Archive for September, 2013





Published in The Sun on 16 September 2013

MODERN gadgetry including handphones, digital video cameras and CCTVs are making us impassioned observers and commentators as image upon image appears before our eyes.

As concerned members of society we are quick to sympathise and even empathise with the people we see suffering from personal and societal abuses by their “lawless” and “clueless” compatriots.

The recent brutal handling of an infant by a male staff in a foreign country was condemned by those who had the heart to watch a baby being slapped around like a dead fish. If this had happened in a Malaysian hospital, some of us would have called for the public lynching of the predator animal.

At home, the CCTV recording of a woman being hit and kicked around by a burly husband in a lift watched by her two young children, drew a public outcry which led to a police report and the man’s arrest. We are now disgusted that the brute has the audacity to smile into the camera as he is led to court.

Just last week, the sneaked report of a CCTV installed in a school toilet drew public flak and condemnation of the school management and PTA who “wisely” made the decision in order to deter school vandalism. The education department was not spared brickbats for “foolishly” approving the application.

The general objection is that toilets are private places, even sacred, where the individual alone is allowed liberties. No one else is privy to a person’s bodily functions, let alone a camera which captures toilet actions for posterity.

Developments in the UK, however, show that the new Malaysian obsession with privacy may prove to be detrimental to public security as this excerpt shows: “UK schools so unsafe that surveillance needed in the most private spaces? Since the 1990s, the UK’s Home Office has spent 78 per cent of its crime prevention budget on CCTV installations, and schools have likewise invested significant resources in their own surveillance equipment.”

In Malaysia, now that the CCTV culprits have been witch-hunted and reprimanded, we should look at the issue of school toilets squarely in the face. School toilets are private YES, but not the sacred area it is made out to be. It is not a taboo area that cannot be literally and metaphorically touched but should be seen as a utility area that the school community owns and needs to look after.

Granted schools employ cleaners to clean up after schoolchildren, but would it not be wonderfully nurturing if we get the children involved? Would this not be a hands-on way of teaching the young that ownership comes with responsibility?

As part of their character-building and ethic-instilling roles, many dedicated teachers are now organising community work such as helping the orphans and elderly, doing odd jobs or “gotong-royong” in the neighbourhood, etc. Why not involve students in looking after their school toilets?

Classes can take turns to spruce up the toilets. This can be done with proper time-tabling. And at assembly every week, incentives can be announced. There can be a prize for the class that is judged to be the best in this community effort and stars can be given to the runners-up.

When respect for toilets is nurtured and the particular skill of cleaning toilets is learnt from young, children will grow up with the right attitude and behaviour towards toilet use. Malaysian schools can then look forward to a cleaner future with toilet-trained students.

In this respect, the Japanese who are known for being sticklers for cleanliness and politeness in their daily lives, train children to clean their school toilets.

In the outer community, some of us have had horrendous experiences of Malaysian public toilets, infamous for their stench and water-ridden seats and floors. It does not help to explain that we are a water culture where we toilet clean ourselves and perform spiritual cleansing with water.

For instance, besides dealing with their bodily functions, Muslims pray five times a day and take ablution each time – which explains why the toilets in government offices and agencies are always wet. Added to this are the dirty sinks as office staff wash their oily plates of rice and curry, leaving bits of food to clog the outlet designed for running water.

Yes – Malaysians still have a lot to learn and unlearn as they strive to become a technologically advanced nation by 2020. Woe betide us if we own the most sophisticated technology and gadgetry, have superior mental capacities which have been nurtured by a transformed education system – yet fail badly in our toilet skills.





Raja Zarith Sofiah Binti Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah, Patron of PCORE and Guest Of Honour


Tan Sri Dr Michael Yeoh, Chief Executive Officer of ASLI


Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive of Air Asia


Dr Chandra Muzaffar, Chairman of Yayasan 1 Malaysia


Dato’ Dr Mohd Tap, President of Institut Integriti Malaysia

Distinguished Speakers and Role-Players

Honoured Guests, Ladies & Gentlemen


  • It gives me great pleasure to welcome PCORE Patron, HRH Raja Zarith Sofiah Sultan Idris Shah to the ASLI-PCORE Forum on the theme Unity & Multiculturalism: Building A Future Together.
  • Menjunjung Kasih Tuanku for your gracious presence.
  • Since PCORE was founded in 2010 and officially registered in May 2011, Her Royal Highness has been fully supportive of our activities.
  • Indeed it was Tuanku who inspired five Facebook friends to form a citizen movement based on the founding values of peace, conscience and reason
  • PCORE is a young citizen movement and our simple motto ripples not waves  urges us on in small but meaningful ways
  • As PCORE President I’m proud to say that from the onset our strategy has always been to collaborate with partners who share our mission and objectives  – with individuals and small groups as well as giants such as ASLI.
  • We have found collaboration to be a most efficient way of sharing our resources and a most effective way of managing our programmes and activities. Not only does it extend our outreach, it also optimises our capacities. It is economical – when we cost-share, we cost-cut. Efficient, Effective & Economical!
  • Collaborating is an excellent opportunity to learn from the knowledge, experience and exposure, from the talents, skills and training of people who come from diverse backgrounds. By coming together in pursuit of a common cause we are united in working for the best outcomes.
  • We in PCORE believe that if the same spirit of collaboration pervades Malaysian society and seeps into the hearts of Malaysians, we will move forward as a people, united by the shared reality of our daily lives and our shared hopes and dreams.
  • For now, my hope is that the forum goes well with the participation of each and every one of us. We are gathered here today because we care and we believe we can make a difference.
  • Today we are here to speak honestly and sincerely, to share positive and constructive ideas on how to make our beloved Malaysia a better place.


  • Today in this miniscule space of a public forum, ordinary people are making a commitment to nation-building – to uphold our diversity and to reconcile our differences.
  • We are defining new approaches and finding workable solutions to manage the little niggly problems as well as the bigger issues that we face as a people and as a nation


  • We will collate and compile all your suggestions and document them into the forum Resolutions and Recommendations  to be handed to the relevant authorities.


  • We must create more public spaces like this forum where people, including the young can come together and share their hopes and dreams for national unity in meaningful exchanges


  • We must create more opportunities for people to engage one another in honest and sincere ways. By giving one another the space for dialogue and discourse, by listening to what others have to say, by sympathising and empathising with people who are different from us, we will undertand one another better and at a deeper level than the surface “Hi” and “Hello”.


  • I would like to end by thanking PCORE’s “partner in forum” ASLI for this wonderful opportunity to synergise our many strengths in organising this forum. Thank you Tan Sri Michael, Yeen Seen and the staff of ASLI
  • May I thank the forum’s esteemed speakers and role players who did not hesitate when they were asked to lend their voices. Thank you for your commitment to national unity and multiculturalism
  • I would like to thank Institut Integriti Malaysia for your cooperation in making the forum space a glowing one. Thank you Dato’ Dr Mohd Tap and your team of dedicated staff
  • Last but not least a huge thank you and much love to the PCORE committee with whom I’ve held hands to put together this forum and our other activities. You are great guys!

Salam and PEACE





1170690_10151830986989917_1260845464_nMany peoples, one nation

Published in The Sun on 2 September 2013

UNITY is the life of a nation and gives life to it. The unity of a nation is the sum total of the unity in the different aspects of the nation’s life – which occurs synchronically or simultaneously, across different areas and at different levels and diachronically or chronologically, at different times in the nation’s existence.

Aug 31, 1957 was a historic and an exceptionally auspicious day when Malayans were united as a nation, a day when the people stood together as one. Our forefathers were filled with a sense of pride, honour and dignity as Malaya was liberated from British rule and granted the status of an autonomous, independent nation. We became a free people, unshackled from our colonial ties. It was indeed an uplifting feeling to be at par with the other independent nations and to be recognised as equals.

Merdeka Day therefore remains in the nation’s collective memory as a day of unity when we came together as one people in celebration of our new freedom. Merdeka Day continues to be celebrated for the peace and harmony that the nation has achieved to enable it to develop in all aspects of its relatively young life. Malaysians are reminded that we have progressed this far and continue to enjoy the peace and prosperity because we have remained united as a people.

If you ask Malaysians what are some of the things they are proud of about their country, many will not hesitate to say it’s the multicultural society and its diversity. We are multiethnic and multicultural. In fact, it can be said that Malaysians are truly a mix of many different racial groups and ethnicities – as many as the groups that travelled along our trade routes by land and by sea from as long ago as the third century.

Many of us can claim to have Chinese, Indian, Arab, Turkish, Dutch, British ancestry as well that of the peoples of Southeast Asia and the Indonesian islands. As a result of Malaysia’s post-independence developments in education, economics, commerce and industry with and in foreign countries, there have been intermarriages producing offspring of mixed ethnicities.

At a deeper level, we are united in having similar cultural and religious values outstanding among which are belief in God, respect for other religions and their rites and rituals, customs and traditions. Among the shared family values are respect for elders, responsibility to the family and community, commitment to education and knowledge and discipline in the home and outside. These universal values are shared by Malaysians of all religions and cultures.

It appears then that there are more things which unite us than divide us. Why then do we need to reinforce unity?

Why is there a need for us to have reaffirmations of unity if all is well in the state of Malaysia? It seems that like Shakespeare’s Hamlet who worried about what was happening in his beloved Denmark, we worry that some things are “not well” in beloved Malaysia.

It appears that we need to revitalise the notion of “Unity in Diversity” and inject new life into it. It has become necessary to remove some of the clichés, jargons and slogans that Malaysians are so good at creating and believing and search for new substantive meanings in unity.

This was the objective of the ASLI-PCORE forum on the theme “Unity & Multiculturalism: Building A Future Together” on Aug 29, where Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin delivered the closing keynote address entitled “Reinforcing The Building Blocks Of National Unity”.

The minister succinctly observed that in carrying out their socio-cultural obligations and routines Malaysians lead “parallel lives” rather than one that converges into one shared reality.

Indeed, we are defined in substantive ways by our ethnicity, culture and religion. There is no denying this. The sooner we accept this reality the better for us as a nation.

We must accept that there is no absolute unity except God’s unity, no absolute truth except God’s truth. This we must believe and understand. Unity is not an absolute that can be achieved absolutely. It is the journey towards it that matters.

The point of convergence lies in our different strengths as Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan, Dayak or Bidayuh.


We are united in our search for peace and harmony.

Toward this end the forum participants joined the minister in pledging a Declaration of Unity:

We, the voices of moderation, pledge to uphold the unity of our beloved Malaysia by:
-Promoting a culture of peace and harmony
-Spreading mutual goodwill and understanding
-Building upon our shared realities
-Consolidating our common strengths
-Engaging one another sincerely and honestly
-Resolving conflict in constructive ways.
We declare that through our voices of peace, conscience and reason we will reinforce national unity in sensible and rational ways.

September 2013