Monday, May 30, 2011

Najib must speak to youth as the PM

(Najib enlists youth to help 'defend Putrajaya')

The call by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on youths to defend Putrajaya is truly regrettable, more so at a youth rally to mark World Youth Day. It is inappropriate to talk about politics to them which is seen by many as a desperate means to cling on to power. Returning him to power should be the decision of the voters who are mature enough to judge him by his performance and that of his team and not the youths at the gathering of World Youth Day.

It is puzzling why younger youths could be dragged into politics when older and more discerning ones in universities and colleges are forbidden to engage in such activities. Instead of talking about politics such a mammoth gathering of young people would be a good opportunity for him to talk about the importance of hard work, racial and religious tolerance and good values in their lives. It would have been a good opportunity to talk about good leadership and governance and the principles of democracy we are practicing.

In this system of democracy, the opposition plays an equally important role as the ruling party in providing the check and balance in the governance.It is wrong to teach our youth to defend the ruling party against the opposition as though the latter is a traitor and enemy of the nation. This is a blatant breach of the ethics of a democratic country.

With rampant corruption, power abuse, failing institutions and racism in the country which the government does not seem to be serious in tacking, asking the youth to defend Putrajaya would be tantamount to asking them to defend these ills in our governance.

Putrajaya does not belong to the BN, PR or does any particular individual. It belongs to the people including the youth who are duty bound to defend it against any party that perpetuates corruption, power abuse and racism.

Najib should remember that he is the Prime Minister for all Malaysians, including those who support the opposition which is their legitimate right. He must speak to the youth as the PM and leader of the government of the day not as the leader of the BN trying to brainwash them to hate the opposition which is also has a legitimate and rightful role in our system of democracy.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Scholarships for top scorers

Being transparent in awarding them

The ongoing debate on the unfair award of scholarships to top SPM students is nothing new as it comes up every year but with no definite solutions. It deeply regrettable that many eligible and deserving students failed to secure the grants, but those who did not deserve them had successfully obtained the financial assistance. It is more disturbing to know that the main reason why top students failed to obtain those awards was due to Public Services Department(PSD) officers who failed to follow Cabinet directives with regards to the awarding of those scholarships.

This is the last thing we want at a time when the country is facing severe brain drain and major incentives are being planned overcome this negative development among our intellectuals and academia. By denying financial aid to our top students we would only be driving them away to ‘greener pastures’ elsewhere where they are gladly accepted without much fuss.

The government spends billions of ringgit yearly in scholarships for top SPM students and it must ensure that those who really deserve are not neglected due to some skewed mentality of certain officers entrusted with implementing them. It must be emphasized that the money spent comes from the taxpayers and it must be spent not only prudently but reach the right people for whom it is targeted and not politically hijacked.

Despite selection of students for scholarships causing uproar every year, it is yet to be adequately redressed. The government has come up with set rules for the award of these scholarships, why aren’t they adhered to strictly? Why should unsuccessful candidates seek the help of political parties to handle their grouses when it the PSD that should be professional enough to handle that? Is the award of scholarship a political process?

We understand that many of those rejected have obtained full A+ (super distinction) and above and were from poor families, some being underprivileged students from hardcore poor families. Don’t these brilliant students deserve scholarships for a degree programme of their choice? Isn’t it a great injustice to the students and a disservice to the nation to turn away such deserving students? Where will they go to now?

Many excellent students were given matriculation or diploma scholarships when they deserve scholarships for a degree programme of their choice.Why give them something that is far below what they deserve?

Here we have a simple situation where our own students are applying for study grants to their own government to pursue their education to serve the nation better. Processing these applications for scholarships from our own students should be an administrative exercise that must be handled professionally by the PSD based on set regulations by the government. It is not a political or racial issue to be handled by race-based political parties. Why then make it one?

It is time for the government to put this issue of scholarships to rest once and for all as its annual recurrence causes a great deal of frustration, unhappiness, anger and anxiety among the students and parents particularly those from lower income group, who cannot afford the high cost of education today. It also puts the government in bad light as being unfair to its own people.

I admit there is no one ideal system that would satisfy all but whatever method is chosen must ensure that genuinely deserving students are not deprived of the opportunity to pursue their tertiary education. Denying brilliant students their opportunity to excel will be doing a great disservice to the person and the nation as a whole. These awards should be granted to all who are eligible based purely on overall merit which takes into account the student’s academic results, financial affordability and aptitude for the courses selected, without any form of prejudice or bias.

In this regards certain set rules and regulations must be strictly adhered and not changed at the whims and fancy of certain officials for any reason. The people know that the funds are limited and not all who apply will be successful but those who failed to obtain scholarships will accept their failure if the selection process is transparent and is in accordance with the formulated guidelines. It is when the rules are not followed that people start complaining.

The selection criteria should be reviewed to end complaints about injustices of the awards so that it is in line with 1 Malaysia concept and Government’s Transformation Programme.These programmes initiated by the government are aimed to take our nation to greater heights if implemented effectively. It would be a tragic failure if the government allows the ideals of 1Malaysia to be thwarted by certain overzealous officials. Unless we give every deserving Malaysian child the opportunity to pursue its ambitions and ideals, our nation will not be able to move forward in this highly competitive global world.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Racists will die a natural death

Racists will die a natural death

Reject those who propagate racists

Reject the racists

I refer to 'Don't use ISA or sedition laws against Ibrahim Ali'

I agree with PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim that Sedition Act nor the Internal Security Act be used against Ibrahim Ali, the leader of Malay right-wing group Perkasa, calling for jihad against the Christians,which is indeed a serious incitement that could lead to chaos in the country.

Nobody should be charged under these 2 suppressive laws which should not be there in the first place in this modern era. There are enough civilized laws to deal with such people who incite hate among the races.There is no question that the government should take stern action against such people without fear or favor to maintain the existing peace and harmony in the country.

However what is more important is for the people to reject such people who are the real traitors to the nation, pitting one race against another. After 54 years of living together, understanding and respecting each other’s differences, we should be mature and wise enough to reject people who are out to sow the seeds of hatred in our midst. The vast majority of Malaysians of all races are indeed peace loving people who want to go about in peace together struggling to make ends meet. Why should we allow trouble makers to disrupt our harmonious living as fellow Malaysians?

The government that pledges 1Malaysia must put a stop to these irresponsible people. Unfortunately it is not doing so for obvious reasons and we must reject it just as we should reject people who incite ethnic hate. As responsible and mature citizens we must reject racism in any form and anyone who may promote it regardless of their political or racial status. We must support any one and any party that wows to fight racism.

Fortunately such public utterances of racial incitements of late by irresponsible politicians is in fact having a positive effect as it seems to be desensitizing the people to such racial incitements. People at large are not aroused to take up arms against fellow citizens of different ethnicity. This shows the maturity and wisdom of the people in general which are the only ‘weapons’ that we have to free our beloved nation from the grip of racist people.

DSAI correctly pointed out, "Jihad does not only mean perang salib (crusade), it does not mean the killing of Christians and Muslims, (but it) includes acts of prevention (by) using one's hands, mouth, writing and other means".

This should be stance of true leaders who mean well for the nation and the people. They should stand firm in the defense of the people despite the odds against them. Killing others, depriving them of their rights because of the color of their skin or the faith they profess is never right in any religion. A leader who does not stand up against these basic human principles does not deserve the support of the people and should be rejected outright.

Whether those who promote racism flourish or die off depends on the people. It the people support them they flourish if they reject them they will die a natural death. So let us decide whether to support or reject them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Does God Answer Our Prayers?

Being His 'miracle workers'among men

All of us encounter problems at some time in our lives. Most are due to our own doing but others may be caused by others especially by our own children. We try all the ‘tricks’ available to us to overcome these problems but to no avail. As the last resort we implore divine intervention.

Yes, when all means have failed we resort to the last available weapon - prayer. Very often despite our earnest prayers, penance and offerings our problems only seem to get worse by the day with no hopes for solution. We begin to wonder whether God really answers our prayers. The following is a simple parable that is derived from the Jewish Mishmash which may help to answer this question that bothers all of us at one time or another.

A small village in Rural Russia was beset by drought one year and all the crops failed. The village rabbi prayed to the heavens, "Why don't you do something about this dreadful drought?" But the heavens remained silent. So the rabbi organized a charity food drive with the neighboring villages to feed his people.

When the rains came, they came in heavy and the local river flooded, killing all the livestock. The rabbi again prayed, "Heavenly Father, my people are suffering so much, save us from this flood!" But, again, no help from God seemed forthcoming. So the rabbi lobbied the government authorities to provide financial assistance to replenish the herds lost in the deluge.

Finally, in the wake of the flood, infection and disease ran through the inhabitants of the village. The rabbi prayed once more, "Now surely God you will help us!" But the diseases ran their course. So the rabbi marshaled and organized the able bodied in the village to care for the sick.

Months later reflecting on the tragedies of the past year, the rabbi turned to God and accused Him, "Why did you not answer the prayers of my poor villagers? Why did you not send help to them when we were beset by drought, floods and pestilence?"

After many hours of anguished entreaty, a quiet voice answered the rabbi in the depths of his heart, "Of course I sent help; I sent you!"

Yes, God definitely answers our prayers and sends help with or without our knowledge. We need not even ask him to grant what we need. He knows what is best for us under the circumstances we are in. Being Christians and believers in God we must have this fundamental faith in Him. The trouble is very often we lack this trust in God especially during times of crisis, pain and agony. When tragedy strikes us, we expect God to be there with his healing hand to cure us of our ills which He rarely does.

Very often God does not give us what we ask for and this may lead us to despair and even loss of faith. But if we have the trust and patience, we will realize one day what He did was indeed right and for our good. This is a lesson I had learnt through the experiences in my own life.

We expect God to perform miracles and magic to solve our problems which he doesn’t. If we are waiting for such acts, we will be sadly mistaken and disappointed. Like the rabbi in the above story, we are his “miracle workers” among men. He has given us our intelligence, talents and skills to perform his “miracles” to help others. The pertinent question here is whether we are prepared and willing to be His “miracle workers” and catalysts to alleviate the pain and sufferings of our fellow men.

As followers of Christ we have no option but to say ‘YES’. It is important to bear in mind that unless we become His "miracle workers" for others,we cannot and should not expect other such workers to come to to our aid when we need it most.

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...