Archive for January 2010

There is no oneness in 1Malaysia

January 30, 2010

The Selangor state government was not allowed to put up a stage for the Menteri Besar, Khalid Ibrahim, and other state leaders to meet the people on the eve of Thaipusam. Therefore all cultural and entertainment shows organised had to be cancelled incurring financial losses amounting to RM120,000.

Details about the event were informed to police and they had given a verbal approval. Police normally do not give written permits for opposition functions until the last minute. Barisan National does not have such problems.

Later PM Najib decided to visit Batu caves at the same time as the state government event. Najib’s function was well within the temple complex and state stage was outside the temple compound. Yet the police came down hard and dismantled the stage and barred the state function.

Apparently the Selangor state government event is security threat to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak.

Thaipusan is a religious festival celebrated in Batu Caves and in many Murugan temples all over the country for the past 50 years without any disruptions and hindrances. Millions of people jostle and make their way to the temple with constraints and limitations, peacefully.

They hike, go up the narrow steps, bathe in narrow rivers, walk barefoot with sober and subdued spirit to fulfill their vows and penance. Temple committees and government bodies do capitalise on these gatherings to promote tourism.

But Thaipuam festival itself is a solemn event for devotees and worshipers. To say that the stage set up for Selangor Menteri Besar and state leaders to meet the people poses security threat to Najib is an insult to millions of Hindus and other devotees coming to Batu Caves.

Prime Ministers and many ministers have come to Batu Caves while state chief ministers walk with devotees a few kilometres in Penang to the temple for many years. The devotees and visitors to temples will only be pleased and happy to see their leaders coming to temple to greet them. The Hindus and others will be glad and ask more non Indian leaders to come to meet them in such mass gathering.

That itself is their prayer answered.

Malaysian police must manage the crowd and see that the festival takes place in an orderly manner and people gathered are least inconvenienced. It is the responsibility of the police to ensure that no trouble creators disturb the event.

But they should not disrupt and cancel meet the people sessions saying that it poses a security threat to Najin. Imalaysia will only be realised when more Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban and Kadazan leaders meet people of other faiths in festivals like Thaipusam. If such events are disrupted and cancelled where is the oneness in 1Malaysia.

1Malaysia should manifest in spirit and implementation and not just be a mere hollow slogan.

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We need proper study and affirmative action before foreign workers are replaced

January 25, 2010

After allowing millions of foreign workers for so many years suddenly the director general of immigration realised that many of these workers are violating the immigration act. The free inflow of foreign workers has made the local restaurants dependent on them and did not develop alternative means of service and delivery to customers.

The local restaurants, hotels and other service industry will collapse or undergo tremendous hardship if sudden and stringent action are taken straight away. Malaysians don’t deserve this delayed and sloppy action at the time of economic hardship. This will only bring joy to the police and RELA personnel when they go around raiding and intimidating foreign workers who are themselves poor and exploited.

How come the previous director generals of immigration were oblivious of this violation of the immigration act? In fact Immigration and ministry of human resources together approved labour agency all over labour exporting countries to bring in hundreds of thousands of foreign workers.

The immigration department has allowed millions of foreign workers in this country both legally and illegally. In the process they replaced the locals from the construction, plantations, restaurants and hospitality industry. The presence of millions of foreign waiters in local restaurants has depressed the wages and deprecated the working conditions in these industries.

This situation has destroyed the employment opportunities of Malaysians.

The government has abdicated its responsibility on the socio economic problems that will arise from the influx of millions of foreign workers in Malaysia. Therefore there were no plans and policies to train local workers and to develop the services and deliveries of restaurants from less labour intensive to more self service or more automation.

Since many agents were making money the immigration department went on blissful sleepy mode. Malaysia needed foreign workers but it is the government’s responsibility to coordinate and control the flow to the level that does not jeopardise the employment and socio economic situation in the country.

There was no concrete and affirmative action to replace these foreign workers with locals over the period.Foreign workers are becoming indispensable to restaurants and other industries.

Without a proper strategy and remedy, the DG of immigration should not take any action to arrest and deport foreign workers. This will create hardship and economic losses to the restaurants and tourism industry.

The government needs to look at how developed countries managed their labour shortage. There are poor and needy people in Malaysia too looking for job opportunities. Government decision makers must look at the hard facts and reality and come up with creative strategies before taking action.

Temples should serve as community centres for Malaysian Indians

January 25, 2010

Hindu temples in Malaysia have to wake up and realise that their survival in the long run dependents on their contribution to the Hindu community.  Malaysian Indians are educated and mix with people of various races and religions. Their thinking will be very scientific, logical, influenced by other cultures and may even question as to why should one go to temple.

Temples must rise up to the new challenges and become relevant to the current needs and thinking of Malaysians.  One way of making themselves relevant to the Hindu community is to act as community centres cum places of worship.

Temples are public institutions that have the financial support from the affluent members of the Indian community.  Therefore Hindu temples are well positioned financially to dissemination knowledge to its worshippers about our heritage and spiritual wealth to temple followers.

Currently many temples do not focus on dissemination of knowledge but are involve only in worship of deity and rituals. We are living in a multi racial country with many religions. Hindus must be knowledgeable about their cultural heritage and must have the attitude and soft skills to manage the challenges that arise, being a minority community.

The Hindu communities in Malaysia are marginalized in all aspects be it social, political, economical and cultural. Many in the urban fringes and estates are facing hopelessness and a bleak future.

Other religious institutions are actively involved in economic uplifting of these poor Hindu folks. Temples have to rise up to the crying calls of suffering and needy people of all religions.

They can add additional services such as welfare service, skill development for single mothers, motivation to Hindu children nearby, counselling centres etc. It all dependents on the resources and expertise they have.

Tamil schools and the temple institutions are the twin-engine vehicles that link our past rich cultural, religious and spiritual heritage. One without the other will paralyze, sidetrack and dodge the Malaysian Hindu community from its past heritage.

The Hindu way of living places a lot of importance and emphasis on acquiring knowledge. This makes it all the more reason for temple institutions to wholeheartedly adopt Tamil Schools.

But unfortunately Malaysian Hindus have turned a blind eye towards the plights of Tamil schools but donate generously in building, restoring and renovating temples. It is time for our community as a whole to take ownership of this problem and redress the situation. One much needed and desired contribution of temples, are the adoption of depleted and under equipped Tamil schools throughout the country.

Tamil schools remain deprived of facilities and the much needed infra structure development. Even those Tamil schools, which are bustling with students, are also left to fend for themselves for additional classrooms, facilities and amenities.

When 50% of Hindu children who are in Tamil schools are helpless and seeking help, one wonders how the temple institutions can remain indifferent and unconcerned towards their plight.

If temples are to be supported continuously, they have to serve the community and envisage a role to make them relevant and revered. Temples coming to the rescue of Tamil schools at the crucial time will enhance their significance and worth in the Hindu minds.

Temples should not be mere buildings but a nerve centre that plays a pivotal role among the Hindus and other communities as this will create a lot of goodwill among other communities and benefit future Hindus in this country.

It is a golden opportunity for temples to be integrated with the community in particular the Tamil schools. This is the time for the temples to capitalize on the urgent need for its service and call for dialogues with educationists, NGOs, Tamil school headmasters and teachers and PIBG members to ascertain the kind of assistance and support that is needed.

The Hindu child needs hope self-esteem, self-confidence and dignity to face the various challenges in their everyday life.
I call and appeal upon all temple committees to transform temples into service and knowledge centres to uplift the Indian community.

Where is the justice in all the conversion cases brought to courts?

January 23, 2010

Yesterday in the high court of Ipoh a case was brought up to decide whether the civil high court has jurisdiction to hear a custody battle involving three children who were converted to Islam by one parent. The mother M Indira Gandhi, 35 is seeking custody for her three children who were converted to Islam by ex-husband K Patmanathan @ Muhammad Riduan Abdullah, 41. The syariah Court has not debated the case involving all the parties but unilaterally declared that the custody of children is with the father.

It is important that the civil and the syariah courts recognise that mandated justice and equality to the most aggrieved party in this case the mother should not be denied and delayed. The inner suffering of the mother in not having the custody of her own flesh and blood can never be compensated and nor will the father, court officials and the religious advocates, ever realise know the mother’s feelings.

All those religious officers who are helping the father to hide away the children from the mother will bring displeasure for their action from others. It is acts like compassion and justice and welfare for the aggrieved mother who may not be the believer that will foster goodwill and a sense of respect for their religious beliefs and faith.

The civil court must stand up to uphold justice, fairness, equality and human rights of the victim. Court officials who cannot uphold justice and fairness must relieve their post to someone else who can do it. Should religious beliefs of others deny a mother to even see her children than the civil courts have clearly abdicated its very purpose of existence.

Besides that the welfare and maternal needs of the children is denied at this tender age. Judge’s personnel beliefs and faith must not stand in between his call for executing justice and fair judgements.

What madam Indira Gandhi is undergoing is clear abuse of mother’s right to a fair hearing from a civil court which is in conflict with itself because of religious beliefs and religious intimidation. It is a sacred duty of the majority community to provide equality and assurance to religious minorities that they too have their rights protected. That will bring loyality and support from all community to the majority community.

Mr. PM what about a National Key Result Areas (NKRA) for race relations?

January 20, 2010

The call for inter faith dialogue is long overdue and should be whole heartedly supported by the BN government and used not for political expediency.

We already have a multi-religious Malaysian consultative council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) in existence for the past 25 years. Unfortunately the government is not interested in such dialogues and did not encourage Muslim NGOs to participate in such forums.

Invitations by MCCBCHST to Muslim organisations were not taken seriously. The BN government found it inappropriate to discuss religious matters with a group of NGOs representing their respective religions. Nor does the government want any NGOs to speak for Islam. In the end there was no representative from Muslim organisations in MCCBCST.

Challenges provide opportunities. At least after the ALLAH controversy all the religious representatives should meet and accept that the world is big enough for all to have their own faiths and beliefs as long as they don’t impose their beliefs on the other.

There must be mutual respect for our religions to co-exist. Religious leaders must meet regularly and sort out the various issues that crop up from the interactions of followers in the daily routines.

After all the followers of all religions have to live in this one world. It should be easy for religious leaders to resolve any differences that arise. If the religious leaders cannot resolve differences amicably then something is wrong with our interpretation of our religious doctrines and dogmas.

To Quote Mahatma Gandhi “All the religions of the world, while they may differ in other respects, together proclaim that nothing lives in this world but Truth”.  So let’s not fear the unknown and lose the opportunity to resolve current problems which has serious repercussions on the future.

We must be aware not to include politicians in this inter-faith dialogue. Let the religious leaders come to an understanding and resolve the differences. Politicians need to get the people’s support in every election.

It is the religious leaders who are powerful but not accountable to anybody. Let them face each other and account for practical problems that arise from their interpretation and decree of dogmas and sacred scripts.

This will make our religious leaders more practical, realistic and compassionate to each other’s faiths and beliefs.

I call upon the Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, to set National Key Result Areas (NKRA) for race relations and religious tolerance to avoid religious differences in the future. Such targets will activate affirmative action by decision makers, be it in the federal, state or local levels.

BTN indoctrination runs across Sekolah Kebangsaan

January 14, 2010

Malaysians get divided and feel the division of race and religion as soon as their children enter standard one in Sekolah Kebangsaan. From standard one to secondary school then to local university or to any government office, Malaysians are always reminded of their race and religion.

The moment we enter government offices, the pegawai (officer) wants to know our race and religion. How is 1Malaysia possible? UMNOPUTRAS in parliament and in media always question the non Malays on how to foster national unity when 55% of Indian children are in Tamil schools and 90% Chinese children are in Chinese schools.

The Sekolah Kebangsaan is centred on agama class, so much so that class streaming, lesson planning, students get together based on race and religion. Over the years the school teachers are filled with one race replacing the experienced and dedicated teachers.

Teachers recruited are indoctrinated by BTN programmes which indoctrinates UMNO supremacy, ketuanan Melayu, Islamisation at the expense of national unity. Even if the individual teacher feels other wise and wants to speak for justice or equality, the school administration will see to it that he/she implements their racial agenda of divide and rule in the Sekolah Kebangsaan.

It’s too much racism and religious education in Sekolah Kebangsaan that non-Malays are driven away to vernacular schools even though the Tamil schools do not have good facilities. Chinese community has equipped their schools better than government schools. Yet the UMNO Wallahs do not understand why the non Malays are not sending their children to Sekolah Kebangsaan.

The Islamic agenda in Sekolah Kebangsaan is imposing and overwhelmiing on non Malay children. It scares and startles the non Malay children. Parents are alarmed and are enrolling their children in vernacular schools.

It’s a nightmare of six years of children’s primary education if parents do not want to go to vernacular schools.

Does the Minister of Education care?  Is he bothered to know the real reason for the decline in non Malay children in Sekolah Kebangsaan?

It is a pity that programs like BTN indoctrinates school teachers with the UMNO agenda of ketuaan Melayu and the nonexistent social contracts. Islamisation and racism were allowed to fester and permeate the education service for so long that our country is divided into pieces and real peace has gone out of the window as the nation witnessed last weekend with the fire-bombing of churches.

The Education Minister must review the school system to bring about analytical thinking, critical thinking and allow a culture of questioning into our curriculum.

For that to happen, BTN indoctrinations on school teachers must stop.

PPR flats do not cater for the needs of non-Muslims

January 12, 2010

In the last senate sitting from 9th Dec 2009 to 22nd Dec 2009 I asked the minister of housing and local government whether the ministry has made provisions in the plan for land reserved for one kuil, tokong and funeral parlour in each of the 108 projects.

The deputy minister Datuk Seri Panglima Lajim Ukin replied that there is no provision even at the planning stage for a Kuil, Tokong and funeral parlour. He added that as per the guidelines of the department of urban and town planning, one Kuil must be built for 2300 Hindu residents and similarly a mosque for every 2300 Muslim residents. Once this condition of 2300 residents is fulfilled a place of worship can be built.

For funeral parlour there is no clear guideline.

The ministry of housing and local government has planned to built 108 low cost projects including 77772 housing units under the peoples’ housing project (PPR). That is made up of 82 projects including 74220 housing units for rental and 26 projects including 352 housing units in Pahang for sale.

54 projects for rental including 53840 housing units are completed and 28 projects including 20380 units are in construction under the 9th Malaysian Plan. For the housing units for sale, 17 projects including 2668 housing units are completed and 9 projects including 884 housings units are under construction. One housing unit is 700 square feet.

When the Project Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) is built a mosque, dewan rakyat (hall) and food court is built but no land is allocated for a Kuil, Tokong and funeral parlour for non-Muslims.

Till today no Kuil, Tokong or funeral parlour is built for the Indians and Chinese residents in any of the PPR project. It surprises me that the planners did not think about the needs the Malaysian Indians and Chinese residents of PPR.

Easily 30 to 40% of the PPR homes are Indians and Chinese residents. Indians and Chinese residents don’t mind a Kuil and Tokong next to each other. They will be very satisfied with one funeral parlour for both the communities.

This over sight by the department of town and urban planning is serious and the department head must be sacked.

The non-Muslims too need their places of worship to fulfil their religious needs. In the absence of a proper place of worship, quite a number of small shrines have mushroomed all over the project sites.

The city and town councils don’t sympathise with this problem but instead break down these shrines. This oversight of the planning department creates a racial disharmony in PPRs.

These problems go on unnoticed by the BN leaders. MIC and MCA leaders are so beholden to UMNO that they dare not put it right. Ignoring the need for a funeral parlour for non-Muslims clearly shows government is totally indifferent to non-Malays.

What an irony to 1Malaysia.