Friday, March 27, 2009

Pak Lah : No place for the 'old order'

Greater democratization in the way forward

Out-going Umno president Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi’s speech at the opening of the Umno Assembly was very apt and his advice on a wide range of issues should be taken seriously by all especially the incoming leadership party. Of particular importance was his warning against a return to the “old ways” of restricting the freedom of our citizen and by silencing criticisms.

Umno - BN is at the crossroads and it needs to act fast and decisively to regain its past glory. The direction it takes now will determine whether it can succeed and remain relevant in the future. It can either choose to return to the old ways of authoritarianism and repression to subdue criticism or allow greater space for democratization and dissent.

Do the incoming Umno president and the Prime Minister Datuk Seri NajibTun Razak and his team possess the wisdom to take the nation in the direction of the latter for greater glory, progress and prosperity?Their actions in the coming weeks and month will determine this.

Abdullah has rightly advised that if the party chooses to follow the old path of repressive measures it risked hastening the party’s demise. How can it regain the support by suppressing others and not changing itself? The old order described by Pak Lah is obsolete and must be rejected.

What is needed is to move forward with aggressive reforms towards greater democratization and allowing greater space for dialogue, debate and dissent. Despite the shortcomings Abdullah has undoubtedly allowed more openness in Malaysian society and can be credited for the possible evolution of a two-party system of democracy.It is a pity the he did not have political will and courage to complete the democratization process and has to leave prematurely.

The modern world today is so complex that no one individual or party,however powerful, will be able to lead effectively to overcome the numerous challenges that come our way. It needs the concerted efforts of all its citizens, regardless of race, creed or political ideology to succeed. Nobody’s contribution is too small to be ignored.

It is encouraging Najib has placed much emphasis on the need for change and reforms in his address to the Umno Youth and Wanita wings. We hope he will be able to implement his plans for such change towards greater freedom, transparency and accountability. In this endeavor there is a need to engage all parties in implementing the policies to benefit the people at large and to fight corruption and other ills that plague the nation.

It is time for the new leadership of Umno-BN and the Opposition to put aside their past animosity and adopt a more conciliatory approach towards each other in tackling the common problems facing the nation and the people. It is time for them, especially with the looming economic crisis, to initiate the dawn of a new era of cooperation and comradeship in the service to the rakyat.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The 59th UMNO General Assembly 2009

Will it bring about a new hope?

All eyes are on the Umno general assembly this week. Malaysians from all walks of life regardless of ethnicity are watching closely what transpires at this assembly as the deliberations by the 2,500 or so delegates and the resolutions adopted by them, to some extent, affect every Malaysian in some way or another.

Umno has played such a dominant role in the country’s 52-year rule under the Alliance and then the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition. Together with its major non-Malay partners, the MCA and the MIC and other minor partners, it can be said that it has ruled this multiracial and multi- religion nation reasonably well to elevate the status of the country to where it is today. However like all political parties in uninterrupted power for so long, of late signs of arrogance, apathy and corruption have begun to set in which were glaring in the eyes of the voters in the last general election.

The results of that general election showed that the support of the people for the coalition has declined drastically and the BN was forced to undergo an in-depth soul-searching for the reasons of their loss. It was the first time in over 50 years that Unmo-BN realised that it could lose its power to rule the nation.

It was the first time it dawned on them that they could be rendered irrelevant by the next elections in 2013 if genuine change does not come. Umno-BN realises the need for drastic change and its leaders have pledged to bring that change.

Unfortunately, Malaysians have yet to see any tangible sign that those changes are coming.

The Umno general assembly this year is also of special significance as it marks the transition of power of its president and thereby the prime minister. In his speech at the opening of the Umno Youth and Wanita assemblies, incoming president Najib Abdul Razak called for a change of mindset and for the party to adopt wide ranging reforms to remain relevant to the younger generation.

Najib is taking over the premiership at a very difficult time when the nation is ethnically divided, corruption rampant, with a a stronger and more hostile opposition to deal with and not to forget the looming economic crisis.

Most importantly it is a time of increased maturity and wisdom of the populace that demands greater accountability and transparency. Whether Najib will be able to turn these unfavourable factors to his advantage remains to be seen in the coming weeks and months.

To show that he is sincere and serious about wanting change, Najib can start by ensuring that the Umno general assembly this time conducts itself in a manner that will be earn the respect of Malaysians of all races. It should debate the issues facing the country in a fair and unbiased manner and refrain from resorting to words and actions that hurt the sensitivities of others.

The assembly should not be an avenue to bash the opposition and its leaders but rather a forum to find solutions to the numerous problems that plague the nation.

Umno may be an organisation for the Malays but being the backbone of the multiracial BN, it cannot confine itself to championing the rights of the Malays alone.

It has the moral obligation to cater for the welfare of all Malaysians, working hand-in-hand with its other partners in BN. The people, not just the Malays but the non-Malays as well, look up to Umno for their well-being and for opportunities.

It was the fairness and the caring attitude of the pioneer leaders of Umno towards all citizens that earned the party the admiration and respect of all the races. Unfortunately, of late, particularly after the last general elections, Umno is becoming increasingly more suspicious of the other races and adopting a pro-Malay stance. It may be due to the unfounded fear that the non-Malays are undermining their right and authority to rule.

It has gone to the extent of labeling Malays who cooperate with other races in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat as being ‘traitors’. If this trend continues, the future for racial integration, unity and peaceful coexistence will be bleak.

Najib, the incoming Umno leader and prime minister, has an important task to eliminate the mistrust and suspicion among the races and uniting them to build a harmonious nation where everyone regardless of ethnic origin can be proud to be called Malaysian.

We hope he can bring about the change he promised, a change that will envisage the mutual cooperation between the various races in the country for lasting peace, comradeship, progress and prosperity.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Umno General Assembly

Umno has an obligation to all

All eyes are on the coming United Malays National Organisation ( Umno) General Assembly this week. Malaysians from all walks of life regardless of ethnicity are watching closely what transpires at this assembly as the deliberations by the 2700 or so delegates and the resolutions adopted by them to some extent affects every Malaysian in some way or another.

Umno has played such a dominant role in the country’s 52-year rule under the Alliance and then the Barisan Nasional(BN)coalitions. Together with its major non-Malay partners, the MCA and MIC and other minor partners, it can be said that it had ruled the multiracial and multi religious nation reasonably well to elevate the status of the country to where it is today. However like all political parties, in uninterrupted power for so long, of late signs of arrogance, apathy and corruption began to set in which were glaring in the eyes of the voters in the last general election.

The results of that general election showed that the support of the people for the coalition has declined drastically and the BN had to undergo an in-depth soul-searching for the reasons for their loss. It was the first time in over 50 years the Unmo-BN realized that it could lose its power to rule the nation to an opposition. It was the first time it dawned on them that they can be rendered irrelevant by the next elections in 2013. It called for drastic change but unfortunately Malaysians have yet to see any tangibles that those changes are coming.

The Umno General Assembly this year is of special significance as it marks the transition of power of its president and thereby the Prime Minister.On the eve of the assembly it is reassuring to note that the incoming president Datuk Seri Najib Razak realises the challenges he is facing and once again promised to bring change and reforms that are badly needed.

Najib is taking over the premiership at a very difficult time when the nation is ethnically divided, corruption rampant, a stronger and more hostile opposition to deal with and not to forget the looming economic crisis. Most importantly it is a time of increased maturity and wisdom of the populace that demands greater accountability and transparency. Will Najib be able to turn these unfavorable factors to his advantage remains to be seen in the coming weeks and months?

To show that he is sincere and serious in wanting change, Najib can start by ensuring that the Umno General Assembly this time conducts itself in a manner that will be earn the respect of Malaysians of all races. It should depart from the racial attitudes of past Assemblies and debate the issues facing the nation and the people fairly and rationally without hurting the sensitivities of any particular group. This invariably is the only way for Umno to regain the lost support and it must not miss this opportunity.

Umno may be an organization for the Malays but, being the backbone of the multiracial BN, it cannot confine itself to championing the rights Malays alone but has the moral obligation to cater for the welfare of all Malaysians, working hand in hand with its other partners in BN.The people, not just the Malays but the non-Malays as well, look up to Umno for their well being and opportunities and it is imperative that the latter does not let them down.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, March 20, 2009

English essential tool for progress

Master English to remain competitive

According to Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein the Cabinet will make a decision next month on the use of English in the teaching of Mathematics and Science in schools. Meanwhile the debate of whether to carry on teaching these subjects in English or revert to Bahasa Malaysia continues to be a main issue in our mainstream media.

According to Hishammuddin about RM2billion has been spent, 100,000 teachers involved and 6 million students have gone through the policy of using English since it was first introduced in 2003.After spending so much money, time and energy to implement the policy of using English for mathematics and science it would be unwise to discard it abruptly without careful consideration and in depth study.

Malaysians of all ethnicity are divided of this rather important issue that affects our children and thereby the future generation. Those who propagate the continual use of English argue that it is an international language of knowledge especially in science, technology and commerce and unless we are fluent in the language we will lose our competitiveness in the international arena.

In fact over the last two decades the standard of English in the country has been on the decline and we are already beginning to feel the effects of that today.Job opportunity for our young graduates are limited as they do not have a good command of English. If we do not check this decline and take proactive measures to improve the standard of the language very soon we may soon become irrelevant among the leading nations of the world.

Those who want to revert back to the use of Bahasa Malaysia,Mandarin or Tamil for the teaching of mathematics and science are of the opinion that continued use of English would soon erode our culture and the status of our national language and mother tongue. They are fearful that giving importance to English will undermine the importance of Malay as our national language which has been the medium instruction in all schools in accordance with the National Education Policy.

Those of us who have gone through the old system of English medium schools know for certain that these fears are unfounded. Although we were taught entirely in English, we were equally proficient in Malay and many of also in Mandarin and Tamil. In fact we had the added advantage of what English could bring us - an easy access into the world of science and technology.

At present we are teaching just two subjects, mathematics and science, in English with the general medium of instruction being maintained in Malay and the non-Malays free to learn their mother tongue. It is hard to understand how just learning mathematics and science in English can make one less Malay, Chinese or Indian. On the contrary gaining knowledge through English would make one a better Malaysian equipped to face the competitiveness in the global world.

Nationalism and patriotism to one’s race and country will only be meaningful if it leads to progress and prosperity. Unless we strive for such progress and prosperity and succeed in attaining them we will not command the respect of the international community. If we want to bring honor and glory to our race and nation we do not have any option but grasp all available means and opportunities that will bring progress and development. Under the prevailing conditions today, English is a vital tool in that pursuit of progress and unless we master it we will be final losers.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Abdullah-Anwar meeting

Political unity vital to save nation

I refer to “Abdullah: It was just a chance meeting with Anwar” (Star,March 12).
The so called meeting between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim created much sensation on the political front. It appears that not only politicians but the majority of Malaysians were taken aback by the meeting between the top leaders of the government and the opposition which is not a common practice in our country. Their meeting led to various speculations that may be largely unfounded as claimed by both the leaders.

However there is no reason for the Prime Minister to be apologetic for meeting the Opposition leader or for that matter any other individual, political or otherwise. It is his right and responsibility to meet and dialogue with anyone if it is for the good of the country. The ruling party and the opposition may have totally different, at times even antagonistic, views on many issues but they should be united in their aim to serve the rakyat and no efforts should be spared in this endeavor including meeting with political rivals.

Pak Lah’s meeting with Anwar may be coincidental but it should be lesson for other political leaders from both ruling and opposition parties, particularly his successor and his team waiting to take over, that they should treat each other as comrades in their service to the people and not adversaries just waiting to undermine each other for political power. The ruling party should accept the opposition in accordance with the principles as its partner in promoting good governance, ethic unity, development and progress in the country.

It is regrettable that today politics has become a game where the rules are based on “ends justify the means” attitude. In this game there is little consideration for ethics, morals and rule of law. Corruption in the form of huge monetary handouts has become rampant and sadly such practices are threatening to become norms. Government machinery and institutions are monopolized by those in power against the opposition which is blatantly denied justice, airplay and their rightful dues.

It is time to adopt a change in political mindset to accept the opposition as also the legitimate representatives of the people and granting them the due rights and privileges. In today’s global world it is of utmost importance that all parties unite and pool their resources, talents and energy to meet the challenges facing the country. This particularly so at a time when the world economic crisis is threatening to hit our shores resulting in thousands losing the jobs.

Only good governance, prudent spending, political stability and with the cooperation of all parties will we be able rescue our nation from this economic crisis. This crisis may be a blessing in disguise as it provides the opportunity for Malaysians of all races, religion and political ideology to close ranks and work together to come out of the financial woes. Once we emerge successfully out of our present predicament we will only be stronger, more united and resilient to meet all future challenges; political, social and financial.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Sunday, March 08, 2009

One year after March 8

Anwar hails new birth of nationalism

Terence Netto |
Malaysiakini Mar 8, 09 5:41pm

PKR leader and putative Pakatan Rakyat chief Anwar Ibrahim today hailed the political tsunami that occurred a year ago as a “new birth of nationalism”.
MCPX

In an address to mark the first anniversary of the event delivered to a packed gathering in the Shah Alam Municipal Council hall, Anwar exhorted the opposition coalition to invite Malaysians to be part of this movement.

“Call the people to be a part of this new birth of nationalism, to build this nation upon the principles of justice, fair play and opportunities for all,” trumpeted the man whose travails in 1998 sparked the reformasi movement that 10 years later allowed the opposition to deny a two-thirds majority in Parliament of a hitherto invincible Barisan Nasional.

anwar ibrahim special briefing 280209Anwar, citing Victor Hugo’s dictum that “Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come,” ascribed historical inevitability to the nationalist tide he said Pakatan Rakyat was riding.

“March 8th restored hope to many who had given up on our government. Throughout the country I meet Malaysians inspired by that day. They can envision a future that is more prosperous and a nation more united,” he said to cheering supporters, including major leaders and representatives of PKR and its coalition partners, DAP and PAS.

Anwar also consigned to oblivion the memory of his failed bid last September 16 to form the federal government by pointing to the next general elections.

“If you voted for us in 2008 you were a part of history. Know that in the next election, your vote will determine the future course of this nation. Don’t let that opportunity pass. I ask of all Malaysians who share in this dream to be part of the movement for change.”

They cannot walk the talk

Anwar poured scorn on the BN government’s talk of understanding why the people had spurned them in several of their former bastions.

“The Umno-dominated BN is caught in a warp of its own making. They talk of reform but cannot walk the talk. This is what a half century in power does to you.”

He also dismissed as sham the government’s recently introduced measures to combat corruption and restore the judiciary to independence and impartiality.

“After much anticipation and hype we have a new commission to fight corruption. But it has already proven its true colours.

“The MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) is no different from its predecessor, pursuing frivolous attacks against the Pakatan Rakyat whilst ignoring the endless supply of abhorrent taking place in the BN government’s own backyard.”

As for the judiciary, Anwar said that “a superficial attempt (the creation of the Judicial Appointments Commission) to restore credibility to the process of appointing judges has fallen flat.”

“The courts remain cluttered with judges whose records speak volumes as to their lack of impartiality and pervasive influence peddling,” he asserted.

Gap between rich and poor widens

Turning to economics, Anwar said that Malaysia was abundantly endowed with natural resources but “the rich grow wealthier while the gap widens between them and the vast majority of Malaysians.”

“The poor, the majority of whom are still the Malays and bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak and the Indians in the estates, are scarcely better off today than they were 10 years ago. Behind the fa├žade of a first world country, we reflect the tendencies of Third World development,” said Anwar caustically.

He accused the government of being slow to react to the global credit crisis that threatened a worldwide recession but he said it was still not too late to address the challenges.

He held that any stimulus package must be subjected to an impartial regimen of oversight and public disclosure.

“We have every reason to believe that unless monitored carefully the money will once again end up in the wrong hands and the country and the people will suffer the consequences,” he warned.

Anwar contrasted the pall that surrounds the BN with the year just completed of what he claimed was good governance in the five Pakatan held states.

“Contracts are awarded more efficiently and with open tenders. Zero tolerance of corruption has saved us hundreds of millions already, while giving small businesses and entrepreneurs the confidence to invest and create jobs knowing that the system works for them,” he said.

Anwar then reeled out a slew of figures and statistics that purported to show the state governments of Penang and Selangor have done better in the past year in terms of investments and jobs growth than in the immediately preceding years.

He said the two states’ initiatives in helping the poor and needy in the basic necessities like water and health provision were ground breaking. He said in education, Selangor had introduced a scheme that would see poor students obtain financial help for tertiary studies.

He praised the “visionary leadership” of Perak’s Nizar Jamaluddin in land matters where he said great large swathes of land were given to religious schools and national-type Chinese schools.

Hope for a better tomorrow

Reaching for a broader canvass on which to foist the Pakatan vision for a better tomorrow, Anwar acknowledged that this hope of a new Malaysia was hard to envision for “our brother and sisters in Sabah and Sarawak” because of the betrayal they have long suffered.

But he urged them to give Pakatan a chance. “This coalition has proven it has much to offer and that together we can build a better Malaysia.”

Pulling all the strands he had threaded through his 15-page address, Anwar told the crowd that road ahead would be “long and winding and fraught with the greatest of hazards and impediments.”

“We will be waylaid and abducted from our journey but yet we shall not be strayed.”

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Accepting one another as Malaysians

Refer to “Equal rights for all Malaysians, says Perlis ruler”(NST,March 6)

The reminder by the Raja of Perlis, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Syed Jamalullail that every Malaysian, irrespective of age, gender, social status or religion, enjoyed equal rights is very apt and most timely. It comes at a time when the nation is sorely divided by racial and religious disputes that is being manifested in the political turmoil that the nation is undergoing now. His contention that in Malaysia every race is “tuan” is very reassuring and we hope all parties heed his call seriously.

The current political, social and economical problems that are plaguing the nation are all due to the narrow-minded attitude of our leaders who are bent on capitalizing the racial differences for their own political gains. It is very disheartening that after over 50 years of self rule and the various races staying and working together side by side, communicating in a common language and understanding one another’s culture and believes they are still very suspicious and jealous one another. They have yet to accept one another as fellow citizens sharing the common brotherhood of the nation.

It is ironical when we meet one another outside the country we embrace each other to acknowledge that we are Malaysians but this brotherhood sentiment seems to dissipate on returning to the country. The brotherhood that united us outside is replaced with suspicion, jealousy and at times even with hatred.

As Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin says the royalty has played an important role in uniting the Malays and safeguarding their interest. With a nation evolving into a multiracial one with the advent of a stronger multiracial opposition the time has come for our rulers to continue to play that role in uniting and protecting the rights of all the races as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.They may have started as the Malay Rulers but today they should be more aptly be Malaysian Rulers.

Malaysians of all ethnicity must realize that we are all here to stay in good and bad times alike. As such we must adopt a give and take attitude and together help to elevate our nation to a level that will be respected by all in the world. Unless we pool our resources, talents and skills there is no way we can withstand the challenges in the global competitive world. The government must tap the potentials of all races and groups to succeed in the global competition.

For lasting peace and prosperity all citizens must put aside their racial, religious and political differences, respect each other’s cultures and accept one another as Malaysians who have an equal stake in the nations fortunes and misfortunes. It is up to us, the rakyat,alone who have the right and might to determine our future.

Racism that is inherent is the hearts of men is the underlying cause of all problems conflicts and disputes. All religions expound that we get rid of this evil from our hearts and regard all as brothers and sisters. Unfortunately we have even misused our own religions to segregate one another further. Unless we can cleanse ourselves of these racism traits from our hearts there can never be genuine and lasting peace among men.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Monday, March 02, 2009

One year after historic verdict

One year on and still waiting for change

Only the people can bring change

We are in the eve of the first anniversary of the historic elections on March 8 when people put aside their racial and religious differences to vote for a stronger opposition thereby denying the Barisan Nasional(BN) its 2/3 majority in parliament for the first time in over 50 years. It was the people’s civil way of saying enough is enough to the increasing arrogance, abuse of power and corruption that had become prevalent in the country.

It was the first time a significant opposition alliance, the Pakatan Rakyat(PR) came into existence, that really threatened the BN to the core. The credit for the formation of alliance was largely due to PKR Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his comrades Datuk Seri Hadi Awang and Lim Kit Siang. PR’s consistent campaign against power abuse, corrution and its stand for multiracialism, won the people’s hearts and they gave PR the additional bonus to rule five states.

This massive victory for the opposition was not only unprecedented but unexpected that shocked the mighty ruling BN, the opposition and the people alike. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi should be commended for his gentlemanly attitude in graciously conceding defeat and that resulted in the peace and tranquility that followed. However chaos and turmoil continued to reign in Umno and its major partners, the MCA, MIC and Gerakan, till today.

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

However with the unfolding of events in the subsequent months, these hopes of the people seem to be slowly eluding them. The most miserable disclosure was the failure of our parliamentarians to meet the high expectations of the people. They failed to realize that they have a wiser and more mature electorate who want greater openness and accountability. They want a more intellectual and democratic debate in parliament on all issues that affect them. A year has passed by and regrettably our wakil rakyats have yet to rise up to these expectations.

Instead of effecting the change demanded by the people, our elected representatives are preoccupied with undermining the government elected by the people by unethical and corrupt means. Instead of allowing the people’s government to continue serving the people until the next elections they want to topple it by mass defections by luring political crossovers with money and position, that are unethical and immoral. It is sad that certain lawmakers have betrayed their voter’s trust by succumbing to such temptations.

The ruling and opposition MPs refuse to unite to confront the common problems facing the nation. They treat each other as enemies whereas in actual fact they are supposed to be comrades in their service to the nation and the people.

The call for change that was voiced by the people on March 8 was repeated on two subsequent by-elections in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu but regrettably these calls too appeared to have fallen on deaf ears. The ugly constitutional crisis in Perak bears testimony to this uncaring attitude of our politicians.The way the Perak government was ousted leaves much to be desired and the whole episode simply goes to show the total disregard for the wishes of the real masters – the rakyat.

Meanwhile there seems to be no end to racial politics as it raises its ugly head from time to time. Instead of trying to quench the tensions that arise from racial disputes it is sad that there are those who fan these racial sentiments for political mileage. We are left wondering whether a day will ever come when Malaysians will be not guided by color and creed but by the love for their country in dealing with one another as fellow citizens.

Despite the win by the opposition, it was not given due recognition as elected representatives of the people. Their rights were denied and voices ignored. The public institutions like the police, judiciary, anti-corruption agencies that were supposed to be totally apolitical and independent were not even seen to be so in dealing with the opposition.

Our politicians seem to be least perturbed by the warnings of the imminent financial crisis by economists worldwide. According to the Human Resources Ministry over 100,000 Malaysians will lose their jobs by the end of this year which highlights the gravity of the economic turmoil that we are in for in the coming months. Instead of pooling our resources and putting aside their differences, to brace for these rough times ahead, our politicians are preoccupied with their political game of gaining power by any means. The present the ‘ends-justifying-the-means’ style of governance is beginning to cause a lot of anxiety among all sections of the people.

Despite these setbacks, the most important positive change that was brought about by the historic elections was the change in the mindset of the people to accept the opposition as a viable alternate government in the future. This was unimaginable a decade ago when the opposition was painted as the villain always causing problems for the hero, BN. The people have come to accept the opposition as also their rightful representative whose role is equally important to that of the ruling party.

The people should be saluted for their exceptional maturity in ensuring that this change was brought about peacefully. Our hopes are ignited that with this maturity and wisdom of the people they will continue to resist attempts by unscrupulous politicians from exploiting racial and religious sentiments to gain power.

The alternate Internet media should be largely credited to the development of this high maturity and wisdom of the voters who are increasingly becoming more literate and discernable. This cyber-media is going to be crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the subsequent elections and with that tool easily available to more and more Malaysians, especially the young, the voters are not going to be easily fooled.

Unfortunately of late the political game has taken a turn for the worst where ethics, democratic principles and respect for the law have become irrelevant. The efforts in promoting change have been bogged down over issues of race, religion and the royalty.

These new challenges were aptly described by Anwar in his address to his party stalwarts recently,” We are facing an emotional propaganda — three Rs — race, religion and royalty. These three emotive issues have developed into the Malay psychology. If the people are not shown the real picture on these issues they will be fooled with arguments on the symbols of race, religion and royalty, which will bring their way of thinking back into the feudal era.”

All parties must appreciate the volatility and sensitivities of these issues and handle these them logically with great care and moderation. After coming this far we should not allow rash actions dictated by emotions to reverse the change we are striving to promote.

The BN,in particular Umno, being the backbone of the ruling coalition must take the lead to bring change to benefit all Malaysians. It has promised to bring change and reforms but we are yet to see any genuine and tangible change for the betterment of all. Instead Umno is changing to please only its 3 million or so members, to be exact its 3000 party delegates, not the more than 20 million other Malaysians who also have a legitimate stake in their motherland.

After a year of bitter politicking we are back to square one as far as democratization of our nation is concerned. We are again at the crossroads between greater democratization and lawlessness. The ongoing Perak crisis has created genuine fear that our new leadership will not have the wisdom to steer the nation towards the path of the former but return to a state of lawlessness and mob rule that has been rejected by the people.

In the midst of these uncertainties,one thing is sure, Malaysians today are beginning to be convinced that the rakyat, not the politicians, are the ones who can bring the change that will help realize the aspirations of the people for a peaceful, democratic and united Malaysia. With the increasing wisdom and maturity of the people and the cyber-media easily available to them our hopes for a brighter future is still very much alive.

Dr.Chris Anthony

"IF WE COULD SEE INSIDE OTHERS' HEARTS"

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