep sense of patriotism to the nation. We hope his example will prod others like him to rise up to restore the reputation that we were once the envy of others.

His harsh criticism of the police officers at the highest level, in causing the inhumane torture of Abdul Malek, is gratifying and is shared by all Malaysians. In endorsing these forms of torture, the government has no doubt lost its moral credibility to condemn the atrocities committed by others like the military junta in neighboring Myanmar.

Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus has beyond doubt demonstrated that he is the right person to replace Ahmad Fairuz as the next CJ.If the government and the Conference of Rulers are serious in wanting to restore the judicial integrity and independence, they should seriously consider Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus and other judges like him to be elevated to higher posts so that together, by their fearless actions, restore the status of the judiciary to its past glory.Syabas justice Mohd Hishamudin and may God bless him and his family.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Myanmar massacre

10/08/2007 13:11

Opposition supporters burnt alive in Yangon crematorium

AsiaNews sources confirm the existence of a crematorium in the suburbs of the former capital to hide the number of victims and add: detainees seriously injured during the September protests are also being thrown in. The junta’s fear of the monks grows: the largest Buddhist monasteries are ordered to transfer outside city limits and seminaries are closed.
Yangon (AsiaNews) –Myanmar’s repression has become open religious persecution and the cruelty used against protesters asking for an end to the dictatorship, has gone beyond all stretches of the imagination. AsiaNews sources confirm the existence of a crematorium in the suburbs of Yangon, where soldiers burn the bodies of protesters as well as detainees

gravely injured during the anti-regime demonstrations. In this way the military junta hopes to make it impossible to estimate the exact number of victims.

These same sources – anonymous for obvious security reasons – tell of a veritable persecution and absurd measures being used against the Buddhist monasteries, the starting point of the peaceful protests against the generals. The government is waging a defamatory campaign against the monks, who – according to state media – do not follow Buddha’s teachings, violate his laws and thus deserve to be punished. But as criminals, they underline, not as political prisoners. The propaganda machine meanwhile continues to propose pro government marches throughout the country: every family must “contribute” one or two members, or face a fine and up to 3 months prison, Burmese citizens explain. They add: “People take part, but refuse to shout the slogans imposed by the regime”.

The tone is one of open religious persecution. This weekend authorities called the heads of the major monasteries and ordered they be transferred outside city limits in an attempt to quell the protests. “We are worried for the fate of the monks – they say in Yangon – how will they survive outside the city, or collect alms which are their only maintenance”. The government fears most of all the activities of the young novice monks, on the frontline of marches since August. This is why it has ordered that seminaries be closed, and that all student monks return to their villages of origin.

The harsh international criticism and the threat of UN sanctions have in no way upset the Burmese generals, who have ruled the country with an iron fist for over 45 years. Yesterday fresh raids and arrests were carried out. Authorities maintain that they found arms, knives and bullets in some monasteries. According to the State newspaper “The New Light of Myanmar”, 135 monks are still being detained along with 78 civilians under interrogation. Diplomats and activists say these estimates are false and speak instead of more than 6 thousand people detained and “hundreds” dead.
Eye witnesses tell AsiaNews: “Soldiers strip the arrested monks of their tunics, as if to avoid committing a sacrilege, and then during the interrogation they beat and torture them”.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Amend organ donation laws with caution

Consent from relatives vital

I refer to Organ donors’ pledges to be upheld by law” (Star,October 9)

The whole nation watched with awe-inspiring excitement a dramatic mission well executed – the successful double heart transplant on the young girl, Tee Hui Yu. Malaysians of all walks of life are proud of this remarkable feat by our very own medical team.

However the euphoria created by the success of the cardiac transplant should not be allowed to be carried too far as to rashly amend the various legislations governing the pledge to give away one’s organ. There should be an elaborate and careful study into its ramifications before embarking on such amendments.

Taking the organs from a brain dead patient may be just a physical maneuver for the doctors and the medical staff but an emotion - wrecking experience for the members of the family especially when the death is sudden as in an accident. It is of utmost importance that the emotions and feelings of the loved ones to be taken into consideration before harvesting their organs.

The braid dead patient may have given the consent when he was alive but it is the close relatives who have to endure the torments of a brain dead member of the family.They would keep hoping against all odds that their loved one would miraculously recover in due course. Until they are convinced beyond doubt, it would be unfair to remove any vital organs from them.

Brain death is the cessation and irreversibility of all brain functions, including the brain stem. It is the irreversible end of all brain activity. A brain-dead individual has no clinical evidence of brain function upon physical examination. This includes no response to pain no cranial nerve reflexes.

These reflexes include pupillary response (fixed pupils), oculocephalic reflex, corneal reflex, no response to the caloric reflex test and no spontaneous respirations. These signs must be diligently looked for before certifying a person is brain death.

It is important to distinguish between brain death and states that mimic brain death (e.g., barbiturate intoxication, alcohol intoxication, sedative overdose, hypothermia, hypoglycemia, coma or chronic vegetative states).

The diagnosis of brain death needs to be rigorous to determine whether the condition is irreversible as it can be misleading in some cases. It needs a certain degree of competence and experience by the physician who examines the patient. Although it needs two qualified physicians to certify brain death, in a society where medicine is so commercialized, how can the next of kin be convinced to accept the decision of these physicians without the slightest doubt?

Organ donation may an unselfish act on the part of the donor but it should have the willingly consent of the close relatives out of respect for the deceased and a passionate love to sustain another fellow human life. Kindness should be instilled by education and example; it cannot be compelled by laws and legislation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, October 11, 2007

When patriotism is considered a crime

Patriotism as we see today

During the recent 50th Independence Day celebrations, one word was repeatedly emphasized – PATRIOTISM. The Cambridge dictionary describes patriotism as when a person loves his country, feels proud of it and if necessary willing to fight to defend it.

When we were young, that was exactly what was taught to us by our parents and teachers. It was so simple – love your country, be proud to call yourself a citizen and if necessary even fight to defend it.

With that spirit we studied hard, played hard trying to be selected to represent the country in a particular sport, joined the civil service or the armed forces and pledged to serve it till the end. We really loved and enjoyed our service to the nation in our own way. We simply wanted to be patriotic to the country we considered our only home. No temptation, however great, could shuttle our loyalty and patriotism to the nation at that time.

Since then tremendous changes have taken place in the political, economic and social arena within and outside the country. Today we are much older and wiser having gone through various experiences and challenges in life. Patriotism that was so simple when we were young has become such a sophisticated phenomenon today.

We have brought forth a new generation of citizens in the form of our children. What are we to teach them about patriotism when we ourselves are uncertain what it really is today?

Patriotism, like everything else, has become such a highly politicized and commercialized commodity. It is no more just loving and being proud of the country as it used to be. It is rather determined by one’s political alignment, social status, race and religion.

Yes, we all say we love our country, are proud of it and willing to defend it but today it appears that we are willing to do all these for a fee. Life has become so materialistic that we will only something for material gain. Patriotism too has a value attached to it.

Our Prime Minister wants us to tell the truth however painful it may be. When we do that, it hurts those in power and we are penalized and threatened with severe punitive measures. The might of the government machinery is arrayed against those who speak the truth, not for their own well being, but for that of the nation.

The recent Lingam tape incident clearly illustrates this unhealthy trend that is threatening to become a national culture – punishing the whistleblower instead of the wrong doer.

Instead of going after those allegedly involved in the scandal, the police, the ACA and the ministers are after those who acted to defend the integrity of the judiciary, the guardian and custodian of justice. They are after whistle blowers, lawyer R.Sivarasa and Sim Tze Tzin for releasing the video recording. These citizens are in fact acting with a deep sense of patriotism. Instead of rewarding them, they are warned of imprisonment if they refuse to disclose the source of the video.

The authorities are also after the three senior Bar Council members for organizing the “Walk for justice” to deliver a memorandum to the prime minister. These people were just doing what the PM has asked of the rakyat, to speak the truth. They believed that was an act of patriotism to the nation but unfortunately they do not seem to fulfill the new criteria for patriotism as defined by the ruling elite..

It is ironical that the actions of these people intended to defend the nation is not considered patriotism but a crime. On the contrary those who were allegedly involved in the misconduct and illegal activities are being defended as the true patriots.

The euphoria of the 50th National Day celebrations, the successful double heart transplants of Tee Hui Yu and the sending of the first Malaysian into space should not be allowed to cloud the real and serious problems that plague the nation – rampant corruption, abuse of power, misuse of public funds, the gradual loss of independence and integrity of the various public institutions, escalating cost of living, commercialization of basic essential services, unacceptable level of crime and accident, ethnic polarization, the disintegration of social and moral values, indiscriminate destruction of the environment, just to name a few.

The Prime Minister has serious problems to tackle at home and he must start cracking fast before they become beyond repair. The nation is steering itself in the direction of self destruction and turmoil and its imperative for him to take charge and act decisively to halt the rot.

The “feel good factor" that fills the air is part of the denial syndrome that has inflicted the whole nation. We hope and pray that he acts now or risk losing the chance to do so for good.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Instant funds for dire needs

Ensure aid for all

I refer to “Fast aid” (Star,October 5).

Over the last few days we witnessed with much excitement the dramatic developments in the medical arena. Mechanical heart girl Tan Hui Yi received a new lease of life from 2 generous heart donors. She had to undergo two heart transplant operations within just a few days.

Heart girl,Tan Hui Yi

Malaysians of all walks of life, watched with pride as our doctors and every member of the medical and supporting teams racing against time to carry out the heart and lung transplants. Not only doctors and nurses but ambulance drivers, police-outriders and personnel from TUDM all worked in perfect unison to effectively execute the medical mission with great efficiency and precision.

It was even more touching to see parents, despite being inflicted with grief, unselfishly coming forward, to donation the hearts of their brain dead children to this unfortunate little girl. I was particularly moved by the following words of the father of one of the donors;

“Although I have lost a son, I now feel like I have a foster daughter. My son was God’s gift to me. Now, it is time to return the gift to God.”

Their generosity transcends all racial and religious barriers. Their willingness to help a fellow human unconditionally should be an example for all of us.

In relation to emergency medical care, it was gratifying that the government had launched the special fund,D’tik (Dana Talian Insan Kritikal ),which is aimed at providing cash assistance for medical treatment in dire emergencies. Though the initial sum of RM5mil allocated by the National Welfare Foundation may be small but definitely it is worthy of praise as it is a start in the right direction.

It is important that Yayasan Kebajikan Negara ensure that these funds are made available within the first 24 to 72 hours of admission so that treatment to save lives or salvage function can proceed immediately without any hitch. It is also important to include all government hospitals in this scheme so that everyone can benefit from it.

A system should also be worked out to cover private hospital where such patients may end up in such dire emergencies without their choice. It should be “treatment first, payment later” form of arrangement where treatment should proceed without any delay caused by administrative hitches.

This facility for emergency treatment should be implemented fairly for all, regardless of social standing of the patient. Very often the poor in society are not able to obtain the various financial assistances available to them due to ignorance of the protocol. This scheme which deals with life and death emergencies, should be poor-friendly and this group of patients must be particularly helped so that they are not denied such aid to save their lives.

Like all schemes that hand out money, this too that is subject to abuse by those in administering the fund. Every effort should make to ensure that adequate regulations are in place to check abuse and that they are enforced effectively at all times. It is particularly important to ensure these funds, meant for emergency medical treatment, truly reach the intended target – those in dire need.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, October 05, 2007

A powerful panel without power

Lingam tape : Gov't must be bold to get to the truth

The 3-man panel

The Special Independent Panel investigating the authenticity of the video clip allegedly detailing a conversation about judicial appointments dropped the first bombshell after its inaugural meeting, - “It has no legal power, no power to administer an oath, no power to compel witnesses to come forward and no power to commit anybody for contempt”.

Furthermore the members of the panel have no immunity under the law and their work would depend very much on the civic consciousness and co-operation of members of the public. This comes as great disappointment to Malaysians who had placed so much faith in the panel to help restore integrity to our judiciary.

It is puzzling why a panel with no legal authority should be set up in the first place.Wouldn't it be a waste of taxpayers' money? How can the panel be independent when it is instituted by the executive and answerable solely to the government? How impartial can the government be in getting to the root of the scandal when it is also partly responsible for it?

The panel is depending on the people with civic consciousness to come forward to provide information on the controversial lawyer-judge video clip.The whole issue is regarding investigation into alleged misconduct at the highest level of the judiciary. If there is lack of civic consciousness at that level, how can we expect ordinary members of the public to have such a virtue in abundance to come forward to testify.Morever even among those who possess such civic consciousness, how many would dare come forward when they are not protected against reprisals?

Somebody has taken the videos, implicating serious misconduct at the highest level of the judiciary. If the allegations are proven true, it is a very grave offense. The government must take this matter very seriously and leave no stone unturned to investigate these allegations with great urgency.It should be bold enough to take whatever action necessary, including setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry, to clear the judiciary of any wrongdoings.It should give top priority to safeguard the integrity in the judiciary.The primary concern should be the truth or otherwise of the allegations in the video, the motive for its release is secondary.

There are 2 aspects to the tape scandal; the authenticity of the tape and the truth of the allegations contained in it. Both these aspects should be probed so that we can get down to the truth. If the video is found to be unauthentic then action must be taken against whoever produced it with evil intent.

Irrespective of whether the video is genuine or otherwise, it has highlighted the need for a comprehensive review of the procedures for the promotion of judges in the country.

We are often told that justice must not only be done but it must also be seen to be done. Similarly the judiciary must be seen to be clean and independent in the eyes of the rakyat.Otherwise the very purpose of existence of the institution would be questionable.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The brave monks of Myanmar

ASEAN should do more

The brave monks

Wednesday ,September 26 2007 was a sad day for the people of Myanmar, a day of national tragedy and mourning. It was the day when the army opened fire on unarmed civilian protesters and Buddhist monks. Soldiers and police fired tear gas, clubbed protesters and arrested hundreds of monks in an attempt to quash the uprising. A number of deaths were reported, the actual figures still unknown.

The ruling military junta did not hesitate to use force even against unarmed, peace-promoting, modestly robed Buddhist monks. They were kicked and beaten as soldiers rounded them up and shoved them onto trucks. Doors of their monasteries were broken; things were ransacked and taken away. We understand that thousands of them have been taken away, their fate still obscure. There are now reports indicating that they could have been tortured and even killed.

Buddhist monks are greatly revered for their exceptionally humble, harmless and peaceful way of life. If the military rulers can act so ruthlessly against such defenseless spiritually inclined monks, it is frightening to imagine what more they are capable of doing to others less spiritual in outlook and behaviour.

The cowardly and brutal acts of the ruling military junta should be condemned by the whole international community. Definitely these acts of aggression against unarmed civilians and peaceful monks are inhumane and treacherous to the human race. On the other hand the actions of the brave people of Myanmar need to be praised and supported by all.

The protests may have been brutal and horrifying but in this whole incident, two important lessons came out of it for us.

Firstly it was the bravery of the people of Myanmar especially the Buddhist monks. The peace-loving and unarmed Buddhist monks, who led the fatal pro-democracy demonstrations, had shown that they can rise up against all odds to fight against oppression and injustice of fellow men.They did that in a rather peaceful and non-violent way. They were willing to give up the peace and tranquility of their monasteries and risk their lives to confront the mighty junta in defending the rights of fellow citizens.

Secondly the mutual love between the people and the monks was exceptionally captivating. It was touching to see the people forming a human shield around the monks who led the procession. The people were willing to give their lives to defend their monks.

Monks being shielded by people

We witnessed a heart-touching situation of two groups of people each willing to even sacrifice their lives for the other. These actions of the brave monks and people of Myanmar, puts us to shame when we compare our own inter-racial relationship in Malaysia, where each community is willing to defend the rights of just their own. We are least interested when fellow citizens of other communities run into problems.

It is regrettable that voices of condemnation are not freely forthcoming from ASEAN countries. Where are our own youth organizations who are normally quick to organize mammoth rallies for many trivial but politicized reasons? Here we have genuine oppression, persecution and murder of innocent fellow humans beings, why are we remaining idle? Why aren’t we exercising our moral obligation as good neighbours? Why do we need the West to lead, which often they do for their own political and economic gains?

As neighbours, the Association of South EastAsian Nations (ASEAN) must lead the world in condemning these atrocities in Myanmar. We have a moral obligation to stop the atrocities against defenseless people in whatever way we can. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi rightly condemned the actions of the ruling military regime in Myanmar but it would take much more than mere condemnation to restrain them.

Malaysia, together with other members of ASEAN and the United Nations must urgently convey an emergency meeting to seek ways to restrain the brutal regime from perpetrating further assault on unarmed civilians and monks. They must keep mounting the pressure on the Myanmar government to secure the of release Nobel Peace laureate and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and return the nation to democratic rule.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

High-tech plans to fight crime

Gadgets are only as good as the user

I refer to Police plan high-tech beef-up to fight crime”(Star October 1).

It is very exciting to know that our police force would soon become highly sophisticated, acquiring the use of the latest high-tech devices and set up a surface-to-sea and surface-to-air network of camera surveillance systems.

It is extremely exciting to imagine our police constables being equipped with hand-held computers and micro cameras fitted in their walkie-talkies for monitoring purposes. Our police helicopters would be fitted with sophisticated surveillance cameras that can feed images, to the control centre for tracking purposes. We will have an e-solution system that will enable us to communicate with our police helicopters, airplanes and marine police as well as with our mobile police vehicles, traffic policemen in patrol cars and on motorcycles.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan must be congratulated for his commitment and keen personal interest in fighting crime. The crime rate has reached a level that we are so fearful to go about with our daily routine activities. It has reached a stage where our safety even within our homes is not guaranteed anymore. This massive plan, costing billions of ringgit, to beef up the police force, would definitely go a long way in our combat against crime. Nobody will be happier than the rakyat if the crime rate can be reduced.

While we appreciate the noble aims of the IGP to bring down the crime rate drastically, we must also bear in mind that it would be no easy task to achieve that. Gadgets are as good as the user and if the police personnel are not fully trained or lack the necessary commitment, no amount of high-tech sophistication can bring about the desired effects.

A number of fundamental prerequisites need to be firmly in place before we embark on any ambitious high-tech projects, otherwise all our efforts, time and money would only go to waste. These include a police force that is incorruptible, truly independent and free from political interference and above all a force whose members are dedicated and committed to serve all citizens without fear or favour.

A reasonable level of basic education of the police personnel is also essential so that they can be effectively trained in the latest technological advancements being used in crime investigation.

There is also a need to forge a more people-friendly police force, so that the people’s perception of the police would be one of respect and not fear. This particularly applies to innocent victims of crime who fear the hassle of dealing with the police despite being innocent.

The government should ensure these prerequisites are well in place before frog-leaping into the high-tech era of the “Future e-Cop”. If we are not careful we may end up hiding behind sophisticated equipment, which by themselves alone are not going to reduce crime.

Acquiring these extremely sophisticated equipments may be easy but to maintain them efficiently in the long term may not be so. Even the Prime Minister had often lamented that Malaysians are good in building state of the art structures but very poor when it come to maintaining them for long.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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