Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jesus,beer and cigarette

Jesus’ positive message in a negative image

The publishing of a picture of Jesus holding a beer can and a cigarette by the Tamil daily,Makkal Osai recently was a despicable act which must be condemned. However the Christian leaders, including Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, have rightly reacted with restraint and sensibly to that irresponsible action. We too in general have accepted the apology from the editor in the true Christian spirit of forgiveness. This goes to show that as followers of Jesus, we are a peace loving people whose faith in Him cannot be shaken by such provocative acts.

The decision by the Internal Security Ministry to suspend the publication permit of Tamil daily Makkal Osai for one month is not only unwarranted but was done in bad faith as it was carried out contrary to the advice of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) and the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS).In fact Archbishop Murphy Pakiam said he was “perplexed and bemused” by the suspension.

Jesus is known for his mercy, compassion and love. He did not just preach these virtues but lived and even died by them. Would He have wanted to punish the perpetrators of this irresponsible incidence further despite their repentance? The suspension of the daily would result in a hundred workers losing their livelihood.

It is very obvious now that the whole incident had some underlying political motives. The suspension seem to have little to do with safeguarding the religious sensitivities but was a means to punish the highly critical Tamil daily.It is sad, that these days even the name of God and His prophets are being manipulated by certain individuals for political gains.The real culprits in this whole fiasco are the politicians not the staff of Makkal Osai.They are willing to go to any extent just to gain glory and power.

The daily had published a picture of Jesus Christ purportedly holding a cigarette in one hand and a beer can in the other, with a caption saying: “If someone repents for his mistakes, then heaven awaits him”. What was portrayed may be a negative feature but if we reflect deeply, we will see that that Jesus may be trying to convey certain positive messages for us, not just Christians but all mankind.

Firstly, Jesus may be telling us to rid ourselves of our sinful ways if we want to enter his kingdom. The beer and cigarette represent the sins due to greed, lust and hate, which are so rampant in the world today.

Secondly, Jesus is telling us that He is among the poor, destitute and the sinners. He is inviting us to be with Him with the masses. Unless we give up our pride and reach out to those marginalized and oppressed, we will never encounter Him.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Jesus “stolen” from church

I read with interest the report “Sacred vessels stolen from church” which appeared in the Star, August 17 ,2007.

According to the report parishioners attending the early morning mass at the Our Mother of Perpetual Help Church in Ipoh were shocked to find that its sacred relics were missing. Thieves had broken into the building and carted away the church’s tabernacle containing its five sacred vessels worth RM5,000.

I was surprised that the parishioners and the parish priest were more interested in the loss of the five vessels in the tabernacle worth RM5,000, rather than their contents which is priceless – consecrated hosts representing Christ himself.

This incident, is not just a theft, but is a real test of our faith by Jesus. His coming to us in Holy Communion should be the source of the strength and zeal to pass Him to those around us and not lock him up in the confines of the church and the tabernacle only to be visited whenever we have problems.

Jesus is always out there alive in the world, in our midst and especially in the people around us including the thieves who “stole” Him from the church.

Dr.Chris Anthony Butterworth

Monday, August 20, 2007

Declining vocation

Encourage vocation by example

The continuing decline in the number of priests and religious is a serious concern of our Church not just in Malaysia but throughout the world. Of late there is a tremendous lack of interest from our youngsters to answer God’s call into priesthood and religious life. We are repeatedly being reminded of this problem but are we seriously doing anything to overcome that? Why are our young men and women shunning this vocation?

There is also a simultaneous loss of passion in our respective vocations whatever it may be. Our profession has become a means of income and not a vocation. We have become more passionate and loyal to the monetary rewards rather than the real substance of our profession. Our choice of a job is determined by the amount of money it fetches rather than the nature of service it provides.

Christian education traditionally instilled the right values at an early age. The decline in this education over the years is a major cause of the loss this passion in our vocation. The Church is losing its moral obligation in providing proper Christian education for our children. The parents and priests blame each other for lack of interest for vocation in the children. Who is really to blame?

Decades back we witnessed the love of Christ alive in our community in the various Christian institutions. We had the mission schools, hospitals, and orphanages, homes for the aged, schools for the disabled and halfway homes for the wayward. We were taught that serving men was the way Christianity has to be practiced. In fact this unique feature of service to man was what differentiated the Christian faith from others.

Today we cannot proudly claim to have these institutions of Christ’s love anymore. Many of these institutions like hospitals have become business enterprises where only those who can afford seek treatment. They are functioning against the true spirit with which they were set up – to serve the poor and under-privileged.

These expressions and dissemination of Christ’s love through charity have instead been replaced by evangelical and charismatic activities. It is sad that we have become more interested in these charismatic, evangelical activities and acts of miracle rather in charitable deeds to others in need.

We organize mammoth prayer sessions, petitions and all forms types of formations to entice young men and women into the priesthood and religious lives but will these alone be sufficient? We are hoping the Holy Spirit to do the job for us without any genuine proactive efforts on our part. From what we are witnessing it is obvious that these are not enough to inspire our youngsters to the priestly and religious vocations.

What we really need are role models in parents, teachers and priests areas, which is sadly missing these days. Our children are subtly influenced by the way we conduct ourselves in daily lives and not by what we preach. Unless we capture their admiration by our actions they are not going to listen to our preaching. As parents, teachers and priests are we setting good examples for our children?

Priesthood is not an ordinary vocation like any other but one that requires a great deal of sacrifice and exemplary behavior from its members. They are to show us the way Jesus lived and would live in today’s world. Would that be asking too much of our priests?

Over the years our priests and religious have alienated themselves from the masses, particularly the not so holy Catholics, so much so that they have become indifferent and insensitive to the needs of the people. Instead of being the servants they have become the masters of their flock. In some places they have even become the abusers of those whom they are supposed to lead and inspire. Under these circumstances, I do not see how the Holy Spirit can help us if we exhibit all the negative examples for the children.

There is a need for our priests and religious to reach out to the masses. Unless they bring back the love of Christ alive into the community, they will not be able to attract our young men and women into their flock. The passion for vocations must be instilled in our children from an early age not just by preaching and prayer but by our own examples and attitudes.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Adopt a culture of critical thining

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Encourage and respond to criticisms

I share the sentiments expressed by Shenton Thomas of Johor in his letter “Is there justice in the Church?” (HERALD, July 1, 2007). His question “Does the hierarchy of the local church read the letters that are published weekly?” is very relevant and is a question that lingers in the minds of many.

Day after day our national dailies carry numerous letters, comments and suggestions from members of the public on the various problems they encounter. Do the relevant authorities really read, take note of them and take remedial action? The vast majority of them do not as they don’t bother to reply to these queries and comments.The situation is not much different in our church. Week after week responsible and concerned Catholics take the trouble to raise a number of problems that they feel need to be addressed but, regrettably, there is hardly any response from the hierarchy of the Church to these comments, let alone attempts to solve them.
I can see only two reasons for the total silence from the members of the hierarchy to the various feedback from the people. They are either not bothered or they have total disrespect for the opinion of the members of the laity.

A lot of money is spent to publish and maintain a publication like HERALD. The purpose is to provide information as well as to get the feedback from the people on various issues confronting us. Feedback is so vital for the successful running of any organisation and it not only must be allowed but actively encouraged as well.

Opinions, especially dissenting ones, are in fact more important than those that merely praise the authorities. The latter just helps to boost the ego and nothing more. It is the constructive criticisms that help to improve the conditions of service and in the case of the Church, to build God’s Kingdom among us.

We must adopt a culture in which criticism must be seen as a means of improving ourselves. It must not be construed as being anti-establishment and those who air it, as trouble makers.

The HERALD is the only means available to the laity, who are also the Church, to provide feedback. If the authorities responsible for administering the church are not interested in listening to the people, then they might as well do away with the opinion columns or even close down the weekly publication altogether. I am sure the money can be put to better use.

Dr Chris Anthony


Recognise the role of the priests

Sunday, August 12, 2007

This refers to the letter ‘encourage and respond to criticisms’ by Dr Chris Anthony in the HERALD dated July 22. At first I felt outrage at the comments by the writer but on reflection I was overcome with sadness. The writer seems to regard the clergy as if they were elected to office and are now accountable for their actions to the people that put them there.

Nevertheless, I doubt if our clergy act like dictators. The fact of the matter is that no priest can please every individual that turns to him. Please remember that our priests are on call 24 hours a day, attending to the needs of each and every one of us that belong to the parish under their care and often further than that.

It is sacrilegious therefore to suggest that the clergy is egoistic and does not care or show respect for the laity.The priest has to play the role of spiritual guide, confessor, parent, guardian, counsellor, teacher and a host of other things for the entire parish community We expect the clergy to take the lead on social issues.

They have to deal with individual matters as well as those that affect the whole community. They have to be very much a part of the fabric of society and yet remain detached.
Very often, we complain because we disagree with the priest. Surely, we do not need to voice out our problems in the HERALD. If it is a serious matter of faith or doctrine, we could refer it to the local ordinary.

However, if it is simply about what flowers to use next Sunday or how the choir sings, surely a casual remark to the priest will suffice.

Caustic comments on vague issues are not only damaging but reflect poorly on the individual that claims to be a follower of Christ.

Susai Anthony Muthu

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One year after PMPCIII

15 Aug 2007

One year after PMPCIII – what have we achieved?

In August this year we will be exactly one year after the Third Peninsula Malaysia Pastoral Convention (PMPCIII) which is held every 10 years. About 600 representatives from all three dioceses took part in the 3-day deliberations that is supposed to charter the course of our Church in Malaysia over the next 10 years.

Before that convention I wrote an open letter to the bishops which were not even acknowledged. Herald and Catholic Asian News(CANews) did not see my letter to be important enough to be published.

Post-PMPCIII disappointment

For months we all prayed earnestly for the success of this convention. We asked God, through the Holy Spirit to guide our clergy and lay leaders to come up with definite and concrete plans for the building of His Kingdom here in Malaysia.

There was so much publicity and hype beforehand, but unfortunately the PMPCIII itself was an anticlimax. We eagerly awaited some news of the outcome of the convention but to our disappointment at the first post-PMPCIII Sunday mass nothing was mentioned about the deliberations and decisions at the meeting either from the priests or lay leaders who participated in that historic event. The silence on the proceedings continued week after week It was a real disappointment to all Catholics who prayed so hard for the success of the PMPCIII.

This goes a long way to illustrate the importance given to the lay members of the Church. We are continuously being reminded “we are the church” but when and where it really matters we are ignored. How can we expect to build the true Kingdom of Christ when we do not reach out to the ordinary members of the church?

Now we are one year after the all important convention which we spent over RM 700,000 to organize. The next PMPC may cost us more than double this amount. Are we better off than before? Have our members benefited from the convention? Have we managed to bring Jesus actively into our lives and the lives of others? These are the questions we must pose and find honest answers.

Let us reflect on the various problems that continue to plague us and see how we are dealing with them after the PMPC III.

Clergy-laity relationship

This was one of the hottest issue debated at the PMPCIII.Most Catholics are very unhappy with the authoritarian attitude of the clergy. They wanted more responsibility on the day to day running of the parish.

Has the PMPCIII brought any effective change in this relationship? Most members of the laity would deny any change for the better. The “I know all” and “take it or leave” attitude of the clergy is still much alive as it was before.

There is a need for a bigger and more responsible role for the laity especially in the administration of the parish. Laity’s voice, maturity, intelligence and talents are often underestimated and not utilized.

Promoting and developing BECs as basic functional units in the parish.

A lot of emphasis is being made on the role of the BECs.Week after week we are preached the importance of BECs.We are also unfairly accused and even scolded from the pulpit for not attending BECs meetings. Do our priests really understand the problems of the BECs? I doubt so. How will they know when they do not make any attempts to attend any of these meetings?

There is an urgent need for active pastoral involvement in the BECs, whereby the priest establishes inter-personal relationship with the people on the ground. It is useless in having BECs without the active involvement of the priest to advice and directs his flock.

Open dialogue, transparency and accountability in the administration of parishes

Are there more open dialogue, transparency and accountability in the administration of the parishes? Are qualified members of the laity being employed to administer the church to make it more professional?

Is our parish council elected and given the rightful place as the governing body of all parish?Do the parish priests consider the views of the councils on major decisions?

Of late the weekly collections are displayed in the church bulletin which is an encouraging change and hope it is the beginning of an era of more accountability and openness. Much more needs to done to enlighten the parishioners on the expenses in the parish. Monthly income and expenditure and yearly audited accounts must be made public.

Mechanisms for feedback

Of late the Herald is available for feedback from parishioners and it is encouraging that it is being promoted by the clergy in some parishes. There is still more room for improvement. More space must be given for articles and commentaries from our own parishioners instead of being dominated by foreign writers. This would enable active discussion on local issues. Other forms of feedback at parish levels must also be encouraged such as parish bulletins and newsletters.

Declining Christian education.

With the decline in education as whole, we are also witnessing deterioration in even the basic universal human and moral values especially among the young.

We have lost all our Christian schools which used to be the main source of moral and religious education of our children. Our present school system has failed miserably in this aspect; it is therefore left to the parents, the church and the lay Christian community to take over the task of teaching the young the values and traditions of their faith.

The Church must take this seriously and set up a task force at the highest level comprising experts from all sectors to tackle this problem urgently. A strong, unshakable and lasting faith can only be developed by inculcating fundamental Christian values from young. We are now failing to do this, and I’m afraid our future generation will not withstand the various challenges to their faith.

There is need for the establishment of a national Christian Institute of leadership and teachers training for the training and education of our young men and women.

Growing crisis in marriage and family life.

There is serious concern over the ever increasing divorce rate which threatens family institution to the core. This is becoming rampant even among Catholics where divorce is forbidden. Uncompromising parents and rebellious children who do not respect elders are becoming common.

There is a need to strengthen the family unit. There is a need to train our people in the area of counseling to advice and check the disintegration of the family unit. At present there is no one to turn to in times of crisis as the priests are too busy and preoccupied with other commitments. Very often they do not even know their parishioners well to advice.

Neglect of the youth the declining morality among them

Our children are exposed to the strong attraction of a misconceived culture that is prevalent in today’s world. This culture contradicts every established principle of all religions.

Free sex, abortion and adultery are not frowned at anymore. Corruption and greed for wealth are becoming acceptable norms even among us, Christians. This is basically the result of failure of our national education system which is in disarray and in dire need of revamp. This has placed a greater responsibility on the Church and parents to instill good moral values in our children

Our youth today are under tremendous pressure in a materialistic world that is controlled by advancements in modern scientific and technological developments. They outsmart parents and teachers in these fields.

The church, instead of condemning these advancements as anti-religious, must keep abreast with them so as be able to advice and guide them. Failing this the church would become irrelevant to the youth. Depending too much on faith alone to accept certain practices will not take us very far with our young people.

Neglect of the social teachings of the Church

There is an increasing religious fervour among Malaysians of all faiths. The growth of fundamentalism in our Church may be driving many away. The social services to mankind that were the earmark of our Catholic faith in the heydays are on the decline. Holiness has become synonymous with just praying and observing church laws blindly without a feeling for the human heart.

Jesus stressed on loving God and man and unless we combine the spiritual and social teaching we are not going to appeal to the vast majority of the people. There should be emphasis that spiritual development without accompanying social values is devoid of substance. Our spiritual activities must enhance our unselfish service to man. Christ is present in the Eucharist; there is no doubt or dispute about that. But he is also present alive in every one around us.

Racial segregation in the church.

Racial segregation, initiated by the government, is creeping into our church and becoming a real problem. This is further aggravated by our practice of segregation of the races according to language groups. This was not a problem when English was the main language of the church in the seventies, why are we making it one now? We should not succumb to the forces that propagate a divide and rule policy but unite as one community because our strength lies in this unity in diversity. We must be Christians first then Chinese, Indians or others.

Awareness of the socio-political developments in the country.

Islamisation and marginalization of minorities by the government will soon be accepted as a way of life. Christians are complacent, hoping and praying that they will not be affected.

The church must make the members be aware of the serious repercussions of Islamisation on our religious beliefs. We should not be just happy to pray and go home; there are serious problems ahead which must be addressed now.

We must make clear our uncompromising stand on rights abuses that are so frequent these days. The recent Moorthy and Lina Joy cases should alert us to the seriousness of the situation today. Sad to say our priests hardly neither highlighted these cases nor was any special prayers offered during the masses.

Unity with other religious groups

We are not alone in our struggle against injustice, racial and religious prejudice. We have the other Christian denominations and other major faiths with whom we must cooperate and interact. We should not adopt the misguided notion that ours is the best religion and all others are false. We must be open to the universality of God, where every faith leads to the same God along different paths.

Lack of basic facilities in small parishes

Most parish premises used to be hive of activities for the people. But today many of the buildings and infrastructure in small parishes are in a sorry state due to neglect.

Every attempt must be made to improve the basic facilities in all parishes to develop them into centers of education, training and human development. All parishes must be equipped with adequate modern facilities for training and human development, especially the young.

The priests must be energetic and dynamic in keeping with latest developments. A task force at diocesan level must be formed, comprising experts in the various fields, to upgrade the facilities in all parishes.


These are some of the large number of issues that confronted us before the PMPCIII.Are there any genuine signs after PMPCIII to indicate they are being addressed?

One year has passed since the PMPC III and about RM730,000 has been spent on it. Let us search our conscience to as to who if any had benefited from the convention?

We eagerly organize various formations, rallys, conventions, seminars, talks and fellowship. We take great pains and spend lot of time and energy to raise funds and organize these activities. Regrettably we fail to show the same enthusiasm in reaching out to those in need in our midst. We forget that Jesus is waiting for us in the sick, the dying, the elderly, the widows, the orphans, the poor, the oppressed and lonely.

Unless we make efforts to touch these less fortunate among us, our faith would be meaningless and all the PMPCs that we may host will only go to waste.

Dr.Chris Anthony

Friday, August 10, 2007

After 50 years - A real test of patriotism

Are we marginalised?

Some time ago, the Minister Mentor of Singapore,Lee Kuan Yew, accused the Malaysian government to have systematically marginalized the citizens of Chinese origin. This was vehemently denied by the Malaysian government including its own Chinese Ministers in the cabinet. The accusation created considerable debate on this issue of marginalization of the minorities in the country.

What is marginalization? Is it true that certain communities in the country are being marginalized?The Oxford Dictionary defines marginalization as 1.relating to or a situation at or in a margin. 2. of minor importance. Therefore when we say a community is marginalized it means it is pushed to the periphery and given minor importance.

In accordance with this definition we can safely say marginalization is a universal practice of the majority against the minority. In a truly democratic state the minorities are protected by law against blatant abuses and discrimination against them. The ruling majority is entrusted to ensure that the rights of the minorities are genuinely protected.The political system, the judiciary, police and armed forces are in place to ensure that the rights of the minorities are protected in accordance with the laws of the country. This is practiced more satisfactorily in most developed democratic nations of the West as compared to developing and under-developed nations.

In Malaysia too the Federal Constitution, enacted by the founding fathers of the nation, clearly spelt out these provisions. Do we as the minority non-Malay and non-Muslim communities enjoy this protection from the government agencies? Are our legitimate rights for equal participation in the various institutions and economic activities granted freely without fuss?

The present unprofessional handling of inter-ethnic conflicts by our politicians, police, judiciary and the civil service in general has cast serious doubts in our minds as to the willingness of the majority to protect not only our rights but our security as well.This was clearly demonstrated in a number of incidence lately such as violent disruption of the peaceful Article 11 forum in Penang, the false SMS fiasco in Ipoh, seditious speeches and kris waving at the last UMNO General Assembly, the warnings by UMNO youth leaders and so on.After fifty years of independence instead of getting more united we are on the contrary becoming more polarized along ethnic and religious lines.

At the brink of our 50th.year of independence,when the whole nation is in festive mood,preparing to celebrate our national day,let’s ponder what is taking place in our own multiracial and multi-religious country which our leaders acclaim to be a model for others to emulate.

The early years

The first act after a child is born is the registration of its birth which requires one to state the ethnicity and religion of the newborn. So even at birth Malaysians are categorized as Malays, Chinese, Indians or others. Why can’t we do away with just stating we are Malaysian instead of classifying according our ethnic origin?

In school

In school the child is again repeatedly asked to state his race and religion in all registration forms.Even streamlining of classes is based on race. It is not uncommon to group all Malays into one class and non-Malays into others. The reason given for this is to facilitate religious instruction for Muslims and moral for non-Muslims.

Religious instruction for children should be encouraged but it should be for all, regardless of religion. Moral classes, emphasizing universal values, should also be common for all, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.Why are Malaysians at such a tender and innocent age exposed to separate moral and value systems? Prayer sessions in schools, before important functions and examinations are held only for Muslims. The non-Muslims are left to idle away during these sessions. Isn’t this segregation of our children in schools for religious purposes amounts to discrimination?

Selection of students for posts as prefects, heads of clubs and sports are again based on race. Non-Malay students unless possess extra-ordinary skills, which not many do, are not selected to represent the school or state.

Teachers, who are predominantly Malays, these days don’t even know much about the background of their pupils of other races. Then there is different dress code for Muslims and non-Muslims which further segregate the kids even at primary level.

At university level

Entry into public universities which is based on two totally different examinations, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia(STPM) and Matriculation, is profoundly unfair. There is widespread perception that the selection process for university entrance favors the matriculation over the STPM students. Less than 10% of the matriculation seats are offered to non-Malays.

As STPM carries less weight for entry into public universities, many of the non-Malay students, even those from poor background, are forced to shun away from this once popular local examination in favor of A-levels. The latter, apart from being a foreign examination is also very costly, tuition fees alone coming up to more than RM15,000.By this unfair practice, slowly but surely the eligibility of non-Malays for entrance into public universities is systematically eliminated. It is a fact that the number of students opting for STPM is declining every year. Why can’t all races sit for a common entrance examination?

Every year we see numerous non-Malay students with maximum results in the STPM examination being blatantly denied places in public universities for critical courses like Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Law and Engineering. Many of these students are from extremely poor financial background and cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by the private colleges. Scholarships are not awarded to them based on merit as claimed. What do we expect them to do? Can we blame them if they resort to criminal activities to earn a living?

The vast majority on non-Malay students, including the brilliant ones from poor families, are forced to further their education in private institutions, some with questionable credentials, at costs far beyond their means,often amounting to hundreds of thousands of ringgit. Many poor parents have to mortgage their houses and properties to finance them. Highly precious EPF savings are utilized leaving the parents at the mercy of their children at the twilight of their lives.

Job opportunities

After completion of their studies job opportunities are also hardly available to non-Malay Malaysians. The posts in civil service, police, armed forces and even government linked companies (GLC) are “reserved” for bumiputras leaving the private sector highly competitive for the non-bumiputras.Forty percent of the population are given less the 10% of jobs in the government sector. If this isn’t discrimination what is it?

For those few, who are lucky to be employed in the public sector, promotions by true merit are difficult to come by. Post for heads of departments, state directors of the various departments, director generals, state secretaries and chief secretaries of ministries are all exclusively for bumiputras.

Religious segregation

In the years following independence Malaysians of all races mixed freely, playing, eating and even praying together. They celebrate all the festivals together in the true spirit of muhibbah.Today each community celebrates its respective festivals among the members of its own community. In fact these days our Muslim friends are reluctant to dine in the homes of non- Muslim friends.

Although Malaysia is a secular country where the federal constitution guarantees freedom to practice ones own religion, this freedom of religious worship, in actual fact, is greatly impeded.Local authorities are reluctant to approve the building of churches and temples let alone providing funds for such projects. Civil laws are being replaced by Syariah laws that are slowly becoming the supreme law of the land. There seems to be 2 sets of laws in the country, Syariah for Muslims and civil for non-Muslims.

Of late there have been attempts to impose syariah laws on non-Muslims as well. This has caused great deal of anxiety among them.Inter-faith problems are sensationalized and dialogues to solve them are denied. The reluctance of the government to establish the Inter-faith Commission is a serious setback to solving such disputes in a civil manner.


Lee Kuan Yew said the Chinese are marginalized in Malaysia and in return the Malaysian government claims that the Malays in Singapore are marginalized. Both these may be true but what is also true is that the indigenous groups and Indians in both countries have been pushed out of the margins, a situation we call elimination, which is more extreme than marginalization.Even the poorer bumiputras are marginalized from the mainstream of development.

We claim that Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country, and truly it is. Our leaders claim we are a model nation for the world to emulate as far as ethnic relations are concerned, sure enough it should be.We have all the great religions in our country, Islam, Christianity, Hinduisms and Buddhism. All of them are unanimous in their teachings - to share what you have, however scanty it may be, with those who are less fortunate regardless of race or creed.

Malaysia is blessed with abundant natural resources and there is plenty of wealth for all its citizens. All we need is to be true followers of our respective religions and share what we have with fellow countrymen, regardless of color or creed.

At the end of the first fifty years of independence, we are beginning to get a sense of helplessness and despair. We have definitely succeeded in this half a century in creating two classes of citizens – Malays and non-Malays. As though this division was not enough, we have further subdivided them into Muslims and non-Muslims.

Occasionally we see a ray of hope in some moderate statements of the Prime Minister but it is quickly subdued by racist remarks of some young ambitious politicians. We are encouraged by the recent calls for racial unity by the Regent of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah but will his sole voice have any lasting impact on the system of governance?

Our patriotism to the nation which was unshakable before is being severely tested. If this discrimination and marginalization continues, our future in the country we loved and toiled to develop appears to be doomed. Let us all implore divine help to get rid of our selfishness in accordance of our religious teachings, as only the Almighty will be able to deliver our country from the clutches of racists and fanatics.

Dr.Chris Anthony