Friday, May 29, 2009

Practicing what we preach

My most sincere apology to the nation

Raja Petra Kamarudin
Malaysia Today, May21,2009

I made it very clear there would be no negotiations. How can I agree to bribing police officers to get my son off the hook after speaking out against crime, corruption, abuse of power and cover-ups of criminal acts by those who walk in the corridors of power?
I offer no excuses. My wife, Marina, and I have five children, all now grown up. Four have made a life for themselves -- two are now married and have blessed us with four grandchildren. One, Raja Azman, left home when he was still in lower secondary school and chose to end all ties with the family. That was about 18 years ago or so.

Since he left home, he has been in and out of trouble, the result of living on the streets and sleeping in the back alleys of Kuala Lumpur. Invariably, life on the streets like an urchin turned him into what he is today.

Muslims believe that heaven lies beneath the feet of one’s mother. It is therefore seldom a Muslim mother would bring herself to curse her offspring. Doing so would condemn that child for eternity. That is what Muslims believe.

My wife made it very clear to our prodigal son that he turns his back on the family and resorts to a life of crime at his own peril. It does not matter the severity of the crime. Crime is crime whatever it may be, big or small. And is it not the tendency that petty criminals eventually migrate to hardcore crimes? He therefore invites his mother’s curse if he brings shame to the family. That was my wife’s final word on the matter.

Our son was warned that if he ever got into trouble he was entirely on his own. He can’t expect the family that he has disowned to rally to his side. He has made his bed so he must now lie in it. That was our irrevocable and uncompromising stand and this was delivered in no uncertainty to our son. He would have to make the decision as to what it was going to be.

Marina and I received a phone call a couple of months ago that our son, yet again, was in trouble. It was a call from a police officer. The phone was passed to our son so that we could be assured he was in the hands of the police. Although it was a huge disappointment to both of us, it was no shock, neither a surprise. This was yet another brush with the law that our son has got himself into over more than a decade.

The purpose for the phone call became clearer after our son handed the phone back to the police officer. They wanted to negotiate a settlement. The problem is small, we were told. This can be settled easily enough. They know we would rather bury this problem than let it become public knowledge. We are, after all, high profile. And bad publicity such as this would not help our image.

I made it very clear there would be no negotiations. How can I agree to bribing police officers to get my son off the hook after speaking out against crime, corruption, abuse of power and cover-ups of criminal acts by those who walk in the corridors of power? Sure, maybe no one would know about it. Once I pay up, the matter will be buried so deep no one would be the wiser. But I would know. My wife would know. My family would know. And the police officers who I had bribed would know.

How can I continue speaking out against what ails this country when I am not able to walk the talk? It is so easy to talk when you have nothing to lose, except maybe your freedom. But when it comes to a member of your family, you compromise your principles and violate the very thing that you speak out against.

When I hung up the phone, I could see the pain in my wife’s heart. After all, are not the eyes the window to the heart? Which mother can abandon a child, never mind how evil that child may be. It takes a very determined woman to put principles before the welfare of the family.

We knew it was with dire consequences that we had turned down the offer to settle the matter. We would be made to pay dearly for our stubbornness. They would make sure that we would suffer shame never before suffered by our family.

My children are devastated. The thought of our son having to spend a good part of his life in prison is only part of it. The fact that he carries the family name and that this would be held against the family was their main concern. They knew we would be made to suffer for what Raja Azman had done.

This was a predicament we would never be able to avoid. It would have been so simple to just agree to meet the police officers and pay them the money they wanted and all would have been settled. But it would have been settled only for that short moment in time. I would have to carry the knowledge that I sold out my principles and was not able to walk the talk for the rest of my life.

How can I continue doing what I am doing knowing that I am not able to practice what I preach? I would lose the moral high ground and would no longer be qualified to talk about change and about a better Malaysia. I am, after all, as corrupted as those people who walk in the corridors of power. My son may walk free. But I shall be taking his place in prison -- not a physical prison, but a prisoner of my own nagging conscience, which will haunt me till my last day on earth.

As a father, it was a most difficult choice I had to make. It was more difficult for Marina, the mother who gave birth to that son. We held each other’s hands and looked each other in the eye without speaking. Words were unnecessary. In that silence our hearts did all the talking. We knew we had to bite the bullet and face whatever lies ahead of us without wavering.

Marina and I apologise to the nation for what our son has done. As parents, Marina and I accept that responsibility.

Practicing what we preach

I am very impressed with RPK’s statement “How can I continue speaking out against what ails this country when I am not able to walk the talk?”
Despite all the troubles he is offered an easy way out but he refuses to accept because of his conviction to fighting those who are corrupt. This is a touching gesture by RPK, a man who practices what he preaches. Some of his followers are already calling him Mahatma of Malaysia.

Today we have many who preach; in fact they become very good at that but very few practice what they preach. The paradigm “Do what I say not what I do” has become a norm for our leaders at all levels. Not only politicians but even religious and spiritual leaders seem to have adopted this attitude. RPK has showed us the way to fight corruption and power abuse. Are we ready to the same?

It is important to reflect on our own deeds before we preach to others. We must be seen to be practicing what we preach otherwise we will be just hypocrites.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scholarships : Send the cream to local universities

Look out for students who are all rounder

The debate and controversy on the awarding of scholarships to top scorers in the Sijil Persekolahan Malaysia(SPM) examination continues in our mainstream media. The latest move is the plans by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to limit the number of SPM subjects to be taken by a student. According to Muhyiddin imposing this limit will lead to a fairer Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship selection.

However limiting the number of subjects to be taken is not the main grouse of the the people but the manner in which theses scholarships are awarded. Collecting as many A’s as possible is not wrong but to base the awarding of scholarships merely on the number of A’s is definitely not the right way.

The number of A’s in core subjects may be important but it is equally important to consider the student as a whole, his extracurricular activities, financial affordability, aptitude and his continual performance in school. This last criterion is best assessed by the student’s teachers and headmasters during his eleven years in school and it is important to identify those who will serve the nation and the people.

In the past tremendous emphasis used to be placed on testimonials from teachers with regards to character, attitude, aptitude, behavior and achievements of students. Students with excellent testimonials are given greater priority for scholarships and other awards. Students then strived very hard to excel in all areas, not just academic, so as to get a good testimonial on leaving school, knowing very well that only academic excellence with good testimonials from their teachers will take them far in their career and lives.

Unfortunately today testimonials are rarely sought and they have very limited value particularly for top scores. All that matters is a string of A’s and nothing else. Students spend so much time and money to obtain those A’s often at the expense of all other equally useful activities that are essential to make one a all rounder, being well equipped to handle the many problems they may encounter with maturity and wisdom.

Can our schools today be depended to provide the all important testimonials for our students? Many of our class teachers today don’t even know their students well enough to provide such a testimonial. Unfortunately we do not have many conscientious teachers around anymore to provide a fair, balanced and unbiased assessment of their students.

The competition for scholarships especially for education overseas has become so intense that our children today have to compromise on many useful and healthy activities like sports, debate and other extra-curricular events for their wholesome development. After so many years of independence it is difficult to understand why we have to send our students overseas for pre-university and basic degrees which cost many times more than when done locally. Aren’t our own local universities good and capable enough to provide the basic undergraduate training for our top students?

It is time to seriously think of sending the cream of our students to our local universities. By doing so not only we will be saving millions of ringgit but and at the same time help to boost the standards in the universities which is on the decline by international ratings. The money saved can be used to sponsor more eligible students. Isn’t time to have our own Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities that could the pride of every Malaysian? How can we achieve this when we continue to send our best to foreign universities?

It is time for our new Education Minister to seriously consider a fairer and more comprehensive method of awarding scholarships to our deserving students. These awards should be granted to all who are eligible based on overall merit without discrimination whatsoever. Unless we give every deserving Malaysian child the opportunity to pursue his ambitions and ideals, our nation will not be able to move forward in this highly competitive global world.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scholarships : Give opportunity for all

Distribute scholarships fairly to all those who deserve

There has been a lot of public dissatisfaction expressed over the awarding of PSD scholarships to high achieving students. Many top scorers have been denied these financial aids and this has caused a great deal of frustration among them.

There is a lot of unhappiness with the criteria used in the selection process and many have called on the PSD to review its system of awarding these scholarships. There are those who want academic merit alone to be the determining factor whereas others want race, social-economic status and extra-curricular activities especially sports to be also considered as the criteria for awarding these scholarships especially for studying overseas.

Ideally all those who excel must be given scholarships but with limited resources this may be impossible. With 10,000 applicants for 2000 grants, the competition is indeed tough. I agree there must be some form of selection criteria and I admit there is no ideal system to pick the right candidates. What is most important is to ensure whatever method we choose, while benefiting the majority, should not deprive any deserving candidate of an opportunity to pursuit his tertiary education. In this regards the PSD must be more transparent and open on how their selection was done.

Apart from academic excellence other factors are equally important in deciding whether a student is deserving or otherwise. Financial capability, extra-curricular excellence and aptitude are equally important.

With the prevalent obsession with the ‘A-syndrome’ one has to spend a lot of money to obtain the extra coaching needed to obtain the A’s. Even brilliant students who cannot afford such expensive tuitions may not obtain the straight A’s needed to qualify for the scholarships. It would be a grave mistake to award scholarships only to maximum scores with 10 A’s and above from extremely rich families whereas the vast majority of students with 8 or 9 A’s from financially deprived families are denied such aid.

It is therefore important to specify the criteria for a deserving student in order to ensure only such students are awarded scholarships. A deserving student is one who not only obtains excellent grades but has a good extra-curricular record is also financially disadvantaged. Without financial assistance these students will never make it to the university whatsoever.

The purpose of scholarships is to assist eligible students to pursue their studies in institutions of higher learning irrespective of race, religion or political ideology. Towards this end the PSD must review its policies to ensure that these ideals are strictly adhered to without any bias whatsoever. It would a great injustice if a high-performance student from a poor background and with the right aptitude is denied such assistance thereby forcing him to abandon his pursuit of academic excellence. It would not only a setback for the individual but also a great disservice to the nation.

Education remains the best means to eradicate poverty that transcends race and religion. There is a need for all to appreciate the importance of uplifting the poor of all communities as a neglected community however small it may be is a source of ‘threat’ to all in the long run. There is a need cultivate a new mindset of fairness among all the people so that a time will come when all citizens, regardless of ethnicity, will be made to feel equal. In a multi-racial country the well being of every community is importance for lasting peace and prosperity.

The government should provide scholarships not just to the maximum scorers but to all who qualify but cannot afford, so that no group will be left to fear of being robbed of its opportunities. The government could increase the total number of scholarships from time to time as deemed necessary but it should be fairly distributed to all who genuinely need them regardless of race. This would ensure that no excellent performers are left out because of their ethnicity.

The time has come for the nation to rise above the racial divide and unite for the well being of the nation. We may differ ethnically but we are all Malaysians, ready to share the fortunes and the misfortunes of our beloved nation. Let every Malaysian child be given equal opportunities in his struggles to realize his dreams and those of the nation. No community need to fear or worry as the country has enough for all. What is needed is to manage its resources with fairness and prudence.
In this context the people too have their role to play. They must rid themselves of the greed and selfishness that denies others who are more deserving and desperate for such assistance. Malaysians are known to be generous to the outsider but it is time to demonstrate that generosity to our own less fortunate fellow citizens especially of a different race?

The government must heed the cry of all students, Malays and non-Malays alike, who have performed well, especially those from the lower income groups and those with the right aptitude. It must work towards establishing our education system that will be based on true meritocracy that will not distinguish the applicants by race and creed but by his excellence, zeal and commitment to serve the nation and the people.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, May 16, 2009

BN-PR talks,hope for solution to Perak crisis?

Listening to the people a sign of strength

In an interesting but encouraging turn of events we finally seem to see some light for an amicable solution to the Perak crisis that has paralyzed not just the silver state but the nation as a whole. The willingness of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to have talks with the Pakatan Rakyat is indeed a positive sign that must be a sigh of relief for many. It is further encouraging that the Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has also agreed to the talks without any pre-conditions.

Malaysians in general hope such a meeting of the BN and PR leaders will materialize soon to enhance democracy and the government institutions in Perak. It would also augur well for the democracy in the country that has been generally perceived to be on the decline in recent times.

Both the BN and PR leaders should realise that whatever decisions they take should be for the well being of the people of Perak and not to strengthen their own political positions. They must therefore be willing to compromise for an amicable solution to the crisis. The cooperation between them should be based on the spirit of mutual respect and adherence to the law whereby the final winner must undoubtedly the rakyat not any particular individual or party.

It is of utmost importance that both parties must agree to uphold and respect the constitution and the rule of law at all times as failure to do so is the cause of the ongoing crisis. The state and all government institutions too must abide by the law and act impartially and unemotionally if they are genuine in wanting to overcome the political impasse. Taking sides in the conflict by the various public institutions is not only wrong but will only complicate further the already complex situation.

Najib has promised major changes and reforms since taking office. All his efforts to reform and revamp the system and may be meaningless if he does not solve the Perak crisis in a legitimate way acceptable to the people. Involving the courts and the rulers is not only a waste of their time but unnecessary as they get tainted in the process.

If the Prime Minister can bring the constitutional crisis in Perak to end in the way the people want and in accordance with our nation’s constitutional and democratic principles, he will have all to gain as by doing so he will be able to win the hearts of the people. On the contrary any delay in submitting to the wishes of the people will only erode the trust and confidence of the people in the BN government.

The public debate on Perak crisis has provided an in-depth knowledge and understanding for Malaysians on their democratic rights, the doctrine of separation of powers, the status of a house speaker and the constitution procedures in the appointment of the head of a government. The crisis has made the people wiser and politically more mature.

This is mainly due to the advances in the cyber-media, emergence of vibrant and investigative bloggers and journalists, and a new breed of young politicians who have risen above the racial divide to work together as Malaysians. With greater wisdom and maturity, the voters’ demand for political credibility, respect to rule of law, natural justice and good governance is going to increase with time. Every leader however high ranking and even the rulers are not going to be spared from public scrutiny. Malaysians are not going to be passive but are going to insist to be part of the decision-making process.

To the people the solution to this crisis is simple; return to them the right re-elect the government of their choice. This has been opined by legal and political experts, veteran politicians, Suhakam and even by members of certain component parties in BN. With such a united call for re-election, it will be unwise to ignore the feelings of the masses.

Sadly in today’s confrontational politics, submitting to the demands of the people is seen as a sign of weakness. On the contrary listening and acting in accordance with the will of the people is a sign of strength that must not be underestimated. History has shown that in any showdown with the people, despite all the odds stacked against them, the people will always win in the end, their will finally prevails.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, May 08, 2009

Half-time score 2-0

Let's wait patiently for the finals in 2013

In the Perak match The score now is 2-0 in favour of BN against PR.BN scored the first goal through top striker Datuk Seri Najib in February.The second goal was scored yesterday by Datuk Seri Zabry with the help of imported striker Ganesan.PR goalkeeper Siva was carried out injured.

On Monday,most malaysians expect the score to be 3-0,the third being scored in the courts.

All goals were skilfuuly executed with the help of spectators-the police and civil servants.The general public forcefully kept out of the stadium.

However the final will be in 2013 when the rakyat hope to successfully convert all 5 penalty kicks to win by 5-0.Pakatan must train as a team for the finals,consolidating the ties among them.So let's all practice hard day and night.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mother’s Day 2009

Mother – a source of strength,inspiration and solace


Mother’s day is again just around the corner(May 10) and many of us may have great plans to celebrate the occasion with our mothers. We may be planning to give her expensive gifts, banquets and trips to places of interest. The whole idea behind all these elaborate celebrations is to make our mother happy and reassure her that we care for her. It is a noble intention that we should all cherish for a person who deserves every bit of our gratitude.

It is sad that for some of us it is the only day we spend some time with her as we are all busy with managing our own families with all the attendant problems. We forget that our mother is part and parcel of our family not just in times of happiness but more so at times of difficulties and pain.

Very often we are very generous with what our mother needs least, food and money but extremely miser with what she needs most, love and time. These are more difficult to part with especially in the fast moving competitive world where every minute is so precious.

Our mothers brought us up to what we are today hoping that one day we will be successful and happy in our own lives, with good health, prosperity and peace. It is this happiness in our lives that bring them their own joy and satisfaction. It is time for us to reflect to see whether we are truly giving her the real happiness that she yearns for by living up to her expectations. Many among us ignore her pleas and keep doing what is against her wishes without realizing the adverse consequences of our deeds.

In a world driven by materialism, lust and greed, the mother, particularly the old and infirm, may seem irrelevant but we will be sadly mistaken if we ignore the love and advice of our mother, however irrelevant she may appear to be. All wise men of the past seem to concur that a man who does not please his mother it whatever he does will never find true happiness in his own life. All these great men cannot be wrong, can they?

At an advanced age and in their loneliness, our actions of going against our mother’s wishes would be the most painful experience for her to endure. All we need to do is to consult and obtain her blessings for the many major decisions in our lives; our marriage, carreer,health and care of our children. A effects of a mother’s blessing should not be underestimated as it is priceless and goes a long way to bring success in whatever we undertake without even we being aware of it.

No wonder the mother is the most revered person throughout the history of mankind. Mothers are revered and adored, showered with affection, shown great respect and she is held in high esteem in all cultures. In fact Islam teaches that “Paradise is at the feet of mothers” and Hindus regard her as a goddess of love. A Jewish Proverb says “God could not be everywhere and therefore he made mothers”
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Our mother may be advanced in age, infirm and be of no use to us anymore but nevertheless she remains a symbol of moral support, strength and solace for us in times of trials and tribulations in life. We may not realize this important source of inspiration and strength until they leave us for good when it will be too late to regret..

On this Mother’s day, amidst all our celebrations let us take special pains to make our mother happy by doing what pleases her. Let us repay our gratitude to this special person who had sacrificed her life for the love of us, her children. Let us go back to her for every major decision in our lives, like we used to do when we were helpless kids. Our mother is a wonderful creation of God for whom love for her children has made her sacrifices a pleasure.


Dr.Chris Anthony
May 3, 2009

Najib’s moves for change


Must submit to wish of Perakians


Since the taking over the premiership, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had embarked on a series of bold and positive moves to impress and regain the support of the people. His 1Malaysia policy, willingness to review the ISA, the easing on bumiputra equity, liberalization of the banking sector and the decision to allow children of divorced parents to be brought up in the religion at the time of marriage.

These steps may be very encouraging and indicate that the new Prime Minister is serious in bringing about the reforms promised. His pledge that no one will be left to feel as second class citizens is reassuring to all Malaysians. Despite his attempts to get close to the people, there are still some nagging problems that stand in the way to regain the full confidence of the people.

One of the biggest drawbacks to Najib’s reforms is the ongoing constitutional crisis in Perak that many believe is his own making. It has since thrown the state into chaos and with each passing day the legal tussle getting more and more complicated with no possible end in sight. The suing and countersuing by the disputing parties is frustrating the people to the extent that they are getting angry with the abuse of our democratic system. There are serious concerns that the constitution that guarantee the separation of powers between the legislature, judiciary and the executive, is being blatantly trampled upon by the very people entrusted to safeguard it.

Come May 7, with the controversial reconvening of the state assembly, the crisis may enter into greater complexity and turmoil, taking the state into deeper constitutional crisis from which it may never recover. Do we need such a crisis at this time of global economic uncertainties with thousands losing their jobs and having difficulties in making ends meet? Who benefits from this crisis?

To the people the solution to this crisis is simple; go back to the rakyat to re-elect the government of their choice. The vast majority of Malaysians feel the people should decide on the choice of their government not the courts or the ruler. Instead of taking this simple way out why is the government going through such complicated and at times unconstitutional means that are detested by people?

All his efforts to reform and revamp the system and may be meaningless if Najib does not solve the Perak crisis in a legitimate way acceptable to the people. Involving the courts and the rulers is not only a waste of their time but unnecessary as they get tainted in the process.

If the Prime Minister can bring the constitutional crisis in Perak to end in the way the people want and in accordance with our nation’s constitutional and democratic principles, he will have all to gain as the people may in return reward the BN to rule in the state. At the same time doing so will avoid dragging in the royalty and the judiciary further into the mess. Any delay in submitting to the wishes of the people will only erode the trust and confidence of the people in the BN government and benefit the Pakatan Rakyat.

Sadly in today’s confrontational politics, submitting to the demands of the people is seen as a sign of weakness. On the contrary listening and acting in accordance with the will of the people is a sign of strength that must not be underestimated. History has shown that in any showdown with the people, despite all the odds stacked against them, the people will always win in the end, their will finally prevail. This simple fact is the basic tenet of every major religion.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Najib must prove sincerity for reforms

Initial moves encouraging

Since the taking over the premiership, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had embarked on a series of bold and positive moves to impress and regain the support of the people. His 1Malaysia policy, willingness to review the ISA, the easing on bumiputra equity, liberalization of the banking sector and the decision to allow children of divorced parents to be brought up in the religion at the time of marriage.

These steps are very encouraging and indicate that he is serious in bringing about the reforms promised. His pledge that no one will be left to feel as second class citizens is reassuring to all Malaysians. Despite his attempts to get close to the people, there is still much more to be done to gain the trust of the people.

One of the biggest drawbacks to Najib’s reforms is the ongoing constitutional crisis in Perak that many believe is his own making. It has since thrown the state into chaos and with each passing the legal tussle in getting more and more complicated with no possible end in sight. The suing and countersuing by the disputing parties is frustrating the people to the extent that they are getting angry with the abuse of our democratic system. There are serious concerns that the constitution is being blatantly trampled upon by the very people entrusted to safeguard it.

Come May 7, with the controversial reconvening of the state assembly, the crisis may enter into greater complexity taking the state into deeper constitutional crisis from which it may never recover. Do we need such a crisis at this time of global economic uncertainties?

To the people the solution is simple; allow the rakyat to decide who they want to form their government. The vast majority of Malaysians feel the people should decide on the choice of their government not the courts or the ruler. Instead of taking this simple way out why is the government going through such complicated and at times unconstitutional means?

All his efforts to reform and revamp the system and may be meaningless if Najib does not solve the Perak crisis in a legitimate way acceptable to the people. Involving the courts and the rulers is not only a waste of their time but unnecessary as they get tainted in the process.

If the Prime Minister can bring the constitutional crisis in Perak to end in the way the people want and in accordance with our constitutional and democratic principles, he will have all to gain as the people may in return reward the BN to rule in the state. At the same time doing so will avoid dragging in the royalty and the judiciary further into the mess.

Sadly in today’s confrontational politics, submitting to the demands of the people is seen as a sign of weakness. On the contrary listening and acting in accordance with the will of the people is a sign of strength that must not be underestimated. History has shown that despite all the odds the people will always win in the end, their will finally prevail.


Dr.Chris Anthony

Teacher's Day 2017

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