Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

PM: If I ask you to murder someone, will you do it?

Wednesday, August 15th, 2018
Administrative and Diplomatic Service (PTD) officers have been told not to blindly follow orders that are against the laws and government policies. (Pix by LUQMAN HAKIM ZUBIR)
By NSTP Team - August 15, 2018 @ 1:21pm

PUTRAJAYA: Administrative and Diplomatic Service (PTD) officers have been told not to blindly follow orders that are against the laws and government policies.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad issued the directive today during a townhall session with more than 3,000 (PTD) officers, here.

“When you are asked to do something that you know is wrong including hiding any wrongdoings and even campaigning for certain parties, you should say no.

“Granted, the government expects you to be loyal. But, if we ask you to do things against the law, you should reject. Don’t do it.

“If I ask you to murder someone, will you kill?” he said, to which members of the floor replied with a solid no.

If the PTD were to unanimously reject orders that were wrong and against the law, Dr Mahathir believed action would not be taken against them.

“When something is blatantly wrong, you should not do it. A crime is still a crime. Only abide by orders that conform to government policies and the law,” he said.

By NSTP Team

(Azura Abas, Hashini Kavishtri Kannan, Mohd Husni Mohd Noor and Zanariah Abd Mutalib)

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Cuepacs: Civil servants should not divulge confidential gov’t info

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018
(File pix) of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Datuk Azih Muda. Pix by Rohanis Shukri

KUALA LUMPUR: Civil servants are required to practice the principles of integrity and honesty by not sharing any government information or confidential documents on social media.

Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Datuk Azih Muda said civil servants should be aware that divulging government confidential information via Whatsapp, Facebook and other social media platforms means the violation of integrity and oath of secrecy.

“What is the real purpose of civil servants leaking government secrets? Was it because of fun or wanting to be popular… do they know that this irresponsible act will have implications on the government and the country?

“Civil servants must abide by the oath and be responsible in safeguarding government secrets in accordance with the general circular letter and government security directive,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

He was commenting on a statement by Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa yesterday that civil servants, who are bound by the Official Secrets Act, should never share any confidential government information or documents on social media.

Azih said leakage of government confidential information was like ‘the enemy within’ because it exposes the government and the country to risks and there would be certain parties who would take this opportunity to use it for their own interests or agenda.

by  Bernama

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Chief Sec assures Sabah of federal civil servants’ continued support

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Shafie (right) discussing issues with Dr Ali (centre) and Nor Rizan.

KOTA KINABALU: Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Dr Ali bin Hamsa, said the State Government would continue to have the support of federal civil servants in Sabah.

This was the assurance given by Ali to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal during a courtesy call on the latter at his office here yesterday.

Ali pointed out that support to the State Government was important to ensure better implementation and completion of development projects.

“The collaboration and understanding between state and federal civil servants is also very important for the continuity of projects that will benefit the rakyat,” he said.

During the courtesy call, Ali and Shafie also discussed about other federal-funded projects in Sabah, including the repair of schools that fell into disrepair.

by Nancy Lai.

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Would you accept a job that goes against your values?

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
Would you accept a job that goes against your core values?

MY company does not seek or accept business from alcohol, tobacco or gambling outfits. This has been the policy of Zubedy (M) Sdn Bhd since it was set up in May, 1994

We do so because I disagree with alcohol, tobacco and gambling. It does not fit into my core values. That does not mean that I do not have friends and family members who consume alcohol, smoke and gamble. In fact, some of my closest friends are drinkers and smokers.

My issue with alcohol, cigarettes and gaming is personal. It stems from home and how I grew up. Yet, in no way do I see a non-drinker to be a better human being than a drinker. When I was little, one of the best human beings I met was my late father’s good friend, Uncle Ali Rahman. He was likely an alcoholic, but I have not met many with such a kind heart, always helping and caring for the poor. He was loving, caring and respectful — even to a 6-year-old kid. I used to be confused when many labelled him as one who was hell-bound because of his drinking habits when those name-callers fell far short of his kindness.

When my organisation was recommended to a tobacco company, the head of human resources called me. When I refused to provide my service, the head asked if I was serious as it was a RM1 million contract. I thanked her for her confidence in my team and brand, but suggested other providers whom I considered serious and capable of delivering what they needed. I told her that I could not make her sales team and workforce more effective and efficient in making more people smoke and the possibility of promoting cancer. She respected my position and we became friends.

When my good friend and former boss joined a beer company as head of sales and marketing, he wanted me to help him set in place the sales team there. Obviously, I said no, although he tried to sell me the idea that beer companies never sell alcohol, they sell happiness. Making people happy, he said, fits well into my core values.

Initially, when I quit the dairy product manufacturing company I worked with, I wanted a stint as a copywriter. An advertising agency offered me a lucrative salary, but I would have to write for a tobacco brand. I decided to settle into another position and accepted a salary package less than half, and as such avoided dealing with tobacco. How could I write and attract, especially more of the young, to smoke and burn their lungs? Can I perform at my best when the very industry is at odds with my values? Will I give my employer less than a fair deal? Will my salary be haram? Can I excel in my job.

As such, I suggest to any cabin crew who feel uncomfortable with uniform policies, be they by local or international airlines, to consider another profession.

Although I see it wise for the airlines to put in place two sets of uniform — tudung and non-tudung— to allow individuals the right to choose their dressing, the cabin crew must consider the other religious concerns like serving alcohol, sleeping with male counterparts in the same area during long flights, mingling with the opposite sex, etc. Will these go hand in hand with those wearing the tudung?

To the members of parliament who are fighting for the rights of Muslim women cabin crew to wear their religious attire, should they not have the right not to serve alcohol or do the other duties needed as per their job description too?

If you are serious about your values and see that all these are against your religious leaning, I suggest you choose another profession, even if the remuneration is less.


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Govt to discuss suggestion for non-beef menu at official functions: Deputy Minister

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
The government will look into the feasibility of having beef-free menu in its official functions to respect the wishes of Hindu adherents. (File pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will look into the feasibility of having beef-free menu in its official functions to respect the wishes of Hindu adherents.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dr Md Farid Md Rafik said the proposal was timely as Malaysians must be sensitive to both the needs of Muslims and non-Muslims.

“We as Muslims, we get very sensitive especially when it comes to food. Sometimes, we get lax and forget when it comes to other believers such as the Hindus.

“Some of them are vegetarians who do not even touch beef among others.

“We take note of this as we don’t see anything wrong with it. It should not be difficult to ensure availability of full vegetarian section or remove beef from the menu.

“However, this is still a subject to discussion (in the Cabinet),” said Md Farid, who is in charge of the national unity and integration portfolio.

He was answering a question from Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) over whether the government could serve non-beef menu to non-Muslim attendees at government functions.

The opposition lawmaker noted that non-Muslims like Hindus may feel uneasy when served beef at such functions.

He said that despite feeling uncomfortable, they may not voice it out in order to not disturb the function.

“In particular, I am referring to the swearing-in ceremony (at Dewan Rakyat) where wagyu beef (was served),” said Wee.

On July 18, the Parliament denied serving wagyu beef which cost RM2,000 per kg to lawmakers during the luncheon after the opening ceremony of the 14th Parliament session.

It said the viral dish was an additional dish served only to eight guests at the VVIP table, on the house from the caterer to celebrate the appointment of Dewan Rakyat Speaker.

The total cost at the table was only RM400.

Wee’s suggestion was made during Md Farid’s speech wrapping up of his ministry at Dewan Rakyat this afternoon.

The suggestion however was criticised by Cha Kee Chin (PH-Rasah), who pointed out that it had failed to be implemented during the past BN administration.

“This is proof that the BN government last time, where Ayer Hitam was minister and he was MCA number two (party deputy president) failed to address the beef (suggestion).

By Hidir Reduan.

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HFMD can cause death if not treated early, says Health Ministry.

Friday, July 27th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): – Chronic complications arising from the hand, foot and mouth (HFMD) disease can lead to death, said the Health Ministry.

Its Disease Control Division public health specialist Dr Norita Shamsudin said although HFMD was a mild contagious disease, the risks were high if cases were not treated early.

“Viral infections, especially Enterovirus 71 (EV71) can cause complications like dehydration, brain inflammation, heart and lung failure, and ultimately death. That is what worries us the most because the majority of HFMD cases this year are caused by EV71,” she said.

Dr Norita said the disease could infect anyone regardless of age, although almost 90% of HFMD cases involved children below five years of age.

“What is important is the preventive measures that must be taken by the parents and nursery operators to prevent the disease from spreading.

“Cleanliness must be stressed, and it is important that the child gets immediate treatment if there are signs of infection, and do not take them to public places,” she said.

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Putting an end to world hunger

Friday, July 27th, 2018
The weakness of poor farmers and the growth of low-nutrition crops have been, until now, some of the deterrents of efficient agriculture. Pic Courtesy of IPS

SIGNIFICANTLY more investment is needed to lift hundreds of millions of rural poor out of poverty and make agriculture environmentally sustainable, according to Rob Vos, director of the markets, trade and institutions division at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

With a growing world population, hunger and under-nutrition are on the rise, and governments are looking for private alliances to alleviate these issues.

At the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development at the United Nations headquarters in New York, recently, IFPRI organised a side event called “Investing for Reshaping Food Systems”.

Speakers included Claudia Sadoff, director general for the International Water Management Institute; Nichola Dyer, from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme at the World Bank; Gerda Verburg, coordinator at the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement; and Chantal-Line Carpentier, chief at the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

They all emphasised the urgency of investing in sustainable agriculture, defined by the Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition as “the efficient production of safe, healthy, and high-quality agricultural products, in a way that is environmentally, economically, and socially sustainable”.

While the world population will reach over eight billion people in 2025, the amount of cultivable land will remain the same. Decimated by pesticides, non-sustainable agricultural techniques, and water waste, healthy nutrients will become harder to access for the growing population. This issue, along with food waste (20 per cent of every food purchase is wasted), is a major concern for Verburg, who highlighted the need to rethink food systems and stop blaming agriculture.

The relationship between the private sector and agriculture isn’t new. On the contrary, many farmers, especially the poorest, are members of the private sector.

“The majority of poor and hungry people are small-scale farmers. They are in fact members of the private sector, albeit the weakest. And some corporate investments in agriculture can hurt them,” said John Coonrod, executive vice-president at the Hunger Project.

The weakness of poor farmers and the growth of low-nutrition crops have been, until now, some of the deterrents of efficient agriculture.

“The world has over-invested in low-nutrition staple crops, driving up the relative price of nutrition rich-foods. Empty calories is the food system of the poor. To overcome malnutrition, we need to increase the dietary diversity of the poor to include many more fruits and vegetables, which means increasing their local production and reducing their price to local consumers,” Coonrod explained.

How can private investment develop sustainable agriculture? Vos said that a first priority should be to provide incentives for investments beyond farms “in infrastructure like roads, electricity and cold transportation and agri-food processing”.

“This will help provide better and more stable market conditions for farmers, create lots of new jobs, and limit the risks of investing in agriculture itself,” he said.

He added the second priority is “to provide incentives for investing in sustainable practices and crop diversification, including towards fruits and vegetables”.

What about governments?

Brian Bogart, senior regional programme adviser for South Africa to the UN World Food Programme, said member states “have a responsibility to lead such efforts by developing effective partnerships with the private sector and fostering an enabling environment for investment”.

“With shrinking public investment in agriculture the question is how public-private partnerships can unlock opportunities for private investment to complement public resources and capacity to generate improved food security, particularly for the most vulnerable populations,” he added.

Some countries are already doing this. The Barilla Centre for Food and Nutrition’s Food Index on sustainable agriculture, which ranks 25 countries according to 58 indicators, reveals that Germany and Canada are among the states that rank highest with regard to sustainable agriculture.

However, responsibility does not lie solely with the state, but also with civil society. Coonrod, from the Hunger Project, explained what his organisation does in this regard: “We promote good nutrition through education, promoting better local farming methods, increasing local food processing and, in indigenous communities of Latin America, we’ve opposed junk food and helped communities reclaim their nutritious traditional foods.”

By Carmen Arroyo.

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Best way to understand Islam

Monday, July 23rd, 2018
Being a multicultural and multireligious society, peaceful coexistence with mutual respect and understanding among religious adherents is much needed at all level of society. FILE PIC

TOGETHER with the reform agenda, the Pa-katan Harapan government has made a commitment that it will bring a new approach to governing that is based on the spirit of openness, integrity, competency, accountability and transparency.

Aiming mostly at the implementation of a just and transparent political system, this approach will undoubtedly have consequences on how religion is administered.

What is mainly expected with regard to religious administration is a more inclusive approach from the government.

This would mean more freedom is given to all religious groups to express themselves either at the inter- or intra-religious levels through dialogue and interaction.

This is based on the premise that being a multicultural and multireligious society, peaceful coexistence with mutual respect and understanding among religious adherents is much needed at all levels of society.

As also stated by the new minister in charge of Islamic affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department, such an inclusive approach is in line with the Quranic principle that declares Islam as a blessing for all mankind.

“We have not sent you (O Muhammad), but as a mercy to all mankind (creatures).” (al-Anbiya’, (21):107)

Obviously, such an approach is disturbing, especially to complacent Muslims who have been pampered with a safe version of Islamic administration, protected by governmental Islamic institutions and unchallenged by external parties.

The escalating concern among them is that the inclusive approach will gradually open the floodgates of invasion of various ideologies and belief systems that will affect the true understanding of Islam among Muslims.

Internally, the room given to various minority interpretations of Islam will confuse the general populace who have been properly educated and inculcated with the understanding of Islam based on the well-accepted majority interpretation. It will also finally lead to more division among Muslims, who are already divided along political lines.

But it is equally important to emphasise that Islam, as a
universal religion, already has made itself open and transparent from the very beginning in history.

It is a religion that has declared its truth not to any particular group of audience, but to all mankind.

That Islam grants freedom of belief is very clear, both from the textual and rational basis. The Quran says, “There shall be no compulsion in religion.” (al-Baqarah, (2):256)

In commenting on the verse, Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi said that since God has made truth clear from falsehood, through justification and proof, there should be no coercion in accepting religion.

What is encouraged instead is to “call them with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.” (al-Nahl, (16):125)

Thus, based on the above verses, Islam spreads through persuasion and arguments, rather than through the sword and coercion.

The principle of persuasion and arguments is equally applicable to Muslims in terms of their own belief in the sense that even they have to ensure that whatever they believe in religion must be based on their own willingness and freedom of choice that is guided by true justification.

Rationally, since man is created with the faculty of reason and is made responsible for what he does, he has to be given freedom to judge based on his knowledge and conscience.

Hence, based on true knowledge, man will choose what is best for him and that which will bring him to certainty.

Hence, it is pertinent to re-
emphasise that Islam is based on knowledge and understanding which makes it reasonably explainable to human beings. The Quran gives strong reminders that one must not stand on something that one has no knowledge of.

We cannot but agree with the fact that being a religion that is meant to be the mercy of all mankind, Islam should be conveyed to all through the best possible ways.

For that matter, Muslims must be ready for dialogues and interactions which are important in maintaining peaceful co-existence.

For such a situation to take place in a good way, it is equally important to note that the understanding of religion among Muslims through proper education is of utmost priority.


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‘May this House be well regarded’

Thursday, July 19th, 2018
(File pix) Members of parliament listening to the royal address by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V yesterday. Pix by Aizuddin Saad

The following is the royal address by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at the first meeting of the 14th Parliament yesterday.

PRESIDENT of the Senate, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Members of the Senate and Members of the House of Representatives.

Alhamdulillah. We express our utmost gratitude to Allah the Almighty, for it is with His Munificence, and His Leave, we are gathered here today for the opening ceremony of the first session of the 14th Parliament.

Today will mark a historical day for this august house with the second opening of Parliament within the same year with a significant number of new members of parliament.

Honourable members,

The 14th General Election has just concluded on May 9. We congratulate the new government led by the prime minister that has been given the mandate by the people.

We would like to thank all parties involved, especially the Election Commission, the security forces and various government agencies for ensuring the smooth running of the general election without any untoward incident.

We congratulate all members of parliament who have been elected by the people to represent them in this august house.

It is an enormous responsibility entrusted upon all honourable members, who are expected to perform their duties with dedication and integrity.

We believe the honourable members will take this opportunity to participate in healthy, mature and dynamic debates, to find and to uphold the truth, by conveying ideas as well as critics with wisdom and civility.

May this parliamentary institution continue to be well respected and highly regarded by the people and the world over.

The people have chosen. Therefore, all parties should accept and respect the result of the general election without being emotional, narrow-minded or having prejudicial and slanderous thoughts that are influenced by sensationalism and speculation.

We hope all parties will work together in striving towards a genuine and pure unity, as well as finding solutions for the good of the people and for the survival of the nation.

Honourable members,

We hope the newly-elected government will bring more success in various fields that have been achieved to date.

The public and private sectors, as well as the people, must work hand-in-hand to achieve greater heights, especially in improving the economy of certain quarters that are still marginalised.

Championing the rights of marginalised groups should not be looked upon as discrimination but an effort to establish social justice that is long overdue.

On the international front, we applaud the role taken by Malaysia in enhancing cooperation with the world, especially Asean, for the well-being of the people and the nation.

Honourable members,

We welcome the government’s efforts to enhance transparency among others, by fully disclosing the government’s financial position and re-evaluating expenditures, as well as practising prudent financial management.

In order to curb the rising cost of living, we support the move to abolish the goods and services tax (GST) as well as to stabilise fuel prices and to extend the Bantuan Sara Hidup so as to ease the people’s burden.

We also applaud the people from all walks of life for their show of patriotism by donating to the Tabung Harapan.

Honourable members,

Global economic uncertainties, political conflicts, humanitarian crisis and the threat of radicalism have significant repercussions on the world’s geopolitics as well as economies. We hope the government will continue to address such challenges for the well-being of the people and nation.

The ability to forge ahead in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a new challenge for all countries. Hence, we welcome the government’s initiatives through the formation of policies, strategies and legal frameworks to meet the challenges. We hope the benefits will not be solely economic, but also in terms of social development as well as in many other aspects.

The mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan: New Direction 2018-2020 will be tabled this year as among the measures taken to face the challenges of the national development agenda.

The review is aimed at re-evaluating the directions and status of all programmes and projects that have been approved. We encourage all honourable members to participate in debating the said review and give useful input to the government.

Our government will continue the implementation of various programmes and projects to ensure that the people, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, can reap the benefits of development.

This is in line with the government’s policy to provide better living standards for the people as well as ensuring just and fair distribution of the nation’s wealth.

Honourable members

The contribution of almost 15 million workers is significant to the nation’s development. We hope that the workers will reap the reward from the introduction of initiatives, such as establishing the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, standardising the minimum wage and creating more jobs.

The contribution of women towards the nation is monumental in various jobs and skills. We are confident that the role of women can be further enhanced.

Therefore, proper measures should be instituted to tap on their potential and talent so that they can further contribute to the nation and society.

At the same time, the stability of the family institution will always be a priority.

While we are progressing towards modernisation, religious duties and good moral values must be preserved. We urge all parties, including government agencies, non-governmental organisations and scholars to work together in finding solutions to curb social ills and negative elements that are affecting our societies.

We applaud the government’s efforts to strengthen integrity, good governance, and the rule of law. Effective measures have to be taken to convince existing investors as well as to attract new investors to Malaysia.

Honourable members,

Ethnic, religious and cultural diversity such as in Malaysia are said to be the perfect recipe for disaster. Nonetheless, we are grateful that as a nation, we have proven otherwise. We urge every citizen to preserve and strengthen this peace and unity.

We must put an end to all the negative elements as well as the irresponsible actions that threaten the essence of peace, well-being of the people and stability of the nation.

Stop the bickering on racially-sensitive issues and we welcome the suggestion to form the Majlis Perundingan Rakyat to help promote and enhance unity through various programmes.

We thank and appreciate the commitment of all who have contributed towards safeguarding and ensuring the security, peace and sovereignty of the nation that has enabled the country to progress and reap the benefits as planned.

By NST .

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The future is ours

Thursday, July 19th, 2018
(File pix) ‘The future is ours to safeguard and shape, and ours, I hope, to enjoy,’ said Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at the 5th World
By NST - July 18, 2018 @ 10:12am

The following is the keynote address of Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah at the 5th World Conference on Islamic Thought and Civilisation (WCIT) at Casuarina@Meru, Ipoh, Perak, yesterday.

BISMILLAHI r-Rahmani r-Rahim. Assalamu‘alaykum warahmatullahiWabarakatuh.

Your Excellencies, distinguished scholars, ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this, the 5th World Conference on Islamic Thought and Civilisation. As ever, I am most delighted to be here to address you all today, at this conference hosted by the university which bears the name of my dear father, the 34th Sultan of Perak, Al-Marhum Sultan Azlan Shah. It is truly an institution which is very dear to my heart, and, returning here for another of these prestigious, international conferences, I am heartened — indeed, proud — to see Jami’ah Azlaniyah, this Islamic university, continue to flourish and thrive in an increasingly global context.

As the WCIT takes place for a fifth time, I must laud the efforts of the organisers on their selection of a theme which is, at once, positive, proactive and cautionary.

This conference gathers together some of the world’s finest thinkers, speakers and scholars, to reflect on the important challenge of “Securing the Future”, and to share ideas about practical strategies for doing so. For, the phrase “Securing the Future” reminds us that the future is, indisputably, not yet secure. The world is beset with many burgeoning crises. Global warming and pollution pose a very real and imminent threat to the planet, not only to plant and animal life, but ultimately to human existence.

Poverty and financial instability continue to devastate the lives of many people the world over, with more than 780 million individuals globally subsisting on less than US$1.90 (RM4.03) per day. Almost every day in the news we hear of discord between nations and peoples, such that, according to the data collected by the World Economic Forum, someone is displaced every three seconds, driven from their home because of war or persecution. As of the end of 2016, the number of people displaced by conflict worldwide was greater than the population of the entire United Kingdom. Indeed, from all of these perspectives, the future seems far from secure.

I am especially heartened to note, therefore, that through its many excellent sub-themes, including “Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow”, “Economy Matters” and “Cultural Language of Religion”, this conference sets out to address a variety of serious global challenges for the future in discursive and proactive ways. I want to touch upon a number of these related topics this morning, and I am delighted that we can also look forward to papers by eminent researchers from a wide variety of countries, fields and academic institutions, which will explore these themes in greater depth and detail.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Although I have opened on a serious note, I come here today with a message of hope and positivity, a call for action. I come here to tell you, to urge you to believe that “the future is ours”.

The future is ours to safeguard and shape, and ours, I hope, to enjoy. “The future is ours.” It is a short, seemingly simple assertion, and yet one which invites a number of questions — not least, what do I mean by “ours”? To whom, am I suggesting, does the future belong?

As a Muslim, I say that “the future is ours” in that I believe Islam has much to offer the world when it comes to tackling some of the biggest challenges of the future for mankind, particularly in economic and environmental terms. I have spoken in the past about the ways in which Islamic finance could play a vital role in addressing issues of poverty and financial instability on a larger, global scale. It is widely acknowledged, for instance, that Islamic banks generally fared much better during the financial crisis of 2007-2008, demonstrating greater resilience than non-Islamic banks, according to a report by the International Monetary Fund. This, surely, is a sign that Islamic finance models could contribute greatly to the global banking sector as a whole, providing stability and security in the face of future economic uncertainty.

As well as offering the hope of future economic stability, Islamic finance may also hold some of the answers when it comes to addressing the serious problem of widespread poverty. Through the social finance institutions of zakat, waqf and sadaqah, Islam enshrines charitable giving at its core, and there is no doubt that these mechanisms could be better mobilised to provide poor-relief to a greater number of individuals, both Muslims and non-Muslims, worldwide.

We should also note, moreover, the huge potential of sukuk bonds to generate wealth for the common good and for all people.

Although sukuk are Syariah-compliant investments, a number of Socially Responsible Investment or SRI sukuk have been developed in recent years which are designed to raise money to fund socially beneficial projects for everybody. Take, for example, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which launched the first international sukuk intended for a charitable purpose in 2014, raising US$500 million in its first year to help fund immunisation programmes in some of the world’s poorest countries. I am delighted, also, to be able to mention the Khazanah sukuk as an example of an SRI sukuk, which helps to fund schools and education right here in Malaysia. I sincerely hope that more sukuk may be used to such socially responsible ends in the future, and as sukuk issuance continues to increase, spreading to new markets such as the United Kingdom and South Africa, it seems that this hope could very well be realised. Sukuk bonds are emerging as a viable, popular and ethical investment option, and this is a contribution which Islam can make to the future of the economy and to human welfare, on a truly global scale.

This discussion of sukuk, moreover, leads me into another area in which I believe Islam has an important role to play in securing the future of the planet: that of protecting and preserving the natural environment. As well as SRI sukuk bonds, recent years have also witnessed the inception of the so-called “green” sukuk,

and I am very pleased to be able to say that Malaysia has been an innovator, promoting bid’ah hasanah, in this respect. Just last year, in 2017, Malaysia launched the world’s first ever Green sukuk as a collaboration between Malaysia’s Central Bank and Securities Commission, together with the World Bank. The proceeds from this sukuk will finance environmentally beneficial projects such as the development of renewable energy sources here in Malaysia.

But, there is much more still to be done when it comes to tackling the ever-growing problem of climate change. This conforms to Islam’s philosophy of the Adamic man’s mandate as God’s khalifah, to act as stewards of the planet.

Allah subhanahu wa-ta‘ala reminds us of our God-given honour in the Quran with the words, “We appointed you as stewards (khalifah) in the earth — so that We might see how you behave!”

With this God-given honour, we are entrusted also with a grave responsibility.

At present, humanity is damaging, not nurturing the planet, and this ultimately means damaging the future. Carbon dioxide pollution, generated particularly by the burning of fossil fuels, has resulted in rapidly rising global temperatures, leading to the melting of glaciers and ice caps, and to dramatic rises in sea levels.

To give a tangible sense of the rate at which this crisis is developing, researchers predict that most central and eastern Himalayan glaciers will have entirely disappeared by 2035. This is a stark indication of the speed with which we must act if we are to address the escalating problem of global warming. Climate change and human activities such as deforestation are also having a devastating effect on the earth’s biodiversity, leading to the extinction of the other living creatures with which we share this planet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the rate of species extinction is somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the natural extinction rate. The preventable loss of a species is truly a loss for our future. It is a God-given duty of Muslims to strive to reverse or, at the very least, to halt this environmental damage. The future of the planet is our divine responsibility.

When I say that “the future is ours”, however, I do not speak only as a Muslim. I speak also as a human, as a citizen of the world, as belonging to that Adamic family: for I believe that the future belongs to each and every one of us, irrespective of our religion, our race, and even our nationality.

Indeed, if we are to take on the major challenges like climate change, which pose a serious and imminent threat to our future, we must think and work beyond our modern borders and identity boundaries, and we must also, moreover, empower each and every individual to feel that their actions can make a difference.

The former First Lady of the United States of America, Eleanor Roosevelt, once wrote in an inspirational phrase, that “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, and although it might sound like something of a cliché, it is a notion that I would like all of us to hold on to today. The future belongs to those who believe that they have the power to shape it, to effect real, decisive change, and to have their voices heard.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have just witnessed our 14th general election two months ago here, where the citizens of Malaysia, the voters, brought about substantial, even unprecedented political transformation through the ballot box. From this defining moment in our country’s relatively young history, I do hope that the citizens of Malaysia feel empowered to make their mark, and to influence their nation’s future.

As I stressed a little over a decade ago, “Malaysians of all races, religions and geographic locations need to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have a place under the Malaysian sun”. It will require what our ulama call both tajdid as well as islah, to breathe new life into and to rejuvenate our institutions, and where necessary to improve upon them.

There is no denying, however, that there will be “growing pains” in our journey to make Malaysia a mature democracy to join the rest of the community of nations already in that Premier League of democracies, so to speak. That is why I believe that we should not leave anyone behind in this process, including those with whom we may disagree. We must avoid the unhealthy practice made in some countries where, following an important victory, “the winner takes all”. Everyone under the Malaysian sun should be part of this journey, and we should be mindful to involve all of the nation’s stakeholders in this historic journey.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have spoken at this conference several times in the past about the vital importance of investing in and empowering the world’s youth. Young people, after all, really do represent our planet’s future. To reiterate a hugely pertinent quotation which I cited two years ago, by the director of the United Nations Population Fund, “Young people are the innovators, creators, builders and leaders of the future. But, they can transform the future only if they have skills, health, decision-making and real choices in life”. Of course, investment in education and healthcare is absolutely vital, as I have emphasised in the past, but it is this notion of involving young people in decision-making and empowering them to feel that they do have “real choices in life” which I wish to dwell on before closing. We often talk about young people being the leaders and policymakers of tomorrow, but I suggest that we also need to do more to make young people feel actively consulted and engaged in decision-making today. Indeed, there are numerous case studies which demonstrate that mobilising youth populations, for example, in national peace building and community cohesion projects can be hugely effective, significantly improving the overall success of such efforts. Following the end of the Nepalese civil war a little over a decade ago, the thorough involvement of young people in peace consultations resulted in an 80 per cent reduction in violent protests. Meanwhile, earlier this year, UNESCO reaffirmed its commitment to continue and to reinforce its work with young people in community development in South Sudan, ensuring, “that their voices are not only heard, but that they actually become drivers of change in their respective communities”.

At the same time, there is also evidence to suggest that when young people feel disempowered, disaffected and ignored, they will inevitably seek to bring about change in other, less constructive, collaborative, democratic and even peaceful ways. Analysis of the Arab Spring of 2011 has suggested that youth unemployment was one of the underlying causes of the uprising, with unemployment rates at almost 30 per cent in Tunisia, where the protests began. Notably, reports indicate that jobs were high on the demand lists of these early protestors. What is especially tragic about this fact is that, despite youth unemployment being a root cause and driver of the uprising, very little has changed in the aftermath of these events in the Arab world. Indeed, World Bank statistics indicate that youth unemployment rates are actually even higher now than they were in 2010-11. The message, it seems, is only too clear.

When young people are consulted and actively involved in political and diplomatic processes, they can help to effect change which is significant, peaceful and positive for all. When young people feel overlooked and disenfranchised, the routes they may take in their attempts to get their voices heard can actually result in a worsening of their already compromised situation.

In Malaysia, it would seem, but also around the world, we need to do more to enable young people to “become drivers of change”, to empower them to believe that the future really is theirs to influence and build. As leaders, scholars, and people with a platform, we need not only to champion those issues which we believe matter to today’s youth, but also to invite young people to speak and to be heard, to share their ideas in their own words, within democratic and diplomatic forums, and not outside of them. To underline the vital importance of this, I would emphasise that young people currently make up nearly half of the world’s population: as of 2017, 42 per cent of the global population was under the age of 25, and that number is set to grow. We must, I think, do more to engage these many millions of people in shaping their tomorrow, today.

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