Archive for August, 2010

31
Aug
10

 

MERDEKA APPEAL

On the 53rd anniversary of Merdeka I feel sad and despondent when I think of how hard we have worked to build our beautiful nation of  peoples, cultures and heritage only to see its progress and development being threatened by zealots and bigots!

Like many concerned Malaysians, I worry about the current political and socio-cultural trends where groups of people seem bent on destroying the moral fabric of the nation by lashing out at every effort to renew pledges of loyalty and patriotism; where it has become fashionable to be disgruntled and condemning; where selfish, narrow-minded parochialism is replacing the old-world generosity of spirit; where the smug cleverness of this generation is taking over the thoughtful wisdom of our founding fathers; where cynicism and skepticism is fast becoming the order of the day.

I worry about the misplaced exuberance where in the quest for quick decisions and results, the people are becoming impatient and intolerant and, worst of all, scornful of one another’s needs. Whereas in the past there was a careful response to inter-ethnic issues, there is now hasty reaction; whereas before we took time to listen to our neighbour’s grievances, we are now focused on our own problems; whereas in the early days we were appreciative of government efforts, we are now dismissive of them. Paradoxically, the modern quest for rapid economic development and material achievement has only produced selfish competition. In urging the nation to develop its physical resources, there is the danger that its spiritual needs have been neglected.

A nation’s people are only as good or bad as their leaders and role models in politics and government, in the business and commercial sector, in schools and institutions of higher learning, in their religious and cultural environment, in their homes and family settings. They are influenced by what they see and hear around them in real and virtual time. They will imitate the conduct and behaviour of  the people they look up to. Citizens who are selfless and altruistic are nurtured in a community that demonstrates the highest standards of morality and compassion. 

 On the 53rd anniversary of Merdeka I appeal to the nation’s leaders and role models to reassess their roles and responsibilities, a big part of which is manifested in the way they communicate. They have a duty to refine their rhetoric and lift it to a more intellectual level. There’s no doubt that in this the media’s function as the most visible and audible transmitter of information is crucial. Most of us have few opportunities to interact face-to-face with our leaders and assess them through what is reported in the newspapers, TV and the internet. We can only evaluate what we read or hear. The media must therefore encourage meaningful public discourses and present them in the most vibrant ways.

I appeal to the political leaders to think carefully and articulate substantive viewpoints in the most constructive way. I call on the media chiefs and journalists to focus on the issues that build rather than destroy. I  urge the business and corporate heads to exhibit the highest standards of ethics. I  plead with the community and religious leaders to promote the highest moral values. I  entreat the teachers and educators to nurture thinking and rational students. I implore the parents and family elders to instil discipline and responsibility in their children. 

Most of all, I entreat all Malaysians to appreciate God’s bounty in giving us this beautiful nation whose peace and prosperity we must protect with all our heart and soul!

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18
Aug
10

 

BABY DUMPING

Society must be unwavering in condemning baby dumping as the most despicable and heinous act that any human is capable of. There’s no question that it must be categorised as a crime equivalent to murder if it results in the death of  the infant.

The degree of criminality can be seen as surpassing even that of murder if one considers the fact that the perpetrator’s intent would have been motivated by completely selfish considerations such as the shame of discovery or the fear of resonsibility. Treating a newborn child like a piece of thrash to be discarded is a monstrous act on the part of the parents and/ or their accomplices no matter how much emotional or psychological pressure they are facing. They have committed a crime for which they must be charged accordingly and face the legal consequences of their action.

The frequency with which baby dumping is occurring points to a complete breakdown in moral values among a sector of the community viz the irresponsible people whose sexual activities result in the conception and birth of a child which they decide to abandon. The common argument is that they are mainly young and unmarried with a commitment to complete their education in school or college, or even at work. They are rejected by their parents and family and have no resources of their own to raise a child. They are judged by the community and are too scared to approach the health authorities or welfare bodies who may be able to assist. Their only recourse is to abandon the infant dead or alive for fear that their lives will be adversely affected. They casually dump the foetus or infants into drains and rubbish heaps, or “mercifully” leave them in places where there’s a chance they will be found. 

We are aghast that for all our modernity and sophistication, a new kind of infanticide is erupting right before our eyes. We are shocked that its perpetrators are the young men and women nurtured by the value systems within our own community. While society at large must rightly condemn their deeds as criminal to be placed with the other crimes against humanity, it must also accept the responsibility of having produced these errant and erring individuals. What has gone so horribly wrong here? When has the shame of having a child out of wedlock become more difficult to bear than throwing it away like a piece of rubbish?

Having pre-marital sex and conceiving a child out of wedlock are  certainly not modern-day phenomena that have suddenly emerged. Society has not suddenly become sex-oriented. Unmarried people , young and old from all cultures, succumb to sexual temptations. Unfortunately some couples are either careless or ill-informed  and their illicit activities result in an unwanted pregnancy. Depending on their own domestic set-up and family relationships, they either get support from their partners and family or are rejected by them.

One can go into the oft-quoted causes and heap blame on a number of things at the level of the personal, peer influence, family, community, the media and publicity and even government policy and programmes which are not effective. The easy access to pornography is said to be an immediate cause of rampant sexual activity and the resulting unwanted pregnancies. The breakdown in communication at all these levels has given rise to a moral phenomenon threatening to turn sordidly criminal with more copy-cat cases emerging daily.  

It is right that the government has taken the drastic step of categorising baby dumping as a criminal act amounting to murder if it meets with all the legal specifications of one. The country’s religious and educational authorities must play their part in organising community programmes and collaborating with the parents to nurture the right values in the young. The softer approaches like welfare aid, rehabilitation and counselling will fall into place once we admit that the issue is dead serious and needs urgent redress.




August 2010
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