Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year 2009 - a time for change

Let's unite to face the challenges of the new year

We have come to the end of 2008,a year that was historic is many ways to Malaysians.It began with the historic elections on March 8 when people put aside their racial and religious differences to vote for a stronger opposition thereby denying the Barisan Nasional(BN) its 2/3 majority in parliament for the first time in over 50 years. They also gave the opposition Pakatan Rakyat(PR) control of five states.These results were not only unprecedented but unexpected that shocked the ruling BN, the opposition and the people and to some extend even the world.

With the results the people’s hopes were raised for a better performance in the 12th Parliament with the presence of a stronger and formidable opposition.There were hopes for the evolution of a two-party political system that would provide a better check and balance governance.There were hopes for the dismantling of of racial politics whereby all citizens will be considered as Malaysians without any racial prejudice.

However with the unfolding of events in the subsequent months, these hopes of the people seem to be slowly eluding us.The most miserable disclosure was the failure of our parliamentarians to meet the high expectations of the people.They failed to realise that they have a wiser and more mature electorate who want greater openness and accountability in all undertakings. They want a more intellectual and democratic debate in parliament on all issues that affect them.In short they expected a parliament similar to those in first world countries Regrettably our wakil rakyats have failed to rise up to these expectations so far.

Instead of rising up to meet these expectations of the people, our parliamentarians were happy to resort to the same old tactics. They indulged in petty squabbles just like before instead of focusing on more important national issues like rising crime rate, unemployment, inflation, falling standards of education, increasing racial polarisation and the impending economic crisis. Even lewd remarks and gestures are becoming common among our MPs.What message are they sending to the younger generation?

The ruling and opposition MPs refuse to unite to confront the common problems facing the nation. On the whole our wakil rakyats, from both parties have failed to live up to the expectations of the people and that does not augur well for our democratic system of governance.

Even the political parties are in deep crisis with petty squabbles among the members that is threatening to tear then apart.The PR governments have yet to prove their capabilities and maturity to rule. They have yet to come to terms with their new roles in Parliament and the State Assemblies. It may take a much longer period to settle down and the people may have to be patient hoping the people whom they elected will not betray them for whatever reasons.

Meanwhile there seems to be no end to racial politics as it raises its ugly head from time to time. Instead of trying to quench the tensions that arise from racial disputes it is sad that there are those who fan these racial sentiments for political mileage.When will the time come where Malaysians will not be guided by colour and creed in dealing with one another?

Despite the pledge by the government to fight corruption, there are yet any concrete steps taken to combat this national menace. The establishment of Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) may be significant positive moves but there is much more to done to convince the people of the government’s determination to fight graft.The political will to fight this evil is sadly missing at all levels of administration.

Economists have predicted a gloomy period in the coming year and we Malaysians must brace ourselves to meet these challenges ahead. This is not the time to fight over our political, racial and religious differences but to cast them aside and unite as Malaysians to overcome the numerous problems that will soon be knocking at our doors.

Amidst all these political and economic encertainties we are in for leadership change at the highest level in March 2009.We hope the new leadership will be able to realise the aspirations of the people for a peaceful, democratic and united Malaysia where despite our ethnic and political divide we are given equal opportunites to come together to contribute to the development of the nation in all fields.

It is a tradition for Malaysians of all faiths to gather at mosques, temples and churches on the eve of the New Year to pray for peace and prosperity in the coming year. As we implore for Divine help,let our prayers be sincere and come from the depths of our hearts for the well being of not just ourselves, our families and communities only but for all Malaysians, in particular the poor, regardless of race and creed.

What the nation needs is change,a change in political mindset which appears to be remote under the present circumstances. Only Divine inspiration can influence our leaders to bring about the positive changes that the nation badly needs.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Privatisation of IJN

IJN privatization not in the interest of the rakyat

The proposed privatization of the National Heart Centre (IJN) met with very strong opposition from all segments of the people. The government’s move to suspend Sime Darby’s take-over pending further in debt study was indeed a right move although it falls short of the expectations of the people, who want the idea to be shelved for good.

The immediate and widespread strong public outcry to the news of the possible privatization that led to its postponement is an indication of the people’s awareness and maturity, which the government should be mindful not to underestimate.

Even with the present system of operations, the real poor are having difficulty in getting immediate treatment at the IJN even for urgent cases. The delay in appointments had resulted in major complications, at time fatal ones, which could have been prevented.

With privatization the poor would the ones most badly affected. The government’s assertion that with privatization more people would benefit from its services may be true but it would be those who can afford the treatment who would benefit most not the average Malaysian who is struggling to make ends meet. How can he cope with the escalating cost of medical care? What about the hard-core poor? Where do they go for sophisticated cardiac treatment?

The rich have many highly specialized private centers to seek treatment but the poor have nowhere except the government centers which are often underequipped and managed by junior doctors and nurses. Despite its limitations, the IJN is one of the few government owned centres that provides excellent care for all.

Built by the government, IJN and its team have slogged to build its reputation as the premier heart centre in the country and the region, capable of carrying out sophisticated procedures and surgeries including heart transplants. This was no easy task and credit must be given to all those who have contributed to elevate the centre to its present status. It has also built up a strong network of patients from the government and private hospitals throughout the country.

Apart from providing treatment to patients from all over the country, the IJN also provides training for doctors, nurses and other paramedical staff and to develop cardiac units in all Government hospitals in the various states. Privatization will erode this important role that is so vital for the future of cardiac care in the country.

It would be unfair and morally wrong for the government to hand over such a ready made centre, developed with the taxpayer’s money to serve the rakyat, to the private sector knowing well that it would be operated, like all other privatized services, on a profit motivated basis. Under such circumstances the services of the centre will in time become beyond the reach of the vast majority of ordinary Malaysians.

Health care is a basic necessity of the people and it the duty of the government to ensure it is available to all its citizens at an affordable cost failing which would amount to neglecting its duty to the people who voted for it.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fighting graft, a national menace

Getting the right people for the job

The passing of the bills to set up the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC) and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) aimed at ridding any misconception of the integrity of the two important institutions in the country was truly a feather in the cap of the Barisan Nasional Government as described by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

These bills, together with the proposed the Witness Protection Bill are all tools in the fight against corruption that has been promised by the Prime Minister. Abdullah must be commended for his personal involvement in successfully pushing through these bills which had met with some resistance from some lawmakers within his own party.

The Opposition however has declared that these bills are not adequate in the fight against graft as they fall short of their expectations to give total autonomy to the respective agencies. It claims as these commissions are still very much under the jurisdiction of the ruling party, they can never be totally independent. The onus is now on the government to demonstrate its seriousness in tackling corruption in the weeks and months ahead and prove the Opposition and other critics wrong. More importantly it has to act seriously to correct the negative perception of the judiciary and the anti corruption agency in the minds of the people.

It is very distressing that corruption seems to be rampant at all levels of our society and is threatening to become an accepted national culture. It is encouraging to see that the government has recognized the importance curbing corruption and is taking moving rightly in that direction but there much more to done than just enacting new laws. Will these laws by themselves prevent corruption that has become deeply rooted? Will they give the police, ACA,AG and judiciary the much needed independence to carry out their functions without fear or favor?

While these new laws are necessary and important in the fight against graft, it is equally important to ensure the human factors in this fight are also in place. Laws are only as good as those who are tasked to implement them. It is of utmost importance to get the right people to head the various commissions that are being proposed, people who are not only capable but of high integrity and fully committed to eradicate corruption. They must be politically non-partisan and act decisively and aggressively against anyone who is corrupt regardless of the status and political ideology. Selection of members of the commissions must be purely on merits and transcend racial and political divide.

The police and the anti-corruption agency must be free to investigate without fear or favor and the AG to prosecute likewise regardless of who the alleged perpetrators of this vice may be. Informers who come forward to expose corrupt practices must be protected at all costs and not punished for doing so especially if their information is found to be not true. Finally the judiciary must be fully independent and free from political pressure to mete out judgments in accordance with the laws and nothing else.

The government has triumphed in getting the bills in the fight against graft. It must now actively go forth with the formation of various commissions, selecting the right people for the tough but important job to free the nation from the crutches of graft. Unless it can form commissions that are highly credible and independent it cannot gain the confidence of the rakyat in its genuine intentions to fight this national menace that transcends all social,racial and political divide.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

National schools and racial integration

National schools must be appealing to all

Of late there has been a great deal of focus on vernacular education. There are those who say that they should be closed as they believe that these schools are a hindrance to racial unity. On the other hand the proponents of these schools are vehemently vociferous in defending them as they claim that denying them of such schools would breach the provisions of the Federal Constitution.

The role schools is to provide wholesome education to our children from a moldable age, which includes just not striving for academic excellence but instilling good moral and social values. In a multiracial and multi religious country goodwill, tolerance and a spirit of sharing among the various races is of paramount importance and education is one of the most important tools for instilling these values which will forge unity among the races.

Having children of all races to freely mingle under one roof will definitely go a long way to promote unity among them but the environment under which they are must also be favorable to nurture this unity which is so badly needed. Unfortunately such a favorable environment does not seem to prevail in our national schools, like it used to, during the time of English-medium schools of the fifties and sixties when people of all ethnicity preferred these schools.

Education is the most important commodity for the progress of an individual and the nation. The people in general want quality education at an affordable cost, an education that can take them through the challenges in life. Are our national schools living up to these expectations of the people?

The increasing demand for private and international schools today may be an indication that our national school system may be failing in its obligation not only in uniting the people but providing quality of education as well. People from all walks of life are willing to pay a hefty sum for quality education for their children elsewhere being convinced that our national schools are not capable of providing such education.

Closing down vernacular schools would an unwise move as it may not only be unconstitutional but such actions would only create a lot of ill feeling, anger and unhappiness among those who patronise these schools. This is the last thing we need at a time of increasing inter-ethnic tensions in the country.

What needs to be done is to make our national schools more appealing to all communities.It is not the medium of instruction that is deterent but a lack of dedication among those entrusted with educating our children. In the past our English-medium schools enjoyed the patronage of all races because of their high standards that was responsible for producing many highly talented and capable leaders in many fields. However due to politicization of our education system, over the years our national schools instead of reflecting the aspirations of all Malaysians have unfortunately become more Malay and Islamic for the comfort of the non-Malay, non-Muslim Malaysians. At the same time, most Malaysians would agree that the standard of education, discipline, morals and sports in our national schools schools too have declined over the years.

Politicization of our education must stop and drastic measures taken to improve the standard of our national schools to make them the premier schools in the country. This can be done with the recruitment of more dedicated and racially balanced number headmasters, teachers and other staff. Nobody with a sound mind would want to shun national schools if they provide an exceptionally high quality of education.

There is no doubt that there can be no genuine inter-ethnic unity unless the children of all races study,play,eat and even pray together under the same roof. This can only be achieved if they all go to the national schools which must strive to be truly national to attract the children from all races.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Making national schools the choice of the the people

National schools must change to attract all

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s reassurance that vernacular schools will not be abolished is very timely and may help to allay the fears and anxiety of many who choose to send their children to such schools.

Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir’s call to check racial polarisation and enhance unity among the people is commendable but to suggest that it could be achieved by abolishing the vernacular schools is absurd and misleading. Putting children of all races under one roof will definitely go a long way to promote unity among them but the environment under which they are must also be conducive to nurture this unity. Unfortunately such an environment does not prevail in our national schools, like it used to, during the time of English-medium schools of the fifties and sixties.

The role of schools is to provide a wholesome education to our children from a moldable age, which includes just not striving for academic excellence but instilling good moral and social values. This is particularly important in a country with a multiracial and multi-religious population where goodwill, tolerance and a spirit of sharing is of paramount importance. These do not depend on the medium of instruction but the commitment of those tasked with the responsibility to instill these values in the young minds.

Education is the most important commodity for the progress of an individual and the nation. The people in general want quality education at an affordable cost, an education that can take them through the challenges in life. Have our national schools lived up to these expectations of the people? Regrettably not only our national schools but even the vernacular schools seem to have failed in this endeavor.

This failure is reflected in the increasing demand for private and international schools that are mushrooming all over the country. People from all walks of life are willing to pay a hefty sum for quality education for their children elsewhere being convinced that our national schools are not capable of providing such education.

Closing down vernacular schools is not only unconstitutional but such actions would only create a lot of ill feeling, anger and unhappiness among those who send their children to such schools. This is the last thing we need at a time of increasing inter-ethnic tensions in the country.

There is a need to restore the confidence of the people in national schools as to make them more attractive to all communities like the English-medium schools of the past which enjoyed the patronage of all races. These schools were responsible for producing the many highly talented and capable leaders we have today.

Most Malaysians would agree that the standard of education, discipline, morals and sports in schools have declined over the years. This is mainly attributed to the politicization of our education system. If the government can stop this politicization and strive to improve the standard of these in our national schools with the recruitment of more dedicated headmasters, teachers and other staff, and being equipped with better facilities, there is no reason for people to shun them for vernacular and international schools, which they perceive to be better.

Moreover over the years our national schools instead of reflecting the aspirations of all Malaysians have unfortunately become more Malay and Islamic for the comfort of Malaysians of other ethnicity and faiths.

There is no doubt that there can be no genuine inter-ethnic unity unless the children of all races study, play, eat and even pray together under the same roof. This can only be achieved if they all go to the national schools, which must strive to be truly national in form and substance to attract the children from all races.

Instead of being preoccupied with abolishing vernacular schools it would be more fruitful to elevate the standard and quality of our national schools so as to make them the premier schools in the country. Education is not only a basic necessity of the people but is also the most important tool for forging inter-ethnic unity. It will be a national disaster if it is allowed to be continually toyed around and politicized for whatever reasons.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, November 28, 2008

Immunity for Malay Rulers

Royal immunity,being rulers for all

The call by the Regent of Negri Sembilan, Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Ja’afar, to reinstate the royal immunity so as restore full sovereignty to the constitutional monarchy should be considered seriously and pursued further by the Conference of Rulers.

Of late our political system appeared to have failed to act fairly to cater for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion and political ideology. The government institutions, judiciary and police have become subservient to the overtly dominant executive so much so that that the voice of the rakyat is ignored and their rights as enshrined in the Federal Constitution blatantly denied. This is particularly so for the minority groups and the opposition that are in disagreement with the policies of the ruling party.

The people vented their frustrations on March 8 through constitutional means but that too is being ignored. They have nowhere to turn to except the Rulers who were traditionally the symbol of hope for the rakyat.Wouldn’t it be ideal to have the Rulers as the last bastion of defense for the people to seek redress for their perceived injustices.

Will the restoration of the royal immunity alone enable the constitutional monarchy to play a more effective role as guardian of the Federal Constitution, thereby safeguarding the interest of all communities? History has shown that such immunity may be abused by members of the royalty for selfish personal reasons gains. It was these abuses that led to the abolishing of their immunity in the first place.

The onus is on the royalty to allay the fears and apprehension of the people in granting such immunity. Total immunity will be prone to abuse and counter productive but a clearly defined immunity related to issues related to protecting the rights of the rakyat people may be granted to the rulers if they are to be effective guardians of the people.

The emergence of a stronger opposition at the federal and state levels and the unprecedented rule of five states by them have paved the way for a stronger role of the rulers in ensuring the democratic principles enshrined in the Constitution are adhered by all parties. They have a vital role in guiding the nation towards a multiracial two-party system that may be in the making.

Despite the short-comings the people still have great loyalty and respect for the Rulers and most would abide by their decisions without question? Therefore it is essential that they are seen to be impartial and above politics at all times. As Malay Rulers they may have the special task to protect the special rights of the Malays and Islam but today, after 50 years of self rule, they must be seen as Malaysian Rulers who should safeguard the interests of all Malaysians, regardless of race, creed of political ideology.

Recent positive actions by certain members of the royalty like the Regent of Perak and the Sultans of Selangor and Terengganu have begun to earn the respect and confidence of the people for our monarchy and this should prod other rulers to follow their path. Without their liberal attitude towards democracy, the new Pakatan Rakyat governments will never have been sworn in Perak and Selangor.

Tunku Naquiyuddin rightly said that a lot of people were grateful that the country had Rulers to intervene in matters of interest because they did not want them messed up by politicians, who have a lot of self-interest and self-motivation, greed and corruption. As such the Rulers are seen as some sort of referee who can be called in to safeguard the constitution. As such the Rulers should act accordingly and not like politicians themselves.

The people’s “uprising” against the BN on March 8,due to deep dissatisfaction over many issues, had given the rulers a particularly important role as the undisputed and unbiased guardians of the interests of all the races. With or without the royal immunity they have a noble role in our democratic system which they must execute with great passion and fairness.It is time for them to shed the name from Malay Rulers to Malaysian Rulers in keeping with our vision of a multiethnic Malaysia.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yoga in the Malaysian context

Focus on bigger issues

The National Fatwa Council’s decision to ban Yoga for Muslims was not surprising nor was it unexpected despite the tremendous public opposition to it from all Malaysians, especially the Muslims themselves. The reason for the ban is on the grounds that it involved chants and acts of worship that were deemed un-Islamic.

The Council has every right to decide on matters affecting Muslims but it should also take into consideration the sensitivities of others as well. In a country with a large non-Muslim population it also has a duty to ensure that the delicate inter-religious relations are not adversely affected by unilateral decisions. It would be wrong to assume that rulings affecting one religious group have no bearing on others living under the same roof. A great deal of tolerance and mutual respect is needed by all when dealing with religious sentiments.

Yoga is an ancient practice, although had its roots in Hinduism, in Malaysia had been practiced by Muslims and non-Muslims alike for years as a means of exercise and nothing more. In fact it has become a popular form of exercise for city dwellers where time, space restraints and safety prevent them from undertaking formal physical exercises.

Banning it outright only denies the Muslims an effective and affordable means to keeping themselves healthy. By declaring it as ‘haram’ and saying that it can ‘corrupt’a person is very hurtful; particularly in a multiracial and multi-religious nation with a significant non-Muslim population.

Malaysian of all faiths have practiced yoga together harmoniously in a non-religious manner for years and this ruling could be counterproductive as it would further segregate the already polarized population.

To say that non-Muslims should not worry about this fatwa is being too myopic and unreasonable. How can we live in peace and harmony under one roof if one community is insensitive to the needs of another in the same environment?

Malaysians despite their diversity have much in common. By emphasizing the differences we would only be polarizing the people further that could lead to suspicion and even hate for members of other faiths. Why go out of the way to look for the few isolated differences among the people of different faiths and divide them? Wouln’t it be better to focus on the many common grounds we have as Malaysians that could unite us?We have numerous national problems to focus on,why choose Yoga now?

Non-Muslim Malaysians respect the right of the Fatwa Council in protecting the interests of Muslims and are in no position to question its decisions as they do not bind them. However they are extremely disappointed that by focusing of trivial differences it is increasingly driving a wedge between the Muslims and the non-Muslims who have been living together harmoniously for so many years.

Yoga has been one of the many unifying factors and it would be unwise to deny that for whatever reasons. All religions preach love for fellow men, which is essential for their peaceful coexistence in a country like ours. Wouldn’t it be noble of us to overlook some minor differences among the people of different faiths for the overall well being of the nation in particular and the humanity in general?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, November 21, 2008

NS and medical check up


Will it reduce mortality?


The decision by the National Service Training Department to screen all the 140,000 trainees for the next session of the camp has received mixed reaction from various quarters. On one hand it is encouraging that the department has taken the previous deaths of trainees seriously while on the other hand it is puzzling why it has to resort to such a major step that costs a lot of money and manpower.

So far there have 16 deaths among the National Service (NS) trainees since it was started 4 years ago. From the barrage of comments and criticisms from parents in the media we are aware that the majority of parents have expressed not only their unhappiness, displeasure and anger at the way the NS is being run but also their fears of losing their children in the training process.

Instead of heeding the call of the people to suspend and review the NS, the authorities have suggested medical check-ups for trainees and improving the medical care at the training centres.Certainly these are commendable measures but will these measures reduce the deaths at these training facilities?

The causes of the deaths among trainees fall into 3 categories:

1. Accident and trauma. This includes drowning and severe fatal injuries.

2. Infections due to exposure of the trainees to remote areas which harbor rare strains of virulent pathogenic micro-organisms.

3. Unknown causes. They could have asymptomatic congenital cardiac or vascular lesions in the brain or elsewhere. Others include epilepsy and bronchial asthma. These individuals are apparently healthy and asymptomatic under normal circumstances, only to suddenly collapse and die on strenuous physical stress.

Will routine medical screening detect these abnormalities so as to prevent mortality? From experience we know that such check-ups may not. Even sophisticated examinations like CT scan and MRI may not detect them. To detect congenital heart and cerebral lesions we may even need echocardiogram and invasive procedures like angiography. Do we need to go to that extent to detect pre-existing conditions? Who is going to pay for these medical check-ups?

The number of trainees taken by such serious illness is very small. Placing medical officers and nurses round the clock at training camps to cater for this small number will be just a waste of precious manpower and money. The doctors may spend their whole 3 months in the camps without seeing any serious medical problems among the young trainees.

We are repeatedly reminded of the acute shortage of doctors and nurses all over the country at hospitals and health centers, where major ailments are screened for and treated. Wouldn’t it be better to place them at these hospitals where they can be of greater service to the people who really need them most?

There is no doubt that the NS helps in fostering racial unity among our children of different ethnicity during the period of training and the months that follow. Does it have the desired long-term effects? In the long term it fails in its noble aim as the children soon return to a real life environment of racial segregation and animosity in universities and places of work.

Besides the cost and manpower wastage, there are serious doubts as to the effectiveness of the NS programme to fulfill it primary aim of integrating the youth of all races. If the government insists that the NS is good, it should make it optional for those who want it and are willing to pay for it. By doing so it may alleviate the fear and distress among the many who are skeptical of its benefits.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

PM's ethnicity, should it matter?


The people will ultimately reject race politics


Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was reported to have said recently that was it does not matter if the Prime Minister (PM) is Malay or non-Malay, as long as he enjoys the trust of all Malaysians(Star Nov,13,2008). He is absolutely right in saying that and that is exactly what most Malaysians believe and want except certain obsolete politicians with ulterior motives who are bent on resorting to racist tactics to remain relevant.

It is wrong to accuse the non-Malays as being racist in wanting a PM from their race. They had accepted five Malay PMs and have come to accept the fact that a Malay should ideally be the PM as they form the majority. There are no qualms about the PM being a Malay as long as he is selected based on his integrity and merit and can carry out his duties diligently and fairly with the welfare of all the citizens at heart.

The overwhelming support given to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to be the PM bears testimony to this fact. As legitimate citizens who are eager to contribute their services to the country they love, the non-Malays do not want to be denied our rights and opportunities just because of our race. Where can we go to if their own country does not want our services?

Ideally however we should strive for a time in the future when a Malaysian, who has the merits and the support of the majority of the people, regardless of his ethnicity, should be acceptable by the people of all races. It does not matter who that may be as long as he is selected based on his integrity and merit, not based on the color of his skin. It should not matter whether he is a Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban but one who will be the PM for all Malaysians and not just his own community.

Of course after years of race-based politics it will not be easy to suddenly discard old ways and adopt a new mindset that does not distinguish race and religion of an individual. The evolution of such an unprejudiced mindset will take a long time but it is important that it must begin now. For a start it is necessary first to see the need for such a change and then make deliberate attempts to do so by getting rid of race-based political parties. It may be met with tremendous resistance from certain quarters but we will finally prevail if we have a determined political will to persevere and overcome whatever obstacles that come our way. Sadly it is this political will that is lacking especially among those who are in a position to make that change.

There may be no true multiracial parties as even the so called multiracial parties are all dominated by a single race. However, unlike the other communal parties, their constitutions do not restrict their membership to a particular race nor stipulate their struggles for the uplift of a particular race. Moreover, after the last general elections there have been deliberate attempts by these parties, both in the BN and PR, to strive for multiracialism. Thanks to the maturity of the people who had departed from their traditional racial line of voting to opt for something that is of greater national importance instead - good governance.

Instead of listening to the people and adopting a multiracial approach, there are rejuvenated attempts to re-strengthen race politics by resurrecting issues of the past such as the special position of the Malays,Bahasa Malaysia, Islam and the Rulers. These have become non-issues now as they have been agreed to and accepted by all in good faith. So should be the constitutional rights of the non-Malays who have become the legitimate citizens of the country. It would be wrong for anyone to keep harping on these issues repeatedly over and over again as that would lead to unnecessary strains in inter-racial relations which is the last thing we need now. Will these attempts to disintegrate the already racially polarized nation succeed?

The only weapons we have against such racist attempts to undermine the unity among the races are the wisdom and maturity of the people which have been underestimated. Recent trends have indicated that these attributes are on the rise and I am sure with a wiser and more mature populace, we can thwart all attempts to take the nation more backwards. The people are in a better position to appreciate the need for closer cooperation among the races so as to remain competitive in the global market. They are not going to allow the minority to break the spirit of the majority.

The real resistance to multiracialism comes from the traditional race-based parties in the BN, particularly Umno, the dominant partner in the coalition. Nevertheless even within Umno, MCA and MIC there are already calls, although not overwhelming, for opening up their membership to all races. There is even suggestion that Umno should open itself to all and rename itself as United Malaysian National Organisation.These are very encouraging signs that indicate the people will ultimately reject race-based politics and such divisive politics would find its demise in the years ahead.

The people are definitely beginning to realize the benefits of a stronger opposition, such as the recent drop in fuel prices by the government that is unprecedented. They would continue to ensure that we have a strong and credible opposition in the future. We may be following that path of the more developed countries and going for a two-party system that will provide a better check and balance governance that provides a greater accountability and transparency. Our political parties have no option but to change, and if they are adamant not to, they will become irrelevant in the not so distant future.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, November 14, 2008

The people will reject race politics

Race-based parties will meet their demise

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was absolutely right in saying that it does not matter if the Prime Minister is Malay or non-Malay, as long as he enjoys the trust of all Malaysians. This is exactly what most Malaysians are saying except politicians with certain ideology that they only want members of their own race to be the PM and other top leaders in the various institutions.

It is wrong to accuse the non-Malays as being racist wanting a PM from their race. In fact most of them would agree that the best man for the job, and who has the support of the majority of the people, regardless of his ethnicity, should be given the job. It does not matter who becomes the PM as long as he does so on merits and not based on the color of his skin.

Meanwhile as legitimate citizens who are eager to contribute their services to the country love, they do not want to be denied their rights and opportunities just because of their race. Where can they go to if their own country does not want their services?

There are no qualms about the ethnicity of the person who assumes the post of Prime Minister as long as he can carry out his duties diligently and fairly with the welfare of all the citizens at heart. What they want is not Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban Prime Minister but a Malaysian Prime Minister who will be the PM for all Malaysians and not just his own community.

Of course after years of race-based politics it will not be easy to suddenly discard old ways and adopt a new mindset that does not distinguish the races. The evolution of such a mindset will take a long time but it is important that it must begin now. For a start it is necessary first to see the need for such a change and then make deliberate attempts to do so by getting rid of race-based political parties. It may be met with tremendous resistance from certain quarters but we will finally prevail if we have a determined political will to persevere and combat whatever tussles that come our way. Sadly it is this political will that is lacking.

Dr.M is right in saying that there are no true multiracial parties as even the so called multiracial parties are all dominated by a single race. However, unlike the other communal parties, their constitution does not restrict their membership to a particular race nor stipulate their struggles to uplift that particular race. Moreover, after the last general elections there have been deliberate attempts by these parties, both in the BN and PR, to strive for multiracialism. Thanks to the maturity of the people who had departed from their traditional racial line of voting to opt for something that is of greater national importance instead - good governance.

With the increasing wisdom and maturity of the electorate the future for racial politics looks bleak. The people are definitely beginning to realize the benefits of a stronger opposition, such as the recent drop in fuel prices by the government, and would continue to ensure that we have a strong and credible opposition in the future. We may be following that path of the more developed countries and going for a two-party system that will provide a better check and balance governance that provides a greater accountability and transparency. Our political parties have no option but to change, and if they are adamant not to, they will become irrelevant in the not so distant future.

The real resistance to multiracialism comes from the traditional race-based parties in the BN, particularly Umno, the dominant partner in the coalition. Nevertheless even within Umno, MCA and MIC there are already calls, although not overwhelming, for opening up their membership to all races. There is even suggestion that Umno should open itself to all and rename itself as United Malaysian National Organisation.These are very encouraging signs that indicate that race-based politics would find its demise in the years ahead.

Dr.Chris Anthony

A boost for democracy

Recognizing the role of the opposition

The Penang state legislative assembly’s move to create the official position of a state Opposition Leader is an encouraging move that augurs well for the development of democracy. Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should be commended for such a positive move to recognize the importance of the role of the Opposition.

As the opposition at state level in Penang, the Barisan Nasional (BN) must be represented in all the decision-making processes that involve the expenditure of public funds. The BN representatives must accept their role as an effective opposition to contribute ideas and provide the check and balance for the Pakatan Rakyat(PR) state government. Without an effective Opposition, there is no democracy.

Establishing the post for Oppostion Leader and paying him allowances alone is not enough. It is more important to recognize and appreciate his contributions and according him the rightful status he deserves by the ruling party and the government.

In a democratic system of government, both the ruling party and the opposition have equal roles in their service to the rakyat. While the former formulates and implement policies for the rakyat, the latter has an equally vital role to contribute ideas and provide a check and balance to prevent power abuse. If either of them fails in their duty, they would be neglecting their duties towards the rakyat.

It is sad that the Opposition in our country is not accorded its rightful place in the administration of the country unlike those in first world democracies. Very often our opposition MPs and assemblymen are treated with animosity and their contributions totally ignored. They are at times harassed for carrying out their rightful duties as legitimate representatives of the people.

Such a hostile attitude towards the opposition is displayed daily in our parliament where opposition proposals are ignored by those from the ruling party. Even the Speaker who is to be neutral is never seen to be so. We have yet to witness the speaker allowing the debate of a single motion that moved by the Opposition.

It is time that our for the ruling party to accept the opposition MPs as equal and are treat them with decorum, as they are also the representatives of the people. Disregarding the opposition would mean showing disrespect to the people who elected them. The ruling party should not be just a party for its supporters but for all including those who did not vote for them.

There is a need for closer cooperation between the ruling party and the opposition if we want a first world parliamentary system. Each should treat the other as comrades, with mutual respect, honor and civility not hostility and animosity. They should have a common aim, although they may differ in the way they carry it out, to serve to the people who have voted them to the fullest without fear or favor.

It is envious to see the smooth, friendly and civil way of power transfer between the present and incoming presidents in the US. Our parliamentarians have an important lesson to learn from their counterparts there if they want to transform our own parliamentary system to be at par with them and other first world democracies.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Give due recognition to the opposition

They are also duly elected by the people

The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) Youth chief Senator and the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Depertment T. Murugiah would have found the hard way that over-enthusiasm in handling the complaints of the public will at times land you in trouble. His aggressiveness overseeing the Public Complaints Bureau has exactly not only had it landed him in trouble with senior ministers and government officers but surprisingly his own party as well.

Party president Datuk M. Kayveas has expressed great displeasure that Murugiah might have gone personally to Siputeh MP Teresa Kok’s office to investigate her “dog food” allegation during her ISA detention recently. What is wrong with a deputy Minister meeting an opposition member who complains of wrong doing? Why such an animosity towards an Opposition MP?

Teresa may be an Opposition MP but isn’t she a citizen with all the rights like anyone else? Such hostile attitude towards the opposition has become a norm in our country. This is not the first time that opposition members are being treated in a cavalier manner without due respect and regard to the people who had voted for them. Such attitude is displayed daily in our parliament where opposition ideas are least regarded by those from the ruling party. Even the Speaker who is to be neutral is never so. We have yet to witness the speaker allowing the debate of a single motion that is proposed by the Opposition.Don't tell us that the opposition we elected are that dumb?

At the recent opening session on the debate on the budget, when the Opposition Leader took the stand there were hardly any senior members of the ruling party in parliament which goes to show the importance they attach to the views expressed of the opposition, even on an important issue like the budget, particularly at time of economic crisis. They may want to snub the Opposition Leader but do they realize that they also snubbing the rakyat who he is representing in the august house?
It must be remembered that nearly half the electorate voted for the opposition and by disregarding the opposition would mean showing disrespect to the people who elected them. How can the BN expect to regain the support of these people if they have no respect for their views? The BN should not be just a party for its supporters but for all including those who did not vote for them. This open attitude is what democracy is all about.

In a democratic system of government, both the ruling party and the opposition have equal roles in their service to the rakyat.While the former formulates and implement policies for the rakyat the latter has an equally vital role to contribute ideas and provide a check and balance to prevent power abuse. If either of them fails in their duty, they would be neglecting their duties towards the rakyat.

There is a need for closer cooperation between the ruling party and the opposition parties. Each should treat the other as comrades, with mutual respect, honor and civility not hostility and animosity. They should have a common aim, although they may differ in the way they carry it out, to serve to the people who have voted them to the fullest without fear or favor.

It is envious to see the smooth, friendly and civil way of power transfer between the present and incoming presidents in the US. There appears to be full cooperation not animosity or sabotage between them. The two men regard themselves as fellow Americans, not as enemies, sharing the same dreams for their nation. Our parliamentarians have an important lesson to learn from their counterparts in the US if they want to transform our own parliamentary system at par like them and other first world democracies.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, November 09, 2008

RPK release a victory for justice

RPK release : beginning of judicial independence?

The Shah Alam High Court Judge Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad’s order to release Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) immediately and unconditionally from his Internal Security Act(ISA) detention was a landmark ruling.It was courageous and righteous move that was hailed by the vast majority of right thinking Malaysians who want to see that ISA abolished once and for all. Justice Syed Helmy rightly described RPK’s detention as unconstitutional and amounts to an abuse of power as the home minister had acted beyond his jurisdiction to issue the order to detain him for 2 years.

It has been the practice in the past that those detained under Section 8(b) of the ISA are not allowed judicial review. This provision had often been abused by the detention of individuals for reasons other than what the Act was intended for. However Justice Syed Helmy’s ruling that the court could hear such an application if there were instances of possible abuse of powers is very reassuring as it means that there is still hope for freedom of those unjustly detained.

The ISA is a cruel and inhumane law that must be abolished as it has no place in this modern era. The vast majority of Malaysians including legislators from the Barisan Nasional have called for its repeal. The government has no option but to graciously accede to the demands of the people or risk losing further support. In the meantime it is the sacred duty of the judiciary to check the abuse of the ISA by those in power so as to prevent politically motivated detention the draconian law.

The reputation of our once renowned judiciary is at its lowest ebb due to scandals of various sorts and Justice Syed Helmy’s rulings will go a long way in the resuscitation of the ailing institution. It also goes to show that there are still judges up there who could rise up to the occasion to safeguard the integrity and independence of our judiciary. The release of RPK is a victory for human rights that have been blatantly ignored of late. It is a victory for the judiciary itself whose reputation has been negatively perceived by the people. Above all it is a victory for the rakyat who detest the ISA.

One case may not exonerate the judiciary’s discredit nor does it signal any significant change towards reformation. Only a series of good judgments over a prolonged period of time will do this but knowing that there are still reform-minded judges among the fold gives us some hope that the judiciary can still be reformed as promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
All Malaysians salute Justice Syed Helmy for his brave act that shows his deep sense of patriotism to the nation. We hope his example will prod others to rise up to restore the reputation and integrity of the institution that was once the envy of others.

If the government and the Conference of Rulers are serious in wanting to reform and restore the judicial integrity and independence, they should seriously consider Syed Helmy and other judges like him to be elevated to higher posts so that together, by their fearless actions, help to restore the status of the judiciary to its past glory.

The judiciary is the last bastion of defence for the rakyat against abuse of power and victimisation by the state. If that institution fails its duty to mete out justice to the people there would be lawlessness, chaos and turmoil.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama : A moral victory for minorities

A dream for our own Obama

November 4, 2008 was a historic day for the United States of America (USA).It was a day that brought hope to millions around the world especially in third world countries. An illustrious son of a once enslaved race was elected as the President of the most powerful nation on earth. It was a proud moment not just for the person elected and for the community he comes from but above all for the nation itself which has been a beacon of democracy for the rest of the world. Indeed the election of Barrack Hussein Obama is a sign his country is really a land of democracy, freedom and equal opportunities for all.

Nearly 150 years ago Abraham Lincoln passed a law to abolish slavery saying “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure; permanently half slave and half free”. He went against all odds to do something right and courageous to protect the honor and dignity of mankind, an act that could have cost him his life, but by doing so he became one of the greatest presidents of the USA. His bold actions at that time initiated the changes that led his country to achieve the enviable state it is in today.

A 100 years later Martin Luther King Jr.proclaimed “I have a dream that one day the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Today the bold and courageous action of Lincoln to abolish slavery had produced the desired result. The dream of Luther have become a reality, a descendant of slaves has been overwhelmingly chosen to become the leader of the country.

Obama’s election is not just a personal victory for him,his family and his community but a victory for his nation as well which is regarded as a beacon of democracy for the entire world. It is also a moral victory for the minorities in the US and all countries across the globe especially for those who are marginalized and deprived of their legitimate rights in their respective states.

The election of Obama as the first black American to the White House is a much needed moral booster for the US, whose integrity and reputation as the leader of the free world has suffered over the last decade or so. With Obama’s win the US may have a greater moral authority to push for freedom and human rights to oppressive governments all over the world.
Obama comes from an African-American community which constitutes about just 13% of the population. It has the highest rates of ill health, unemployment and crime. Despite coming from such an impoverished minority group he succeeded in being elected to the highest office in the land. It goes to show that Americans in general have put behind racism to vote for change and that is a very encouraging sign, especially at a time when the world is torn apart by war and violence resukting from racial and religious differences. In fact surveys show about 80% of all American voters said ethnicity was not a factor in their choice of their president.

What does Obama’s victory mean to us and many around the world? We hope what happened in the US will be an example for all countries with diverse ethnic population especially those that profess to practice democracy. It is a lesson for them on how they should treat the minorities in their own country. The US remains a superpower because of its open policy where all citizens regardless of race, color and creed are given equal opportunities to contribute to the development of the nation. All its citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and racial discrimination of any sorts is a serious offence that is not compromised for whatever reasons.
We too can become a leading nation like the US if we are willing to adopt the right approach and ideals and tap the potentials of all the races, a policy based on multiracialism. All ethnic groups must be considered equal and this must be stipulated in the laws of the country and the people educated to adopt such a mindset. All race-based political parties must be disbanded and reformed into true multiracial ones. Appointments to top posts in government and government linked companies must be based on purely merit, not ethnicity.

We lost the opportunity to do so by rejecting the visionary views of our Lincoln,Dato Onn Jaffar 60 years ago. If only we had accepted his ideas to make Umno a party for all races at that time, today we may among the ranks of the top powers in the world. However it is never too late as we are now given a second chance when the people have demanded such a multiracial approach in their verdict on March 8.Unfortunately there are still many quarters who blatantly disregard the people’s call and are bent on maintaining the obsolete race-based policies forever, not realizing their actions will only bring disaster in the near future.

It is time for all Malaysians to share a common dream, a dream that one day Malaysia becomes a developed nation by the whole-hearted contribution of all its citizens regardless of ethnicity, a day when all communities are accepted as equal and every citizen feels equally proud to be called Malaysians.

We are on the brink of leadership change at the highest level. The people like their counterparts in the US have transcended race and religion and overwhelmingly voted for change. Can our leaders like, the people, rise above the ethnic divide to bring about that change to adopt multiracialism as the preferred system of governance? Do they have the wisdom to place the nation above race for the long-term well being on the country? The recent squabble over the PKNS appointment sadly indicates otherwise.

Obama says he in the president of all Americans including those who did not vote for him. Likewise we hope our incoming Prime Minister can pledge to be the leader for all Malaysians; Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans and others. Can he acquire the courage and the will to initiate the cascade reactions that will lead to the dawn of a new Malaysia where all races can work together hand in hand without fear or suspicion to realize our Malaysian dream? We may call our country a democracy but it only be a true democratic nation when we produce our own Malaysian Barrack Obama.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

McCain,s concession speech

5 November 2008

McCAIN: Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.

My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.

(BOOING)
Please.

To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognise the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognise that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now ... Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.

Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans ... I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.

It is natural. It’s natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.

We fought — we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.

AUDIENCE: No!

McCAIN: I am so...

AUDIENCE: (CHANTING)

McCAIN: I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: We do, too (OFF-MIKE)

McCAIN: The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.

I’m especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother ... my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.

I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate’s family than on the candidate, and that’s been true in this campaign.

All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also — I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I’ve ever seen ... one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength ... her husband Todd and their five beautiful children ... for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.

We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.

To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don’t know — I don’t know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I’ll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I’m sure I made my share of them. But I won’t spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.

(BOOING)

Please. Please.

I would not — I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.

AUDIENCE: USA. USA. USA. USA.

McCAIN: Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama — whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.

We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much. - AP

Obama's victory speech

Text of Obama’s victory speech in Chicago

5 November 2008

OBAMA: Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Senator McCain.


Obama’s family walks off the stage as he addresses supporters during his election night party at Grant Park in Chicago today. — AP pic

Senator McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Governor Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton ... and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years ... the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady ... Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia ... I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us ...to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe ... the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best — the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod ... who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics ... you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy ... who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.

You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

OBAMA: There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.

But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years — block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.
This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those — to those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright:
Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons — because she was a woman and because of the colour of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America — the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: When the bombs fell on our harbour and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.
Yes we can.

AUDIENCE: Yes we can.

OBAMA: America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves — if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. - AP

A moral victory for minorities

A dream fulfilled

Today history has been made in a land far away from ours. The illustrious son of a once enslaved race was elected as the President of the most powerful nation on earth. It was a proud moment not just for the person elected and for the community he comes from but above for the nation itself which practices democracy.

Nearly 150 years ago Abraham Lincoln passed a law to abolish slavery in a land of freedom, America. He said “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure; permanently half slave and half free”. He went against all odds to do something right, by doing so he could have lost his life, but he became one of the greatest presidents of United States America.
45 years ago Martin Luther King Jr.proclaimed “I have a dream that one day the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Today the bold action of Lincoln had produced the desired result. The dreams of Luther has become a reality.Yes,a son of a former enslaved race has become the 44th president of the USA, in the person of Barrack Obama.

Obama’s victory is not just a personal one for him and his community but his nation as well which a regarded as a beacon of democracy. It is also a moral victory for the minorities in all countries across the globe especially for those who are marginalized and deprived of their legitimate rights.

The election of Obama as the first black American to the White House is a much needed moral booster for the US, whose integrity and reputation as the leader of the free world has suffered over the last decade or so. With Obama’s win the US may have a greater moral authority to preach freedom and human rights to oppressive governments all over the world.

About 80% of all voters said ethnicity was not a factor in their choice of their president. The interesting thing about this election was that Obama obtained the votes from all ethnic groups including whites as only about 13% of the population is made up of Black Americans. Black Americans in general belong to the poorer segment of American society with poorer health, higher unemployment and crime rates. Electing a member from such a minority group as their president speaks volumes for race relations in that country.

We hope what happened in US will be an example for all countries with diverse ethnic population especially those that profess to practice democracy. The US remains a superpower because of its open policy where all citizens regardless of race are given equal opportunities to contribute to the development of the nation.

We want too can become a successful nation like the US if adopt the right approach and tap the potentials of all the races. We too should share a common dream, a dream that one day Malaysia becomes a developed nation by the whole hearted contribution of all its citizens regardless of ethnicity, a day when all communities are accepted as equal and every citizen feels equally proud to be called Malaysian.

It is time for leaders at all levels to listen to the people and act to promptly to realize these dreams of all Malaysians. We too have a Prime Minister-elect,Datuk Seri Najib Razak.Will he be able to create history by initiating the dawn of a new Malaysia where all races can work together hand in hand without fear or suspicion to realize our Malaysian dream?

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Recognise the talents of all

True meritocracy the only way forward

It was disheartening that Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s decision to appoint Low Siew Moi, as acting general manager of the Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) was met with much resistance by certain quarters. It was particularly sad that the reason for their opposition was not because of Low’s inadequacies but because of her ethnicity. Her experience, services and contributions to the state for 35years seem to be totally irrelevant and unappreciated when it comes to promotions just because she is not a bumiputra despite being a legitimate Malaysian citizen.

After 50 years of self rule one would have expected the nation to have attained a state where all Malaysians regardless of race would be considered as equal citizens unconditionally without any discrimination whatsoever. However on the contrary it is deeply regrettable that racial consideration today has become the most important criteria for appointments to top posts in the government and government-linked companies, not talent, capability, loyalty or even patriotism. We are constantly being reminded of the importance of meritocracy but to what extent is that being really practiced?

It was refreshing that certain bumiputra leaders have come out to abhor racial discrimination as it was against fundamental principles of democracy and the basic tenets of every major religion. It was gratifying to see them come out in the open to boldly defend the appointment of a non-bumiputra to the top post in PKNS.Unfortunately they were too few and our national leaders who claim they represent the interest of all races, instead of educating the people to reject racism, chose to remain silent on this important issue.

It was equally disappointing that even some leaders in the Pakatan Rakyat, which came into power because of its multiracial stand, were too quick to condemn the appointment of Low. Isn’t it timely for our national leaders in BN and PR to openly condemn racism in whatever form it takes and defend the appointment of senior officers based purely on merit and not ethnicity?

The people’s rights are clearly enshrined in the constitution and Government officers, whether they are bumiputras or otherwise, are expected and duty bound to carry them out in accordance with the existing laws. Just as bumiputra officers are entrusted to be fair to all citizens,including non-bumiputras, so do are non-bumiputra officers who must cater for special rights of the bumiputras in the country. Failing to do so will be breaching the laws which govern them. Why do we need only bumiputras officers to take care of their community? Can’t a non-bumiputra be entrusted with that job? Many of us have worked in the civil service with full commitment to serve all the races fairly as provided in the laws.Isn’t it time for us to get over with the notion that leaders should only serve their own communities?

Tremendous hopes for multiracialism were raised after the March 8 elections but with each passing day the people’s hopes to end racism appears to be slowly eluding us. When countries all over are tapping on the resources of all their citizens to remain competitive, we seem to be going backwards to the era of divide and rule which will only be detrimental to ourselves in the long run. How can we move forward when we ignore the talents and capabilities of 40% of the population?

Malaysians in general have grown in wisdom and maturity but are they ready to rid of race politics once and for all? Are they ready to adopt a mindset that regards all races as rightful citizens? The vast majority of the people of all races have no qualms living side by side to face the daily challenges in life together as Malaysians. They have learnt to respect and tolerate their differences and in fact many have become dependent on one another for their various needs. On the other hand it is our politicians who seem to be not ready. They do not appear to be genuinely keen in dismantling racial politics and are bent on continuing with such discriminatory policies for their own advantage. Instead of educating the people of all races to unite they seem to be instigating them to remain divided.

The leaders should stop harping on the few differences among the various races and instead emphasize on the many things that we have in common. They must highlight on the need for unity instead of dividing them for selfish reasons. The new generation parents, teachers, religious and political leaders alike must treasure racial unity and lead by example to instill a sense of mutual respect for those from other races. We must encourage a new mindset that regards all as Malaysians.

In the US which was once renounced for slavery, the people are in the process of embracing an Afro- American as the president of their country whereas in our own homeland we are squabbling over the appointment of a Chinese Malaysian as the head of not a state or nation, but just a government – owned company.

We have some serious thinking to do to see regarding race relations and where we heading as a nation in this highly competitive world. It is vital for all the races to pool their resources together to face the global challenges that await the nation. People with caliber regardless of ethnicity must be given the opportunity to serve the nation without discrimination otherwise soon our nation will be depleted of such capable citizens. If we continue with our race-based policies we will surely be heading for doom in the not so distant future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, October 30, 2008

New CJ,can he prove his critics wrong?

Fresh hopes to regain past glory

Everytime a new Chief Justice(CJ) is appointed,the peoples' hopes for the rejuvenation of an ailing judiciary is rekindled. It is no different this time around with the appointment of Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi as the 12th.CJ.However the pledge by newly-appointed CJ, to get tough on errant judges, whom he accuses of besmirching the image and reputation of the judiciary is encouraging.

He may have passed the first test by coming out of a state of denial to admit the existence of a group of judges, although may be small, who have failed to fulfill their responsibilities with honour and integrity and that their irresponsible actions have tarnished the image and brought great disrespect to the judiciary as a whole. The recent Lingam videotape scandal is a bitter reminder of that shame that was inflicted on our once renounced and respected judiciary. It has yet to recover from that disgrace that shook our judiciary and the nation to the core.

The appointment of Zaki was shrouded with controversy from the very beginning. The Opposition, the legal fraternity, NGOs and many members of the public were overtly critical of his appointment as the CJ because of his past relationship with Umno. They cast serious doubts as to whether he can be truly impartial and independent in discharging his duties with such political affiliations in the past.

However his hard-hitting, impressive and positive maiden speech after his appointment appears to be at attempt to dispel those doubts and if he lives up to his pledges he would go a long way to prove his critics wrong. He must act fast to correct the wrong public perception of the judiciary that it is subservient to the executive. It should be his top priority and it is encouraging that rightly he appears to have made it so.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has promised to accomplish the badly needed judicial reforms before his departure, especially with regards to a more transparent and impartial system of the appointment of judges. Will the new CJ rise up to the expectations of the Prime Minister who has described him as a man of reforms? The people are waiting and watching for him to prove that he is indeed such a man of reforms who can implement them boldly without fear or favour of the powers that be.

The judiciary is the last frontier of the nation and if people have no confidence in the courts, there will be chaos. The rakyat’s hope for ultimate justice depends on a judiciary that is seen as clean, fair and independent and not subservient to any parties. Unless it can convince its impartiality beyond doubts, it will never gain the confidence of the people. The new CJ has no option but strive to prove his critics wrong in order to gain the trust of the rakyat whose demands are exceptionally high.

Zaki must quickly initiate the changes for the judiciary to regain its past glory. The ordinary man on the street has nowhere to turn to justice except the judiciary and if the institution, that is established to grant him justice fails or even seen to have failed, it would be a great tragedy not only to the person who seeks fair play but also the institution itself.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, October 24, 2008

Will reducing wealth gap alone narrow the race gap?

Eradicating poverty regardless of race

I refer to “Dr M: Reduce wealth gap to narrow race gap” (Star,October 22).

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s contention that all races living in this country will refer to themselves as Malaysians once the economic gap between them is reduced may be true to some extent but economic disparity alone is not the only reason for the failure to achieve racial unity to the desired level. What is needed is a genuine desire and whole-hearted commitment to by all to close this widening gap between and within the various ethnic communities in the country.

There are many other factors that need to be fulfilled before one feels proud to call himself a citizen of his country. The situation can be compared to a family where the children feel proud to be members of the family not just by the money and comforts provided by their parents but by the love and appreciation rendered to them. Money and wealth may be important but far more important is something we call appreciation of one’s love for the nation. In the US, descendants of once an enslaved race now proudly proclaim themselves Americans and they excel in almost every field like the descendants of their masters.

While it may be important to eliminate the economic disparity among the different races it is equally important to rid of such disparity among all citizens regardless of race. It is utmost to ensure that such measures to eliminate this disparity among the races are not abused by those in power otherwise it would result in one group becoming overtly favored over the others. They should not be used as excuses for encouraging corruption and abuse of power resulting in a small segment of the elite amassing wealth at the expense of the vast majority of the people who continue to suffer in poverty and hardship.
Eradication of poverty should be a top priority of the government and it should deploy all the resources at its disposal to ensure its endeavors succeed. Poverty is color blind as it transcends all racial divide, so should be all attempts in its
eradication.

The government has embarked on many development projects since independence to eradicate poverty among its people by its policies to restructure society so that no one particular community will be identified with poverty and backwardness. There is no doubt the target groups have benefited tremendously by such measures. However due to overzealous implementation of these projects unfortunately certain other groups have been neglected resulting in being left out of the mainstream of the rapid socio-economic development thereby giving rise to much unhappiness and frustration among them.

It is important for the government to realize its shortcomings and address this issue of poverty among its entire people for lasting peace and harmony in our multiracial nation. Race based policies initiated 50 years ago may not be relevant anymore due to the rapid advances taking place in the country in a highly competitive global world. It is timely to review the policies of the past and make amends to improve their effectives in a new social-economic environment.

There is no reason for any group to suffer in poverty particularly in our country that is endowed with abundant God-given natural resources. All that is needed is a fairer, prudent and more accountable management of the economy of the country which the government has pledged to undertake.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, October 17, 2008

Banning Hindraf unwise

Understand not punish Hindraf

It is deeply regrettable that the Hindu Rights Actions Force (Hindraf) has been declared illegal by the government. Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar has been misled into believing that Hindraf is an extremist religious organisation and its actions if left unchecked would pose a threat to public order, the security and sovereignty of the country as well as the prevailing racial harmony. According to him Hindraf incites hatred towards the Malays, which is a very serious allegation which itself is a greater threat to the security of the nation. If that is true why are PAS and PKR supportive of Hindraf?

Syed Alba must be naïve to believe that there is genuine racial harmony in the country. Absence of riots does not mean race relations are excellent. Even the PM has reiterated recently that our race relations have deteriorated to such an extent that it has become a serious concern for all. The ordinary man on the street will agree that our race relations are far from ideal. In fact it has been fast deteriorating over the years.

The main reason for the worsening inter-racial and inter-religious goodwill is due to lackadaisical attitude of the government towards promoting racial unity and its inaction to check real extremist groups who incite racial hatred for those of other ethnic groups. If only the government was impartial in checking these extremist tendencies fairly without bias, we would not be in the state we are in today.If only the government and the MIC had acted with the interest of all Malaysians and the Indians in particular in mind,Hindraf would not exist today.

Hindraf was born as a result of years of frustration resulting from negligence and marginalisation of the Indian community which the government denies till today. Although its name connotes it is a Hindu organisation but in actual fact it represents the sentiments of all the Indians, whose socio-economic status is very deplorable and far below par. In fact Hindraf has become a household name among the marginalised groups of all the races in the country, a name that stands for the fight against injustice, poverty and abuse of power. Its battle cry “makkal sakthi”, which simply means people’s power, became a rallying call for unity and change by all races in the Opposition during the last general elections.

The Hindraf uprising that ended with the November 25 rally last year become the eye-opener for the poor and marginalised from all communities including the Malays. It helped to ignite the spirit for reformation, democratisation and eradication of race-based policies among Malaysians. It might have been a cry for help by the impoverished and desperate Malaysian Indians but today Makkal Sakthi represents the call by all for a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth and greater opportunities for jobs and education.

Unfortunately instead of heeding their pleas and engaging in dialogue to understand and solve their problems, the government and even the MIC reacted with hostility.Hindraf was considered a extremist group trying to create chaos and racial riots in the country. It was accused of having links with foreign terrorist groups and therefore castigated. Instead of looking at the merits of their grouses, they were seen as threats to national security. How can a minority group that comprise about 8% of the population with no economic or political clout be a significant threat to the security of the nation?

Will punitive measures and banning of Hindraf stop the spirit of its Hindraf’s struggle? It is not the struggle of a few leaders detained under the ISA but that of the whole Indian community that is plagued with severe socio-economic problems; poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, gangsterism, poor living conditions and a high crime rate.

History has shown that repressive legislation and punitive actions can never permanently quell the anger and uprising of any community that is disadvantaged and marginalised. You can persecute their leaders with imprisonment, torture and even death but you can never kill the spirit in them. In fact these high-handed measures will only encourage them fight on with greater zeal and vigour.

What is needed is not confrontation but sympathy and dialogue to solve the problems of a disadvantaged community that is crying out for help. After more than 50 years of self rule and in a country bestowed with abundant natural resources there is no reason for any group to be in a state of hard core poverty, without a decent job,shelter,education and food.

The government must lift the ban on Hindraf and engage them in meaningful dialogue to overcome the various problems facing the Indian community, instead of punishing them for voicing out their problems that are genuine. In fact it should act likewise to all groups who are frustrated by unfair policies of the government.

There is a need to re-look at where we have gone wrong and formulate and implement policies to help all those in need regardless of race. If any one community, however small, is left behind everybody will suffer in the long run. For lasting peace and harmony every citizen regardless of ethnicity,social status and political ideology must be made to feel proud of being a Malaysian.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Teacher's Day 2017

  You made the difference To all our teachers Wherever you may be, existing and departed. Thank you to each and everyone...