Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

‘Respect and love key to solidarity’

Sunday, November 10th, 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: Mutual respect, love and justice based on Islamic principles form the recipe for solidarity and harmony in the administration of the country comprising various religions and races, says Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

In his Royal Address in conjunction with the national-level Maulidur Rasul 1441H/2019 celebration, he said the prophet’s administration emphasised the feelings of love for each other, and could universally be used as a major example to generate solidarity among the people.

Quoting a valid hadis, the King said solidarity would come naturally through the feelings of love and mutual respect among the people regardless of religion, race and ancestry.

“People who love each other would be loved by the Most Merciful. Thus, one should love everyone on earth, so that you would be loved by Those Up Above.

“The Prophet also did not forget and was always in touch with the less fortunate group and the weak to enable them to rise and improve their self-potential and subsequently contribute to society, ” he said at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Also present were Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Mujahid Yusof.

Sultan Abdullah said the Islamic religion emphasised universal brotherhood and called for implementation of justice for everyone regardless of religion and race as this would ensure that the rights of the individual and all communities were always preserved.“This is the teachings of the Most Merciful propagated by the Prophet to be used as an example by leaders and the present generation, ” he said.

The King also expressed confidence that the government would always adopt approaches that would preserve the rights of various religions and races besides continuously assisting the weaker group.At the same time, continuous efforts must be made to control radical ideologies and any form of action that could jeopardise national harmony, said the King.

Before concluding his speech, Sultan Abdullah called on all Muslims to appreciate and practise Islamic teachings and make the Prophet their role model in life.

Muslims across Malaysia enlivened the Maulidur Rasul celebrations this year with parades and the reciting of the selawat (salutation to Prophet Muhammad) in observance of the birthday of Prophet Muhammad.

by Bernama
Read more @
https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/11/10/respect-and-love-key-to-solidarity#O7Bc4uxslXEEoAJV.99

Malaysians top list of overstayers in Australia

Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
Malaysians make up the largest number of visa overstayers in Australia. NSTP
By Mohd Husni Mohd Noor - November 5, 2019 @ 5:24pm

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians make up the largest number of visa overstayers in Australia.

Confirming the matter, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya said Malaysians also made the largest number of applications for both protection visas and refugee status in Australia.

“We have discovered that the people’s personal interests and desire for a better life were among the reasons why this happened,” he said at Dewan Rakyat today.

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He said Wisma Putra and the Immigration Department would continue to cooperate with the Australian authorities to monitor cases of applications by Malaysians for protection visas and refugee status.

He said this to an additional question by Datuk Salim Sharif (BN-Jempol) on the recent claim by Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia Andrew Goledzinowski that 33,000 Malaysians were found to have overstayed in Australia more than the 90 days allowed and were applying for refugee visas.

Goledzinowski had said that the number of Malaysians applying for refugee visas included tourists and students who did not want to return home.

The Australian government was also reported to have received 4,973 applications for protection visas from Malaysians between July last year and April this year.

Marzuki said the Australian government had subsequently set up an immigration agency here to monitor and scrutinise visa applications for tourists who wanted to visit the country.

Refugee visas are for those who have been persecuted in their home countries, while protection visas are for those seeking asylum.

By Mohd Husni Mohd Noor.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2019/11/536014/malaysians-top-list-overstayers-australia

Catering to all segments of society

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
Setting up a 5G ecosystem is among the main targets of the 2020 Budget. FILE PIC

THE 2020 Budget has been receiving a myriad of responses over its effectiveness in solving the country’s economic maladies and its ability to stimulate growth.

The nation’s budget is an important instrument and proof of the government’s earnestness in pursuing the economic and social needs and objectives of society and the people. It is reassuring on the whole to see that this budget is a step closer to the Islamic objectives (maqasid) by adopting the concept of ‘shared prosperity’ and showing in many ways that it will be pursued. Yet, there may be scope for better realisation of maqasid of syariah in certain areas.

Beyond technicalities, it is also important to gauge the budget from the lens of Islamic higher objectives (maqasid syariah) as it does not merely function as a legal mechanism, but more importantly, a guide for holistic socio-economic development.

The allocation of RM1.3 billion to the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) along with a special grant of about RM100 million for the promotion of Islam as a compassionate and peace-based religion is undeniably a mark of the government’s commitment to protection of religion and development (hifz al-deen).

Although it seems to be allocated for Islamic affairs per se, the Rahmatan lil-Alamin approach adopted by the government would actually enable harmonious interactions between Islam and other religions in Malaysia.

The Malaysian@work initiative, which aims to put Malaysians back to work, is not only commendable because it secures the Islamic objectives of property protection (hifz al-mal), but also because it supports the pivotal Quranic objective of securing human dignity (karamah insaniyyah). It is a timely policy since, last year alone, half a million Malaysians were jobless. For the same purpose, the government will also incentivise youths and firms to bolster the work market in preparation for a more challenging situation next year.

The government also took various steps to address the widening income gap by increasing the minimum wage to RM1,200 in major cities and providing various assistance for the bottom-40, and more importantly the bottom-20 of the economic strata. However, improvement in the amount and coverage of the minimum wage increase is crucial to better address the endemic income disparities in Malaysia.

Closing income gaps may not only lead to better social integration but also fulfils a salient trait of the economic system targeted by the Quran that envisions an equitable distribution of wealth: “So that it will not be a perpetual distribution among the rich from among you.” (al-Hasyr 59:7)

Despite its relevance, return-to-jobs policies need to be approached holistically to observe the unintended consequences on the family institution, a core emphasis in Islamic objectives, as women who have been focusing on their families are now compelled to enter the job market. Sufficient support systems for women workers, such as flexible working hours and childcare facilities at offices, should be enhanced.

The budget also outlines allocations for environmental initiatives which include the extension of the Green Investment Tax Allowance and Green Income Tax Exemption. There are also specific allocations for the preservation of pristine forests, as well as the peninsula’s tiger species.

While these initiatives are in line with the Islamic objective of environmental protection (hifz al-biah), they are also crucial in mitigating the dire consequences of global climate change. Nonetheless, emphasis should also be given to facilitating social-based initiatives, in contrast to a market-based approach, such as local and urban farming as well as environmental activism.

It is also important to highlight the budget’s introduction of a new category of EPF withdrawal for fertility treatment and tax relief of up to RM6,000 for fertility treatment. This is critical in addressing the threatening fall of the country’s fertility rate recorded in 2017 by the Department of Statistics. As Islam emphasises protection of progeny (hifz al-nasl), this initiative is also most welcome as Malaysia is due to become an ageing nation by 2030.

Experts have said that small and medium enterprise (SME) digitalisation is a pleasant surprise in the 2020 Budget. It is an initiative to enhance business efficiency and expand their export markets amid a challenging economic atmosphere considering the ongoing US-China trade war.

Digital transformation is indeed among the main highlights of the budget which includes the setting up of a 5G ecosystem, e-wallet promotions as well as various incentives for fintech firms and technological startups.

While both laudable and necessary, the focus on automation and technological skills among workers and students need to be supplemented by humanities education as this is likely to serve as a cultural and moral compass, helping us to be the best stewards of technology.

Nonetheless, it would be not enough to conclude that the budget fulfils basic aspects of the five essentials, namely religion, life, progeny, intellect and property. Through a more substantial approach of the maqasid, the budget needs to be analysed in light of four underpinning aspects; purposefulness, multidimensionality, interrelatedness and due observance of future consequences.

With the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 as its core purpose, it is hoped the 2020 Budget will chart a new narrative of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development that caters to all segments of society.

By AHMAD BADRI ABDULLAH

The writer is a research fellow at the International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/11/534978/catering-all-segments-society

Gearing for sustainable lifestyles

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
Man and nature are interconnected and interdependent. FILE PIC

IN the dialogue about staying sustainable in environmentally challenging times, there is a tendency to think about earth’s preservation through science. This is as it should be because scientific advances can bring about new and sustainable ways of living. In the automotive industry for example, cutting-edge technology has meant that conventional fuel cars are being replaced by the cleaner, environmentally-friendly electric car.

The replacement of fuel-powered vehicles for cheaper, battery-run vehicles has begun to take place in Europe and China. Yet, for all the scientific advancements, the estimated number of electric vehicles on these roads by 2025 remains unimpressive. European market share for electric vehicles has been estimated to only be at 3 per cent.

Why has fast-paced scientific advancement not brought on the desired transformation towards sustainable lifestyles in equal measure? Tan Sri Zakri Abdul Hamid in his column (New Straits Times, July 24) acknowledged that although having scientific advancement is crucial for solving the problem of scarce resources, a reassessment to see this problem from a cultural and social perspective is called for.

To build on this call, the idea of sustainability as a social and cultural construct must also be located on a historical timeline. Thus, to make it easier to understand, we can look at this concept vis-a-vis past, present and future perspectives.

First, a look into the past. In antiquity, philosophers have long thought about man’s existence in relation with nature. Referred to as natural philosophers, thinkers like Socrates and Aristotle, or Newton and Locke, have contemplated about the relationships that human beings form with nature. For example, the view that reality is ‘out there’ and therefore independent of human interpretation versus reality being a co-construction of human action and interpretation are two opposing views that can shape attitudes differently.

The former view can be thought of as being exclusive while the latter is inclusive. The inclusive view argues for the idea that man and nature are interconnected and interdependent.

This is important to support perspectives that encourage living in sustainable ways. Entomologists and zoologist who hold the inclusive view have empirically documented the powerful connections that underlie man’s use of synthetic chemicals with the balance of insect and wildlife that both populate and sustain our land and seas.

The feminist environmentalist Rachel Carson was pivotal in championing what we see today as the modern, inclusive, environmentalist movement. Thus, from understanding our past, we can trace and follow the path to sustainability which has been charted.

Second and in the present time, the push to address climate change crisis has brought on a focused effort towards equipping children with environmental literacy. Again, this movement is not new because basic to our own science education is the learning of the life and energy cycles. However, what is new is a movement amongst Science literacy instructors i.e. teachers of Physical Science, Biological Science, Chemical Science,

Geographical Science to reclaim the space of environmental education from activists who may not have the pedagogical and technical know-how to impart specialist knowledge. This is important to note because it locates the responsibility of environmental education not just on the subject matter but on the sociocultural ways in which Science specialist teachers share, live and demonstrate their own sustainable living through the subjects they have been trained to teach.

This also means that the revival of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects must be accompanied by the teaching of Social Science and Humanities-based subjects that provide the context for how STEM is applied in new, challenging times. Linguistic, economic and historical knowledge are important building blocks that underpin how scientific knowledge can be best used. In this light, the significance of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education should be the new pedagogical path for ensuring education for sustainable transformation.

Finally, in looking towards the future, the modern notion of sustainability, no doubt popularised by UNESCO’s 17 SDGs can be a new vehicle to further mobilise this long-standing concept of man-nature connectedness. However, merely bandying about catch phrases without asking difficult questions about our attitudes and our lifestyles will not get us very far.

Sustainability is fundamentally, about social and cultural transformation. Key to unlocking this transformation is holistic education that encompasses the Science, Social Science and Humanities.

By Dr Chong Su Li

The writer is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Management and Humanities, Institute of Self Sustainable Building, Universiti Teknologi Petronas

How did we come to this?

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019
Members of the National Students’ Consultative Council standing to attention while singing ‘Negaraku’ before the start of a meeting. ‘Negaraku’ is the national anthem and not just a song. BERNAMA PIC

IT has often been said that race and religion are the two “biggest” factors behind polarisation in Malaysia.

Perhaps it is true to some extent. Yet it cannot be generalised because there have been many instances and situations ‎that have made us proud to be counted as Malaysians.

The last general election was one such time as most would recall, despite many expecting the worst outcome. What is more when Malaysia holds the record for having the world’s oldest prime minister. And a comeback “kid” at that.

In other instances, some research showed that in rural communities, notably the kampung, the situation is far better than in cities, due to the more cordial lifestyle and attitude.

When it comes to sports and cultural events, or when disaster strikes, Malaysia is often united to present her best, like duck to water. There are many others that go beyond the superficialities of “rumah terbuka” or some specially staged events to gain in popularity.

In other words, the said polarisation is shaped more by the hostile and ignorant attitudes of some Malaysians.

Not too long ago, there were times when racial jokes were considered benign even at a tender age. My school and university days were some of those. Ironically, it brought us closer inter-racially because the laughter that resulted required a very high level of trust and confidence to begin with. Without these, the consequences would have been much like what it is today — tense, rude and intimidating. And worsening when race and religion are turned into a convenient target of hatred for some unexplained reasons.

Lest we forget, the fact remains that even in the most developed and best of democracies, racism and religious supremacy exist. International sporting events are not spared either. So what is new?

In the case of Malaysia of late, the attitudes are more convoluted because there is virtually no common identity that binds them. Unlike in cases‎ cited above where trust exists, the contrast is made complicated because people can no longer express freely and openly in a language that everyone can identify with and understand.

This then gives rise to second and suspicious guessing game, deepening the mistrust. Let us take the national anthem, Negaraku, as an example. How many Malaysians share the same notion of what the word means so as to put us comfortably on the same page? What about “tanah tumpahnya darahku” that follows? Is it merely the “land where I spilled my blood” — literally rendered? Or much deeper than that? How then does it actually shape our attitude beyond the confines of our own race and religion?

Consequently, what is intended by “rahmat bahagia, tuhan kurniakan”? What is “rahmat” when it is linked to “tuhan” (the first article of Rukun Negara)? What level of “kurnia” binds Malaysians further? To adequately respond to most of the points raised, all the related nuances must be amply and comfortably felt within the context of Negaraku to enable one to live by it.

Remember that Negaraku is the national anthem. Not just a song‎ to be mimed while standing to attention and then forgotten as soon as the moment is over. In short, it is instrumental to our identity as Malaysians sharing the very same meaning and values in shaping our attitudes before we can truly share prosperity as envisaged by Shared Prosperity Vision 2030. Otherwise, it all comes to naught since nothing is really “shared”. Instead, only hypocritical lip service as alluded to in Robert Kuok’s best-selling memoir.

Take the word “kongsi” that is loaned from another culture into the mainstream Malaysian community. Yet its translation in practice is vastly different from what is observed in the original language and culture. Another clear reason why race and religion remains alive since the act of “kongsi” is virtually flawed as a dominant Malaysian lifestyle. And this further allows the vacuum to once again be filled with the same old hostility.

It becomes even more hostile when education fails to be a common platform to nurture national identity as one of the six student aspirations stated in the Education Blueprint.

Fundamentally, Falsafah Pendidikan Kebangsaan (FPK or National Education Philosophy) is intended to provide the framework that nurtures the Malaysian identity first and foremost ground up. But as it stands, the FPK is not shared in a systematic way, when actually it is the most logical place to start.

FPK could be the everlasting philosophy to bridge understanding in a balanced way leading to a more inclusive state of affairs which is equitable and egalitarian in nature. There is no room at all for any form of bigotry and narrow toxic thinking. But where is it today? Unless all this is sorted out we will continue to blame everyone except ourselves.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/11/534982/how-did-we-come

The right and wrong time to protest.

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

THERE seems to be a new mass protest around the world every week, and the issue of appropriateness and timing repeatedly surfaces.

First, a colleague travelling through Barcelona missed her flight connection because of a rally in support of independence for Catalonia.

With traffic paralysed, she tried walking to the airport, and despite finding sympathy from some in the crowd, she missed her flight.Reports suggest that the Catalonian protesters are emulating tactics from Hong Kong, where a few weeks ago, flight chaos was caused when the airport itself was occupied.

How many protesters considered the possibility that travellers were rushing to see sick or dying loved ones, I wonder.

Diplomatic etiquette would normally prevent strong expressions of opinion on the rights and wrongs of popular movements in other countries and the resulting actions of their governments, even if they might seem heavy-handed.

Whatever personal sympathies a politician might have, in our interconnected world, even identifying the “goodies” and “baddies” can be contentious.

For political leaders, economic considerations of the constituents who elected them must surely be taken into consideration when expressing a view on a conflict in another place. What was intended to be courageous may turn out to be asinine.

In some cases, protests can have a more direct impact on diplomacy.

President Sebastian Pinera of Chile, as chair of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation 2019, has just cancelled next month’s Apec Leaders’ Week in Santiago due to anti-government protests.

In theory, individual citizens, businesses and civil society organisations in a democracy are less constrained from commenting on other countries.

However, they will surely be judged for expressing views, and decisions flowing from perceived power imbalances in some relationships can lead to heated disagreement about where the line is drawn.

One pertinent example concerns the United States National Basketball Association (NBA), where an initial tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters by a team’s general manager resulted in a backlash in China, followed by subsequent apologies that were then condemned by the US Vice-President.

It can be said that anywhere in the world, as history repeatedly shows, when people believe that they are not being given sufficient freedoms, they can be extremely passionate in expressing their views.

Disruption to everyday life is, for the protesters, a key ingredient in getting people to notice them and their demands.

But in a nod to the balance between the democratic right to protest and the rights of those not protesting, advance notice to the authorities has become commonplace. (Recall also discussions about whether rallies should be in stadiums prior to last year’s election.)

Citing history, many protesters will also argue that they may eventually be proven right, that future generations will say “we were on the right side of history”.

For some young participants, the opportunity of being a part of history brings huge appeal.

It arguably takes more courage for a single protester to make a stand, and the case of Wong Yan Ke, who unfurled a banner on stage during his convocation ceremony at Universiti Malaya, generated counter-protests and, for a while, risked his degree itself.

People I have spoken to who know the UM vice-chancellor assure me that he is not a racist, but nonetheless his public speeches have to be evaluated by listeners who come to their own conclusions.

I agree with the notion that having a gathering of a single race does not necessarily result in a racist event.

It is the content, not the composition, that matters, and I often point out that generations of the most open-minded and meritorious Malaysians attended a mono-ethnic school: the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

Further, I also agree that disrupting what is supposed to be a happy and proud day for hundreds of graduates and their families is disrespectful.

Some people have concluded that, therefore, students should not even partake in thinking or debating these issues.

My conclusion is different – I say that if you want to prevent outbursts taking place at formal ceremonies, then you must give students the freedom to express themselves at other times.

Whether you like it or not, young people at universities are going to be introduced to new thoughts, daring actions and rebelling against authority.

If you close these outlets, then naturally students will resort to other means.

Alas, adult protesters can still be reckless. The silliest scene of protest in recent weeks must be the members of Extinction Rebellion – they argue for climate change action and environmental protection – who stood atop London tube trains (an environmentally friendly mode of transport), thus delaying thousands getting to work.

The protesters were duly forcibly dragged down by furious commuters.

Morning rush hour is definitely the wrong time to protest.

By Tunku Zain Al-Abidin

Tunku Zain Al-’Abidin is founding president of the Institute for Democra

Read more @ https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/abidinideas/2019/11/01/the-right-and-wrong-time-to-protest
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/abidinideas/2019/11/01/the-right-and-wrong-time-to-protest#o5dga52a2QxiZTqx.99

We need to encourage truly multi-racial politics

Thursday, October 31st, 2019
So who is that Adenan-like national leader to calmly carry us forward? FILE PIC

“WE must sink or swim together. When I’m in trouble, you help me, when you are in trouble, we help you.

“This is what the federation is all about.”

So said the late Tan Sri Adenan Satem, Sarawak’s fifth chief minister.

In three short years before he died in early 2017, he inspired awe, admiration and respect across the communal divides with his often-witty one-liners.

Ordinary Sarawakians of all ethnicities wept at his funeral.

It is fair to say that his powerful message of social inclusiveness backed up with decisive action resonated beyond Sarawak and across the entire federation.

It is worth being reminded of Adenan’s unrivalled statesmanship at moments such as now with a certain mood of melancholy currently enveloping the nation.

Recall that Adenan won a fresh landslide mandate in May 2016 and breathed new life into the previously almost moribund Sarawak United People’s Party against a highly energised Sarawak DAP precisely because of his highly authentic message of inclusiveness.

His political victory despite over three uninterrupted decades under his immediate predecessor was the precursor to the New Malaysia we ushered in two years later.

How sadly short-lived the very idea of a New Malaysia appears to be now, with the return of overt racially-tinged discourse in our national life.

What is tragic is not the unsurprising fact that racial sentiments reaffirming such a discourse (from all racially extremist sides, it must be stressed) still exist but how easily they ignite or rather reignite deep passions of mutual loathing and perhaps even hatred of fellow Ma-laysians.

It strikes me as particularly sad how Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s typical and valiant call for those harbouring racial sentiments (and let’s face it, such sentiments are almost second nature to all but perhaps a too-tiny segment of truly enlightened, non-racial Malay-sians) to look inward within our own respective groups rather than to blame “outsiders” is all but drowned out in the very predictable and angry recriminations-following-accusations routine of our racialised political debate.

Reactionary political forces may be as inevitable as night follows day over such early days under New Malaysia but, for the sake of our collective future, there is little choice but for fair-minded, non-political or apolitical Malaysians to firmly resist and deny the reactionaries their admittedly still powerful capacity to suck all the oxygen out of any nascent alternative political narratives emerging.

And exactly what could such narratives possibly be?

The most obvious answer is encouraging truly multi-racial politics and political parties.

However, our record thus far on this score is anything but inspiring or encouraging.

The reason why multi-racial politics is having such a hard time making headway is, perhaps ironically, precisely why racially-based politics still holds such widespread appeal: multi-racialism is viewed by a good cross-section of Malaysians as merely a ruse or even a plot by those representing economically powerful minorities to gain a monopoly on power (political and economic) in the country.

If not true multi-racialism in politics, what then?

A national leader in the mould of Adenan Satem may be a pre-requisite stepping stone in a possibly slow, evolutionary process towards the eventual ideal of non-racial Malaysian politics.

As with Adenan, such a national leader must, almost out of the political necessity of the moment, emerge from a political party currently representing the majority racial group in the country.

Without political buy-in from the majority group, any national political leader espousing all-encompassing inclusiveness, as Adenan did, may not realistically prosper.

The nation, to be sure, faces grave perils, particularly in the economic sphere.

A global trade war rages as nations turn increasingly and worryingly insular and protectionist.

Our high national debt, despite being pared down, is a deadweight which we must do our utmost to break free.

Meanwhile, we may be staring the dreaded “middle-income trap” in the eye unless we can fairly quickly find new
economic drivers that afford us the leap to high-income-nation status.

We can thus ill-afford being stuck in the rut of endless political navel-gazing, held hostage to a narrative which cries out for some serious updating, at minimum.

The world will otherwise likely just pass us by. We either sink or swim together, as Adenan reminded us.

So, who is that Adenan-like national leader to calmly carry us forward?

Irony of ironies, it may be the one who acted as the midwife to New Malaysia. Yes, Dr Mahathir. But, of course, we all know that he is 94 years old. A Malaysian Dilemma indeed!

By John Teo.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2019/10/534463/we-need-encourage-truly-multi-racial-politics

Varsities should always remain non-political

Monday, October 28th, 2019
G25 expresses its deep disappointment at the four public universities and their vice-chancellors for co-organising the recently held Kongres Maruah Melayu (Malay Dignity Congress) where the speeches left most Malaysians shell-shocked at the level at which race and religion were exploited to make demands in support of dignity for the Malays and Islam.

The universities have a duty to explain to the public their reasons for taking an active role as co-organisers of the rally.

The public are entitled to hear their explanation as the universities are funded by government allocations paid from taxpayers’ money.

G25 accepts the view that universities must not live in the ivory tower but instead must come down to earth to play an active role in society and nation-building. As universities are the highest centres for learning and academic wisdom, they have the autonomy to decide what forums they wish to participate in.

We respect their academic autonomy but on our part as a civil society organisation which advocates moderation and tolerance among the communities and transparency and accountability on policy matters of public interest, we in G25 view the various speeches and resolutions at the Malay Dignity Congress as being totally contrary to the public aspirations of New Malaysia, as articulated in the government’s newly-announced Shared Prosperity Vision or Wawasan Kemakmuran Bersama.

The vice-chancellors have the right to disagree with the government’s concept of shared prosperity, its reform agenda or the notion of sharing political and administrative power with non-Malay political leaders or maintaining the country’s character as a secular constitutional democracy.

However, as heads of academic institutions, they should be non-political in making their speeches and should explain their ideas in a constructive manner.

In the case of the Malay Dignity Congress, the four vice-chancellors and other academics clearly knew what their presence at the gathering meant.

Their prominence as opening speakers and how they publicly recommended racist and undemocratic policy reforms exposed their agenda to partake in political shenanigans. This is precisely what universities and academia should avoid.

We are criticising their support for the rabble-rousing that the event was meant to effect.

The entire event was not perceived as a fact-finding forum, nor was it a gathering of students and scholars meant to debate national issues of concern to all races and religions in Malaysia. It was deliberately done like a political rally. This is objectionable.

We wish to assure the vice-chancellors that we, the members of G25, are strong advocates for university autonomy and academic freedom, but like all institutions, with freedom comes the responsibility for universities to be accountable to the people as they are paying for the cost of running them.

G25 recently co-organised a forum on the unity of the ummah. Academics and students participated, and it was hosted by a public institution of higher education.

If we compare the congress to this forum, it would be clear that such public gatherings, be they forums or congresses, do not blatantly project any political agenda. They are meant to increase knowledge and educate.

If the vice-chancellors are well informed, they will know that all those regimes that used tribal and sectarian rhetoric to promote supremacist politics have ended up in the dustbin of history, condemned by their own people for bringing chaos, anarchy and poverty to their countries. Millions of lives were lost unnecessarily because of the greed for power of these leaders.

We in Malaysia must not allow universities to get away with supporting those who use the destructive tactics of dividing the people to facilitate desperate politicians to play on the emotions of the ordinary people in their greed for power.

Such speeches when made by vice-chancellors cross the line of academia and render their position as heads of public institutions no longer tenable.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/read/3271/varsities-should-always-remain-non-political/

Student involvement instils good values and self-discipline

Monday, October 28th, 2019
SANDAKAN: Involvement of students in programmes such as camping educate them to be more independent and also serve as a basis for instilling good values ​​and self-discipline.
District Assistant Education Officer, Student Talent Development Unit, Student Development Sector, Suriyansyah Yunus said it also give students an opportunity to showcase their talents and abilities.
She said this when representing District Education Officer Sharif Mahada Sharif Attar when officiating at the Sabah Branch Girls Guide 2019 organised by Malaysian Girl Guides Association, Sabah Branch at SK Merpati that was held for three days from Oct 25.
Also present were District Commissioner, Wong Chien Ha, and camp commander, Zuraini Zakaria.
Some 110 girl guides participated in the programme.
Participants consist of primary three to primary six students from nine districts that include Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu, Papar, Beaufort, Kota Belud and Kudat.
The activities include a visit to the Sandakan Garden, watching video clips, exercise and crafts.

Zuraini said the camp was an annual programme and Sandakan was selected to host it this year.

“The programme was aimed at fostering a sense of tolerance, accountability and respect for the environment among the members.
“It also encourage individuals to be more self-reliant, able to communicate well and adapt to any situation which also can be applied in their daily lives.

“It promotes cooperation not only among the participants but also teachers involved,” she said.

By: Mardinah Jikur.

Read more @ http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news/142378/student-involvement-instils-good-values-and-self-discipline/

Children must be grateful with parents

Monday, October 28th, 2019
PENAMPANG: Children should be grateful to their parents for giving them education, love, money including spiritual and physical protection.
“You would not be on stage without your parents help,” said Law and Native Affairs Assistant Minister Jannie Lasimbang at SMK Bahang Penampang graduation ceremony held at International Technology & Commercial Centre (ITCC) Penampang.
“But, parents need to ensure that the efforts by the teachers at school in educating their children must be continued at home too,” she said.
She also added that religious education for the younger generation is essential to the building of faith, courage and upholding the principles of truth and trust.

Some 309 Form Five students and 10 students of Special Education Interaction Programme (PPKI) took part in the graduation recently.

School Principal Margaret Chee said parents should encourage and extend moral support to their children so that the latter would have confidence to sit for the SPM.