Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year2010 – Will it be another year of hopelessness?

Racial unity is the only way forward

We entered the year 2009 with great hopes after the historic 12GE of 2008 when Malaysians rose above all racial divide to vote for change, a change they hoped will bring greater accountability and transparency in governance. With a stronger and more formidable opposition there were hopes for the first time for the evolution of a two-party system for a better check and balance. There were hopes for the dismantling of racial politics whereby all citizens will be considered as Malaysians without any racial prejudice. These were the hopes of the people that were carried into 2009, many of which still remain to be fulfilled.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took over the reins of power at a time of great political and economical uncertainties. Despite the adverse environment he did try not let the people down. His economic liberalization policies, attempts to get closer to the people and his 1Malaysia policy for the first time in decades raised the hopes of the people for a fair, just and progressive Malaysia. While there are still many who are yet to be convinced of his sincerity in wanting changes and his capability to take them through, nevertheless his initiatives are commendable.

Ethnic relations continue to be thorny issue that is threatening the peace, stability and progress of the nation. It appears to be underlying cause of the numerous problems that were encountered in 2009 and may be continuing to face this year and for some years to come.

Despite all the hype of 1Malaysia, eradication of race-based politics and adoption of meritocracy, no concrete results have come about. The only encouraging fact is that there is general awareness among the people of all races for the need of eradicating race-based policies for the long term well being of the country. The opposition seems to be consistent with its multiracial platform so is Najib trying to with his 1Malaysia policy which pledges to accord equal treatment for all races. Although more and more people are in support of a multiracial approach yet there are still many who prefer to stick to the racial politics of the past.

The race-based policies in education, job opportunities and economy over the last four decades have resulted in the severe brain drain that is affecting the quality of our services and competiveness in the global world where pure merits is what is relevant. We cannot afford to be continuously losing our best talents to others because of some unfair and obsolete policies based on ethnicity. The world is a totally different playground today where inclusion of only the best from all races will stand a chance to win.

It is time for the people to reject racist policies and those who perpetrate them. In promoting the 1Malaysia policy, the government must act tough against those who demonstrate racial or religious extremism of any form regardless who they are and whichever party they belong to. The quicker we get over racial and religious bigotry the better for the nation as a whole. There is no way to a better future for us and our children we put aside racial prejudice and accept one another as fellow Malaysians.

Corruption continues to be a major problem despite the many promises and attempts by the government to eradicate it. The establishment of the MACC with more powers to fight corruption was well received by the people. However the anti-graft body has yet to convince the people of its will and commitment to combat corruption. It seems to have been bogged down with one controversy after another and has been straddled with credibility problems especially with the death of Teoh Beng Hock. The people at large are yet to be convinced of its political impartiality and real commitment to fight graft.

With the new head of MACC, Malaysians hope that the agency will be able to demonstrate a new zeal in fighting graft at the highest level without any fear or favor. The people are watching to see whether under the new chief the MACC will be able to affect major breakthroughs in the investigations of mega corruption scandals that have rocked the nation.

In this fight the people too have an important role. There is the need for the people to reflect on their own attitude regarding corruption. I am afraid they may be accepting it as a norm in politics and business, which is indeed a sad development. With such casual public attitude to corruption how can we succeed in checking this evil that is depleting our national coffers to result in the country going bankrupt?

Meanwhile the nation is going more and more into a state of lawlessness and chaos. There is no respect for law and order. The Federal Constitution is being blatantly trampled upon with little consideration for its consequences. The police, judiciary and the civil service as a whole are clearly seen to be on the side of the ruling party. This was clearly shown in the constitutional crisis in Perak.

The lawlessness is reflected in the high crime rate that is escalating at an unbelievable pace so much so people are fearful of going about their chores in peace. Even staying at home behind heavily fortified walls does not seem to guarantee their safety.

The accident rate too is increasing at a pace that our roads have become major killing fields. Thousands of lives are lost every year in road accidents. Inconsiderate drivers and road bullies appear to have taken control of our roads where the innocent and law abiding citizens become victims.

Immoral behavior especially among the young is threatening to disrupt the value system that we hold so dearly. Family unit is under threat of disintegration where respect for elders is fast declining. We seem to be taken in by a new culture of accumulating wealth at any cause, without respect to established and cherished value systems of the past.

We look around and see many of our friends, whom we lived and played together as children, are leaving in despair to greener pastures. They see no brighter future in the land that they had slogged to build their homes all these years, the land that had made them what they now. Yes, many are leaving reluctantly, with heavy hearts, not for their future but for the future of the children and grandchildren.

There is mounting pressure on us to do the same but something deep our my hearts tell us that we must not give up but stay and battle on to make our nation great again as it used to be. We may be too small to change things in a big way but at least we must try in our own little ways with the power we have, our vote. Deep in our hearts we know there can be no better place for our children than this land which the people of all races toiled to build together.

Despite this gloom we are stepping foot into the second decade of the new millennium with hope that change will come soon to our beloved land. The only reassurance we carry into 2010 is that hope for change. We hope for the increasing maturity and wisdom of the people to reject racism in all its forms. We hope the political landscape will change for the better to a two-party multiracial system.
Only with these two fundamental changes can we break loose from the chains that restrain us from moving forward to build a united and progressive nation where every citizen will be proud to call himself a Malaysian. This change can only be brought about by us alone and nobody else.

Like Martin Luther King, let us all cherish a dream that the day will soon come when all Malaysians can live together once again in peace and harmony without suspicion of one another despite all our differences.

As we gather in mosques, temples and churches on this New Year let us pray that God will make us realize that dream in the not so distant future.

A Happy and Hopeful New Year

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ipoh Express bus tragedy

Improve the quality of drivers

The recent bus crash that killed 10 passengers in Ipoh was a real tragedy that could have been avoided if only certain rules were adhered to by the driver, his employer who owns Sani Express and the relevant enforcement agencies involved in ensuring safety of public transportation. The tragedy also highlights certain weaknesses in the transportation industry that should be remedied if we want to prevent recurrences in the future. It appears that we have not learnt from the experience of the Bukit Gantang tragedy 2 years ago where 22 people lost their lives in a similar accident on our highways.

The 38 year old driver of the ill-fated bus was reported to have a clean record and the bus was new and in good condition. The driver however has admitted that he fell asleep at the wheels at the time of the accident. It is clear that he was too exhausted to drive in the first place let alone handling a double-decker bus in the wee hours. Why did he continue despite feeling sleepy and tired? Why was he allowed to continue without adequate rest? The Transport Ministry has clear guidelines on road safety for express buses including working hours and rest for drivers. Why were these not adhered to?

Double-decker buses are meant more for use within the city and may not be ideal for highway driving as they are generally less stable at higher speeds. Handling of these buses is different and requires more skills than the usual single-tiered ones. The drivers of such buses need special training to handle them especially during emergencies. The transport ministry must come up with proper guidelines for the safe operation of these buses as they have become necessary due to the increasing number of travellers especially during holidays and festive periods.

Low wages is the underlying cause of poor quality of express bus drivers. Financial demands forces them to undertake long working hours which virtually drains them off their physical and mental energy when they report for work especially for late night driving. It is not uncommon these days for workers, particularly from the lower income group, to resort to multiple jobs to boost their income. Relying on income from a single job will not be enough to make ends meet considering the high cost of living particularly in urban areas.

Bus companies must operate their services more professionally and be responsible for the comfort and safety of the passengers. Though profits are important it must not be at the expense of the safety of the passengers. They must recruit drivers with the right attitude and commitment by higher wages and better perks. These would not only attract better and experienced drivers but will reduce their need for multiple jobs or working long hours thereby will be in better mental and physical state when they report for duty.

The government should keep the pressure on bus companies to ensure that safety measures are not comprised for monetary gains. Better wages, perks, regulated working hours and training for them will go a long way to ensure a more committed and responsible fleet of drivers operating the express buses plying our roads and highways.

The job of an express bus driver, like a pilot, is a very responsible one as the lives of many are in his hands. Unless we take it seriously and get only the best for the job there is no way of preventing further tragedies like this. The Ipoh tragedy offers another lesson for the authorities to improve buck up.Whether they learn from it is yet to be seen.

It is time for the government to improve other forms of public transportation as our roads and highways are fast becoming congested and too risky for travel especially during weekends, holidays and festive periods. Even the rest areas are too congested for drivers to take a break even if they is hungry, tired or sleepy.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in mutiracial Malaysia

A season of sharing goodwill for unity

As Malaysians of the Christian faith celebrate Christmas it may be time to reflect of its significance in multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia. Like all other major festivals in the country, Malaysians of all ethnicity and religions, must join in the celebrations of Christmas to make it a very unique practice in our multiracial nation. Let us use this occasion to share our goodwill and fellowship with those of different faiths and ethnicity.

Like all festivals today it is rather unfortunate that, Christmas too has become so commercialized to the extent that it seems to be losing its true meaning and essence. It is being portrayed as a season of mammoth celebrations, extravagant shopping, feasts and merry-making. Unreasonably huge amounts of money are channeled into these celebrations to promote sales and attract tourists.

While it may be a day of joy but there is much more than merry-making and feasting to Christmas. It should be also a day to share our joy with others particularly the less fortunate in our midst regardless of race or creed. It is also the time to seek forgiveness from those we hurt and grant forgiveness to those who hurt us. It is a time to bring some cheer to those who need it most; the lonely, the sick and the hungry.

Our nation is undergoing some tumultuous times politically and socio-economically. It is also undergoing some difficult and trying times with regards to inter-racial and inter-religious relations among its people of diverse ethnicity. While there is more maturity and awareness of the people now for the need for racial integration, there is still much more to be done to foster that unity. We must work to create a mindset among our people, especially the young, to accept each other as equal citizens despite our differences in color, creed and culture.

As we celebrate this Christmas in peace let us not forget the millions who are suffering due to religious and racial conflicts all over the world. As Christians we may be a minority in the country but we have our duty to it. We must advocate the concept of a common brotherhood of the human race in our own little ways in our own little world around us in our community. Each of us may be just a tiny drop in the ocean but together we form the ocean itself.

Like all other festivals Malaysians must use Christmas to promote better understanding and goodwill among the various communities. It is a time to put aside our differences and come together to celebrate the day with mutual respect for one another’s traditions and culture. We may be a nation of diverse cultures but we are all Malaysians sharing a common destiny, good or bad.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lessons in life from an elderly couple

Faithful even in adversity

I had the opportunity to visit an elderly couple recently whom I had not met for many years. The husband, whom I addressed as Uncle, is an elderly gentleman in his eighties but he was physically healthy and fit. His wife is in her late seventies and paralyzed and blind for the last 10 years or so. She lives confined to her room which she shares with her husband.

We made a prior telephone appointment to visit them and as expected Uncle was eagerly waiting at the gate to greet me and my wife. His action was a lesson on punctuality which is rarely seen these days. I was surprised with the radiant smile on his face which reflected the feelings in his heart. I was in for greater surprise on meeting his wife in her room. Although she could not move out of her chair or see us, she was full of cheer on meeting us. She appeared pleasantly surprised at our presence. Their hospitality even in their times of difficulty was unbelievable and it touched us very much.

We talked for a long time about the past and they readily shared their experiences in their lives with us. They are staunch believers in God but they could not understand why He had to ‘punish’ them with such bitter experiences in their lives, ending up by being lonely and handicapped at this advanced age. Although they could not understand why God has led them to the state they are in today but they contend that He knows what He is doing and that He is always right.

The Uncle does everything for the wife, feeding, bathing, attending to her calls of nature and above all keeping her company 24 hours a day without fail, with the aid of a maid who happens to be very wonderful person. He says he is so blessed to have such a caring maid and he is so worried as she will be leaving soon after being with them for seven years. According to the Uncle, his wife looks for him every now and then and he can hardly leave her alone to attend to the household chores.

His ‘job’ demands his full attention day after day throughout the year. There is no such as taking leave to relax and unwind after a hard day’s work like what we do. His greatest fear is what will happen to his handicapped wife if he is suddenly called to the Lord. That fear really makes him shiver with fright and occasionally breaks down and cries. If that happens not all the money and wealth that he may have is going to help her in this cruel world.

It made me reflect on the many foolish things we do in life to accumulate money and wealth much more than we really need. Most of these acts are driven by greed and selfishness in the process we compromise on our principles and lose our compassion for fellow men. We buy huge insurance policies for our spouse and children to make them comfortable when we leave them. But if we end up like these elderly couple, no number of such policies is going to give them the security and reassurance like our own physical presence.

In a world that is driven by greed and lust this elderly couple stand out as a shining example of love and faithfulness between a husband and wife. The husband never complained about having to take care of his disabled wife all by himself. Instead he is taking it in a stride as his sacred duty; he has done it for ten long years and is willing to continue doing so till death does them apart.

Meanwhile his wife despite being bedridden and blind for the past ten years, she is so cheerful and treasures every moment of her life with the man she loves. She is full of praise for her him saying that he never abandons her and never fails to be there when it matters most. She doesn’t curse and swear for the condition she is in but happily accepted it as a ‘blessing’ in disguise from God.

The Uncle then gave me his Ten principles for Peace of Mind which were derived from the various bitter experiences in his life of over 80 years. These are:

1. Do Not Interfere In Others' Business Unless Asked.
2. Forgive And Forget
3. Do Not Crave For Recognition
4. Do Not Be Jealous
5. Change Yourself According To The Environment
6. Endure What Cannot Be Cured
7. Do Not Bite Off More Than You Can Chew
8. Meditate Regularly
9. Never Leave The Mind Vacant
10. Do Not Procrastinate And Never Regret

After spending about an hour with this fabulous elderly couple we left rather enlightened that there are much more to learn and endure in life. Life is not about making money and enjoying ourselves but to make others happy even if may your own spouse.

The next day I was surprised to receive an E-mail from the Uncle which read, “Thank you very much for being a special part of our life” and he attached a beautiful and inspiring poem by Rabindranath Tagore in his 'My Philosophy in Life' which a enclose below.

'MY Philosophy in Life'

Go not to the temple to put flowers at the feet of God. First fill your own house with the fragrance of love.

Go not to the temple to light candles at the altar of God First remove the darkness of sin from your heart

Do not go to the temple to bow down your head in prayer First learn to bow in humility before your fellow men

Go not to the temple to pray on your bended knee First bend down to lift someone who is down-trodden

Do not go to the temple to ask for forgiveness for your sins First forgive from your heart those who have sinned against you

Rabindranath Tagore

I do not know whether I can ever emulate this elderly man with regards to his attitude towards his paralyzed and blind wife. I do not know whether I can emulate his wife by being so cheerful under the circumstances like she is in. What I have learnt from them is that I must try as that is what being a human is all about.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let’s fight racism together

Who is not a racist after all?

The recent debate over the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) has cast a spotlight over a much bigger issue of racism than whether the BTN needs a revamp. It was extremely amusing to see senior politicians accusing each other of being racist as though being a racist. The words ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ that were shunned all these years have become the issue of public focus. It is an indication of the people’s maturity in willing to openly debate issues that were previously banned because of their perceived sensitivity.

The Cambridge dictionary defines racism as the belief that people's qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races.

A racist is therefore someone who believes that other races are not as good as his own and therefore treats them unfairly. Going by the definition we are all racists to a certain degree as we harbor that inherent racist trait to a certain extent.
Institutional racism is when treating people unfairly because of their race has become part of the normal behaviour of people within an organization, party or country. Slavery and the apartheid policy of the past were clear examples of institutionalized racism.

Racism is condemned by all major religions of the world and abhorred by man throughout history. Despite that it was one of the greatest problems that plagued mankind throughout the ages and unfortunately continues to do so till today. Wars, riots and violence due to racial strive may have killed more people than natural disasters and diseases. Race of an individual is believed to be a God-given gift and is beyond our control but it continues to be the cause of misery for millions around the globe.

Malaysia is no different from others and we have our share of racism which rears its ugly head from time to time. The ongoing debate on racism is an indication that finally we may to be getting out of our state of denial and beginning to accept racism does indeed exist in the minds of our people to some extent. This awareness may be the beginning of our people’s concerted war against this evil that is threatening the peace, harmony and progress of the nation.

This could be attributed to the political system that tends to segregate the races in every area of human activity. This has created a generation of Malaysians who are highly conscious of their ethnic origin. They prefer to regard themselves more as Malays, Chinese and Indians than Malaysians, interacting with those of their own race. They may appear to be living happily together side by side but the differences among them are dividing them more than the commonness that unites them.

Our education system too tends to segregate the races from a very young age, as early as kindergarten level. At an age when children of all races should be mingling freely to interact with one another, they are separated for whatever reasons, into their own communal groups and forced to compete for straight ‘A’s in their examinations. When such children grow up in ethnic isolation there is no chance for them to understand the cultures and traditions of fellow Malaysians from other races. How can they be expected to respect each other’s differences?

It is unfortunate that we have today a new generation of Malaysians who are so racially charged so much so they become very sensitive and intolerant to even the most trivial comments and criticisms from members of other races. Under these circumstances forging racial goodwill and integration is a difficult task but if we do not start now in our own surrounding how can we expect our politicians to do so at the national levels where it is far more complex and challenging?

Basically all of us are racists to some extent as this feeling of ethnic superiority exists in the hearts all of us. Instead accusing one another as being racist, our politicians should accept that we are all guilty of that evil and make amends to overcome it in whatever way we can.

The great men on whom the major religions were founded rose above racial divide to advocate a common brotherhood of man. Unfortunately although we claim to be ardent followers of these great men in actual fact we are very far away from the ideals of their teachings in our words and deeds.

Being a nation of religiously inclined people who firmly uphold the believe in God we must subscribe to the concept of the brotherhood of the human race. We are all His children regardless of race and creed. As such we must strive to rid ourselves of the inherent racist trait from our hearts to regard all men as equal.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

“A” syndrome detrimental

Balanced education essential for nation building

A friend of mine related an alarming incident during the release of the UPSR results recently. A parent who came with his son to collect the results was so upset that he obtained only 4As and 1B that he left the son in the school without saying a word. The poor boy was so upset that broke down and wept and had to be consoled by a concerned teacher. We can imagine the anguish of the little boy who despite having done extremely well is being reprimanded by the parents. Such incidences are not uncommon these days where parents expect nothing less than the maximum As in every examination.

In this regards we welcome the move by the Education Ministry to improve the teaching standard and quality in primary schools as announced by its minister by Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin. Its plans to do this by deploying teachers who are degree holders may be sound but it must not underestimate the value of experienced and committed non-graduates teachers. However Malaysians in general remain sceptical whether Muhyiddin really means what he says. A lot of talk has been ongoing for umpteen years to revamp the ailing education system but no concrete results have come out of all that.Politicization of our education system has brought disastrous consequences to its standard and quality that was the envy of our neighbors.

While it is right to push for quality education starting from primary schools it must stressed that quality in this case does not mean just obtaining straight As in the examinations particularly in the UPSR. Quality education at primary level should be one that caters for the overall, balanced and comprehensive development of a child during its formative years. It is terribly important to instill good values in the young minds of these children at an age they are most receptive. Passing examinations is important so are the acquisition of an inquisitive mind, good habits and civic mindedness.

It is unfortunate that our education has become so examination-oriented that from the time the child goes to school he/she is pushed very hard to achieve maximum As in school exams and the UPSR. The parents want nothing less than straight As. They spend large sums of money to send them for the best tuitions in town sometimes for multiple tuition. The whole day the child is involved in studies and homework. There is hardly any time for play that must be what a child in primary school should be basically doing.

Children in primary schools should spend time in at play and interacting with one another. This is particularly important in our country with a diverse ethnic population. It is in playing, eating, living or even praying together that they cultivate the close and unbreakable bonds between one another.

Learning should be made more fun by mixing it up with games and informality. It should stimulate their young curious minds and encouraged to ask questions not reprimanded for doing so. Emphasis on character building and moral values should begin in primary schools and continue into secondary levels. The right value system should be taught to all children in primary schools so that such values become deeply embedded in the lives at a very young age.

Our obsession with the ‘A’ syndrome has resulted in our nation losing out in sports at international level which were once our pride. We are producing students who are good in exams but poor in the much-needed skills related to reasoning, thinking, problem-solving and decision- making. Moral values have become irrelevant in the quest for As.

The future of our nation depends very much on what and how we teach our children today. Are our students, including the top achievers, really prepared to face the challenges of the global world where competition is based purely on merit? Are they instilled with the values of moderation and tolerance of inter-ethnic relationship that are so vital for the peace, harmony and prosperity of the nation? Are they instilled with the right passion for whatever career they may take up? These are some pertinent questions for our policy makers, educationists and most important we, parents.

A good and quality education should be able to answer these three questions in the affirmative whereas a system that emphasises only on As will deny the future generations of all these right attributes that are so essential for nation building. That will be detrimental and disastrous to the future well being of the nation.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

BTN revamp right and timely

Patriotism is a right of all citizens

We welcome the decision of the Cabinet to revamp the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) courses to be in line with the 1Malaysia concept of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The Prime Minister must be commended for conceding to the wishes of the people in coming to the decision.

Of late BTN has come under severe criticism for its civics courses that are compulsory for civil servants and university undergraduates. The BTN was established to build the physical and mental resilience of the civil servants to boost their patriotism. It also aims to promote discipline and form the character of the civil servants to promote good attitude, values and excellent work ethics. These are undeniably noble aims that must be encouraged but the implementation of them leaves much to be desired.

Although the members of the ruling party and some Barisan Nasional(BN)ministers are adamant that the BTN courses are on tract and achieving the desired aims of inculcating the sense of patriotism among young Malaysians of all races, but the cabinet decision to revamp it is an admission of flaws in its implementation.

On the other hand the Opposition has raised concerns that these courses and closed door sessions are used by the BN to instill racial and religious ill feelings among the various races in the country. Recently a number of former participants which included Pakatan Rakyat(PR) politicians and journalists have spoken of their shocking experiences at BTN camps. They described these courses as racist brainwashing and political indoctrination programmes to ensure civil servants and students back the BN.

There has been increasing calls by many quarters to shut down these programmes as they are creating more negative than positive effects on racial and religious tolerance and integration in the country. The PR controlled states have even decided not to send their employees and students to these courses in the future.

These allegations by the opposition are serious and if they are true then there are very urgent matters to address. The activities of the BTN go against the basic principle of the 1Malaysia concept promoted by the prime minister himself. The government must continue to act to prove that it is serious about integrating the people through that policy.

Patriotism is an inherent feeling of love and pride for one’s country. It should be a commodity of all citizens regardless of their race, creed and political ideology. It cannot be instilled in the lecture room alone but by the experiences of the day to day living in an environment that is gratifying to them. This favorable environment must be created by the government with its policies that are fair to all citizens not by mere slogans and propaganda.

After 52 years of living together as fellow citizens, it is disturbing that there are still many advocating a divisive ethnic policy for the nation. Such policies are obsolete and are a sure way to failure in today’s highly competitive global world. Furthermore it is extremely sad that there still those who look at their fellow citizens of a different race with suspicion and animosity. It is unfortunate that we mistake our own brothers and sisters as enemies when the real enemy is outside waiting to prey on our weaknesses.

If we want to succeed as a nation, there is no option but for all Malaysians to put aside their differences and consider themselves as Malaysians. This is the mindset that we must adopt and instill in our children. All activities whether political, social, economic, civics or even religious must be ethnically inclusive and not divisive as they are now. It may not be easy now but if we do not start now we will never realize our dreams of a united, prosperous and progressive nation as envisaged by our founding forefathers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, November 30, 2009

Revamp BTN programme

It must be racially inclusive

The Biro Tata Negara (BTN) has come under severe criticism for its courses that is compulsory for civil servants and university undergraduates. According to the government and some Barisan Nasional(BN)ministers these BTN courses are aimed at inculcating the sense of patriotism among young Malaysians of all races and that it has achieved its aims in doing so.

On the other hand the Opposition and many of those who have undergone these courses feel that they are aimed at dividing the races by promoting the supremacy one race over the others. Recently a number of former participants which include Pakatan Rakyat(PR) politicians and journalists have spoken of their shocking experiences at BTN camps. They described these courses as racist brainwashing and political indoctrination programmes to ensure civil servants and students back the BN.

There has been increasing calls by many quarters to shut down these programmes as they are creating more negative than positive effects on racial and religious tolerance and integration in the country. In fact the PR controlled states have decided not to send their employees and students to these courses in the future.

These allegations by the opposition are serious and if they are true then there are very urgent matters to address with great urgency. The activities of the BTN goes against the basic principle of the 1Malaysia concept promoted by the Prime Minister,Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak.The government must act to prove that it is serious about integrating the people through its 1Malaysia policy.

The government under Najib must quickly investigate these allegations and take remedial steps to stop this divisive policy of the BTN. It should revamp the programme to fall in line with the prime minister's 1Malaysia concept where regardless of their ethnicity all citizens are considered equal.

After 52 years of self rule it is extremely disturbing that there are still many advocating a divisive ethnic policy for the nation. Such policies are obsolete in this highly competitive global world. If we want to succeed as a nation, there is no option but for Malaysians to put aside their ethnic differences and consider themselves as Malaysians.

All activities must be ethnically inclusive and not divisive as they are now. It may not be easy now but if we do not start now we will never realize our dreams of a united, prosperous and progressive nation as envisaged by our founding forefathers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Chin Peng : Don’t politicize his plight

To err is human and forgive is divine

The controversy surrounding the return home of Communist Party of Malaya chief Chin Peng continues despite him having exhausted all legal means to do so. Chin Peng is 85years old now and still the Malaysian government refuses to let him in even on compassionate grounds. It accuses him of being responsible for killing of thousands of innocent Malaysians for which it cannot forgive him. It is indeed difficult to forgive him for his sins against humanity.

It is true that we cannot and should not forget his atrocities especially for inflicting so much pain among the people, our soldiers and their families but is in wrong to forgive an old man especially when he has apologized for all his wrong doings in the past? Is it wrong to deny an old man his last wishes to spend his final days in his homeland?

The government had signed the Hatyai peace accord in 1989 allowing him and his people the right to return on laying down their arms. Is the government legally and morally right to renege on its agreement signed 20 years ago? If so doesn’t it stand to lose the trust of the international community on its willingless to honor all other forms of agreements?

The return of Chin Peng is a simple and straight forward issue that could have been settled amicably in accordance with the laws. Unfortunately it has been blown out of proportion for obvious political reasons. It is further disturbing that there are those who have even turned it into a racial issue. Such politicization of trivial issues is dangerous and should be stopped immediately if we mean well for the long term peace and harmony of our nation.

The country has progressed so much, politically, socially and economically since the time of the threat posed by Chin Peng and his Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in the fifties and sixties. Today we have reached a state of overall national stability; politically, socially and economically, that we cannot by threatened by an ailing 85-year old man with his outdated and obsolete communist ideology of the past.

To err is human, and to forgive is divine. This is the fundamental teaching of all the major religions of the world. We all make mistakes but what is more important that we realize our mistake, repent and resolve not to repeat it. In fact it is through mistakes that we learn to become better humans.

Here is an old man who had done great mistakes in the past but has now repented and wants to return to be buried with his ancestors. He should not be used as a rallying point for politicization but instead forgiven and allowed to return to lead a private low profile life for the remaining time he has, which is not going to be too long.

The prime minister must use his wisdom to decide to uphold the agreement made by one of his predecessors. By honoring the pact would restore our reputation as a humane and civilized society that would be an example for others to uphold global peace treaties.Agreements are promises made to be honored at all costs not only when it benefits us.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Family the source of true happiness

Let's enhance our family unit for enduring happiness

Throughout the history of man, he has been in the pursuit of happiness which is an abstract feeling showing or causing pleasure or satisfaction. He resorts to all sorts of means to achieve that happiness. Very often he does not know what real happiness is but is in search of it high and low. If we reflect on what true happiness is we may realize that the source of that happiness is the family unit. It is this unit of love that binds its members together into a family.

It is this unit of love that gave us the happiness during the innocent days of our childhood. Unfortunately as we grew older, for one reason or another we break this unit and those results in the many troubles and sufferings in our lives that led to great sorrow and regret. History has shown and my personal experience confirms that the disruption of the family unit for whatever reason will only result in misery in the long run. It is almost impossible for a person with a disintegrated family to attain happiness as a sound and intact family is the underlying cause of enduring happiness.

The breakup of the family unit is also the main cause of the many social ills we face today. These include the breakdown of our value system, declining morality, high crime, corruption, drug addiction, abandoning of parents and children and loss of respect for laws and social norms.

Divorce was and continues to be the most important cause of the disintegration of the family unit in most cultures. In the West this has taken a heavy toll on families whereas as in the East where we are more conservative it is fast becoming a problem as well. If we do not act to stop this trend I am afraid our future generations will never find the true happiness, which we all strive for in our lives.
The family unit consists basically of the parents and their children and often the grandparents and grandchildren as well. The close interactions between the parents and children lead to the establishment of this family unit, which is the basic unit of human society.

A number of factors need to be considered for the success of the family unit. These include:

Up-bringing of the children. The attitude of the parents towards their children is an important factor that determines the subsequent cohesiveness of the family unit. The creation of an environment of love, affection and sacrifice by the parents is of utmost importance in determining the future attitude of the children towards them.

In their pursuit of material wealth, parents tend to forget that their greatest wealth is their children. In fact it the biggest investment and the more love and affection they put into the care of their children the greater their returns in the years after. Love is like a thin but strong thread that binds the children to the parents and it is the only weapon that the parents have to restrain them from going astray as they grow older and become independent.

It is the parents love, not money or wealth that earns them the respect of their children. It is the little things that parents do for their children with great passion that really matters not the big things done with little effort and passion. As adults now, most of us still remember and cherish the small things our parents did with great sacrifice not the big things which was easily available to them.
It is absolutely important for parents to show good example to the children.

Infidelity and regular fighting over petty issues are important cause of family disruption. They must instead lead a life of good morals and values. How can the children be expected to become good humans when they are not shown the way to it? Every child is innocent and whether they turn out to be good or bad is largely dependent on the parents.

The attitude of the children
. The parents were the undisputed head of the family when the children were young and ideally they should continue to do so as long as they are alive. The children must give them the due respect for their age and experience. All major decisions must be taken with their blessing. Children must place full trust in their parents especially when confronted with problems and dilemmas. History as shown that a man/woman who does not respect his parent’s wishes has never found lasting happiness in his own life.

With respect comes obedience. The members of the family may disagree and are free to discuss their views but they must give serious consideration to the views of the elders regarding controversial decisions and not brush aside their views as irrelevant and obsolete. The elders may be an exhausted physical force but their experience is invaluable and their presence a source of inspiration and consolation.

Choice of life partners is an important cause of family rift and must be handled with care and logic. Children must be free to choose their life partners but their choice must be legal, logical and must please the parents. Marriage is the most important event in one’s life and it would be a great tragedy to indulge in it without the blessings of the parents who were responsible to what they are today.

Upholding the truth. All members must be truthful to one another and must always uphold the truth even if that hurts. There should be no excuse to lie or hide the truth for whatever reason as that will only lead to more serious problems. They must have the courage to admit any wrongdoing and take measures not to repeat them. Making mistakes is human but what is important is to realize the mistake and get out of it immediately.

Forgiveness is a virtue worth adopting. Members of the family must forgive each other even if one of them causes hurt in one way or another. To err is human, forgive is divine. If we cannot forgive our own brother, sister, children or parents how can we forgive others?

Besides these the members of the family must act and behave in a respectable manner so as not to bring shame and disrespect to the family.

In short the all members, father, mother and children, must make a concerted effort to secure the integrity of their family unit, which must be maintained at all costs and all times. In times of crisis it may be useful to regroup, recollect and relive the happy days of the past when as children, they interacted freely with one another and their parents.

Remember the family unit has been the source of true happiness for man throughout the ages. Disruption of the family unit for whatever reason will only result in unhappiness and misery. These guidelines may be ideal but ideals are what we must all strive for even if we do not achieve them to the fullest.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Police shooting : Independent inquiry needed

IGP: Act to restore confidence

The recent police shoot out in Klang that killed five suspected criminals is regrettable and deeply disturbing.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Musa Hassan righty said that the responsibility of the police is to protect and rescue law-abiding citizens, and not to protect criminals who kill to escape arrest. It is clearly within the right of the police to act in self-defense and protect the lives of innocent by-standers. If the police really acted in self defense as he claims, then there is absolutely no reason to question them for their actions. However if otherwise,as claimed by many, then we have some serious problems to address as we had lost five young Malaysians at the prime of their lives who were yet to be proven to be criminals.

The IGP strongly denied all allegations by various quarters including some members of parliament that the police was trigger happy and only targeted the Indian community. These are serious allegations that have instilled fear and anxiety in the minds of the vast majority of the Indian parents regarding the safety of their children who are decent law abiding citizens.As Indian parents we fear the safety of our young children when they are out with their friends even for healthy activities.

While the IGP’s reassurances are welcome he must do more to allay the fears among the people as a number of questions remains unanswered regarding the recent shooting in Klang where five suspected criminals were shot dead by the police.So far we only have the police side of the story which the people are not willing to believe as result of past experiences.

This is not the first time for such a controversial police action. A number of similar shooting incidences before were ignored despite calls for thorough investigation. This has created a negative public perception of the police. These perceptions may be wrong but the onus is on the IGP and the police to correct it with some urgency as the fear among the people for their safety in genuine.

The shooting must not be made into a racial issue as that will only lead to cover up and pushing the problem under the carpet. Instead it questions the professionalism of our police force and the IGP and the government should act to prove that the assault on the alleged robbers was in accordance with the set laws governing such operations. They must ensure that all rules were followed and all precautions taken to avoid unnecessary deaths.

Was indiscriminate force used by the police? What was the evidence to indicate that the suspects were the real criminals? Did the suspected criminals open fire at the police? These are the questions that need to be answered. This can only be done by a professional and unbiased investigation into the incident to reveal the truth.

Only by doing so can the allegations against the police be proven false and the negative image erased from the minds of the people at large. There have been too many such incidences that brings into question the reputation and integrity of our police which was held in high esteem. The IGP and the government must take this opportunity to restore the confidence of the rakyat on the police force as the true guardian of their safety.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, November 13, 2009

Adopt a tougher stand on corruption

No compromise on a serious evil

The decision of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to set up a special team to study and identify loopholes in the procedures linked to allocations for assemblymen and Members of Parliament (MP) is indeed timely and commendable.

The recent spate of prosecution of assemblymen and MPs indicate that corruption may indeed be a major problem among our lawmakers who are accused of abusing the funds that are meant for the people who elected them. Such acts, if proven true, would be serious betrayal of the very people whom they are supposed to serve. The MAAC should leave no stone unturned in their attempts to rid of corruption among our elected representatives.

While the MACC should be commended for its actions to fight corruption among assemblymen and MPs it should also be remembered that such corruption is not confined to just a few representatives. Moreover the magnitude of the corruption by these elected representatives is much smaller than the many mega scandals that have plagued the nation and which the MACC has yet to address. If the MAAC wants to gain the confidence of the people of its impartiality and integrity it has to act on such mega cases without fear or favor.

Corruption is defined as the illegal, bad or dishonest behavior, especially by people in positions of power. It is the expression of greed, a basic commodity of all humans, though of varying degree. Going by this definition we know that corruption is more rampant than it may appear on the surface. It occurs at all levels of the administration in varying degree.

Despite the efforts to eradicate corruption throughout the ages and the teachings of great men and even prophets of the past against greed, corruption continues to be rampant at every level of our society in communities all over the world. It is interesting how the perception of corruption has changed over the years. When we were young, we were taught the no-nonsense approach to corruption. We were taught that corruption is terribly wrong in whatever form or magnitude it may take.

However today, we are now told even by our top leaders that corruption may be a technical, moral or legal offense and if one is found guilty on 'technical' grounds, then it is not a real offense.It is worrisome that the incidence of such 'technical' corruption is on the rise. If our leaders have such compromising views on corruption, there is no way this evil can be eradicated. With such a casual attitude towards a serious evil it is truly disturbing that corruption may soon become our way of life. If it does so then we will be heading for doom.

There is an urgent need to educate the people to regard corruption as an infiltrating cancer that would soon destroy the nation if ignored. It is the scourge of the country against which the government and people must mount an all out war. It we do not destroy it then it is just a matter of time it will destroy us and all that we have achieved so far and the ideals we have stool for all these years.

In this highly competitive global world there is a dire need to be adequately equipped in all fields. All citizens regardless of race, creed, political affiliation and social status must be given equal opportunities to contribute their talents and skills without prejudice whatsoever. Corruption, if allowed to continue, will only deny the best that opportunity and thereby undermine our competitiveness and all our efforts to uplift the nation to be at par with the best in the world.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, October 29, 2009

1Malaysia camp tragedy, a cause for concern

Mistakes of past a lesson for future

The tragedy that struck the 1 Malaysia camp in Kuala Dipang, Kampar was indeed very regrettable. It led to the death of an 11 year old girl with two 2 others still missing. It is dreadful to imagine the agony of the parents especially those anxiously awaiting the fate of their missing children. We are told that these 1 Malaysia camps are for a noble purpose, to foster unity and interaction among primary school children of all races, through activities such as traditional cooking, cultural training and games.

However are these camps the best and only means of fostering racial unity? Do we need to take young primary school children into remote areas for such a purpose? Are the teachers adequately trained and equipped to handle emergencies in such areas like this tragedy? What was the need for these children to cross a river 30meters wide and 1.5 meters deep on a suspension bridge at 10.30pm at night? Shouldn’t young children of their age be in bed by that time? Why weren’t they provided with life jackets when crossing the river? How was that 30 to 50 children were allowed to get onto the bridge at the same time?

Another series of questions concern the quality and safety of the bridge itself.The bridge collapsed after one of the metal pillars supporting it got ripped off the ground by the weight of the children. We are told it was newly built but was it built to specifications? If so why did the metal pillar and its concrete block foundation got ripped off the ground in the incident? Obviously the size of the base concrete block did not match the metal pillars which held the cables.

Why was a suspension bridge chosen instead of the traditional wooden or concrete one over a river as wide, deep and hazardous as the Kampar River that is known for extreme water sports? We are also told that the bridge was given free. It is hard to believe that today one would give something free without some rewards in other forms.

These are some of the disturbing questions that must be addressed by the authorities, police and if necessary the MACC with some urgency and impartiality. A detailed and independent probe must be conducted to get to the truth so as to prevent such tragedies in the future. There is the general perception among ordinary people that corruption and cronyism may the underlying cause in this all previous tragedies.

Tragedies from human error are inevitable but we must learn from such incidences and take steps to prevent the repeat of such fatal mistakes. It looks like we never seem to learn from past our mistakes but keep repeating them over and over again. Each time such a tragedy occurs there is so much hoo-ha in the media, committees are set up to investigate but no concrete results come out of all that, only to be struck by another disaster at a later time and at a different place.

We hope this tragedy in Kampar will open the eyes of the authorities to place the welfare of the people above everything else. They should temporarily suspend all unity camps for children and get the experts to check the safety of all the facilities in them. It is also timely to review in a truly professional manner the needs for such camps to promote unity among the children of various races. It is time to seriously look into better, safer and more effective ways of doing that than by bringing the children of various races to a remote camp for a few days with all the attendant risks.

Children of all ethnicity are essentially color blind to start with; it is the adults, as leaders, parents and teachers, who sow the seeds of racism in them by their own examples for whatever reasons. Unless they get rid of racial and religious bias in them and stop reminding them of their ethnic differences, there is no way our children can be united by all the unity camps that we may hold.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, October 23, 2009

TBH death homicide or suicide?

Act to reveal the truth

Renowned Thai forensic patho¬logist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand’s conclusion that there is a 80% probability that Teoh Beng Hock’s death was an act of homicide was shocking and it has created an interesting twist to the inquest into the case. Though it was shocking but not surprising as most Malaysians believe that something sinister should have happened during the detention, interrogation and mysterious death of Teoh in the premises of the Malaysain Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC).

Dr.Pornthip’s remarks, if proven to be true, would cast serious doubts on the operations of the MAAC and on the capability and integrity our own forensic experts who concluded that it was a suicide. It would reinforce the general perception that all was not well with the interrogation of Teoh who was just a witness to assist the MACC. It has also created fears among those who could be investigated or called up as witnesses by the MACC in the future.

Her basis for her conclusion as reported in the media appear to be logical and scientifically sound which contradicts with the findings of our own experts. If she is right then we have some very serious issues to address. What has gone wrong with our experts and their investigations? Aren’t our forensic experts and crime investigators as capable as their foreign counterparts?

Dr.Pornthip has been a practicing forensic pathologist for many years and is presently the Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice, in Bangkok. Her work in forensic pathology involved many complicated and puzzling cases particularly those involving police abuses in her country.

Her evidence should not be taken lightly considering her years of experience and her passion for her job as it exposes severe weaknesses in our system that needs to be addressed with urgency. The independence and integrity of the MAAC, police and the professionalism of our forensic experts has come under suspicion and the people’s confidence in these agencies is greatly undermined.

Instead of writing off Dr.Pornthip’s comments as irrelevant and politically motivated, the government should give her the full cooperation, including carrying out another post-mortem, to get to the truth surrounding this tragic death as our credibility among the international community is at stake. The quicker we act to put things in order the better for the nation.

The government and the MACC in particular has been given an opportunity to get to the truth of this tragedy and bring to justice those, if any, involved in the death of Teoh. That is the only way to prove to the people that the government is really serious in bringing about genuine change in governance that is has promised. It is the only way to win the confidence and support of the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Umno Assembly 2009 : A sign of maturity?

Multiracial politics the way forward

At the recent Umno General Assembly, its president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak rightly said the party must look after the welfare of not just the Malays but that of all the races in the country.As the backbone of the ruling Barisan Nasional(BN) it has the obligation to look after all Malaysians regardless of race. However being a party exclusive for Malays and bumiputras will it be possible to effectively take care of the others? History has shown it cannot do that.

Of late Najib is going all out to woo the support of not just the Malays but the non-Malays as well and he may be meeting some degree of success in his endeavors.He realises that a harmonious environment where all races live side by side is essential for lasting peace without which he will not be able to rule effectively to bring development and prosperity to the nation.

Furthermore without the support of all races the ethnic polarisation will further widen which will not be good for long-term peace and stability in the country. While we laud his attempts to cater for all races with his 1Malaysia policy, there is still much more to be done to convince the majority of the people of his sincerity. His words and pledges need to translated into action and the people must be made to see the results of this 1Malaysia.

While Najib’s call to Umno to care for the non-Malays as well is highly commendable,it is unfortunate that he stopped short of opening its doors to other races although he did not rule out that possibility in the future.Umno could take the lead but the only way it can effectively take care of the non-Malays is by adopting an inclusive policy to admit all races into its fold as legitimate members.

This fact has been clearly shown over the last 52years of communal politics that has resulted in increased racial polarisation and unease.The politics along racial lines,Umno for Malays,MCA for Chinese and MIC for Indians,have clearly failed to unite the races and the system was dealt a serious blow by the people in the last general elections.If only Umno had headed the call of its founding forefather,Dato Onn Jaffar, we may be in a better footing today as a united Malaysian nation without racial distinction and disparity.

Umno has been given another chance to reshape history which it rejected almost 60 years ago.We hope its members under the leadership and guidance of Najib will gain the wisdom to envisage the long-term benefits of a multiracial Umno and BN.With the component parties all in disarray,it may be time to seriously consider the formation of a multiracial BN to save them from disintegration.

The just concluded Umno assembly has portrayed a more mature debate by the delegates who by enlarge refrained from raising issues that were offensive to their fellow non-Malays citizens.Najib must be credited for this clear departure from its traditional racial overtones unlike at previous assemblies.If the proceedings this year is sign of future trend in Umno,then I am sure the time for Umno to open its doors to all races will become a reality in the not so distant future.

More and more Malaysians of all races are being convinced that multiracial politics is the only way forward for lasting peace and prosperity.With this change in the mindset of the people,only parties with multiracial ideals are going to survive in the future.The Opposition has opted for such a multiracial platform and unless Umno and BN do likewise they risk becoming obsolete.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Lessons from Bagan Pinang by-election

PR must win on own merits not the demerits of BN

The Bagan Pinang by-election as expected gave Barisan Nasional(BN) the much-awaited victory after a series of losses. However it was the majority of loss that came as a shock. The Pakatan Rakyat(PR) was expected to put up a stronger fight to reduce the majority of the BN but instead it disappointed their supporters by losing so badly.
Although so many reasons can be offered for their miserable showing by PR, the underlying cause was complacency. It took the people’s support for granted making the same mistake of the Barisan Nasional (BN) before. It is deeply disturbing how it can become so overconfident within a short period of just 18 months and with the BN holding a noose around its neck, tugging it each time it makes a right move.

In fact the BN, under the leadership of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, despite all its shortcomings is trying hard to show that it is willing to reach out to the people at large. Its 1Malaysia policy, liberalization of economic policies and Najib’s personal efforts to woo the people especially the Chinese and Indians with pledges of equality for all are definitely positive moves although are scorned off by the Pakatan as political rhetoric which nevertheless may be so. He may not have convinced the majority of the people of his sincerity in wanting to bring change but he is definitely succeeding, with the help of the mainstream media.

On the contrary the PR does not seem to show the same enthusiasm and commitment as before to reach out to the people with problems which they promised with their ‘ketuanan rakyat’ slogan. Its component parties, towards each other PKR, DAP and PAS, who were very compromising before March 8,2008 have hardened their stand after their win and coming into power in some states. Each is now intent on championing to further their own cause instead of fighting for the common good of the people as a united opposition coalition.

The last 12GE and the subsequent by-elections that followed clearly showed that in order to win, a candidate or the party he represents, needs the support of all races. In most constituencies the support from any one race alone will not be sufficient to win. This is a wonderful situation which gives every race a significant voice in deciding the winner of any election.

The Bagan Pinang by-election further reinforced this fact where the BN’s candidate,Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad, won a landslide victory due to the overwhelming support of not just the Malays but the Chinese and Indians as well. In fact 67% of the Malays and 73% of non-Malays supported Isa in this by-election. It was very encouraging, despite the tactics to divide them, the people of all races were united in deciding who to vote. It further reinforces the fact that the people are willing to unite above their ethnic divide to vote for a candidate or party whom they love. Ethnicity was not major factor; it is only made one by political opportunists.

Najib and BN seem to have realized this need to garner across the board support from all races but unfortunately PR failed to do so as they took the voters for granted. Fiery speeches and criticisms of their opponents alone are not going to convince the voters. They need to see concrete actions of their sincerity and capabilities. The people are aware of the unfair and unfavorable environment the PR is working but they must at see that it is trying to do its best under the most difficult circumstances. Time is not its side so are the media and government machinery. The only favorable factor on their side is the people support or ‘Makkal Sakti’ and even that seems to be eluding them as it is being hijacked by BN.

It is time for PR to find ways and means to win the hearts of the people not just by their words but more so by their actions that must be seen to always consistent with their pledge to uphold their interests at all times. It could have won on the demerits of BN but it cannot continue to so for long. It must strive to gain its own merits for long-term wins in future elections.

The numerous public spats over many issues between PAS, PKR and DAP did not go down well with the people. They only helped to highlight the differences between them not the commonness. Most right thinking Malaysians, and there many these days, had expected these differences to be settled amicably without the unnecessary negative publicity but sadly they were not.

They have created doubts in the minds of the people on the capabilities of the PR to rule the nation one day. Can they trust the nation in the hands of three warring parties each fighting to impose their ideological system that is detested by the others? The people are more mature today to make such an unwise move.

PAS must discard its fundamentalist ideas and Islamic state agenda as even the growing middle class Malays are getting jittery over them. The DAP must rid of its Chinese chauvinistic label and adopt a truly multiracial appeal at all levels. It must not keep blaming its problems of the past Umno-BN but be focused on solving the problems of the present that they inherited. The PKR must strive to rid of the BN mentality among its members who are there to just reap the benefits of money politics. It is disheartening to see that each time we have a by-election some PKR members cross over to the BN.

The components of PR, namely PAS,PKR and DAP must seriously push through for the creation of a formal Pakatan Rakyat as a legal entity with its own elected leaders and supreme council that is represented by all parties. This would enable them to contest as PR candidates and not PAS,PKR or DAP candidates. That would convince the people of their seriousness and capabilities in wanting to form the federal government. That would convince the people on the merits and viability of a two-party political system of governance.

Of course for a formal coalition to take shape there is a need for a lot of compromise on the part of all parties. The time has come for PKR,PAS and DAP to make the all important decision – are they willing to put the long-term interest of the nation and its people above their own parties’ short-term benefits?

The 12GE has shown that they should and the recent Bagan Pinang by-election showed that if they don’t they will perish and become a part of history which future generations of Malaysians will detest on reading of the missed golden opportunity.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, October 05, 2009

Bagan Pinang by-election: A vote on corruption

Voters must reject corruption in whatever from

The dark clouds that shrouded Port Dickson on nomination day may be an indication of the uncertainty of the Bagan Pinang by-election and the nation as a whole come the 13GE.The historic elections of March 8,2008 has drastically changed the political landscape in the country. In a country divided and ruled along ethnic lines, a multiracial and a two-party system of governance, which was unthinkable before, have suddenly, become a possible reality.

Bagan Pinang may be a Barisan Nasional (BN), in particular Umno, stronghold with its candidate Tan Sri Mohd.Isa Samad enjoying mass popularity among the constituents but these days victory for BN is far from guaranteed as it used to be before in the pre - March 8 era. The battle has to be fought with all their might and resources at their disposal.

For the BN its main asset at this by-election, besides money, is experience and popularity of its candidate on whom it depends to redeem its wavering support among the people. For the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) it is the call for change to eradicate corruption, abuse of power and multiracialism. The people in Bagan Pinang must decide on behalf of the 27million Malaysians which of these should emerge the victor.

It is interesting that Bagan Pinang is a racially balanced constituency with 62.7%Malays, 20.7%Indians, 10.9%Chinese and 5.5% others. That means that the composition of Malays (63%) and Non-Malays(37%) reflects the overall racial makeup of the nation. The voting pattern in this election may be an indication of the support the BN and PR enjoy among the various communities. It may further indicate the possible trend in the next general elections that is not too far away.

Another significant factor is that the Indians, who have many grouses with the BN, make up a larger than usual proportion of the constituents which offers them a tangible voice this time around that could determine the winner.

Realising their strength this time, there have been calls by Indian rights groups for the Indians to boycott the by-election as they feel both BN and PR have failed to help the Indians. Their boycott will definitely give the much needed victory for the BN but will that in anyway benefit the Indians who claim they have been marginalised for the last 52 years under Umno-BN? The only way Indians can get long term benefits is for BN to do away with the present race-based politics and adopt one based on merits and need regardless of race or creed. Is the ruling Umno-BN ready or willing to adopt such a system? It does not appear to be so although it says it wants to in its 1Malaysia policy.

Even on the day of nomination race politics started to rear its ugly head. Racist books attacking the Pakatan Rakyat were being distributed; of course we do not expect any action against those responsible. No Umno leaders see it fitting and right to condemn such seditious acts but they expect full support from the non-Malays this time around. That is the irony, attacking those whose support they need badly.

The battle may be between a political heavy weight Isa, a veteran with wide experience but who has been found guilty of money politics, and Zulkefly Mohd Omar, a political novice who is yet to be tested of his capabilities and integrity, but the main issue in this election is corruption. By nominating Isa who has been found guilty of money politics, what message is the BN trying to convey to the people? Is it alright to be corrupt as long as you can win an election? Wouldn’t a win for Isa set a dangerous precedence?

It is interesting how the perception of corruption has changed over the years. When we were young we were taught the no- nonsense approach to corruption which was described as illegal, bad or dishonest behaviour, especially by people in positions of power. We were taught that corruption is terribly wrong in whatever form or magnitude it may take.

However today we are now told by our top leaders that corruption may be technical, moral or legal and if one is found guilty on technical grounds it is acceptable. If our leaders have such compromising views on corruption there is no way this cancer can be eradicated and we are doomed. and only God can save the nation.

The people of Bagan Pinang have the opportunity to send a clear message to our national leaders that they will not tolerate corruption in whatever from it takes or whoever perpetrates it. They must choose the candidate who is in a better position to fight corruption that has plagued the nation for too long and is undermining every effort to elevate the nation to a developed status. Only a candidate who himself is free of corruption, is trustworthy, and is willing to go down to serve the rakyat will be best suited to represent their interests. The people must be their judge to decide who that is.

Our politicians have taken the voters wisdom and maturity for granted for far too long. The people today are mature enough to decide for themselves the good and bad of each candidate. They cannot be hoodwinked by the antics and empty promises by the political parties anymore.

The country is undergoing some difficult times in inter-ethnic relations and its transformation into a two-party multiracial nation and the people of Bagan Pinang can help the process by sending a strong message on behalf of all Malaysians that they want a nation that is multiethnic and corruption-free where everyone regardless of race, creed or political ideology can live side by side in peace and harmony. The onus is on the people of Bagan Pinang to demonstrate their wisdom and maturity in no uncertain terms come October 11.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ops Sikap's failed mission

Death rate on roads unacceptable

The final death toll from road accidents during the 15 days of Ops Sikap XX that covered this Hari Raya festive period was 261 which is an increase to that that recorded last year. The number of accidents recorded during the same period was 17,335 and the summonses issued were 152,745 which indicate significant increases from the preceding year.

The police, Road Transport Department, PLUS and other Highway and road operators have put in a lot of effort in trying to reduce the accidents and deaths during festive periods which should be highly commended.

Despite all the efforts and money spent on Ops Sikap the number of accidents and the death due to them keeps increasing every year. It may be time for the authorities to review the measures taken to reduce accidents not only during festive periods but throughout the year. Do we still need to continue with Ops Sikap if the intended targets are not met? What is the real purpose of Ops Sikap, to reduce road accidents or just to record statistics on road deaths and accidents and issue summonses to top up the government coffers during the various festivities?

We are told that about 800,000 new vehicles were registered last year and about 2 million vehicles used the North-South Expressway (PLUS) during this Hari Raya holidays. The figures will be many times more if we were to take into consideration the trunk roads that were all jammed with cars during the period. The increase in the number of vehicles will give rise to a corresponding increase in the number of drivers including many new ones who would have taken to the streets.

With such a drastic increase in traffic volume, the unchanged inconsiderate attitude of the drivers, the poor road conditions, inadequate rest areas, inefficient alternative public transportation and the emerging culture of over enthusiasm to rush home at all costs, it would be impossible to reduce the number of accidents and deaths on our roads during festive seasons.

There are no way accidents and deaths associated with them can be effectively reduced with the present rate of increase in the vehicles on the roads. There must be concerted effort by all concerned to deliberately keep away from the roads as far as possible. Why the mad rush to get home at all costs?

It is deeply distressing to read of whole families perishing in tragic road accidents during their balik kampong journeys. Joy and happiness suddenly turns to extreme sadness and agony for those who lose their loved ones in such tragedies that could have been prevented. Imagine babies and children suddenly made orphans and parents without warning losing their children at the prime of their lives.

Hundreds are dying on our roads during the various festive periods in the country. Many of them are at the peak of the careers and their demise is a great loss to the families and the nation. It may be time for Malaysians to review our emerging culture of mass exodus to be with friends and relatives during the 1 or 2 festive days. We may be doing that at the expense of losing our lives and those of loved ones. Why shouldn’t such trips home, particularly to be with parents, be staggered throughout the year?

We must review the granting of additional long leave especially to schools to discourage the mass exodus. It is time to develop other modes of transportation, rail and air to reduce the overdependence on roads. A more balanced transportation system should be planned and implemented as soon as possible. It is impossible to keep increasing the roads and highways to cater for the rapidly multiplying number of vehicles.

As the name suggests Ops Sikap is conducted to change the attitude of road users. In this aim it has clearly seen to have failed.The high death rate during festive periods is not acceptable in this modern era of technological sophistication. There is a need for a comprehensive review of Ops Sikap and other measures to reduce road deaths not just during festive periods but throughout the year. Our leaders must spend less time, money and energy in politicking and come together to solve the many problems that confront us, roads accidents being just one of them.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Trbute to the saint of non-violence

Gandhi and the universality of God

October 2nd 2009 is the 140th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who is one of the greatest personalities of recent times and he can be considered the saint of non-violence who did what he preached and preached only what he did.

Religious conflicts are the most common cause of violence in the world today. Not a day passes without the news of some tragic episode causing deaths of innocent people somewhere in the world. We say that we are all the children of one God and that that all religions lead to that same God but why are we fighting and killing each in His name.

Mahatma Gandhi had a very simple but useful lesson for us all in inter-faith relations. A militant Hindu, who admitted killing a Muslim child in revenge for the murder of his own son by Hindu militants, came to Gandhi, who was almost dying from prolonged fasting. He laid down his weapons and urged Gandhi to break his fast, saying he did want to carry the sin of his death. The Mahatma listened intently and told the man of a way out of his past sins against fellow Muslims.

“You go back, find a Muslim child whose parents were killed by Hindus and bring it up strictly as a Muslim not a Hindu.”

These words of Gandhi are so powerful and remain relevant till today and will remain so for ages to come.Unless we accept and respect each other’s faith we can never have genuine and lasting peace. Although Gandhi was a devout Hindu he also had great respect for all other religions. When asked whether he was a Hindu,he replied said “Yes,I am a Hindu but I am also a Muslim, Christian and a Jew”.

Gandhi believed in the universality of God, “The Allah of Islam is the same as the God of Christians and the Ishwar of Hindus.”

He was quoted as saying “all religions were true but all had some error in them, and whilst I hold by my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. … our inner-most prayer should be for a Hindu to be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian." (Young India: January 19, 1928).

This concept of the equality of religions and the universality of God is something, which is badly needed in today’s world where violence in His name is so rampant. We justify killing others as acts to defend our own God. I wonder who needs whose protection, God needs man’s or man needs His. Don’t we realize that we are despising the same God who may be worshiped by others in different forms?

We are so intent in fighting one another to claim superiority over our adversaries, man against man, race against race, religion against religion and nation against nation. We resort to all the resources at our disposal; powerful arms, violence and war, to achieve victory over our enemies. We justify the use of violence to protect our perceived rights, race and religion but where do all these stand in the eyes of God?

Just after sixty one years after his passing we are finding it difficult to believe how Gandhi, a small, timid and frail looking man, could have brought down the mighty British Empire. This was clearly described by Albert Einstein, 'Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a one as this ever in flesh and blood walked upon this earth”.

Mahatma Gandhi may have left this world but his memories remain very much with us, alive and relevant. He did not possess power, position or wealth. His simplicity, integrity and a heart for fellow men had touched many of all races and religions and he should and will remain a conscience in the hearts of men for generations to come.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, September 25, 2009

Samy Velu,MIC and the Indian dilemma

Will his exit solve Indian woes?

The most hotly contested Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) elections saw the return of the president’s men at the helm of the party. Despite the growing demands for change from Malaysian Indians, including MIC members on the ground, the 1400 over delegates saw it fit to return the same old team for another 3 years. They seemed to be oblivious to the sentiments of the people they represent. The MIC president himself, Datuk Seri S. Samy Velu, was returned unopposed in a rather controversial manner that typifies his style of authoritarian leadership of the party for 3 decades. It does not augur well for the party that practices democracy.

Now that the old team is back at the helm, what is next for the Indians who form about 8% of the population? The plight of Indians has been at the forefront since the Hindraf rally in 2007 which saw thousands of them pouring onto the streets to highlight their anger and frustration over the government’s inaction to the plight. In the subsequent general elections of March 2008, the Indian candidates in MIC fared badly losing most of their seats. Even their president of 30 years suffered a humiliating defeat in his own constituency.

The Indian voters have for the first time in the history shifted their support from the MIC and Barisan Nasional(BN) to the Opposition parties. Even the once considered Islamic extremists PAS was more appealing to them than Umno , MIC and BN. Why this sudden change of loyalty?

Umno blames Samy Velu for the losses of MIC and the BN and wants him to step down as its president. Its former president, Tun Dr.Mahathir Mohamad, has called him a liability to BN which Samy strongly denies and in turn blames Umno for failing to honor its commitment to the Indians. For once we tend to agree with Samy ; he may be a cause of the rot in MIC but is not the sole cause of the BN defeat in the 12GE.
It was an overbearing and arrogantly dominant Umno that has caused the drastic erosion of support for not only the MIC but the MCA, Gerakan and other non-Malay parties. It was the Umno-dictated lopsided BN policies that led to its debacle in the 2008 elections. Unless Umno accepts its shortcomings and take steps to correct itself, its non-Malay partners in the BN are going to perish in the next general elections.

There are widespread calls for Samy Velu to step down as the MIC president. These come from not only Malaysian Indians in general but also by many from his own party. In fact most Malaysians are of the opinion that he has overstayed and he should steps down for the sake of the future of Indians who are already severely divided with the establishment of numerous smaller Indian based parties.

Will Samy’s exit resolve the woes of the Malaysian Indians, the MIC and BN? His dictatorial style of leadership has eliminated all talented Indians who were either expelled, left in cold storage till this day or denied entry into MIC. Absence of a credible opposition within the MIC has led to abuse of power and corruption in the party as a result of which the poor Indians got poorer and the rich richer.

There are serious doubts whether his hand-picked team that he will leave behind can ever rise up to fulfill its role as the protector of the Malaysian Indians. There are signs that Umno-BN may be courting others to replace its long-time ally if Samy continues to be stubborn and recalcitrant. There are already many waiting on the sidelines to rush in to fill the vacuum being that may be created by the MIC.
The Indian population may be small but its share of problems is abundant and complex. Since independence the economic share of the Indians has dwindled progressively due to their losses in the plantation and public sectors where they were predominantly employed.

Today poverty, unemployment, delinquency and crime rate among Indians are the highest in the country. Apart from these other social ills such as alcoholism, illiteracy, broken homes, illegitimate children and stateless youths are also highly prevalent among them. Their deplorable state has resulted in them being looked down by the other races who may consider them as a liability to national development. Even many of the successful Indians are beginning to get frustrated with the helpless mentality of the poorer Indians who have earned a third-class citizen status in the country. Even the immigrant population has little regards for the Malaysian Indians. Their dignity and honor are now at stake.

The blame game for the deplorable state of Indians continues. Samy Velu and his MIC blame the Umno-controlled government for their woes. Well it may be so to a certain extent but a great deal also being contributed by the Indians themselves. They have only look at their fellow Chinese to realize that their situation could have been far better than what it is today.

The biggest factor that has contributed to the deplorable state of Indians is their mindset which makes them think others are obliged to cater for all their needs and perceived rights. They blame everybody else for their failures except themselves; the British colonialist, Malays, Chinese, Umno-BN government, the richer Indians and even the Almighty.They must realize that unless they help themselves no outside force however great can uplift their socio-economic status without their cooperation. Aren’t we taught that even God only helps those who help themselves?

The only way forward for the Indians is to adopt a more positive attitude to life. Instead of ranting and raving about others denying them their rights and not helping them, they must buck up by adopting a more enterprising work ethics. They must discard all obsolete practices and prejudices and be willing to acquire all the latest knowledge and skills in technology and commerce to equip themselves to brace the challenges ahead in the highly competitive world today. They must get their priorities right and be shrewd to grasp all opportunities that come by and not wait for them to be given without any efforts on their part.

It is time for all Malaysians, including Indians, to support a system that will do away with race politics and opt for a one based purely on multiracialism and merit. If we continue with the politics of the past where each community is represented by its own communal party, where the races compete will each other, the minorities will inevitably be marginalized. The Indian community being a minority that comprises a mere 8% of the population and without any economic or political clout does not stand a chance for success as proven over the last 52 years.

Multi-racial political system that has policies drawn up to eradicate poverty and socio-economic deprivation that are color-blind will be the only way all races will obtain maximum benefits. Only under such a system will all citizens be able to unite and prosper as one Malaysian race. That is the ideal situation that we must have and for which we all must strive.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, September 21, 2009

Diversity is a sign of strength not weakness

Going beyond open houses

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had rightly made racial unity as the focus of his first Hari Raya Aidilfitri message to the nation. He declared that we are 1Malaysia family, a concept that recognizes every citizen as equal regardless of race, creed and political ideology. Whether his 1Malaysia remains just a political slogan, like many others before it, remains to be seen. His most difficult task will be to get his own party, Umno, to back his 1Malaysia.Will he succeed where his predecessor failed miserably? Thecoming months may give the answer but his failure will spell the end of the once invincible Barisan Basional(BN), as many of the components parties in the coalition are now is disarray.

Najib’s message to the Muslims is timely; being the majority they not only have the right but more importantly, the responsibility to carry the torch of unity and progress of all Malaysians. He urged the Muslim majority to not only to open the door of the house to guests but also to open “the door of the heart” to all, including the non-Muslims. The Muslim majority must take the lead to show the path towards moderation and tolerance for others.

Hosting of open houses has become our unique way of celebrating the festivals by the various racial and religious communities in the country. This is indeed a good practice and must be encouraged but we must not stop at just visiting our friends at their open houses but strive to develop a deeper and more genuine relationship with our friends of different race and religion. Such a relationship should be based on mutual love, respect and acceptance, not just tolerance for each other’s cultures.

Unfortunately even the open house concept has become politicized and commercialized. There many these days hosting open houses for political reasons to get support from the people and others for commercial reasons to repay faithful customers. These may be inevitable but what is more important is for ordinary people to host open houses for those around them to promote goodwill towards those of different race or creed. This is vital for cultivating the genuine unity that we need today.

The recent ‘cow-head’ incident is an ugly reminder that all is not well with inter-ethnic relations in the country. It is an indication that after 52 years of staying together there are still those among us who are intolerant to the differences among us. Superficially we may appear to be united but deep down there is a great deal of suspicion, jealousy and even hate for those different from us. We may console ourselves by saying that these extremists are just the minority among us but nevertheless they must be taken seriously and corrected before such ill-feelings become more widespread.

Whether we like it or not Malaysians of all races and creed are here to stay. Instead of cultivating suspicion of each other it will be wiser and more fruitful for us to learn to co-exist in peace and harmony with others around us. We must rid ourselves of the egocentric attitude and accept the facts that we are not always right neither are others always wrong. As such we must adopt the good of others and discard the bad in ours. That is the basic principle of peaceful co-existence that we must instill in the hearts of our children. I am sure this is what God wants and that is what we must do for lasting peace, progress and happiness.

As we celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri as Malaysians, let us not forget how fortunate we are to be blessed with such diverse cultures in our country. These are God given treasures that we must cherish and preserve at all costs for the benefit of our future generations. We must build on our diversity to make the various cultural differences our way of life as Malaysians. Diversity must be seen as a sign of strength not weakness.

As the Prime Minister says it is time for Malaysians to open the “doors of their hearts” to all fellow citizens regardless of race and creed. We must break down the walls of prejudice, hatred and apathy for the sake of the future of our children and the nation. Whether we succeed as a nation depends very much on us not less so on the political leaders.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Lessons from Kg.Buah Pala

Goliath trounces David

After years of tussle ,Kg.Buah Pala, popularly known as the High Chaparral of Penang, was finally destroyed and it will soon become just a name in the history of Penang. It is to be replaced by a RM200 million luxurious condominiums ironically called “The Oasis” that is expected to give Penang a more pleasant, modern and luxurious outlook to boost its image as a tourist destination.

It is a well known fact that evicting long-term occupants of public land had always been a very thorny problem that is closely inter-twined with emotional, social and human rights issues which are easily sensationalized by the media and exploited by political opportunists. Kg.Buah Pala was not any different, where the controversial acquisition and sale of the land, negotiations for compensation and the subsequent forced eviction of the residents were handled in a very high handed and inhumane manner that leaves much to be desired.

Unreasonable promises by certain parties raised the hopes of the residents to emotionally high levels that led to the unpleasant encounters between them, the government, developer and finally the demolition team and police. The whole saga revealed that in business and politics there is no place for compassion and humanity towards the underprivileged even by the state.

The issue of Kg.Buah Pala is not something that cropped up overnight but has been going on for some years from the time of the previous government. I am sure the government, owner and developer were well aware of its ramifications, yet the way it was handled and finally demolished does not speak well for a government that puts the people’s welfare above all others.

The villagers were accused of being too greedy in not wanting to accept the quantum to be paid in compensation. By the way in our materialistic society who is not greedy these days? Who doesn’t want a better deal? Why was the land sold to a third party in such a controversial manner when it should rightly be offered first to the occupants? What was the reason for the erecting the luxury condominiums in that place? Is that what Penang needs most now? If these were not done out of greed what is it then? It is ironical that in a society where everything is driven by greed, these poor villagers and cowherds are being branded as greedy for not willing to give up their homes.

Like in all cases, there may some residents who were out to take advantage of the situation for monetary and political gains. However we forgot that there were also among them who were genuinely desperate and lived in fear of losing their livelihood and homes. To them the government has failed in its duty to protect their interests regardless of who caused their hardship and predicament. It was more interested in monetary gains in deciding to sell the land that would make way for luxury condominiums which is the last thing that Penang needs at the moment.

The Kg.Buah Pala saga should be a lesson for all to prevent the repeat of such incidences in the future. The government should be more accountable and forthright in its dealings with the people. The truth must be revealed and not submerged by false promises made for political gains. The truth, that the residents will have to finally vacate the premises, may be bitter but will eventually be accepted by the people if it is handled with tact and care.

The government must review all development projects in the state and stop all unnecessary ones. Over development has resulted in the unnecessary loss of beautiful beaches, hills and recreational parks and fields that were once the attractions of Penang. The so-called development projects should not be carried out solely for the sake of spinning money for the state and big co-operations but for the benefit off the people at large. It must strike a balance between development and the all-important preservation of natural resources, the environment and our heritage.

Meanwhile occupants of government land should realise that they are only temporary occupants who may be required to vacate one day and they must plan their own developments and activities in advance and not wait till forcefully evicted. They must understand that developments are inevitable with time and negotiations for compensation and relocation must be carried out well in advance in accordance with the laws of the land.

The Kg.Buah Pala dilemma leaves bitter memories in the minds of the residents and Penagites. It may have been a political issue for some and a legal or commercial one for others, which they had to win at all costs. For the genuinely desperate residents, especially the elderly, it was an emotional and hear-breaking issue that affected their livelihood and the very existence of their homes where they have been living for over a century.

It is sad that in the enthusiasm to win the battle,the interests of this poor group of Malaysians were overlooked and they became the real losers in the tussle. To them all that remains are memories of scenes of the unpleasant and brutal ways their dwellings were demolished by heavy machinery and demolition workers under the watchful eyes of the police, leaving them without the places which they called their homes for over a century.

The feelings of the residents can be summed up by the comments of a 84year old resident that was quoted in the NST. “… my children were born and bred here. Now, I have to live to see the day everything that we built being smashed to the ground” said the elderly man with tears in his eyes as he watched his partly wooden house being pulled down by the workers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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