Monday, January 30, 2012

Gandhi's Prayer for Peace

On this 64th anniversary of the death Mahatma Gandhi, I would like to share something that was so dear to this great man and what the world is in dire need today – peace.

This is what he had to say of peace, “If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have the struggle, we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously, the whole world is hungering.”

He struggled for peace, a peace that was so badly lacking in his own country and the world. He called himself a soldier of peace not war and this is his fervent prayer for that peace in the world among people of diverse origins and believes.

Gandhi's Prayer for Peace

I offer you peace.
I offer you love.
I offer you friendship.
I see your beauty.
I hear your need.
I feel your feelings.
My wisdom flows from the highest source.
I salute that source in you.
Let us work together.
For unity and peace.

At a time of great turmoil and hate among peoples in the world and the increasing racial and religious polarization in our own country, Gandhi’s prayer for peace has becomes very relevant to us today. As his prayer goes we must offer our peace, love and friendship to others especially those of different race and creed. We must see their beauty, hear their needs and feel their feelings. Our wisdom comes from God whom we must see in them and salute. It is with these attitudes in us that we work together to achieve lasting peace with one another.

This beautiful and meaningful prayer of Gandhi should be adopted by men all over the world. It is in offering our peace and appreciating the inner beauty and needs of others, especially our adversaries that leads to peace in a world torn apart by hate, jealousy and vengeance.

Mahatma Gandhi may be gone but the legacy he left behind for mankind should continue to live in us and the generations to come. He might not have realized fully the peace he envisaged for his country but the teachings he left behind will definitely bring some inner peace within us.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Indian woes, their to solve

Is there a way out of their woes?

Indians all over Malaysia, celebrated Pongal this year with the usual highly colourful traditions and culture. When I was young and living in a village where farming and cattle breeding was the main occupation of my parents, I hardly see anyone celebrating Pongal as elaborately as we do today,even in high rising buildings of the cities.

Today it is not only Pongal but more and more of our cultural and religious events too are being given more importance than we should. It may be our attempts to preserve our culture and traditions that we see as losing its hold in our lives. We fear with the loss of these rituals soon we may lose our identity as Indians. While these fears may have some basis but in our attempts to preserve our traditional and culture are we being misguided in our focus on the socio-economic development of our community?

It may be therefore relevant for us to look at the challenges we face in Malaysia today. From the statistics available, we must admit that we are in a very pathetic socio-economical state. We constitute 8% of the population but account for 14% of the nation’s juvenile delinquency, make up less than 5% of successful university applicants and share less than 1.5% of Malaysia's wealth. The crime rate among Indians is the highest in the country. The Suhakam report in 2006 stated that 60% of prisoners are Indians, something not to be proud of when considering we constitute less than 8% of the population.

The following facts indicate that we have drastically declined socio-economically since Independence 54 years ago. This drastic slide in our sanding has resulted in us being looked down by the other communities, which are far ahead of us.

Indians feature highest in all of the negative statistics.

1. The lowest life expectancy rates- 67.3 years compared to national average of 71.2.
2. The highest school dropout rates. Only 5.0% of Indians reach the tertiary level compared to the national average of 7.5%.
3. The highest incidence of alcoholism, that cuts across all classes.
4. The highest incidence of drug addiction in proportion to population.
5. The highest number of prisoners in proportion to population.
6. High crime rate. The largest number of gangs is now Indian gang and that 60% of serious crimes are committed by Indians.

Even politically we are not a force to reckon with today as we are terribly divided into numerous splinter parties. Our political power too has declined with so many parties representing so few people. We used to have a significant force in the MIC before but today there is no single party to truly represent the Indian community that has become inflicted with so many problems.

Something has seriously gone wrong. We organize conferences and mammoth motivation courses but refuse to admit that something is seriously wrong with us, our attitude to work in particular and life in general.

We spend a large part of our time, energy and money on elaborate cultural and religious activities but depend on the government and others for improving our socio-economic standing. We blame the government for our impoverished state for denying us the lavish affirmative action programmes that are reserved solely for the Malays. We blame the racist and creeping Islamisation policies of the government for our downfall. We blamed the BN before and now the PR too for not doing enough to uplift our community. In fact we blame everyone else except ourselves. It is time for us to ask ourselves what we really want and how we are going to move forward.

I admit that the government has neglected us, denied us of our constitutional rights, abused us and treated us rather rudely but we cannot give these as excuses for our failures. In fact this inhumane treatment by the authorities is the result not the cause of our deplorable and impoverished state. We must wake to the fact that no government however good it may be is going to help us the way we want. We have to help ourselves with whatever help we can get from the government of the day.

The Chinese community too have been subjected to such poor treatment like us but they did not allow that to stop their progress. In fact the Chinese community, by hard and diligent work has more or less become indispensable to the economic development on the country. We have a lot to learn from these fellow citizens who continue to thrive well even under harsh conditions. I am sure our community that belongs to a civilization, like the Chinese, that dates back thousands of years has the resilience to withstand all adversities.

Being a minority group is always a difficult situation all over the world, as we tend to be marginalized and discriminated even in countries that severely condemn racism and have laws to protect the minorities. Instead of ranting and raving we have to work harder to be accepted as a significant force. In this respect, struggling to hold onto our cultural practices alone is not going to help but assimilating with the majority to be accepted as Malaysians will.

We have the wrong notion that holding to our culture by all means is the only way to preserve it. In fact it is in uplifting ourselves socioeconomically and earning the respect of the others will our culture attain recognition and respect and become entrenched to be remembered by future generations. History has shown that no great civilization remains great forever. It is the greatness at a particular time in history that is remembered by the generations that come later.

It is good to be God-fearing but we have become over-dependent on the Almighty and other forms supernatural powers to lift us up. We have the mistaken notions that by pleasing God by elaborate rituals, He will come down to help us out of our woes. We fail to realize that God only helps those who help themselves. He has given us the power both physical and intellect to improve ourselves and if we refuse to use them but prefer to remain idle and just perform some rituals to please Him, there is no way He will save us.

I am afraid we have got all our priorities wrong. We are spending all our time, energy and money on celebrating our cultural and religious festivals instead of working. I am told by some non-Indian employers that Indian youngsters quit their jobs if their leave for celebrating of some festival is denied. Even in my own hospital there were young Indian staff who quit because they were refused leave to celebrate the recent Deepavali.

There are those who take weeks off to perform pilgrimages. Who in the right mind would want to employ someone who adopts such a casual attitude to work? There are many even in the lower income groups who are willing to pay hefty sums to go on pilgrimages, celebrate festivals and even go for their favourite movies but are not willing to spend a fraction of the amount for the children’s education, food and housing. We expect these to be given free.

Unemployment is highest among Indians. Our youths may not have money or education but insist on jobs that are highly paid but not so tough. Despite obesity, diabetes, hypertension and heart problems being highest in Indians, they seem to be complacent about their health. Most of them cannot afford the high cost of medical treatment as they do not have any form of insurance cover at all.
The number of people without birth certificates or identity cards is highest among Indians. It just goes to show that they do not even want to help themselves with such basic requirements needed for education and employment. How to progress and compete with others who are far more hardworking and self-reliant?

Indian youths today don’t seem to be serious about their studies and career as they seem to be living in a world of fantasy as portrayed by the cinema world. Respect for elders and filial piety which was once the pride of our community is fast eluding us. Marital problems and divorce leading to breakup of families are on the rise. Go to any orphanage or old folks homes; you see the majority of the inmates are Indians.

Even in the temples and churches, Indians are fighting for power and influence in the name of God.

As an Indian who has successfully come out from the shackles of poverty and illiteracy, I feel very sad with the deplorable state of our community. We have lost our self-pride and our dignity as a community. I feel ashamed at the way we are looked down by others, even by those who were at one time much worse off than us.

The newer generation of Indians from better off families who succeed academically are migrating to better pastures leaving behind those from poorer background without qualifications. The future looks bleak if our present attitude and situation continues. Isn’t there a way out for us? The answer depends on each and every one of us. Our future is in our hands alone not in the hands of others, the government or any other party within or outside the country.

We need to change and change drastically. The most important thing for us to do now is to work and work really very hard, acquiring the latest skills and knowledge to progress. Our culture and religion should guide us to be righteous in our struggles for progress and not stand in the way of our progress. Instead of fighting a futile war with the majority for our rights, we should be directing our energy and resources to attain those rights by working for them.

There is an urgent need to uplift ourselves to be at par with the other communities. I do not know how we are going to achieve that but we must do it otherwise we will soon perish as a major community in the country. With the emigration of the more qualified Indians, what is left behind will be those who will further bring down our reputation. We will then become a liability rather than an asset to the nation.

It is time for us to decide what we want to be in this country in the future. Time is running out and we have act now. Our future is in our hands. Let’s stop depending on others and rely more on our own talents and hard work. Let’s consider ourselves as Malaysians first entitled to all the rights as citizens. Being just a small community we are not going to go far if we keep to ourselves. We should not be a little India in Malaysia but a proud Malaysian of Indian origin. We must break free and work with others to elevate our socioeconomic status and regain the past glory and admiration that we once commanded lot very long ago.

The least we can do is to create the awareness for change and hard work with every young Malaysian Indian we meet. Let’s spread this passion for change among our fellow Indians.

Money for BR1M could be put to better use

Rejecting corruption in any form it takes.

Ditching out money to the people seems to have become a fashion these days, with the BN and PR governments competing with each other to do so. The latest of these generous gestures is the Batuan Rakyat 1Malaysia(BR1M).It makes one wonder from where this money suddenly come from.

The on-going BR1M pay-outs of RM500 for households with monthly income of less than RM3,000 has created a lot of excitement among the people, especially those who needed the money and the senior citizens without any fixed source of income and have to depend on their children. All of them are grateful and happy to the government for the aid which they truly deserve. This is evident from the comments of the recipients as shown on national TV and covered by the mainstream media. Who in the right mind will not be happy to receive extra money?

It would be a noble move by the government it was meant to truly help the people especially the poor during this time of financial difficulties with the escalating cost of living. However the way it is dispensed does not reflect genuine sincerity with regards to its motives. Instead the way the money is being distributed appears to an electoral corruption which works to discredit the government.

For the details of how the money is being distributed you can refer to Anil Netto’s, It’s raining money III: How it’s distributed at

At a handing over ceremony, we see large number of people of all races queuing up to receive their cash vouchers from politicians from the ruling party. At times they are forced to listen to their speeches that touch on the goodwill of the BN government which has the welfare of the people at heart all the time. Food and refreshments are also served.

To me asking people who are poor to assemble at specified places, listen to ceramah and the queue up for hours to receive some cash is an insult on their dignity. On top of that these are widely publicised by the lopsided media for all to see. Moreover the money belongs to the people themselves not the person who dispenses it. Why can’t it be distributed in a more respectable and dignified manner? Why the need for politicians to be in charge of the distribution of the money? Can’t it be done by government agencies and banks? Why this overt politicisation of a simple gesture of goodwill, which is the duty of the government after all?

For the hard-core poor, RM500 is indeed a large sum that will go a long way to reduce their financial burden. It may even feed them and their family for a month. To the large majority of other recipients the sum, as a one off payment, is just an additional bonus and does not really significantly help them out financially. In fact many use it to spend it on items that they really don’t need. The amount that runs into tens or even hundreds of millions is hard earned taxpayer’s money which could be used more beneficially for the people than be given out to “enjoy” themselves for a few days.

What the people really need is not a one-off payment but a better planned scheme to help them in the long term to cope with the difficult times ahead. They need to be given the opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge to improve themselves. They need more job opportunities and better wages, easier accessibility to quality and cheaper health care, better and more affordable tertiary education and more affordable housing especially in urban areas. They need a better, cheaper, more convenient and safer transportation system. Most of all they need a system that recognises them as legitimate citizens whose constitutional rights are safeguarded regardless of race or creed.

The present practice of giving out money on and off, as carried out now, is an election gimmick that capitalizes on the people’s inherent greed for “free’ money, which is becoming a prevalent culture today. It should be strongly discouraged as it is a form of corruption, which should not be tolerated by the people.

On the other hand it is time for the people to reject such hand-outs, which comes from their own money, in exchange for their invaluable votes in the coming elections. Instead they should attain the maturity and wisdom to demand for better long term measures and not succumb to such short term inducements by any party. It is in this maturity and wisdom to reject all forms of corruption and abuse of power will depend the future of our children and our nation.

For no reason whatsoever should the we be willing to surrender our dignity which our votes signify.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Visit to Spastic Children’s Home

The Yee Ran Jing Sheh(YRJS) Handicapped Children’s Home

We are just settling down after our continuous celebrations from December 2011,Christmas,the New Year and recently the Chinese New Year of the Dragon. As we celebrate these festivities with great joy we should spare some moments for those who are as not fortunate like us to appreciate this happiness in their lives.

With this motive a few friends and I decided to visit a spastic home in Bukit Tengah to see for ourselves what life is to these unfortunate people and what can be done to bring some joy for those in such a home.

The visit to the spastic home on 2months ago was a very humbling experience. It not only gave us the first hand information on the life of these spastic children but also the tremendous efforts and the sacrifices of the people taking care of them.

The home had 62 inmates of all ages, from children to old adults of both sexes. They were housed in 2 old single-storey houses, one for males and one for females located at in Jalan Belimbing in Bukit Tengah,Bukit Mertajam. They are being taken care of by 9 workers all female,5 foreigners and 4 locals all under the care of Ms Maliga.

Views of the handicapped home

The home is being managed by Persatuan Kebajikan Kanak-kanan Cacat Yee Ran Jing Sheh (Association Y.R.J.S. Handicapped Children’s Home), which according to Mr.GB Chuah, a committee member of the association, is a Buddhist organisation. However he was quick to stress that although it may be Buddhist-based but it is open to handicapped from all races and religions.

The containers to place old clothings The recycling centre

According to Mr.Chuah at present about RM20,000 is needed per month to manage the home which includes paying the staff,shelter, food, clothing, pampers and medical expenses.He said that it is a purely welfare home,been run solely on the generous donations from members of the public with no aid from any government agencies or the families of the inmates. To supplement the income they also collect old clothes and recycling items to be sold. Although the response from the public is generally good there are however times when they are acutely short of funds.

Generous donors with their contributions

They accept all forms of aid; cash, foodstuff, clothes and in particular adult pampers which are used extensively and are very expensive. Although they had a large number of inmates we were very impressed with the cleanliness of the centre and the inmates themselves who appeared clean and well dressed.

We spent about an hour in the home looking around and mingling with the inmates. Most of them were severely handicapped both physically and mentally. In fact only 19 out of the 64 of them could feed, clean and dress themselves, the rest need to be fed, bathed and dressed by the staff, which as we all know is indeed a tedious job. There were some who were so aggressive that they had to be restrained to prevent themselves to be hurt or others being hurt by their hyperactive behaviour. It was indeed a pathetic state to witness which made us realise how blessed we are.

The home from outside – clean and well maintained

The inside view of the children

Despite being so handicapped, they did not show any signs of sadness or disappointment in their faces which I suppose is the Creator’s way of protecting His creations. In a world where we are racing to accumulate wealth and more wealth, in a society that is driven by so much greed, jealousy and selfishness, these handicapped children are so happy living in their own world of contentment. They seem to be completely well protected from the cruel world outside. They were so eager to reach out to hold our hands and as they did so, we could feel the tremendous warmth in the grip of their hands.

The visit to the handicapped home was an eye opener for us. It helped us to realise how lucky we are being blessed with so much good things in life. As Charles Dickens rightly said, Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many - not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some”. Very often we take these blessings for granted and keep cursing everything and everyone for the little misfortunes that may befall upon us. If only we start counting our blessings we will be more satisfied and happier in our lives. The visit to the home should let us pause to reflect on what we can do to alleviate the fears and sufferings of the less fortunate in our midst. It is in sharing the blessings we have that brings happiness.

The visit to the handicapped home brought these handicapped children into our lives and by you reading this story they have come into yours as well. It is often said that everything happens for a reason and people come into your life is also for a reason. The visit to the handicapped home should make us ponder on why these unfortunate children ever came into our lives. Should we just ignore them and move on as though they never exist? Or should we do something to help them in whatever little ways we can with the little we have? Let’s search our hearts for the answer.

What can do for Rumah Cacat YRJS

1. Collect cash, food items, clothing and recycling items and send them to the home.

2. Organise a fund raising dinner and donate all proceeding to the home

3. Celebrate some memorable occasions with them

4. Ignore them and move on to something other project as the home appears to have adequate support from the public

If we feel we should something let’s organise ourselves and plan our moves.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year 2012 – the year of the Dragon

Courage to do the right thing at the right time

On 23 January 2012,the Chinese all over the world celebrated first day in their Lunar year of the Dragon. The dragon is the highest-ranking animal in the Chinese animal hierarchy, strongly associated at one time with the Chinese Emperor and hence power and majesty. The dragon may be a mythological animal but even today the it is still recognized and revered as a symbol of power, strength and good luck.

The year of the dragon may come once in 12 years but the Dragon of 2012 comes only once in our lifetime. It as is the most important one not for just the Chinese but for all Malaysians, as the most critical 13GE will be held before the end of this year. During this year we will arrive at the crossroads when we will be faced with the most important decision of choosing the right people to form our government. It is a decision that will have to be made with great wisdom, discern and courage as it will have tremendous bearing on our future and the destiny of our beloved nation.

All previous elections were mere endorsement of the ruling party to continue to govern, as we did not have a choice. This is the first time in the history of our nation that we are faced with the possibility of changing the government and it depends on the power bestowed in our hands as citizens. This is due to the high level of maturity and wisdom of the people who are highly critical and want a government that is more people oriented and its leaders willing to serve the people more than serve themselves and their families.

They want a government that can put an end to corruption, better manage the economy, ensure a fairer distribution of the nation’s wealth, more tolerant to freedom of expression and put a stop to the race politics.

In order to stop the rot in the country, we need change. This change can only come about with great courage on the part of the people. We hope the people will gain that courage of the dragon to vote for change, a change that will enable the realization of their dreams for the dawn of a better future for all.

As we go about to welcome this year of the dragon, let us create the awareness among our friends and relatives for the urgent need for change come the 13GE.Let us put aside all our differences for the time being and unite as Malaysians to the right thing at the most defining moment in our history, the 13GE.

The Dragon may be a symbol of power and courage but the real power to change is not with the mythological dragon or any other external force but is with us and we alone can harness that power to the fullest.

A Happy & prosperous Chinese New Year

Gong Xi Fa Cai

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Moving forwards after Sodomy II

Anwar willing to forgive & move on

Over a century ago, standing up against the apartheid regime of the British in South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi said, “They may torture my body, break my bones, and even kill me. Then they will have my dead body, but not my obedience.” That was Gandhi who was one of the greatest icons for freedom in recent history.

Right here in our country, on the eve of his Sodomy II verdict on 9 January 2012, convinced of being convicted and sent to jail at the age of 64, Anwar Ibrahim has this to say to the Malaysian people. "They can put me in a cage and chain me to the ground but they can never imprison my soul and my spirit”.

The day after the verdict to acquit him of the sodomy charge, in India to meet with Rajmohan Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Anwar said he is “prepared to forgive” those who have caused his suffering. While there may be some similarities in those statements between Gandhi and Anwar, it would be great if Anwar takes Mahatma Gandhi to be his example in moving the nation forward, peacefully without any anger, violence and bloodshed.

Anwar may be magnanimous to forgive those who have plotted to topple him by shameful and humiliating means but it is the way forward, putting the wrongful past behind and together build a better future for all regardless of our differences. If we act with anger towards our adversaries and seek vengeance, there can be no real and effective nation building.

Of late the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) seem to have closed ranks and have come solidly behind Anwar, recognising him as the only candidate for the premiership if it wins the elections. Anwar has indicated he is willing to move forward towards the formation of a more democratic two-party system for the long term benefit of the people. The biggest question is whether his rivals are ready to apologise for persecuting him and accept him and the opposition as legitimate and equal partners in administering the country.

From past experience we know that Unmo-BN will never accept defeat and will go all out to bring down Anwar and the PR and if possible wipe out any form of opposition to their rule. Anwar could have won the battle but not the war as much more obstacles could be well in the planning. Recently at the Royal Selangor Club, the refusal by Najib to answer whether he will facilitate the smooth transfer of power in the event the Opposition wins the 13GE does not augur well for democracy and a two-party system in the country. If only he had answered in the affirmative, which he should have as the PM, he would gained the much needed support and admiration.

By now Anwar must be well aware that his acquittal was not because of an independent judiciary, a reformed Umno-BN government or the repentance of his enemies. It is basically due to the massive support of the people who are clamouring for change. They want an end to the rot there is going on over 5 decades; an end to the rampant corruption, blatant abuse of power, oppression and tyranny. It is the pressure of the people or People Power, that stopped those in the corridors power from sending him to jail. The last thing they want is to make a martyr out of Anwar and lose the elections.

If only Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak can reconcile with Anwar and work together towards greater democratisation and a two-party system, he will be able to get back the support of the people. Although it is that simple but it is also the most difficult for a party like Umno-BN which has been ruling interruptedly for 5 decades with a weak and insignificant opposition till 2008.

If Najib has the courage to brush Umno hardliners aside and press forward with his reform agenda, he may lose power but he can walk tall that he has tried to do the right thing for the country and the future generations. Failure or success is not the issue but doing the right thing is all that matters and the only right thing at this time is to facilitate the peaceful evolution of a two-party system of governance.

The recent verdict of Sodomy II has catapulted Anwar as the only leader in PR eligible to become the PM. The support for Anwar and PR is tremendous and is on the rise each day with every blunder that the ruling party makes. The BN should not write off the huge crowds that take pains to turn up at his ceramahs as mere curious onlookers. In fact they are genuine supporters who want change which they increasingly believe only Anwar can bring about. Without their knowledge, Umno-BN, is pushing up the popularity of Anwar thereby making him appear as the only one eligible for the post of Prime Minister.

Meanwhile Anwar and his coalition should not be carried away with the large turnouts at their rallies. They should not take the people’s support for granted but go all out to prove that they can rule the country effectively and fairly to fulfill all their promises. They should gain power by their merits not the demerits of their opponent.

The people have risen to help free Anwar in his sodomy case. He must value their sacrifice and must remember the pledge he made on the eve of his Sodomy II verdict, "I make this solemn promise to you that I will not rest until we make right the wrongs committed by this corrupt government and bring about a just and equitable nation. I will remain with you in heart and soul and together we will build a new Malaysia".

These are very powerful words that ensued at a very emotional time in his life, at the thought of going to jail for life. We are confident he will honour them when he up and high again, in keeping the principles of Mahatma Gandhi, whom he looked up to for guidance.

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 ...