Archive for April, 2010

28
Apr
10

 

FIGHTING CORRUPTION

The fight against corruption has taken a steep incline with the launch of the nationwide blitz by the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan. With the presence of the MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Abu Kassim Mohamed and the Inspector – General of Police, Tan Sri Musa Hassan the campaign looks set to bring about a major transformation in public education and enforcement. The presence of the Attorney General, Tan Sri Ghani Patail would have completed the line-up of the teams responsible for  ensuring that  the war against graft is concertedly enforced at the highest levels. The campaign cries must now be echoed by the top political leadership and every member of the Cabinet for the public to be convinced of its seriousness!

The exposure and conviction of  public servants guilty of graft must take first priority as they are bound by their oath of office to maintain the highest standards of integrity in performing their duties. Integrity subsumes  positive character traits such as honesty, forthrightness, trustworthiness, responsibilty, loyalty and keeping to one’s word. It is crucial that these traits are upheld by the people running the government, especially those that enforce the nation’s laws. Only when the government bodies like PDRM  are purged of its corrupt personnel will their credibility be reinforced and the work of the MACC be successful. The task of cleaning up the police force was undertaken by the Hong Kong government in the 60s which led to effective and successful anti-corruption drives. The Hong Kong Anti-Corruption Agency is among the most highly respected in the world.

Equally responsible for fighting the national scourge are the Malaysian public whose attitude must change from a high tolerance of corruption to zero tolerance. The socio-cultural phenomenon of giving coffee-money and ang pow for favours granted by those in positions of authority must be stopped. Giving bribes to enforcement officers to avert/ avoid prosecution must be condemned as a criminal act of interfering with the law. It is high time Malaysians take responsibility for the sorry state of corruption and abuse of power in the country. They must transform their own attitudes and thinking before the Government transformation programmes can work. Before pointing their fingers at others they must take a long look at themselves in the mirror!

The anti-corruption blitz must be supported as an important step to educate and inform the people on the multifarious aspects of corruption. What was accepted as the customary practice of inducing goodwill or showing gratitude by giving money or gifts must be replaced by a sincere note of thanks or a simple meal of appreciation. From the ethical point of view this should be seen as the highest show of respect and regard for those in positions of authority.

From the moral angle, bribery and corruption must be highlighted as forbidden and sinful acts condemned by the faith or religion. The message must be relevant to the cultural milieu of  each ethnic group. To the Chinese,  it can be emphasised that corruption will tarnish the good name of the family and its descendents. To the Muslims, taking and giving bribes must be seen as the highest category of haram, even  worse than the consumption of pork. To the Hindus it can be regarded as a sin which will condemn the perpetrator and his family to be reborn into the lowest caste. The  recently established Multi-Faith Committee can play a key role in this. Leaders and spokespersons at all levels of Malaysian society must come forth to fight this war!

23
Apr
10

 

GREY AREAS

The purist in me will always stubbornly insist the world can be divided into black and white, and morality for that matter is a clear distinction between good and evil!

The romantic that I am yearns for a society of people with fine ideals and noble intentions – which kind of presupposes I’m one of them, or at least I’m trying to be as good as I possibly can and cultivating a couple of noble intentions in the twilight of my years!

For this I’m being labelled “unrealistic”, a  “tin kosong” and “holier than thou”! I’ve been accused of blowing hot air and blowing in the wind. There have been threats to gag and lynch me! I’ve been asked whether I’ve received phone calls from so and so…

…and all because I write what I feel and think about some issues – personal, educational, political, moral, religious etc etc etc. I’ve shied away from bread n butter and economic ones because quite honestly, there’s too much being said already about how to be rich and successful! Not many people want to talk about morals and values!

Yes – so much in life is grey; so much is interpretation! If you’re looking for the truth versus untruth; black versus white; good versus evil; right versus wrong – you can’t find them these days! Not in the real world. They exist in your dreams and imagination. They form part of your ideals and noble intentions!

But this doesn’t mean I’m going to stop preaching and moralising! Once a teacher/lecturer, always a teacher/lecturer! I shall persevere as age and experience gives me an edge over some. Way back in 1997 when I was much younger I wrote this sajak:

AKU PERNAH MUDA

seperti kau juga akan tua

 

Kalau kau sangka aku sudah tua

Seperti bunga diserang sang suria

Lesu tangkai, layu kelopaknya

Hilang wangi, habis madunya

Lemah maya, luruh jasadnya.

Seperti kau juga, aku pernah muda;

Megah mekar mawar berbunga

Harum semerbak, kekar kuntumnya

Lawa memutih, manisan rasa

Dipuja kasih dipuji rata.

 

Tua, Muda; Kanak-kanak, Dewasa;

Baru, Lama; Berumur, Remaja;

Pusingan jam pasir dunia

Pandangan mata kaca manusia

Bandingan masa, imbangan ketika.

Seperti mengesan

Anak bulan Ramadhan

Pemastian puasa

Penentuan purnama

Peralihan waktu alam nyata.

 

Aku tua di sisi kau yang muda

Namun muda di sisi insan tua;

Bagai teka-teki menduga

Reka akal menyangka

Ukur usia mudah sahaja.

Tetapi – kalau kaca mata

Sudi di buka

Kaca pasir jadi intan permata

Gerhana bulan terang cahaya

Empulur hati tiada baya.

 

Mestikah tua bermakna tidak muda

Tidak berguna, tidak berdaya?

Bukankah tua tanda

Kekal abadi akal dan jiwa?

Akar tunjang berasal nyawa

Berurat berumbi, berbenih mulia;

Bak ubi hina tumbuh merata

Semakin berisi semakin lama

Teguh saraf, kukuh baka

Seharus juga engkau yang muda.

 

20
Apr
10

 

BUDDHIST MORALITY

 

Friends:

Morality is the 2nd Mental Perfection:

Avoiding all Harm!
Doing only Good…
Purifying the Mind:
This is the True Dhamma
of all the Buddhas!
Dhammapada 183

Morality is the foundation,
the initiator and the origin of all,
that is fine, good and very beautiful…
One must therefore purify true morality!
Theragatha 612

All success is rooted in a clean morality, cultivated to purity!
Theragatha 608

Morality is a mighty Power!
Morality is a forceful Weapon!
Morality is a supreme Jewel!
Morality is a marvelous Protection!
Theragatha 614

Harmlessness towards all living beings,
Speaking only kind and wise truths,
Taking nothing not freely given,
Enjoying only one’s own partner,
Never abusing drinks or drugs.
Having given up and left all behind
these five harmful actions, such
Good Ones truly possess right morality…
AN III 205-6

Ananda once asked the Buddha:
“What, Venerable Sir, is the rewarding advantage of morality?”
“Freedom from regret, Ananda!”
“And what is the advantage of freedom from regret?”
“Joy that produces bliss, Ananda.
Bliss then generates happiness.
Happiness enables concentration.
Concentration facilitates vision and knowledge.
Vision and knowledge bring disillusion and detachment
Disillusion and detachment induce direct experience of
certain and complete mental release, Ananda…”
AN X.1

Intention always comes first!
Intention is of all states the primer.
By intention are all things initiated.
By construction of mind are all phenomena formed.
So – if with good intention one thinks, speaks or acts:
Joy and pleasure surely follow one, like a never-leaving shadow
However – if with evil intention one thinks, speaks or acts:
Pain certainly follows one, like the wheel follows the car.
Dhammapada 1+2

Both the moral and immoral doings;
Both the good and the bad behaviour;
That human beings do here;
These are truly only their own possessions…!!!
These, they take along with them, when they die, go and re-arise,
These actions, good, neutral and bad are what follow them,
like shadows, that never ever leave…
So do only what is admirable and advantageous,
as an accumulating investment for the future life!
Good prior doings are the only support and help for all beings,
when they re-arise in the world of the next state of being…
SN III 4

Here and now the good-doer rejoices… Even so after
passing away and re-emerging, the doer of good,
reaps only joy, pleasure and satisfaction …
So both here and there, the wise with merit well done
and stored, enjoys the moral purity of prior actions.
Dhammapada 15

Here and now the bad-doer suffers… Even so after
passing away and re-emerging, the doer of wrong and evil,
reaps only pain, discontent, despair, and regret …
So both here and there, the fool with wrong views
and bad behavior, suffers agony as the inevitable
effect of prior evil behaviour.
Dhammapada 16

As the yak-ox watches her tail even onto death,
without breaking through, when caught in thorns,
guard your doings as your own life, by avoiding all
overstepping of this fine line, between right and wrong.
The Basket of Behaviour, Cariyapitaka

The Bodhisatta once as the Naga serpent King Sankhapala
guarded his precepts of moral habit, even when tortured:
Though pierced with sharp bamboo stakes and hacked with
hunting knives, I raged no anger against these hunters, as this
was my final perfection of Morality!
Sankhapala Jataka no. 524

The 5 precious precepts (pañca-sila):
I accept the training rule of avoiding all killing of breathing beings.
I accept the training rule of not taking anything, that is not given.
I accept the training rule of abstaining from any sexual misconduct.
I accept the training rule of desisting from all incorrect speech.
I accept the training rule of no drinks or drugs causing carelessness.

True Buddhists undertake these precious precepts right here:
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/sangha/Sangha_Entry.htm

These are timeless laws of only pure good,
which all the mighty seers of the past
have fully followed and made their Way!

This Virtue of Morality is like Rock:
A solid foundation for all good states!
Immorality creates regret, and thus destroys all joy…
Purity creates calm, and thus the subtle concentration,
which is necessary for gaining all higher understanding!
Only higher Understanding can ever set one completely Free…

More on this basic first cause of all Good: Morality (Sīla):
Mighty is Morality, Prime Benefits, Observance, Happy_Habbit,
Sila_1_to_5, What_is_Virtue, Best_Protection, The_Five_Basics,
Best_Buddhist_Praxis, Sila_Contemplation, Optimal_Observance_I,
Optimal_Observance_II, Optimal_Observance_IV, Truth_Triumphs,
Optimal_Observance_V, Blurred_and_Blinded, Never_Kill,
Back_to_Basics, Few_are_Fine, Immaculate_Virtue, Reviewing_Virtue,
Buddhist_Life_Standards_Law_1, Buddhist_Life_Standards_Law_2,
Buddhist_Life_Standards_Law_3, Buddhist_Life_Standards_Law_4,
Not_Stealing, Not_Killing, The_Good_Disciple

More of these 10 mental perfections (paramis):
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/IV/The_Ten_Perfections.htm

Mighty is Morality!

18
Apr
10

 

PULANG

 

Tiap kali aku menapak bumimu England
Bagai bangau menghinggapi kerbau
Ombak beralun balik ke tepi pantai
Hujan renyai menyerapi bumi;
Sebentar rasa pulang
Seketika rasa puas
Sekejap rasa tenang;
Seolah dibelai penawar rindu
Menumpang kasih di pangkuan ibu susu.

Bukan kerana untung dan megah
Dapat memeluk gading bertuah.
Lebih dari itu –
Tanduk kerbau ku genggam kukuh
Kampung halaman teratak berteduh
Tetap ku tatang, tetap ku sayang.

Namun kau England –
Menusuk zahir batinku
Membuai mimpi dulu
Mengimbas ingatan lalu
Fatamorgana syurga abadi di kalbu;

Jiwamu England tetap ku rindu.

(London, 21 Jun 1997)

13
Apr
10

 
 

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING INTEGRITY

The Meaning and Definition of Integrity

 

In an effort to define the word “integrity”, I came up with some explanations, after consulting some dictionaries and encyclopaedias.

Integrity is made up of several words, meanings and synonyms. It consists of a lot of what can be described as ethical and moral values or civilised values.

1. Soundness:

This refers to how healthy an opinion, argument, reasoning or a research finding is, implying how free it is from flaw, defect or decay.

Also, how free is it from error, fallacy, or misapprehension; exhibiting or based on thorough knowledge and experience; legally valid; logically valid and having true premises; agreeing with accepted views.

It also means solid, firm, stable and thorough; showing good sense or judgment based on valid information.

2. Completeness:

It means having all necessary parts, elements, or steps; highly proficient; totally, absolutely, thoroughly and fully carried out; including all possible parts.

3. Sincerity:

It means fairness and straightforwardness of conduct; adherence to the facts.

4. Honesty:

It implies a refusal to lie, steal, or deceive in any way.

5. Honor:

It suggests an active or anxious regard for the standards of one’s profession, calling, or position.

6. Probity:

It implies tried and proven honesty or truthfulness.

7. Incorruptibility:

It implies trustworthiness and truthfulness to a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility or pledge.

It also finally means being incapable of corruption; not subject to decay or dissolution; incapable of being bribed or morally corrupted.

8. Conclusion:

The question to be asked is where does a nation stand with regard to these principles of integrity; where does an organisation or political party stand and finally what is my individual position? This synonymous question can also be asked: How civilised are we?

9. Resources:

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

10. The Stanford University Encyclopedia of Philosophy states the following:

“Integrity is one of the most important and oft-cited of virtue terms. It is also perhaps the most puzzling. For example, while it is sometimes used virtually synonymously with ‘moral,’ we also at times distinguish acting morally from acting with integrity. Persons of integrity may in fact act immorally-though they would usually not know they are acting immorally. Thus one may acknowledge a person to have integrity even though that person may hold importantly mistaken moral views.

When used as a virtue term, ‘integrity’ refers to a quality of a person’s character; however, there are other uses of the term. One may speak of the integrity of a wilderness region or an ecosystem, a computerized database, a defense system, a work of art, and so on. When it is applied to objects, integrity refers to the wholeness, intactness or purity of a thing-meanings that are sometimes carried over when it is applied to people. A wilderness region has integrity when it has not been corrupted by development or by the side-effects of development, when it remains intact as wilderness. A database maintains its integrity as long as it remains uncorrupted by error; a defense system as long as it is not breached. A musical work might be said to have integrity when its musical structure has a certain completeness that is not intruded upon by uncoordinated, unrelated musical ideas; that is, when it possesses a kind of musical wholeness, intactness and purity.

Integrity is also attributed to various parts or aspects of a person’s life. We speak of attributes such as professional, intellectual and artistic integrity. However, the most philosophically important sense of the term ‘integrity’ relates to general character. Philosophers have been particularly concerned to understand what it is for a person to exhibit integrity throughout life. Acting with integrity on some particularly important occasion will, philosophically speaking, always be explained in terms of broader features of a person’s character and life.

What is it to be a person of integrity? Ordinary discourse about integrity involves two fundamental intuitions: first, that integrity is primarily a formal relation one has to oneself, or between parts or aspects of one’s self; and second, that integrity is connected in an important way to acting morally, in other words, there are some substantive or normative constraints on what it is to act with integrity. How these two intuitions can be incorporated into a consistent theory of integrity is not obvious, and most accounts of integrity tend to focus on one of these intuitions to the detriment of the other.

A number of accounts have been advanced, the most important of them being: (i) integrity as the integration of self; (ii) integrity as maintenance of identity; (iii) integrity as standing for something; (iv) integrity as moral purpose; and (v) integrity as a virtue. These accounts are reviewed below. We then examine several issues that have been of central concern to philosophers exploring the concept of integrity: the relations between types of integrity, integrity and moral theory, and integrity and social and political conditions.”

For further detailed discussion of “Integrity” visit:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/integrity/ 

and 

http://www.webweevers.com/integrity.htm  

(ArticlesBase SC #89135) 

Pierre Du Plessis
Pierre Du PlessisAbout the Author:
Pierre du Plessis (MBL, 1982, UNISA) is owner of Leaders Circle, with web site http://www.career-builders-club.com, catering for various niche related products and packages and author of several e-books. This article can be used for re-publishing as long as it remains unchanged. 
11
Apr
10

 

TALL WOMEN

Chew Mei Fun is a woman to be admired and emulated!  She is one Malaysian who is showing true integrity by honouring her word and sticking to her principles! 

As the leader of MCA Wanita and the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Women and Family Development,  it was incumbent upon Chew to lead the nation’s women in fighting for their rights and upholding their dignity. It was her duty to make a stand against Chua Soi Lek’s leadership on the grounds that his act of adultery was an affront to the women who are the wife and mother in their family. Any act of abuse or betrayal by their husband and children will  diminish their efforts to nurture sound family values. A dysfunctional family with poor moral values will in turn produce citizens who are irresponsible and uncaring.

In the current mood of socio-cultural and political unrest sweeping across the  country, we need more people like Chew to show that the quest for power and popularity should not be the end-all and be-all of  our mission in life. Malaysians need to be reminded that there’s more to nation building than political bickering and the tit- for – tat mentality that is pervading national politics. Party hopping, in-fighting, slandering  and back-stabbing are fast  becoming acceptable strategies which the politically ambitious resort to in the name of loyalty, patriotism and nationalism. The moral irresponsibilty is fast spreading as the devil may care attitude spreads to the other aspects of their lives!

It is high time leaders like Chew come forth to stand up for their principles and be  the role models that Malaysians, especially the young, are desperately looking for. It is indeed timely that a woman is showing the way as the men squabble for power and wealth! Chew must continue the struggle in MCA and among the Chinese, and this will in turn reverberate across the rest of society!

07
Apr
10

 

ARTY AFFAIR

It was refreshing to listen to two witty and imaginative speeches last Friday afternoon without the standard protocol or political fanfare!  The only reminder of who the VVIP was, was Malaysia Boleh! Oftentimes the protocol and fanfare at launches and launchings overwhelm one’s imagination and render one’s speech witless! Not at this launch of forty paintings and a book on them. The paintings and poetry complemented the commenters!

The first speech was by Professor Dato’ Dr Hashim Yaacob, the host of the event PAINTED AXIOMS OF LIFE EXPERIENCES; the second was by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the guest of honour who officiated the launch of Hashim Yaacob’s exhibition and the book on his art and puisi. Witty and imaginative,  as good-humoured bantering was interspersed with artful commentary about each other’s talents and accomplishments. The good dentist, academician, former Vice-Chancellor, literary man, artist!  The good doctor, politician, writer, former Prime Minister, statesman! Pantun and puisi mingled with paint as clouds and colours mixed in acrylic!

It was refreshing to listen to two Malaysians addressing an attentive audience without having to apologise for their wit and imagination, indeed their talents and achievements- as the Malays often do! It was nice that one can show true humility and pride in one’s accomplishments without the trimmings of false modesty. Oftentimes I wonder why we Malays are always apologising: 

                                                                  Kalau ada jarum yang patah

                                                                  Jangan simpan dalam peti

                                                                  Kalau ada silap dan salah

                                                                  Jangan simpan dalam hati 

Why do the Malays have to be so falsely modest when it comes to our achievements?  Why do we have to apologise when we have hosted an event with the best of intentions and organised it to the best of our ability? If every detail is looked into and every little step taken,  the margin of error will be negligible. Instead, why don’t we invite our guests to share the honour, to celebrate the occasion and partake of its many joys!

As we did at Hashim Yaacob’s function! The guests shared his pantun and puisi as they did his clouds and colours! And they partook of  Tun Mahathir’s shy and demure presence – sans provocation! It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon, revelling in art and poetry! And to be earnest and honest about it!




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