Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

National Day showed Msian unity flying high

Monday, September 2nd, 2019
Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah gracing the National Day celebration at Dataran Putrajaya on Saturday. With them are Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, his deputy, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and other government officials. – NSTP/Mohd Fadli Hamzah

PUTRAJAYA: The annual National Day celebration is a reminder of our forefathers’ struggles, and one which has inspired people of all races to remain humble and united.

This year’s celebration was no different, except for the government’s reminder to citizens to stay clean of corruption.

On Saturday, Malaysians from all walks of life turned up at Dataran Putrajaya here to celebrate the 62nd National Day, themed “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih” (Love Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia).

The sight of over 300,000 people of different races gathered at one place to witness and celebrate the country’s independence gave Malaysians the reassurance of a strong sense of unity.

Many patriotic citizens who turned up had invested time, money and effort to go the extra mile by being creative with their attire for the day.

There were performances and a marching parade that consisted of members from government departments, agencies, institutions, schools, associations and the private sector.

Many agencies, especially those related to enforcement, displayed some of their latest assets and equipment, such as a mobile surveillance radar, turntable ladder, tanker, fighter jets, as well as helicopters.

This year’s celebration was graced by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah at Dataran Putrajaya.

The crowd was enthralled by this year’s performances.

They included a multicultural musical performance that projected the long enjoyed peace and unity among Malaysians, and a human graphics formation participated by some 2,250 students from 53 schools in Selangor.

Malaysians of all walks of life watching the National Day parade in Putrajaya on Saturday.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said the event’s theme was chosen to highlight the government’s efforts in inculcating love for the country, as well as strengthening unity and harmony.

“Let us return to the principles of the Rukun Negara, which embodies the values of peace, harmony, unity, loyalty to the king and the state, tolerance of one another and the strong spirit of patriotism.

“Let’s celebrate this meaningful day by maintaining our harmonious spirit of togetherness and solidarity among all Malaysians so that the government’s aspiration of shared prosperity can be enjoyed by all,” he added.

Communications and Multimedia Ministry secretary-general Datuk Suriani Ahmad said she was satisfied with the celebration as all contingents and performance teams had shown high spirits.

“The contingent marched in line as planned.

“Students from 53 schools, who participated in the human graphics formation, were committed as they had been practiced since July,” she said.

Suriani hoped Malaysians would be tolerant and respectful of others, as well as remove negative attitudes they might have.

She also hoped that the public inculcated a sense of responsibility and sensitiveness to care about the feelings of those from other races.

Many of those who the New Straits Times interviewed shared the same sentiments, that the 62nd National Day parade had made them realise they must appreciate unity and set aside their differences.

Safea Isharida Ishak, 36, said she had made it a point to bring her daughter, Melissa Nur Ariana Mohd Nizam, to the National Day parade annually since she was born.

“My daughter is 4 years old. It is important for parents to instil good values in their children from young.”

She said patriotism must go together with unity as they hold strong meaning for all Malaysians.

“This is a reminder so that we do not get swayed or carried away by emotions,” she said.

“I want my daughter to grow up being a good and proud Malaysian. This year I saw a large multiracial crowd at the parade. This made me happy as it shows that we have not lost our unity,” Safea said.

Sisters, Nurul Huda Roslan, 18, and Nurul Athira Roslan, 17, said the performances were lively and colourful.

“I feel the love and tolerance that we have for each other.

“I hope that despite the immaturity we see on social media, we will always stay humble and together as Malaysians,” the SMK Gombak Setia Form Six student said.

Irish tourist Lucy Megaw said she found out about the celebration through a local who worked at her hostel.

Megaw said she was fascinated by Malaysia’s multiethnic community which came together and put on amazing and vigorous performances.

She said she wished that people in the United Kingdom would take Malaysia as an example of a harmonious multiethnic society.

Beth Meleish, 19, from Scotland, also shared Megaw’s sentiment about the National Day celebration.

“Although I don’t understand what was being said, I enjoyed watching the dance performances and aerial spectacles.

By Kalbana PerimbanayagamTeoh Pei Ying.

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United and guided by Rukun Negara

Monday, September 2nd, 2019
The New Klang Valley Expressway-Subang interchange.

SUBANG JAYA: Good behaviour and morality are integral in nation-building as this fifth pillar of the Rukun Negara will unite society to live in peace.

PLUS Malaysia Bhd (PLUS) traffic safety head Oslan Mohamed Isa believes that communicating politely and having empathy towards others would encourage the people to foster good relationships in a multiracial country.

“By applying these virtues, the public would be able to think before they react to a situation and prevent any provocations that could jeopardise harmony,” he said.

Oslan, 53, said he was honored to be a part of the team that maintained the country’s backbone, in an expressway that stretched more than 1,000-kilometres from north to south, including the LPT2 which extends east.

His team plays a crucial role in responding to about 1,500 calls in a day made by the public to ask for help or give feedback on the traffic situation.

Their control centre is located at Persada PLUS, here, which is manned by about 20 people per shift.

Oslan Mohamed Isa

“We have to be swift in action as we are also dealing with safety on the road. Among the complaints that we receive include obstacles on the road and breakdown of vehicles,” he said, adding that they would then communicate with the PLUS Ronda team on the ground to dispatch help to the public.

“The highway is not a place to demonstrate highly charged emotions as there are other people who are using this infrastructure, and people must follow the law,” he said.

Being a senior employee in the company, Oslan said his heart glowed with pride during the opening of 116-km Cikampek-Palimanan Highway in Indonesia in June 2015 by Indonesian president Joko Widodo because he was part of the PLUS team that built the road.

Another employee, Azalan Sulaiman, 47, who is the mechanical, electrical and electronic head was also part of the team that was involved in the highway construction in Indonesia.

He said as a Malaysian, the opportunity to handle a project abroad and hone their skills gave him and the team much valuable experience.

In Malaysia, he was tasked with the construction of new interchanges, such as Bukit Gambir, Sungai Buaya, Bandar Ainsdale, Alor Pongsu and most recently Bandar Serenia, which was completed in 2016.

Azalan said their work also involved a road-widening project called the Fourth Lane Widening Project and they had to ensure that the public only felt a minimum disruption. They were also required to maintain services such as street lighting, CCTVs and Electronic Message Boards.

Azalan Sulaiman

He said the fifth pillar of Rukun Negara was important for the team to achieve its objective at the workplace, including communicating with workers of diverse backgrounds.

“We should not regard differences as boundaries. People will respect each other when we approach them in a similar manner. It is good to learn about other people’s culture as well. ” he said.

For him, freedom also means freeing our soul in making any positive decisions.

He said this country is blessed with prosperity since gaining Independence and the public should grab this opportunity to improve themselves.

Meanwhile, Georgian Pamela Denis hoped that there would be more peers of different backgrounds in her department in the future.

Georgian Pamela Denis

The 41-year-old, who has been working in PLUS for 10 years as the internal audit manager believes that with more multiracial employees it would indirectly create a harmonious environment.

“It is important for us to take care of the values and traditions amongst all races especially in PLUS.

“If you look at a micro level, there are only two races in my department, which are the Malays and Indians. We really hope that in the future we would have more Chinese or candidates from other backgrounds.

Out of the five Rukun Negara principles, she also chose the fifth pillar as one she resonates with, as she believes that showing respect and liberty to everyone in PLUS plays an important role in instilling a peaceful and harmonious workplace.

“All of my staff and everyone in PLUS are so dear to me, hence why I really honour that particular tenet of the Rukunegara,” she said

Persada PLUS in Subang Jaya houses a Traffic Monitoring Centre which is integral in traffic safety control and to extend help to the public in need.

In the spirit of Merdeka, Georgian hopes that peace, development and progress would be maintained in the country as those are important elements in keeping unity alive.

“I love this country. We do not want to see any negative impact to the existing unity that we have.

“As we stand united, our development and progress should shine in the world,” she added.

For 35-year-old Sean Ngoh Sze Yuan, he believes that Merdeka is about freedom and perseverance.

Ngoh, who is the strategic planning and development manager in PLUS, said by upholding freedom and perseverance especially at work, it would provide oneself with a financial freedom.

“Having a freedom is like a target. Let’s say if I want to get freedom at work by achieving something, hence, that becomes a target. If you persevere enough at your work, then it would give you anything,”.

Sean Ngoh Sze Yuan

Asked on which tenet of the Rukun Negara meant a lot to him, Ngoh, who is a father of two, also chose the fifth tenet.

We have to be courteous, and practice high standards of morality in ourselves. It is because we are living in a multiracial country so we should be humble and good to everyone so that it can enhance the understanding and relationship among the people.

By Sarah Rahim. Esther Landau .

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Cherish our shared destiny

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

All for one: Children from Child Development Centre Persada PLUS waving the Jalur Gemilang at a Merdeka celebration. — Bernama

TODAY marks the 62nd anniversary of Merdeka, a key milestone in the journey that led to the birth of our beloved home.

Against the backdrop of all the colourful parades and celebrations taking place, something is not quite right.

Our National Day anniversary should be an occasion that brings us closer together. Instead, we seem to be going in the opposite direction.

Of late, a number of incidents have led to ugly quarrels, with “race and religion” narratives threatening to tear us apart.

There’s the storm created by Muslim preacher Dr Zakir Naik, an Indian citizen who stirred controversy here with his open evangelism denigrating non-Muslims.

The introduction of khat in schools caused a protest by many people which descended into a race and religiously-charged debate.

Viral messages stoking racial sentiments were also widely spread following a fender-bender that turned into a car chase and ultimately led to a fight where one of two motorists involved was killed near Bandar Baru Bangi in Selangor.

On social media, certain groups sensationalised viral photos of the Jalur Gemilang being flown upside down, prompting a stern warning from the police.

The ease with which these incidents quickly turned racial or religious shows that unfortunately, too many Malaysians still think along narrow, communal lines.

What made things worse in all these cases were the irresponsible quarters, including some politicians, who thought nothing of fanning and exploiting anger over these issues to drum up support.

Let’s not take the bait when they try to pit Malaysians against other Malaysians based on race and religion.

Starved of the attention, these elements will shrink to the irrelevant fringes where they belong, instead of hijacking public discourse from real issues we should be focusing on, such as fixing our education system and boosting the economy.

It is not easy to forget the pain and alienation caused by the misguided, ignorant or outright malicious people in our midst.

At the same time, if we truly cherish Malaysia, then we must also never forget the foundation that allowed our country to be formed in the first place.

It was summed up by Bapa Kemerdekaan Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, when he uttered the following words to describe what he believed was Malaysia’s greatest treasure:

“In our multiracial society, our Malaysian democracy, nothing is more fundamental than harmony between the many races which form the Malaysian nation.

“In fact, if I were asked to name one single outstanding quality to explain the success of Malaysia as a free nation, I would without hesitation say it is due to racial understanding and cooperation.

“Not only does this harmony express the trends of thought and feeling in this country, but it is a treasure of priceless value to each and every one of us.”

We’re all Malaysians. It seems silly to have to point out an obvious fact, but here we are. The divisive politics we now contend with came from decades of such narratives slowly seeping into our thoughts and discourse.

It only seems worse now because just a year ago, there was great hope that Malaysia was moving towards becoming the country we all dreamt of having, the vision our founding fathers fought for.

It is not too late. We are at a crossroads now. We, the people of Malaysia, can tell our politicians, in no uncertain terms, to stop their attempts to tear us apart.

By The Star Says
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Defending buildings of independence

Saturday, August 31st, 2019


Every Malaysian should be concerned about the future of our heritage buildings, especially the ones that witnessed pivotal historical moments in our country’s formation.

TWO years ago I had the pleasure of witnessing the launch of the Jalan Merdeka Exhibition at Carcosa and Seri Negara. Together with a team of curators and researchers, we had unearthed many fascinating facts about the history of the two buildings that were directly relevant to Malaya’s experience of colonialism and the journey towards independence.

Getting to that point was quite serendipitous.

Back in 2013 I was invited to view a collection of artefacts, complete with documents from the High Court and the Minister of Culture, Arts and Heritage to confirm their validity. Some were remarkable in their international provenance, such as a bell cast in Spain destined for California that ended up in a shipwreck near the Philippines.

The company which held these artefacts intended to leverage on Malaysia’s own racial diversity to establish a museum to showcase the rich history of international trade and cultural exchange that spawned heritages that continue to exist today. In our polarising world, I agreed to support this project that would highlight the fruits of peace, especially contrasted against the destruction of war.

After further research on the artefacts’ authenticity and scouting for a suitable venue, in 2017 the company was offered the tenancy of Carcosa Seri Negara (actually two distinct buildings and their grounds), synonymous with a luxury hotel of which many KLites have fond memories. Having been derelict for some years, I advised that Badan Warisan Malaysia should inspect the buildings’ condition.

The buildings were indeed in a terrible state, with millions of ringgit estimated for proper restoration and conservation. Best practice would have this conducted by the landlord, but it was instead agreed that no rent would be payable for the time being. Rather, any costs to make any part of the buildings usable had to be borne by the company, of course in compliance with heritage and fire regulations.

For reasons best left to the management to answer, the proposed museum project did not blossom within the desired timeframe. However, the mansions of Carcosa and Seri Negara provided a treasure trove of discoveries, and it baffled me why their stories remained hidden for so long. I was gobsmacked, for example, to discover that the room where I launched my first book in 2011 was where the Rulers signed the Federation of Malaya Agreement 1957 that enabled Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Proclamation of Independence three weeks later.

With the 60th anniversary of Merdeka occurring in 2017, I was therefore keen to organise something that would commemorate the road to independence, using the buildings themselves as centre pieces.

Launched by the Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, attended by the British High Commissioner and Japanese Ambassador (whose governments played substantial historical roles at the site), and supported by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture with several government agencies, prominent corporate sponsors and even soldiers, the Jalan Merdeka Exhibition was widely covered and reviewed across the media. The exhibition was visited by the Sultan of Perak, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi, members of the diplomatic corps and scores of schoolchildren.

Before, during and afterwards, various other events were held at the site, with the approval of the relevant authorities. This included the filming of Crazy Rich Asians, a major conference by a Harvard College project, and screenings of old films, traditional games and concerts that evoked the Merdeka era. More recently, an emotionally charged reunion of the staff of Istana Tetamu (as Seri Negara was known when it hosted the Shah of Iran, US President Lyndon Johnson and other visiting heads of state) was held, rekindling more memories.

The recent suggestion that any of these activities were somehow improper is utterly bizarre, and creates an unsavoury impression.

Although I am no longer an advisor to the company, I understand they have effectively been removed from Carcosa and Seri Negara. However, every Malaysian should be concerned about the future of our heritage buildings, far too many of which have already been demolished. Particular attention should be paid to these buildings which witnessed such pivotal historical moments in our country’s formation.

Indeed, I was hoping to visit that special room before commemorating Merdeka tomorrow, but the whole site has been sealed off, with its fate unknown.


Meaning of Merdeka and M’sia Day

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

Malaysian from all races living in unity, harmony and tolerence celebrating the 62nd Independence Day in George Town Penang. Starpic By: ZAINUDIN AHAD

LAST week, my 11-year-old daughter Apsara asked me what Merdeka was. She was preparing for a Merdeka-themed drawing competition at her school.

“What is Merdeka?” I asked her back.

“Basically, it is about freedom and unity, ” she said. I nodded.

On her iPad, she drew her interpretation of Merdeka. It was a yellow star with wings coloured like the Malaysian flag on its sides.

I asked her why that symbolised National Day.

“The star usually stands for hope. In Undertale, the star appears as hope. When I search for drawings of freedom on Google, I see a lot of birds, ” she said.

Apsara was referring to her favourite role-playing video game where a child falls into the Underground (a remote area under the surface of the world separated by magic). She battles monsters to return to the surface.

The competition was an excellent nation-building initiative by SK USJ 12 as it “forced” my kid to do research on Merdeka.

To help her understand what Merdeka means, I said Aug 31,1957, was when the Federation of Malaya gained its independence from the white people. (Sorry, I used that word as I don’t think Apsara knows the concept of Britain or British.)

As I am a proud Sabahan, I asked if she knew what Malaysia Day was.

She didn’t have a clue, and she didn’t look like she wanted to know because she did not have a drawing competition with Malaysia Day as the theme.

To pique her interest, I related Merdeka and Malaysia Day to public holidays.

“You know why you have no class on Aug 31 and Sept 16? It is because of Merdeka and Malaysia Day, ” I said. That did it.

“Mummy said there was no school on three Mondays this month, ” she said.

To help her understand the difference between Merdeka and Malaysia Day and their significance, I looked up the map of Malaysia on Google Maps.

First, I showed her Peninsular Malaysia and explained: “This is the part of Malaysia which celebrates Merdeka as they got their independence from the white people.”

Then I showed her Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore and said: “These three states formed Malaysia together with (pointing at the map of Peninsular Malaysia). On Sept 16,1963, they formed Malaysia. That is why Malaysia Day is important. It is when Malaysia was born.”

Perhaps I lost Apsara with that rather “long” explanation as she was busy working on her drawing.

“Are you listening to me?” I asked.

“I’m not interested per se in the subject, but I’m interested in the competition. I like the competition, ” she said.

“Well, I hope she at least indirectly learnt about history – the birth of two federations – while she was drawing, ” I thought.

During this history lesson, I might have sounded like I was talking to a kid, which technically I was.

However, sometimes I also talk to adults, especially from Peninsular Malaysia, like that so that they can better understand the concept of the Federation of Malaysia.

For me, it is essential to talk about the history and geography of Malaysia with “clueless orang Malaya” (what many Sabahans and Sarawakians like to call those from Peninsular Malaysia).


Because many think that Malaysia Day is just a public holiday, they don’t try to understand why there is such a holiday.

Before 2010, Malaysia Day was only a public holiday in Sabah and Sarawak. Back then, Peninsular Malaysians could be forgiven for not knowing the day’s significance.

But since it is now a national holiday, there should be no excuse for not knowing what it is about.


Because many Sabahans and Sarawakians still get this kind of questions from those living in Peninsular Malaysia: “You are from Kuching? When did you arrive in Malaysia?” or “You are from Sandakan? What is your currency?”

Also, some don’t know that Sarawak is the largest state in Malaysia – it is almost the size of Peninsular Malaysia – followed by Sabah. There are maps and logos which depict the peninsula as being larger than both Sarawak and Sabah.Some of us haven’t “Merdeka” in our mindset that Malaysia has more than three races – Malay, Chinese and Indian. “Dan lain lain” (others) is like an unheard of community.

The Rojak Projek, a social enterprise that focuses on creating positive understanding and awareness by promoting unity, culture and diversity, found that we are a #rojaknation. We have more than 250 ethnicities such as Cheq Wong, Jagoi and Liwogu.

In her journey across Malaysia for the Rojak Projek, co-founder Lim Sheng Feiyan told me that she concluded that Malaysia means all of us together.

She can’t imagine life without her Indian, Malay, Punjabi and super rojak friends and family.

“Now I can’t imagine life without the Sabahans, Sarawakians and Orang Asli I met, ” she said.

Today, I’ll be celebrating Merdeka at the #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk, a collaboration between property developer Eco World Development Group and Star Media Group.

The theme for this year is #BetterMeBetterMalaysia.

I’ll be there to meet and walk with like-minded Malaysians such as Lim as well as Syed Sadiq Albar and Collin Swee, the co-founders of Projek57, a social enterprise committed to building unity and hope among Malaysian youth.

Syed Sadiq believes that unity could come from diversity.

By Philip Golingai
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Malaysia was built on noble values, says Dr M.

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

ETALING JAYA: Malaysia could not have given her people prosperity, progress and peace without acts of selflessness and the willingness to sacrifice for the country’s interests, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Prime Minister said the nation was built on noble values – tolerance, high moral values, mutual respect and the willingness to share and give and take.

Without these values, Malaysia would not have been able to attain success and growth and her people could not enjoy comfort and progress, he said.

In his National Day message, Dr Mahathir emphasised tolerance and understanding among Malaysians of different race and religion amid tensions in relations.

“The values that we practise should not stop just because we achieved independence and enjoy prosperity.

“Instead, the more successful we become, the more we should realise the importance of these values.

“As much as it was important for our forefathers to have embraced these values to shape this country, it is more important for us to uphold them, ” said the Prime Minister.

Dr Mahathir said sadly, as the people became engrossed with digitalisation and communications, all these values were ignored and replaced by bad attitudes.

“This is blatant when faced with sensitive issues regarding race and religion.

“When defending these issues, certain parties insulted others with derogatory words, so much so that it angered and distressed other races, ” he said.

Describing this behaviour as perplexing, Prime Minister pointed out that for one to uphold religion, he should set an example through acts and words.

“It is my wish that as we celebrate Merdeka Day, people regardless their ethnicity, faith or culture come together in the same spirit that helped us achieve independence, ” he said.

Dr Mahathir said the government was focused on the vision of shared prosperity aimed at ensuring that the country enjoy sustainable development with fair and inclusive economic distribution by 2030.

The vision was also to bring greater excellence to the country and for Malaysia to be an important economic power in Asia, he said.

“The vision as well as government policies will be unsuccessful if the administrative system does not support these efforts.

“Among country’s greatest disasters is corruption, which also involves the civil service.

To ensure our policies are not sabotaged by abuses of power and position, we have put in place efforts to fight these menaces, ” he said.

The Prime Minister said this was why this year’s Merdeka Day celebration was themed “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih”, as it was the government’s hope to rid the nation of corruption, which could fail efforts meant for the people to enjoy shared prosperity.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng stressed upon Malaysians the importance of upholding national unity and opposing discord.

“Malaysia would be at a loss if it failed to focus on economic issues, the cost of living and economic welfare of the people.

“This is why the ongoing Budget 2020 consultation sessions focus on shared prosperity and the entrepreneurial economy that will help Malaysians reaffirm the belief that we can only be stronger when we are together.

“Let us celebrate our National Day by renewing our trust in one another, that only when we are united, will we not fail, ” he said.

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National Day celebrations kick off in Putrajaya.

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

PUTRAJAYA: The 62nd National Day celebrations kicked off in grand fashion, with tens of thousands of Malaysians gathered around Persiaran Perdana here to witness the annual parade on Saturday (Aug 31).

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah arrived at the venue at 8am.

Their arrival was greeted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, before the royal couple were led to the main stage.

This is the first year Sultan Abdullah is attending the Merdeka celebrations as king, following his appointment as the 16th Yang di-Pertuan Agong on Jan 31.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir’s arrival at 7.50am was greeted with rousing applause.

The 94-year-old delighted the crowd as he was seen driving a maroon Proton Saga to the main stage.

Also among the VIP list were Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Multimedia and Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo, other Cabinet ministers as well as foreign dignitaries.

People came as early as 6am to the administrative capital in view of the anticipated road closures and traffic congestion.

For two years in a row, the National Day celebrations have been organised at Putrajaya, away from the usual location of Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.

After the historic change of government in May 2018, the Pakatan Harapan administration decided to host the Merdeka Day parade in Putrajaya.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih”.


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Work Matters!: ‘The value of independence in our life’

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

It is national day weekend!

We came together 62 years ago, as a diverse group of people from different ethnicities to free ourselves from our British colonial masters. Malaysia’s history is rather unique because our predecessors obtained political, economic and social freedom, without any bloodshed.

People of all races that make this nation so beautiful have worked hard, collectively, for prosperity and harmony, in the face of our diversity.

Since our independence, the country has seen many glorious achievements. But the greatest achievement of all, is that generations of Malaysians have bought into the idea of “being Malaysian”.

While at home, we might identify ourselves by our cultural heritage, when we go abroad, we refer to ourselves as “Malaysians” first and not to the specific race that we were born into.

And, we beam with pride when anyone speaks highly of our rather modest Southeast Asian nation.

We value our independence and we stand up against anyone who tries to divide us. This is one of the most endearing features of Malaysia. We identify with and protect our independence, fiercely.

On a personal or work related note, we ought to be placing great significance to freedom, too.

There are very few virtues more important than independence. Independence is a requirement for charting your own life.

The best performing workplaces that I consult at, always have leaders who empower; do not micromanage; and learn to cope with their own insecurities, well.

This leads to well-adjusted office environments, with highly motivated and self-reliant teams.

Being independent does not mean that you do not need anyone else. That’s a myth. Everyone is reliant on someone, for something. Being self-sufficient simply means that you have the ability to add value to every transaction, because you have something significant to offer.

It means that you are able to take personal responsibility, and ownership for your actions and results.

At your job, you will need to be independent in order to endure the ever changing work landscape. Modern businesses are constantly making dynamic shifts of direction. Employees who survive the challenge are those who agile. And, this requires you to learn how to support yourself.

This is fundamental for your career growth.

Ultimately you will only succeed when you are secure with what you believe in. I know from experience that it is tremendously empowering to be able to control of your life and to choose your own destiny.

If every decision you make, or if every action you take has to be filtered through other people first, you will naturally find it hard to gain ownership of your life, and your decisions.

To become independent, perhaps you can start with things about these questions.

Do you like to work independently or do you need a very structured environment?

Sometimes, you will need a combination of both. In my interactions with the people I coach and train, nearly everyone wants some guidelines, and boundaries set up for them, by their leaders or bosses. But, at the same time, they plead for independence and dislike being controlled.

The best work environment is a collaborative one. This teamwork can only take place when expectations are discussed and matched. This has to be followed by people being allowed to function autonomously to achieve the agreed goals.

Are you self-motivated or do you need regular feedback in order to make actual progress?

Everyone requires regular and specific feedback to function effectively. As a manager of people, I give pointers frequently. As a restaurateur I act on the views that my customers offer, for improvement.

It is however important to note that many studies suggest that being a problem solver is the biggest feature that employers seek in new hires. Bosses actively look for staff members who exhibit this trait.

To be solution oriented, you must be innovative enough to generate ideas that will sort out any issues that arise. For this, y

ou need to be self-motivated and independent.

So, while it is necessary for feedback, self-motivation is what helps you progress, in the long run.

Finally ask yourself this; do you work best at your own pace or when nudged by others?

I know that at times I function more effectively under pressure. However in reality, as an entrepreneur, I have learnt that lasting success only comes with measured and consistent performance.

Significantly, I have also realised that when I am purpose driven, and invested in the outcomes of my actions, I work more steadily and reliably. Often, this gives me better results than when I wait to be prodded to do something, by others.

What does independence mean to me? It means being able to chart my life according to the core values and principles that inspire me and it also allows me to increase my value by adding value to others.

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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We should always identify ourselves as Malaysians first

Saturday, August 31st, 2019
It is a right and responsibility of Malaysians to want a better Malaysia. FILE  PIC.

WHAT is patriotism? We can define it as love and respect for our homeland.

It is pride in one’s country that drives people to work hard for the development of the nation, protect its heritage and culture, and safeguard the country from being destroyed by external or internal forces.

Former United States politician Adlai Stevenson once said: “Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

Patriotism implies a sense of belonging that binds people together. It is symbolised by flying the flag and respecting the national anthem.

Under the Jalur Gemilang, Malaysia attained independence and we built our lives harmoniously.

But patriotism comes in various forms. When we speak up and defend our country, it is a patriotic act. When we refrain from committing vandalism on public property or littering in public places, we are being patriotic.

When we contribute to making our community free from crime or protecting and preserving our environment, we are being patriotic.

Being patriotic also means contributing one’s views and opinions to areas that can bring good to the country. It is a right and responsibility of Malaysians to want a better Malaysia.

Patriotism should be instilled from childhood because when children love their homeland, they will grow up appreciating their heritage, diversity and history.

Patriotism can be instilled in students through awareness, education and knowledge.

The education system should inculcate pride and belonging to the nation in students. Only through a sense of belonging can Malaysia’s younger generation be moulded into responsible and mature citizens as well as future leaders.

The younger generation must be made aware of the importance of unity as it is the cornerstone of the nation’s success. It is imperative that they forge closer relations despite differences in race, culture and religion.

Fostering unity should begin in schools where efforts can be made to instil interracial harmony, unity and peace in students.

Principals and teachers need to be creative to get students to participate in activities that boost racial integration. They must encourage students to understand one another better.

Parents need to cultivate and practise positive values to inspire their children to emulate good behaviour.

Values such as honesty, integrity, tolerance, diligence, fairness, respect for elders and civic consciousness must be upheld.

After 62 years of independence, Malaysians should be more united as we share the same dreams and aspirations for a better Malaysia.

We should identify ourselves first as Malaysians. I have always believed that to be Malaysian does not make a person less Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or Iban.

History has proven that Malaysia was able to overcome challenges if the people are united.

Our diversity is our strength and it is the recipe for achieving development and socio-economic progress.


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A Merdeka wish for peace

Saturday, August 31st, 2019
It is our fervent Merdeka hope that violence and aggression be better handled and reduced. File Pic

I REMEMBER reading a research done in Indonesia some years back that science st‎udents are more readily radicalised to commit violence and extremism compared with their non-science counterparts.

One of the reasons cited was because science is a more rigid — black or white — discipline with few grey areas in between. As a result, science students are more inclined to decide on one or the other.

Whereas the humanities students are more used to choosing the “in-betweens” and feel comfortable with it. Although they may later gravitate towards violence but there is also a chance they may do otherwise.

In other words, religion may not be the main cause for violence per se.

That said, many were relieved to learn from the International Seminar on Religious Values in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism held last week at International Islamic University Malaysia that religions are indeed innocent bystanders‎ being (mis)assigned the malicious blame.

There are many factors that drive someone towards extremism. According to an expert on religion-state-society studies,‎ geopolitical or economic influences are more likely to be the cause, although religious labelling are more often used which then makes the issues more complex. At times politicians are the culprits by using religions for their vested interest.

Professor Mark Woodward said religious leaders instead have a crucial role and responsibility to play in stopping violent extremism. Together with politicians, religious leaders should refrain from using religious hatred as political tools to advance their own interests.

Policy makers are, therefore, ill-advised to use theological orientation as a factor in assessing the violent potential of Muslim movements and organisations, he writes. Instead more attention should be paid to variables that measure political attitudes and behaviour.

In line with this, the United Nations Security Council resolution 2250 (2015) urged states “to consider ‎ways to have a more inclusive representation of youth in decision-making at all levels in local, national, regional and international institutions and mechanisms for the prevention and resolution of conflict, including institutions and mechanisms to counter violent extremism”.

The seminar thus recommends the formation of a coordinating body, i.e. a secretariat, to facilitate the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (PCVE) under the purview of the Home Ministry.

This is to consolidate government resources towards actionable response on PCVE issues and to also involve other stakeholders and acquire expertise from educational, civil society organisations and the private sector.

As it is, a survey of existing PCVE programmes across various ministries and agencies, such as the Department of National Unity and Integration under the Prime Minister’s Department, indicates that there are significant efforts at engagement and capacity building for PCVE.

However, there are also overlapping and duplication of efforts and responsibilities of these different government agencies which may prevent effective and cost-efficient enforcement of policies. By having a national secretariat, better optimisation of resources and best practices can be achieved‎. ‎In addition, it also recommends the development of a PCVE programme package for Malaysian youths for national implementation.

This will be ascertained through a pilot study and identification of existing best practices across government ministries and agencies.

The principles of public health provide a useful framework for PCVE using capacity building especially in terms of research, collaboration, advocacy and engagement as part of more general nation-building efforts and also target segmentation of those considered to be at risk of radicalisation and violence.

By rigorously understanding the causes and consequences of violent extremism and terrorism via research and instrumentation, a more general but relevant primary prevention programme, policy interventions, advocacy; and a more focused countering of violent extremism programmes can be created.

Before all those, it also recommends that outmoded aspects of PCVE be reformed and expanded in the so-called post-ISIS period, by giving focus on the threat of far-right extremism and other religious and ideological radicalism, and the dynamics of their exchanges intra and between communities that threaten local and global peace.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

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