Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

NGOs want gov’t to create anti-discrimination law

Friday, November 17th, 2017
Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM) chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman (centre) addresses the media during a press conference in Kual Lumpur. Pic by ZUNNUR AL SHAFI

KUALA LUMPUR: Some 16 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are urging the government to introduce an anti-discrimination law to protect the rights of employees at the workplace.

The NGOs, in a joint statement today, said discrimination based on gender, race and religion at the workplace or in economic activities was a serious matter that required government intervention.

Majlis Tindakan Ekonomi Melayu (MTEM) chief executive officer Ahmad Yazid Othman said the no-headscarf policy, which placed the hotel industry under the spotlight recently, was just “the tip of the iceberg”.

“In 2015, for instance, there were cases of Muslim men working in factories being denied the right to attend Friday prayers.

“There are also cases of Muslim women teachers not being allowed to wear the headscarf at a vernacular school in 2014.

“Meanwhile, a research in 2003 (by Just Faaland, Jack Parkinson and Rais Saniman) revealed that a Bumiputera may earn about 20 to 30 per cent less compared with other races despite holding the same position and having the same skills,” he said at the Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia (MCCM) office here today.

Yazid added that there was also a need for the government to conduct a continuous efforts to raise awareness on employees’ rights.

The NGOs also urged the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chairman Samuel Cheah Swee Hee to step down for what they alleged was a bid by him to justify discrimination.

The statement said Cheah had failed to understand that the principles of hospitality in the hotel industry were not related to an employee wearing a headscarf.

The issue concerning the no-headscarf uniform policy came to light following a recent report by the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) that they had received complaints from hotel employees regarding the banning of headscarves or hijab at the workplace.

MAH was reported to have said that the no-headscarf uniform policy for hotel frontline staff was an international practice based on standard operating procedures (SOP) and policy.

Among the 16 NGOs supporting the joint statement were Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), Concern Lawyer for Justice (CLJ), Malaysian Lawyer Circle (MLC), Young Professionals, Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim), Gerakan Pembela Ummah (Ummah), Gerakan 153, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), and Persatuan Patriots Malaysia.

On a similar note, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is also urging for the protection of freedom in practising one’s religion or belief without discrimination at the workplace.

The commission said employment contracts could stipulate specific conditions, but they must not imply any direct or indirect discriminatory actions against freedom of religion and expression.

Suhakam said in a statement today that businesses always have a responsibility towards the promotion and protection of human rights.

By MASRIWANIE MUHAMADING.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/304352/ngos-want-govt-create-anti-discrimination-law

Apply laws in probes – FCAS

Monday, November 13th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) president Tan Sri Dr T.C. Goh has urged enforcement agencies, namely the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia (LHDN), to apply relevant laws in their investigations.

Goh said there was a major flaw in the legal system of Malaysia whereby the MACC and LHDN would investigate alleged graft or tax evasion cases under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

“This is even more serious than the Internal Security Act (ISA).

“No one dares to oppose to it (Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001) because if you do, it gives the impression that you are supporting terrorism.”

Under the Income Tax Act 1967, Goh said LHDN would have to prove an individual had indeed committed tax evasion. Consequently, he said the person could either repay LHDN or challenge the agency’s order in court.

On the contrary, if an individual is investigated under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, the burden of proof is on the individual whereby he or she has to prove that their money came from legitimate sources, he explained.

“If you cannot prove (your innocence), your accounts will be frozen,” he said at the 2018 Budget seminar organized by the Economic Bureau of FCAS here yesterday.

As such, Goh hoped that the authorities could apply the relevant laws when carrying out enforcement to ensure fairness for the rakyat.

Additionally, Goh said the statutory of limitation for record keeping for filing of income tax return is seven years.  However, he said should the LHDN decided to investigate a company under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act, the company would be required to prove the source of its monies beyond that period of time.

“This shows that companies have to be more cautious in storing their documents.”

In addition, Goh raised the issue of ambiguity pertaining to Real Property Gains Tax (RPGT) or taxable income for the sale of holding property for investment owned by a company.

He said the sale of a company-owned property would be subjected to five per cent of RPGT when it was put up for sale after five years.

“But if LHDN sees the sale of the property as a taxable income, the company will be subjected to 20-25 per cent tax,” he said.

On another note, Goh reiterated that the corporate and individual tax should both be lowered following the imposition of the Goods and Service Tax (GST).

“In the 2018 Budget, the government has seemingly listened to our voices and announced the reduction of income tax by two percentage point for individuals earning below RM70,000 annually.

He added that businesses should be aware of fines imposed on businesses for late penalty or errors in filing GST with the authority.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2017/11/13/apply-laws-in-probes-fcas/

Early education on evils of corruption bodes well for nation’s future generation

Monday, November 13th, 2017
MCPF senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it would augur well for the nation if there was a curriculum to teach students to learn about the adverse effects of corruption. Pic by NSTP/AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOO

KOTA KINABALU: Students should be given early exposure to corruption offences and their negative impact on society, said a Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) official.

MCPF senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it would augur well for the nation if there was a curriculum to teach students to learn about the adverse effects of corruption.

“The fight against corruption must be given the full support by all sectors of society including educational institutions.

“Good values and integrity should be instilled in the younger generation while they are still at school,” he said in a statement here today.

A study conducted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on 1,000 varsity students last year found that 16 per cent were willing to accept a bribe and 18.5 per cent would accept a bribe if they did not have to face any action.

A recent survey on Students’ Perception of Corruption carried out by the Integrity Institute of Malaysia revealed that one in every three local university students thought that receiving a present in the form of money, goods or service in return for services rendered was not corruption.

Lee said efforts of MACC to encourage university students to reject any form of bribery were very timely as some of them did not fully understand the concept of corruption.

“Early education can help develop a culture of honesty and trust and become a way of life for our future leaders.”

He said there was a need to establish an anti-corruption culture and promote integrity at all levels of society.

By KRISTY INUS.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/302408/early-education-evils-corruption-bodes-well-nations-future-generation

Heroes come to the rescue

Monday, November 6th, 2017
Helping hands: Volunteers helping to load food and drinks onto a truck to be transported to flood relief centres.

Helping hands: Volunteers helping to load food and drinks onto a truck to be transported to flood relief centres.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Volunteers and rescue personnel at flood affected areas have been hailed as heroes of the day as they worked tirelessly to extend aids to the victims.

Donors brought food and water supply for the victims but they were not able to reach the inundated evacuation centres.

A number of three-tonne army trucks helped to transport not only supplies, but also victims to safety.

More than a hundred people called central Seberang Prai district office temporary shelter because their homes in Kota Permai and Taman Sungai Rambai had been submerged.

Amriteswari Foundation of Ma­­lay­­sia partnered with Ananda Bha­wan Restaurants to provide vegetarian meals to the victims.

Its national chairman Athi Sivan said they prepared some 300 food packets to be distributed in the state.

“We prepared the food and our volunteers helped to distribute them wherever we receive requests for our food.”

The Island Hospital team also distributed some 360 sachets of biscuits, 284 bottles of water, 30 windbreakers and three bags of clothing to residents staying in flats in Perak Road and Free School Road.

Its marketing communications manager Adeline Goh said seven volunteers from the hospital helped to distribute the supply.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/06/heroes-come-to-the-rescue-victims-provided-with-food-and-water-by-good-samaritans/#8buHQHUGmL8VUkUD.99

Good deeds, not militant movements or violence, make a good Islamic country

Monday, November 6th, 2017
Islamic country will never be achieved through militant movements and violence or through mere labelling of the religion on its name, said Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah. (Pix by MUHAIZAN YAHYA)

KUALA KANGSAR: Islamic country will never be achieved through militant movements and violence or through mere labelling of the religion on its name, said Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

“An Islamic country also would not be formed by labelling the Islamic word to the name of the country or by inserting the elements of Islam in the legal system and country’s constitution.

“The desire for a fair and equitable ruling has led to the establishment of various militant movements worldwide which aim to set up Daulah Islamiah or the Islamic state,” he said.

Instead, Sultan Nazrin said an Islamic country could be realised when the government is capable of practising good deeds and rejecting the bad ones (amal makruh nahi mungkar); and the people live in unity and harmony.

“An islamic country will be realised when the citizens live peacefully, respectful towards one another and are united in upholding the souverignty of the nation and the law; free from corruption and abuse of power, (as well as when) the wealth is distributed fairly and there is no longer the poor,” he said during the investiture ceremony held in conjunction with his 61th birthday at Istana Iskandariah here.

“An Islamic country will also emerge when the government and leaders embrace the noble traits of the Prophet Muhammad who had the spirit of serving, sacrificing, refusing to be given any privilege and had never put himself as more noble than others.

“Leaders who embrace the Islamic spirit would govern based on truth and justice,” Sultan Nazrin said adding they also must be of good character because this will have an effect on the people.

Sultan Nazrin also called on the youth to understand the history of the country’s formation since 60 years of independence so that they would continue to be guided to the right path.

Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir in his expressing his gratitude to Sultan Nazrin said the state had also prospered in various sectors under the ruler and the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Perak made it to the Top 10 Must-visit region in 2017 while Ipoh was named as as the 6th most interesting place to visit in Asia by (the world’s biggest tour guide publication) Lonely Planet.

“The state also recorded the highest arrival of domestic tourists for four consecutive years. A total of 15 out of the 20 municipal councils in Perak received a five-star rating, while Ipoh City Council was announced as the best local government (under the star-rating system by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry),” he said in his speech.

By Nuradzimmah Daim.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/299580/good-deeds-not-militant-movements-or-violence-make-good-islamic-country

Strengthening ethical basics of conduct

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Since the law does not deal with the root causes of crimes, prevention should come from inculcation of ethics and education.

THE tragedy that befell one of the tahfiz recently was heart-wrenching. It was equally tragic that the suspected perpetrators are all juveniles.

Whatever the results of the ongoing police investigations, the incident has certainly left us brooding over what has happened to the quality of ethics among our young generation and over what should be the urgent solution.

Ethical problems among youths are often underestimated. It is only when an ethical problem rears its ugly head and transforms into a criminal problem that we realise these are serious concerns.

When the crimes committed are fatal, the immediate response by many is to impose severe punishment on those convicted to ensure that justice is served, and as a deterrent to any potential criminals in future.

Despite its important role, the law has some discrepancies, especially in solving ethical problems. First, the law deals more with limitations and consequently, the punishment meted out for the guilty.

Hence, the law does not deal with the root of the problem. A person who is bad will always look at the law as his enemy and will always find ways to escape from it, particularly when there are loopholes in its implementation.

Secondly, the law does not cater for the reward of human action. A person who goes against any law will face punishment, but one who abides by the law is not given any explicit reward for doing so. Simply meting out severe punishments to offenders will not necessarily lead to the inculcation of good ethical conduct.

Thirdly, compared to ethics, the law is external to a person. It will always be seen as an extraneous imposition and limitation on someone’s conduct and behaviour rather than coming from within and with his own will.

It is important to find solutions that will not only complement the law, but also tackle the root of the problem. The more proactive and long-term strategy is through ethical means and education.

Ethics and education, compared to law, are more internal in ap­­proach – moulding human beha­viour through inculcating good virtues. In the Islamic tradition, the word used to denote ethics is akhlaq (derived from the word khalaqa, “to create”).

The emphasis on the internal dimension of human beings is based on the fact that man is created with dual natures – the soul and body – and that the betterment of the former will ensure the betterment of the latter.

Ethics is also about the habituation of someone’s behaviour towards doing good actions based on one’s understanding about the principles of good and bad. It is about developing the second nature within oneself.

This is done through continuous suppression of the elements of vice within and outside the human being.

And since akhlaq is an attempt to inculcate good virtues towards being part of human nature, it cannot be accomplished within a short period of time. Rather, it needs to be developed gradually within someone’s self through self-discipline.

This is where serious religious and ethical education plays a tremendous role. The education system should explicitly make producing ethical human beings its highest aim, rather than only emphasising the cognitive aspect of human development.

How ironic it is that an educational system can produce human beings who can memorise and understand good theories, yet fail to translate them into ethical action.

Far from denying the importance of fulfilling the pragmatic objectives of the nation’s development, education must first and foremost aim to strengthen the ethical and religious objectives that will contribute extensively to the internal development of the human being.

In the current world full of extre­mism, the notion of balance is highly important.

Ethics implies the stable and balanced condition of the soul which will lead to good behaviour. In order to do that, the main elements of the human internal self must be properly balanced.

Great Muslim scholars such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Miskawayh and al-Razi explained that a balanced soul which produced good virtues in human behaviour resulted from a just and proper treatment of three important elements of the human self – namely the faculty of reason, anger and desire (shahwah).

When reason is treated properly, it will manifest the virtue of wisdom: the mind can put information in its proper place and knows the limits of truth.

This will later lead to good actions based on proper wisdom.

When anger is justly positioned, it will lead to the virtue of courage: anger will only be manifested when it is really needed.

Hence, people of courage do not resort to brutal and aggressive actions but a more sober and patient response.

by Dr Mohd Farid Mohd Shahran
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/ikim-views/2017/09/26/strengthening-ethical-basics-of-conduct-since-the-law-does-not-deal-with-the-root-causes-of-crimes-p/#QUguIc06lj5RTXWS.99

Ageing gracefully to 2045

Thursday, September 21st, 2017
The speed of ageing demography in Malaysia is alarming, as it is expected to move from an ageing to aged nation in 25 years only. FILE PIC.

OVER the past few decades, Malaysia has been enjoying a relatively favourable demographic environment characterised by the working age population, which is growing at a higher rate than the overall population.

Malaysia has been very successful in translating this demographic window of opportunity into a sustained economic growth path, poverty reduction and achievement in non-income dimensions. However, Malaysia is now a few years away from the end of its demographic window of opportunity.

According to Dr Amjad Rabi, the deputy representative and senior policy specialist at the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Malaysia, Malaysia will be considered an “ageing nation”, defined when the post-working population (65+) constitutes seven per cent of the population, by 2020.

It will become an “aged nation”, defined when the post-working population (65+) constitutes 14 per cent of the population, by 2045.

In comparison with other countries, the speed of ageing is indeed alarming. While it took France, for instance, 115 years to move from ageing to an aged phase, Malaysia is doing this in 25 years only. However, it seems that the fast-ageing society is a common feature in Asia.

To raise awareness on the demographic transition, the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia, together with the Institute of Darul Ridzuan and Unicef, organised a forum titled “Malaysia 2050: Meeting the Challenges of Demographic and Industrial Transitions”.

The forum was part of the Pangkor Dialogue, which was held on Sept 11 and 12. The main focus was to brainstorm the feasibility of a policy mix to be adopted to achieve the second “big push” in development to reach and sustain a developed nation status.

Using a life-cycle approach to assess opportunities to achieve desirable outcomes, the forum identified investments for three groups: pre-working age population (children aged 0-15), working age population (15-65), and post-working age population (65+).

Social Protection : Child Sensitive Social Protection.

As Malaysia moves towards a high-income nation status, Dr Amjad argued that it should move away from the charity model (poverty targeting) to a more inclusive system when addressing the issue of poverty.

He promoted a life-cycle approach, similar to other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, as an alternative to the existing fragmented cash transfer programmes.

The life-cycle approach recognises that poverty is positively correlated with certain groups, such as children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Therefore, cash transfers that align to this are pro-poor, even if non-poor households receive the same benefit amount.

Moreover, with the inclusion of financing mechanisms, such as tax, Dr Amjad asserted that the impact can be further strengthened and the result is a net transfer from the rich to poor household.

Inclusive Labour Market:

The projected reduction in the share of the working-age population requires Malaysia to insure a more inclusive labour market.

For instance, Malaysia can counter the reduction of the labour supply due to demographic changes by insuring a female labour force participation increase to its potential.

This requires a supportive environment for female labour force participants, which includes flexible working arrangements, extended maternity leave, quality and affordable daycare, and ending discriminatory market conditions.

The demographic dynamics
in Malaysia highlights productivity as the main driver for long-term growth path towards the convergence with high-income economies.

To unleash productivity, investments in labour skill sets and education are key — these will allow Malaysia to move away from labour-intensive manufacturing to higher order thinking and cutting-edge technologies.

Old Age Social Protection

One of the concerns as we age is financial planning for retirement.

Based on data from McKinsey, for every RM1 earned, Malaysians are already spending RM1.40.

According to Tunku Alizakri Raja Muhammad Alias, deputy chief executive officer of Employees Provident Fund (EPF), two in three EPF members do not achieve the basic savings quantum according to the age band, and one in two members above age 55 exhaust their savings within five years.

In terms of physical wellbeing, we are the most obese nation. Six in 10 Malaysians have non-communicable disease (NCD). The EPF withdrawal for health has doubled in the last 15 years for cancer, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and other NCDs.

Some 74 per cent of Malaysians pay medical expenses with their own money and the cost of medical fees is increasing. Medical expenses are one of the main reasons why Malaysians are bankrupt today.

By DR ABDUL WAHED JALAL NORI

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/09/281744/ageing-gracefully-2045

More than 60,000 attended Malaysia Day celebration

Monday, September 18th, 2017

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One of the performances during the celebration.

KOTA KINABALU: More than 60,000 people celebrated Malaysia Day at the Likas Sports Complex on Sept 16.

From a dignitaries list comprising the who’s who in public office to the man in the street, the celebration was considered by some to be the biggest and most elaborate since the day was declared a public holiday a few years ago.

The celebrations kicked off with stage performances by a slew of Malaysian artists, and concluded with spectacular fireworks that lit the city’s night skies.

The festive atmosphere started well before the 8pm arrival of the Head of Sabah State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and his wife Toh Puan Norlidah R.M Jasni. The Prime Minister Dato Seri Najib Tun Razak, his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Haji Aman, Sarawak State Assembly Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar and VIPS of the Federal government and governments of Sabah and Sarawak, were on the specially erected stage earlier to await Tun Juhar’s arrival.

Also present were the Minister of Communications and Multimedia Datuk Seri Dr. Salleh Said Keruak who was also the chairman of the event, and his wife of Datuk Raya Erom and Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun.

A highlight of the event was the signing of the 2017 Malaysia Special Note Day declaration by Najib, Musa and Mohamad Asfia, followed with the cutting of a cake decorated with Negaraku Sehati Sejiwa logo by Yang Dipertua Negeri Sabah.

“I am happy and very proud of being part of this historic celebration,” said Zuraidah Ahmad, one of the performers from the Ministry of Information who participated in the Jalur Gemilang (national flag) march. “I am happy to contribute my idea and also energy together with my friend during the Jalur Gemilang march.”

Around 30 people participated in the march led by Haji Suwadi Guliling the Sabah Information Department Director, and his deputy Supian Musa.

Meanwhile, Azhar Tahir, 55, said that Malaysia Day ‘is about the freedom that we now have with our independence’. The retiree, who once ran a printing shop, came all the way from Perak just to be part of the Malaysia Day celebration.

“For me, Malaysia Day is a symbol of hope and freedom. It is up to us what we want to do and the freedom to make our own decisions,” he said.

Azhar lamented that the younger Malaysians do not seem to possess the level of patriotism that his generation possessed.

“It is a shame that some of the young people today are embarrassed to even wear a patriotic shirt or admit that they are Malaysian,” he added.

By JASON JACK EBIT.

Read more @ http://www.newsabahtimes.com.my/nstweb/fullstory/18473

Anas: Corporate leaders must do more to promote harmony.

Sunday, September 17th, 2017
Celebrating Malaysia Day: Anas (left) looking on as Suria FM radio announcer DJ Lin cuts a cake during the closing ceremony of Zubedy Sdn Bhd’s SaySomethingNice campaign 2017 at The School, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

Celebrating Malaysia Day: Anas (left) looking on as Suria FM radio announcer DJ Lin cuts a cake during the closing ceremony of Zubedy Sdn Bhd’s SaySomethingNice campaign 2017 at The School, Jaya One, Petaling Jaya.

PETALING JAYA: The business community should make it an agenda to promote unity among Malaysians, says a businessman-social activist.

Anas Zubedy, managing director of Zubedy Sdn Bhd which has made it a top priority to promote unity and harmony, said business and corporate leaders should “jump onto the unity bandwagon”.

The staunch advocate of unity believes it would be “economically smart” for the country’s business community to also promote unity among the people.

“You cannot only depend on one race to do business successfully in this country.

He said a depressing reality about present-day Malaysia was that children were growing up wit­hin their own racial community.

“Our children are growing separately. You don’t see multicultural situations in schools… and we are living separately so our kids do not have a chance to mingle with each other,” he said, adding that it was only at work that Malaysians began to mingle. As such, Anas said the business community sho­uld ensure that promoting unity was a part of its overall agenda.

The job of cultivating unity should not be just shouldered by politicians, he added.

The #SaySomethingNice campaign 2017, which started on National Day and ended yesterday on Malaysia Day, has seen over 60 projects initiated under the campaign by various organisations and individuals working with Zubedy.

One of the fresh efforts this year was #RukunNegaraSomet­hing Nice, which Anas described as going back to the spirit of Rukunegara to promote unity among the people.

“We tend to forget that there is also the cita-cita (ambition) behind Rukunegara, which encourages the move towards being a progressive nation, a democracy, and liberalism, so how do young people bring forth this ambition?” he asked, adding that it was also the first time that the #SaySome­thing Nice campaign, which was in its seventh year, was collaborating with the National Unity and Integration Department.

Tetap Tiara Sdn Bhd managing director Charles Wong agreed with Anas’ call for the business community to embrace unity. “It makes perfect sense to do it, as what make and shape a business are the people who work in the organisation, the different races and outlook that they bring.

“It’s smart economics at the end of the day,” said Wong, whose company joined hands with Zubedy for the #SaySomethingNice campaign for the fourth time.

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/09/17/catering-to-all-races-good-for-business-anas-corporate-leaders-must-do-more-to-promote-harmony/#810ZodKVumhzrBEY.99

The colours of unity

Sunday, September 17th, 2017
Sarawak Public Works Department personnel waving the Jalur Gemilang in Kuching last year. The mood displayed in the events leading up to Malaysia Day was one of unity.

THESE past few weeks have been eventful for Malaysia. Never have I seen the Jalur Gemilang being displayed in as many events over the past few weeks.

We celebrated our victory at the 29th Southeast Asia Games, we witnessed our 60th Merdeka celebration, we witnessed the celebration of our new Agong’s official birthday. We also witnessed the passing of one of our beloved sultans. But, the mood displayed in all these events was one of unity at all levels and from different sections of society.

I was taken aback by the atmosphere of the Sea Games. I remember entering the stadium being greeted by loud sounds of joy and excitement. I glanced around and witnessed the cheers of not only Malaysians, but Indonesians, Filipinos and Thais, from where I sat when all the athletes entered the stadium to take their seats. I saw the unity of Asean.

The Merdeka parade was a sight to behold. It took me back some 10 years ago when I first witnessed such pomp and pageantry.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force displayed their air-to air aviation skills in the capital city skyline with their Sukhoi jets.

Our soldiers in green marched past the reviewing stand manned by the king and cabinet.

Our men in blue did that, too. They were followed by our volunteer corps in other hues. It struck me then how much these uniformed men and women sacrifice their lives to keep us ordinary folks under the canopy of peace.

I was very blessed to have “witnessed” through my paternal grandmother the country’s first flag-bearers and Navy veterans, Lieutenant Commander (Rtd) Mohd Sharif Kalam and retired chief petty officer Oliver Cuthbert Samuel presenting the Jalur Gemilang to the next generation. My paternal grandmother told me how my grandfather, first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, would utter the joyful words “Merdeka!” “Merdeka!” “Merdeka!”

I can imagine the chorus of the people gathered that morning echoing in unison those three words. She had accompanied her father, the late Almarhum Sultan Yahya Petra, then Tengku Mahkota Kelantan, to the event.

When I watched the celebration of victory at the recent Sea Games, those words of freedom and unity emerged from my memory wherein they were lodged.

I was blessed, too, to witness the Agong’s first official birthday. As I wore my purple songketuniform that morning, I was greeted by the Jalur Gemilang and state flags instead of just the Kelantan flag. This was, for the first time, a federal investiture instead of just a state’s. The investiture ceremony was much more diverse, representing the demographics of the nation, instead of just the state.

People of different hues stood before our head of state. Men and women were in ceremonial attires and uniforms. The diplomats came dressed in their national garments. It was breathtaking.

I observed, too, people of varying ages: civil servants who contributed their years of service to the nation, one of them being my father. The range of attires that was before my eyes was breathtaking. There were songket with tengkolok, as worn by my father, full white navy uniforms and the robes of the judiciary. The green of the army was there, too. It was colour pageantry in some ways

But the celebrations and joyful mood came to a halt as the nation was shocked by the news of the death of Almarhum Tuanku Sultan Kedah, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, who was king for two five-year terms.

The nation mourned the death with flags at half-mast. Many of the Merdeka generation will remember the late ruler fondly. From 12 year olds who received awards to the chef employed in the palace — all had words of sorrow to tell the nation. The late ruler was not just a ruler for Kedahans, but a king for Malaysians. And twice, too.

As we welcome Malaysia Day today with the Jalur Gemilang flying at half-mast, we Malaysians will be united in sadness and joy.

By Tengku Nur Qistina Petri.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/09/280386/colours-unity