Thursday, May 29, 2008

EC must be independent

Independent EC not new voter roll that is needed

After much uproar and protests over the voters’ list over the years, the Election Commission (EC) Chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has finally proposed to go for a fresh voter roll that will involve the re-registration of the 10.9 million Malaysians who are already registered as voters. This although commendable, is a massive operation that would require a considerable amount of money and resources. After all that what is the guarantee that the new voters’ list will be trouble-free?

The electoral roll has been a major source of unhappiness of the opposition all these years. If EC is sincere in wanting to overcome its flaws it must seriously look into these grouses and make genuine attempts to overcome them. Some of these include the problems related to multiple voting, phantom and postal voters, which have cast serious doubts on the integrity and impartiality of the EC of late.

It is just not merely the electoral list per say but the functioning of the commission as a whole that needs to be looked into. There is a general perception that the EC is not truly independent as it should be. This has been the main grouse of the various election watch groups that have been formed recently to scrutinize our general elections. Whether it is true or otherwise, the EC must try to change that perception among the people. It must not only be non-partisan but seen to be so and its decisions must not be influenced by any political party.

It should ensure all parties, ruling and opposition; adhere to the rules of the election process without exception. If this independence cannot be assured whatever new electoral roll that it may create will only be in vain. The sudden and unexplained last minute cancellation of the use of indelible ink in the recent elections goes to show this lack of independence of the EC which has tarnished its image to a great extent.

It is timely for the EC to seriously consider automatic registration of voters once they attain the eligible age as ascertained by their Mykads. With the sophisticated computerization today this registration process should pose no major problem. In fact such a procedure would be more convenient for the voters and less costly for taxpayers. It will not only get rid of the problems of biasness in the voters’ list but it will also ensure all eligible citizens, regardless of social status, ethnicity and political ideology, are given a fair opportunity to vote in an election. Registration to vote should not be an option but whether to vote and who to vote should be.

A fresh voter list may be a good idea but it will be costly, messy and above all will not eliminate all the same problems of the current list if the EC itself does not rise above politics. In this regards there is a need for only people of high credibility and commitment to be appointed as members and chairman of the EC.

The EC must sit down with all parties concerned to come up with the best ways possible to ensure a truly independent, transparent and non-partisan body that will put the interest of the rakyat above any individual or party in carrying out the duties entrusted without any fear or favor.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Repeal not review the ISA

ISA Evil and Obsolete

I refer to “Zaid : ISA being reviewed” (Star,May 23).

We welcome the announcement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, that the Internal Security Act(ISA) is being reviewed. Although it falls far short of the people’s expectations to have it repealed, nevertheless it is an indication of the government’s compromising stand that is unprecedented with regards to the ISA. Hopefully it is a sign that the Abdullah administration is finally reacting to the call of the rakyat. Its willingness to review certain provisions of the ISA hopefully marks the beginning of the process leading to its ultimate abolition.

One of the laws that the people have opposed so aggressively over the last 20 years is the draconian ISA that empowers the government to detain anyone for up to 2 years without trial or justification whatsoever but mere suspicion of being a threat to national security. The vehement opposition not only comes from the Opposition parties,NGOs and various human rights groups from within and outside the country but most significantly of late from the rakyat themselves, regardless of their race, religion and political ideology. These groups have voiced their opposition in no uncertain ways including resorting to demonstrations and street protests but to no avail.

We have come a long way, fighting the colonialists, the communist insurgency and Japanese occupation. At that time, there was no way of identifying the enemy and we needed a law like the ISA to detain someone on mere suspicion of subversion, to protect the nation and the people. Today we do not have such enemies of the state anymore as we are all loyal citizens of an independent and sovereign nation with its own laws and code of ethics.

We have a legitimately elected government and an opposition, to represent the people in a duly established and respected parliament. We have an independent police force and judiciary to enforce and punish those guilty of subversion. We have sufficient laws to act against anyone who threatens the security of the nation, why do need to resort to arrest and punish someone without proving his guilt? Isn’t that a grievous breach of the basic human rights of an individual?

We are all aware that the ISA had been abused for political reasons by those in power. Not only politicians but professionals, members of Non-governmental Organisations(NGO),students, educationists and even religious and spiritual leaders have been detained under the ISA for questioning the injustices and abuses of the government and championing the rights of the people. Not only are they detained under deplorable living conditions but they are subjected to severe physical and mental torture like hard-core criminals.

Pak Lah has shown a great deal of tolerance to opposing views as shown by various groups being bold to voice out controversial views unlike before. It is unfortunate that this increased space for freedom granted is construed as a sign of weakness by his critics when in actual fact it reflects an increasing maturity of Malaysians.

We hope Pak Lah will take the extra step to demonstrate that tolerance and maturity not only review but ultimately abolish the much dreaded ISA. As a gesture to acknowledge his willingness to listen to the rakyat, Pak Lah should first release all ISA detainees and reassure the people that he will not resort to the draconian ISA in future.

This will go a long way to win the hearts of the people which he needs very badly at the moment. The people are his greatest strength and he can only tap onto that strength by heeding their calls which is very loud and clear – Abolish the ISA .

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, May 23, 2008

Dr.M undoing his legacy

Dr.M should stop ranting and raving

If there is a single person who had profoundly influenced our lives and those of our children it is none other than our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. In fact many of our children have never known any other Prime Minister other than him. At an age when people usually retire gracefully, leave the public scene, take care of their health and enjoy their lives with children and grand children, Dr.M at 82,has chosen the arduous path to continue to actively’ serve’ the nation and the people in his own ways by even willing to go jail.

Now he has a drastic step to resign from Umno, the party which he was a member since its formation 62 years ago and its undisputed leader for 22 years, just to achieve his aim of overthrowing his hand-picked successor turned nemesis and prevent Anwar from becoming prime minister. We admire him for his fighting spirit and endless efforts to put things right in his own way.

Reacting to the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video scandal,Dr.M wants the opportunity in court to expose the misdeeds of judges. As the PM he was responsible for the appointment of judges and if there were discrepancies in that he too is also responsible for it although the offence could have been committed by the judges themselves.Why didn’t he act against these errant judges like he did against Tun Salleh Abbas and his colleagues?

Lobbying for appointments and promotions invariably breeds corruption and supporting a system that encourages such practices is wrong as promotions and appointments should be awarded based on seniority unless there are genuine reasons to deny that to the person next in line.

It would be grave mistake for Dr.M to think the whole country; in particular those who disagree with him, are against him and out to ‘fix’ him. On the contrary a vast majority of Malaysians, young and old from all races have great respect for him as a capable leader who brought much development to the nation.

I do not think Malaysians are cruel enough in wanting him to be hauled into court and charged like a common criminal for the wrongs he might have done. Who does not make mistakes? All leaders however great they may be do make mistakes and wrong judgments occasionally. No one however powerful and brilliant is invincible or indispensable.

Mahathir’s fears that the Malays will lose their rights and privileges if Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remains as Prime Minister or of the Opposition takes over power is unfounded. How can their rights be taken away when those are guaranteed in the Federal Constitution and accepted by all? In fact his practice of using such imaginary threats like the West, the Jews and the own non-Malay citizens is the cause of the predicament of Umno today.

Using such imaginary threats to unite the Malays which were successful before is not going to work anymore with the younger generation who are better informed and want a formula that will guarantee lasting peace in a multiracial Malaysia. Will myopic and skewed racial politics ever provide that lasting peace that new generations of Malaysians yearn for?

I am sure Dr.M has enough wisdom and foresight to realize the nation is slowly evolving into a multiracial one and he should not stand in the way to stop that metamorphosis. As a former PM and elder leader he should stop his ranting and raving and instead work towards building a new Malaysia which does not identify its citizens by ethnicity but by their true loyalty and patriotism.If he fails to that and keep insisting on blaming everybody else,other than himself,he will only be undoing his own legacy as the Bapa Kemodenan.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, May 19, 2008

Dr.M should stop ranting and raving

Work towards the creation of a new Malaysia

If there is a single person who had profoundly influenced our lives and those of our children it is none other than our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.At an age when people usually retire gracefully, leave the public scene, take care of their health and enjoy their lives with children and grand children, Dr.M at 82,has chosen the arduous path to continue to actively serve the nation and the people by even willing to go to court to reveal the unhealthy practices in the government. We salute him for his fighting spirit and endless efforts to put things right in his own way.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad (in grey bush jacket) with supporters at the Johor Baru (Picture from MalaysianInsider)

Dr.M wants the opportunity in court to explain many things that the judges did. It is a fact that he was the Prime Minister when the allegations of the Lingam video scandal really took place in 2001.As the PM he was responsible for the appointment of judges and if there were discrepancies in that he is also responsible for it although the offence could have been committed by the judges themselves. Exposing the judges for their misbehavior would also tantamount to incriminating himself as well. Why didn’t he act against these errant judges like he did against Tun Salleh Abbas and his colleagues?

Lobbying for appointments and promotions by itself may not be wrong but the intentions with which it was done can surely be. Supporting a system that encourages lobbying is wrong as promotions and appointments should be awarded based on seniority unless there is a genuine reasons to deny that to the person next in line.

It would be grave mistake for Dr.M to think the whole country; in particular those who disagree with him, are against him and out to ‘fix’ him. On the contrary a vast majority of Malaysians, young and old from all races have great respect for him as a capable leader who brought much development to the nation which helped to earn the respect of the world. In fact many of our children have never known any other Prime Minister other than him.

I do not think Malaysians are cruel enough in wanting him to be hauled into court and charged like a common criminal for the wrongs he might have done. Who does not make mistakes? All leaders however great they may be do make mistakes and wrong judgments occasionally. The people will never forget the tremendous good that he has done not only for the Malays but the non-Malays as well.

Mahathir’s fears that the Malays will lose their rights and privileges if Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remains as Prime Minister or of the Opposition takes over power is unfounded. How can their rights be taken away when those are guaranteed in the Federal Constitution and accepted by all? Using such imaginary threats to unite the Malays which were successful before is not going to work anymore with the younger generation who are better informed and want a formula that will guarantee lasting peace in a multiracial Malaysia. Will myopic and skewed racial politics ever provide that lasting peace that new generation of Malaysians yearns? History had shown that multiracialism is the key to lasting inter-ethnic harmony all over the world.

I am sure Dr.M has enough wisdom and foresight to realize the nation is slowly evolving into a multiracial one and he should not stand in the way to stop that. The time has come for us to do away with confrontation methods to solve our inter-ethnic problems but rather opt for dialogue and goodwill instead.

Dr.M should stop his ranting and raving and instead work towards building a new Malaysia which does not identify its citizens by ethnicity but by their true loyalty and patriotism. If he fails to do that he will be undoing his own legacy as one the greatest prime ministers the nation ever had.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Lingam Tape : government must act to gain credibility

Does the government has the political will to act ?



With much pressure from the public the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry report on the V.K. Lingam video clip is finally out, ending months of controversy and uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of the commission itself. The cabinet especially the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim must be commended for making the report public.

The Royal Commission of Inquiry found evidence to implicate prominent government and judicial figures, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Datuk V.K. Lingam, tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan, Umno secretary-general and Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, and former chief justices Tun Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, being involved in a conspiracy to manipulate the appointment of judges and has called for further investigation of these individuals into their roles in the scandal.

The revelation deals a major blow to the reputation of our judiciary and bolsters allegations by many legal experts and opposition leaders that judicial corruption has tainted verdicts over more than a decade. This is a very serious finding that cannot be ignored by the government if it is really serious in wanting to reform the judiciary as it has wowed to do so.

The ball is at the court of Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail who has promised to act accordingly. The is skepticism whether Gani Patail can carry out this important task to investigate these VIPs. The people are watching the developments very closely and would never accept anything other than justice and fair play as there is a dire need to restore the integrity and confidence of the people in the judiciary that has been so badly tainted by the Lingam video scandal.

The public, including the media, should allow the investigation process to proceed uninterrupted without undue pressure or any prejudice against any individuals but at the same time they must be able to see for themselves that justice is done.

The Royal Commission findings provide a golden opportunity for the BN government to regain the support of the people that has been on the decline lately. If it can act without fear or favour against those who have tainted the judiciary, it would be a sure way to regain that support. If these people in elevated positions who were entrusted to safeguard the people are found to have betrayed them instead, they must be punished regardless of their social standing as everybody is equal in the eyes of the law.

At the same time, cases that were heard by Tun Eusoff Chin and Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, during this critical period in question need to be reviewed. Those who were victims of the conspiracy must be vindicated. I am sure there are more people involved since they would have used these 'assisted service' to gain judgment in their favour.

The government has no option but to act to regain its credibility. The question that lingers in everybody’s mind is whether Barisan Nasional government has the political will to do it? Well it must find that will if it wants to remain relevant and continue to rule.

Dr.Chris Anthony


Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Opting for multiracial politics

Race based politics obselete

At the 62nd Anniversary of Umno,its president,Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, called on its members to counter the notion that they are arrogant and corrupt.Instead of heeding his call that is apt and timely and trying to win back their hearts with proactive reforms, Umno is trying to use all forms of tactics, including racial, to break-up the Opposition that is promoting a multiracialism. Its attempts to resurrect senstive issues of the past are very disturbing and go against the aspirations of the rakyat themselves.

Some of the issues that resurfaced recently are the special rights of Malays and loyalty the Rulers. Due to some losses in the recent polls,Umno claims that the special rights of the Malays are being threatened by the non-Malays. This is absurd as we all know there is no way anyone can pose such threats as these rights and special privileges are enshrined in the Federal Constitution and accepted by all races. It would be unfair for Umno to harp on these imaginary external threats to just garner the support of the Malays.

The call for action against DAP Chairman Karpal Singh for his comments on the rights of the Perak Sultan,is an attempt to imply that the non-Malays are disrespectful and not loyal to the Malay Rulers. This is not only utter nonsense but unfair and malicious. The Institution of the Monarchy has become part of the Malaysian culture, for Malays and non-Malays alike. Loyalty to the Rulers is a provision in the Rukun Negara and accepted by all. History has shown that the non-Malays have also turned to the Rulers for help, pardon and protection of their fundamental rights from time to time.

It is wrong for Umno to question the loyalty of non-Malay Malaysians after fifty years of working together in building the nation. We did that, not as Malays, Chinese or Indians, but as Malaysians and the people have demonstrated this unprecedented unity by rising above their racial divide to vote for multiracial system of governance. It is the duty of the political parties to ensure that these aspirations of the people are achieved. Politicians must not destroy what the people have achieved all these years together.

It is ironical that when we are outside the country we are identified as Malaysians but within our own country we are constantly being reminded of our ethnic origins. It is time for us to change the mindset to accept each other as Malaysians and work to create leaders who can represent the interests of all the races.

The only way to eradicate this race-based politics is to open up ethnic-based parties to all races to become truly multiracial where everyone’s rights are guaranteed as provided for by the constitution. There should not be a need for any particular community to ‘fight’ for its basic rights as they should be granted automatically without any impediment.

Umno should not regard fellow non-Malay Malaysians as a threat to their well being. It should not succumb to some imaginary external threat that is non-existent. It should instead get its acts together, regain its power and influence to get back the support of the people of all races.Umno may have its duty towards the Malays but being the dominant party in the ruling coalition, it also has the responsibility to ensure the minorities are treated fairly as rightful citizens.

Umno might have been formed by a strong spirit of Malay nationalism that prevailed at the time of independence but the time has come for it to adopt and radiate a true Malaysian nationalism that incorporates all the races of peninsula and east Malaysia. It should lead BN to embrace a multiracial approach to champion the rights of all regardless of race or creed.

The world is moving away racial politics which is becoming obsolete and it is time for us to do the same. In this respect it may be timely for Umno to revisit the era of its founder, Onn Jaafar and look for ways and means to fulfill his aspirations by opening its doors to all Malaysians regardless of their ethnicity. A multiracial BN is what the people want and that is what is going to relevant in the future.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, May 12, 2008

Anwar defends morality of crossovers

Anwar defends morality of crossovers (Malaysiakini)

Anwar is very right about the issue of morality of political cross-overs.

UMNO is desperate and is resorting to unethical tactics to split the Pakatan. These are

1. race and religious politics - instilling ill-feeling among the races
2. bringing in the royalty into politics and hiding behind them
3.depriving the PR states their dues,cutting the projects and allocations
4.Refusing to heed the call of the people to release ISA detainees and abolish ISA
5.refusing freedom of expression,
and many more.The list is endless.

We must change the Federal government id we want to implement fresh policies that are fair to all races.I think we have no choice but to accept cross-overs to form the new government.It would be for the benefit of all.

We have no option but save the nation from going into ruins.The only way out is to form a new government.We cannot expect reforms by the very regime that caused all the problems.

NS taking a toll on our children - II

Time to suspend and review its implementation

The dust had hardly settled after the tragic death of National Service (NS) trainee,Afiq Zuhairi Ahmat Rozal, last month we have another equally tragic death of another trainee, Too Hui Min,bringing the total so far to 16.If two deaths in less than a month is not serious enough, I don’t know how many more have to lose their lives before the government considers enough is enough.

It must be stressed that NS trainees are young healthy school leavers who have no known illness prior to joining the NS. What is common in these deaths is that they show very minimal symptoms and signs and their illness progresses so fast as to be fatal in just a few days. The most likely cause of death in all these cases is overwhelming infection of some sort.

What looks imminent is that medical personnel attending to them in the initial stages failed to appreciate the seriousness of the illness as the symptoms were non-specific and minimal. The medical personal attending to them were medical assistants (MA) or nurses who are not trained in clinical diagnosis. I am sure if those unfortunate victims were attended to by experienced doctors or specialists, they would have suspected something sinister is setting in.

Why they were not referred to a doctor on their first visit to the clinic? We are well aware that even in the smallest hospital only doctors are allowed to treat patients, not MAs or nurses however senior they may be. Why was this not practiced in the NS camps? Doesn’t this amount to negligence on the part of the medical personnel treating the sick trainees?

These deaths have obviously cast serious doubts on the quality of the training and the safety mechanisms that are in place in the NS. Is the system professional and capable enough to carry military type of training? Has it placed undue stress on the health of the trainees? How efficient and effective are the medical examinations and resuscitation facilities? How well trained, equipped and motivated are the trainers in providing the training? Have we got to sacrifice a few of our children in each session of NS?

No amount of reassurance will be able to satisfy the parents if it does not address these issues immediately. The NS Department has a lot of soul searching to do and it must do it without any further delay. It should consider the feedback from parents and public seriously. Docility on their part will only create suspicion and doubts in the minds of the people as to the real motives of the NS program

It is very irresponsible of National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kecil to reiterate that the NS training programme will not be scrapped just because of one or two deaths. I think he must put himself in the place of the parents who have lost their children before making such insensitive statements.

Abdul Hadi Awang further suggests that the trainees undergo medical check-ups before joining the training programme. He must remember that these fatal illnesses are acute and there is no way even the most sophisticated medical examination will ever detect the illness in advance. It would only be a total waste of taxpayers’ money.

The unacceptably high rate of deaths among young NS trainees is an indication of the failure of the system itself. Its risks outweigh the benefits and as an immediate measure to prevent more unnecessary loss of lives the NS must be suspended and a full scale review instituted. As the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak says we may not be able to scrap the programme just like that as many parties are involved but the safety of the trainees should be the paramount consideration and overrule all other factors in deciding to continue with the NS.

There is undeniably a dire need for racial integration among our youth which is so badly lacking in our schools. To be effective such integration programmes should start from the time the children start schooling. If we cannot achieve racial integration over 11years they are in school, I fail to see how that can be done in just 3 months after they leave school.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother’s Day 2008

Plight of mothers in old folks homes

Today is Mothers' Day and many of us may have elaborate plans to spend the day with our mothers.Amidst all the celebrations it may be useful for us to pause and reflect on our own relationship with our mothers.

The mother is the most revered person throughout the history of mankind. Mothers are revered and adored, showered with affection, shown great respect and she is held in high esteem in all cultures. In fact Islam teaches that Paradise is at the feet of mothers” and Hindus regard her as a goddess of love. A Jewish Proverb says God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers”.

All wise men of the past seen to concur that a man who does not please his mother it whatever he does will never find true happiness in his own life. On this Mothers’ Day it may be useful for us to reflect on the mothers who are in away in some old folks’ home.

With materialism becoming a way of life, the care of the elderly is becoming an increasingly common problem for all. Young married couples have to work so hard to make ends meet that they have practically no time for the elderly who demand for more attention. Homes for the aged which were a taboo before are now being accepted as the only practical way out to overcome the problems related to the care of the aged these days.

If we were to visit some of these elderly in such homes we will realize firstly, none of them are happy to be in such homes separated from their families and secondly the extraordinary love they have for their children, however negligent they may be.

Most of them in these homes appear to be happy as they are provided with all their physical needs, food shelter and the company of other residents. However when we get to know them more personally, we will be surprised to realize the agony and pain these old folks are enduring in silence during their stay in such homes. This is particularly true for those who are mentally alert but physically infirm.

Despite all their needs are being met yet we can sense they are missing something in their lives. They long for something that money cannot buy, something that no relative or friend can give – love and affection of their own children. Yes, they long for the company of their children and grandchildren.

In the twilight of their lives, it is not food, shelter, comforts or gifts that matters most. What really matters is the love and company of their own children. These elderly people in old folk’s homes generally are lonely despite being surrounded by people and regularly visited by friends and relatives.

The second observation is the unshakable love these oldies have for their children. They may be unhappy with their children for having sent them there but they never let them down in front of others. They are eager to go back home but they do not mind bearing all the pain and agony of staying in a old folk’s home just because they do not want to trouble their children.It is a pity that many of us do not appreciate the boundless love our elderly parents have for us despite all our acts of ‘cruelty’ towards them.

There is no doubt that the best place for elderly is their home but sending our aged parents to old folks home does not necessarily mean we are ungrateful and cruel. What is important is to provide them with the best we can and give them the reassurance that we are there for them when they need us. Frequent visits to them and bringing them back home whenever possible will go a long way in reassuring them of our love and concern.

It is easy and exciting to be with our parents during their younger days however it is more important for us to be there for them when they really need us. When they are seriously ill, handicapped, and bed-ridden or on their death beds are we there for them to give them the moral, physical and spiritual support that they need? All they may need is just our consoling words, our loving touch or a hug but are we physically there to render that?

On this Mothers’ Day let us remember our mothers who may be languishing and yearning for our love in old folks’ homes. Let us find some place for them in our hearts and some time to bring them back to our homes where they can once again experience the love, affection and the company of her loved ones at least for a while. For some of them this may be the last time they ever return to their homes.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Nurses' Day 2008 - Commercialization compromises quality

Let’s reward the few among the many

"Apprehension, uncertainty, waiting, expectation, fear of surprise, do a patient more harm than any exertion” - Florence Nightingale

Nurses Day which fell on May 12 passed us quietly without much publicity. It may be good for us to understand how our nurses are coping in as environment that is increasingly becoming more hostile to them.

Today the medical services have been so commercialized that its ideals are being lost. The mushrooming of large number of public and private hospitals in the country has tremendously increased the demand for nurses. As a result a large number of nursing schools have sprung up all over the country. Unfortunately many of these schools lack qualified, experienced and dedicated teachers. As a result these schools churn out large number nurses who are of questionable standards. With minimal exposure to clinical work, they are tasked to carry out various nursing duties.

To make matters worst these junior nurses are left alone without proper supervision as many of the senior ones have left for greener pastures. In fact many of them don’t even know how to handle patients who can be very demanding these days. Managing patients is an art that can only be mastered by years of experience not by just obtaining the necessary certificates. This experience I am afraid is sadly missing in our wards today.

If that is not bad enough, their superiors have become more of administrators rather than exemplary senior nurses themselves. They are ‘forced’ to be part of policies that generally favor the management than the nurses. This results in some form of ‘exploitation’ of the nurses to get the maximum work done with minimum incentives and rewards.

The unfavorable environment under which our nurses work has resulted in a drastic loss in zeal among them. To many, nursing has become a means of income not a vocation anymore. The lack of appreciation by their superiors, administrators and even the patients themselves has seriously eroded the morale of our nurses, both in public and private hospitals.

Privatization has dealt a major blow to the quality of patient care. Such care, when available, has become beyond the means of the vast majority of Malaysians who are toiling to make ends meet. Furthermore it has made the nurses mere tools for churning out profits for the huge co-operations that own hospitals. To make matters worse, now we are planning to embark on large a scale medical industry fashionably termed ‘medical tourism’.

Despite this commercialization of medical care in general we are fortunate to still have nurses who are dedicated, caring and compassionate but regrettably these qualities are the least sought for in our nurses these days as they are not readily saleable commodities.

The new Health Minister, who appears to be very energetic and eager, has some serious problems to address – to arrest the declining standards of nursing, putting the brakes on the massive and indiscriminate commercialization of patient care that is threatening the ethics of the medical profession, ensuring quality nursing schools and above all bringing back the glory and respect the nursing profession once commanded.

Meanwhile let us look out for those true Nightingales who are dedicated to serve their patients in silence despite all the odds arrayed against them. Let us show our appreciation and gratitude in cash, kind or the least in some kind words of appreciation and gratitude. We never know when we will need their services?

Dr.Chris Anthony


Let’s dismantle racial politics

Malaysia should be for all Malaysians

I refer to Non-Malays need not fear congress, says Muhyiddin” (Star,May 6).

Umno vice-president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s statement that non-Malays should not feel threatened that their rights are being taken away may be reassuring but there is a lingering suspicion why Umno must resort to such measures like the recent to Kongres Permuafakatan Melayu.

Why is there a need for Umno, or any other ethnic party, to organize such a congress to demand for their rights when those are clearly spelt out in the Federal Constitution? There is no reason whatsoever for Umno to fear that the Malay privileges are being taken away. They should not fear their rights are slowly eroded just because of some losses in the recent elections. The rights and special privileges are clearly enshrined in the Federal Constitution and accepted by all races and there is no way they can be taken away.

We have come a long way to build the nation together, not as Malays, Chinese or Indians, but as Malaysians and the people have demonstrated this unprecedented unity by rising above their racial divide to vote for multiracial system of governance. It is the duty of the political parties to ensure that these aspirations of the people are achieved.

It is time to discard the politicking along racial lines of the past and move forward to a state where we are identified as Malaysians not by our ethnic origins. Why should a leader only champion the cause of his own community? Isn’t it time to do away with such a mindset and create leaders who can represent the interests of all the races? All politicians from ruling and Opposition parties, the ministers, and government officers should be trained to cater for all races not just their own.

We should discourage the practice of organizing all forms of rallies and congresses for a particular race but instead have such activities to include all. In a multiracial and multi-religious country if we encourage each community to organize events to demand for their own rights we will never achieve a state of harmonious co-existence. Instead it will only be a sure way to chaos and inter-ethnic animosity in the long run.

The only way to eradicate this race-based politics is to open up all race-based parties to all races and become truly multiracial where everyone’s rights are guaranteed as provided for by the constitution. There should not be a need for any particular community to ‘fight’ for their basic rights as they should be granted automatically without any impediment.

Umno should not regard fellow non-Malay Malaysians as a threat to their well being. It should not succumb to some imaginary external threat that is non-existent. It should instead get its acts together, regain its power and influence to get back the support of the people of all races.Umno may have its duty towards the Malays but being the dominant party in the ruling coalition, it also has the responsibility to ensure the minorities are treated fairly and allay their fears and anxieties.

Umno might have been formed by Malay nationalistic spirit but the time has come for it to adopt a true Malaysian nationalism that incorporates all the races of peninsula and east Malaysia. In short the old United Malay National Organisation must become the new United Malaysian National Organisation.

The world is moving away racial politics which is becoming obsolete and it is time for us to do the same. In this respect it may be timely for Umno to revisit the era of its founder, Onn Jaafar and look for ways and means to fulfill his aspirations by opening its doors to all Malaysians regardless of race or creed.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, May 05, 2008

Moderation is strength not weakness

Confrontational tactics counter-productive

I refer to “Ong: Allow converts to leave Islam when marriage ends” (Star,May 1).

One of the biggest lessons from the recently concluded general elections is the call for moderation by the people of all ethnicity. Contrary to what was generally perceived it was a pleasant surprise to realize that moderation and not extremism was what the people want as the guiding factor in inter-ethnic relations.

MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting’s suggestions on the various problems related to non-Muslim conversion to Islam is timely and commendable. The government should consider the views of the leader of the second largest component of Barisan Nasional(BN) seriously as it represents the sentiments of the majority of non-Muslims Malaysians.

Ong rightly pointed out that over the last few years there were an unprecedented number of religious matters involving constitutional rights of non-Muslims which were not handled fairly giving rise to a lot of anxiety among them. I am sure his concerns are shared by all non-Muslim Malaysians. The underlying cause of these problems is a lack of goodwill, moderation and understanding of the sensitivities of non-Muslims faiths.

The recent elections have shown that not only the non-Muslims but a significant number of Muslims as well are deeply disturbed with the way inter-religious disputes are being tackled by the BN government. This has given rise to a great deal of unnecessary tension among the people and a negative perception of Islam itself among the non-Muslims.

The only way to find amicable solutions to inter-religious disputes and misunderstanding is through dialogue. A council consisting of members from all religions must be constituted to discuss and chart guidelines for all. It is important to include members of all faiths in that council as there is no way a dispute can be solved if an aggrieved party is excluded from such a dialogue. Confrontational tactics in any form will never produce lasting solution but only aggravate the already tense situation.

Meanwhile it may be timely to look at more comprehensive ways to foster closer understanding of each other’s religious believes among the people. It should start from an early age in schools where the children of all religions should be allowed to mingle and be taught the fundamentals of all the major faiths in the country. While acknowledging their differences special efforts must be made to emphasize their similarities. Segregating the children based on race and religion for whatever reasons will not only be counterproductive but is against the very ideals of the religions themselves - promoting love among mankind.

There is a wrong perception among the people that moderation and tolerance to each other’s cultural and religious differences is a sign of weakness. On the contrary these are signs of strength which need to be emphasized repeatedly to our children from an early age.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, May 02, 2008

The new parliament,historic but will it be any different?

Can our MPs rise up to fulfill their obligation?

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, in his address at the opening of the 12th Parliament, called on Members of Parliament (MPs) to use the highest legislative body to further the interests of the people and not use the House for their individual political gains. This warning set the tone of the seriousness of the current parliamentary session that promises to be a very lively one with 99 new members eagerly waiting to get into action. Unfortunately our MPs did exactly what the King advised them not to.

The 12th parliament is a historic one in many ways. It is the first time the Barisan National(BN) does not have the 2/3 majority in the 222-member august house. It the first time there is a record number of 82 opposition parliamentarians. It is the first time all three opposition parties have formed a united coalition, the Pakatan Rakyat, to take on the BN. It is also the first time the Opposition Leader comes from the fairer sex. Above all it is the first time the opposition coalition is claiming to mount a serious challenge to the ruling party by announcing its readiness to form the next federal government.

These new changes which were beyond the imagination Malaysians just a few months ago have become a reality due to the will of the people. The people’s will expressed on March 8 has resulted in the formation of the Pakatan Rakyat that appears to pave the way for the creation of a two-party system of parliamentary democracy. These are positive changes that augur well for the future of the nation.

Well the campaign and elections are over and its time to get down to serious work. The people have voted an ideally balanced parliament with 140 members from BN and 82 from Pakatan.Although the BN does not have a 2/3 majority, it has enough power to formulate the right policies that benefit the rakyat.At the same time a stronger opposition should ensure the ruling party does not abuse the power vested on them.

With this scenario, it is time for all parties to compete with one another to serve the people better. Political parties may differ in their ideologies but should be united in their ideals – working for the rakyat.They can differ in the ways they choose to serve the people but should not differ on whether or not to serve them. Politics of hate and discrimination of the past should make way for politics of cooperation for the common good of all the people.

They must ensure the reforms promised related to the judiciary, fighting corruption and press freedom are carried out without delay. Other areas that need serious attention are the escalating cost of living, abolishment of repressive laws, promoting greater harmony among the various races and religions, developing a more people-oriented civil service and police and adopting a fairer socio-economic system based solely on merit, not race, creed or political ideology.

Parliamentarians regardless of their political ideology must quickly get together to address and implement these reforms demanded by the people who sent them there. The voters have been awakened and are watching closely the performance of their wakil rakyats.

This would be made easier with the live telecast of the parliamentary proceedings. Unfortunately the Minister of Information is has suggested to stop this live telecast basing on the behaviour of MPs on the first day of parliamentary session. It would be unfair to judge just after 30minutes of the live telecast. Most MPs and the people are in favour of such telecast and that is the only way the voters can see for themselves the performance of their MPs.The MPs must be made accountable to their electorates and there is no better and effective way to do that than subjecting them to scrutinizing eyes of the people.

The people are more well-informed these days and they expect a high level of competence, integrity and morality from the legislators in exercising their duties in parliament. Can our legislators rise up to the occasion and live up to their oaths of office? Our wakil rakyats may have rules and regulations to guide and check them but the most important compelling force should be their commitment to their constituents.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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