Friday, August 17, 2007

EXTRACT FROM M.VEERA PANDIYAN......the people's prince

As such, it would be inane to ignore the voice of our “man of the hour” – Raja Nazrin Shah, who has more than proved to be a guiding light in these increasingly disquieting days. The erudite crown prince of Perak has emerged as a symbol of hope to Malaysians who are worried that the fabric of the nation is being torn apart by political expediencies, ethnic and religious extremism and its wealth ripped off by the rapacious. He has been voicing the real concerns of the people in a series of pertinent speeches, the most remarkable being Challenges and prospects for nation building: A lesson for the young and bright – his keynote address at the first Student Leaders' Summit on Aug 5. Blunt in defining the malaise we are mired in, the Harvard and Oxford scholar proffered three basic essentials to stop the rot. The first, he said, is to recognise the Rule of Law and the inviolability of the Constitution, stressing that the supreme law of the land provides adequate checks and balances against excesses through the separation of powers between the executive, legislative and judicial branches, with each protected from encroachment by the other. The second element he cited is economic and social justice for all. He said all groups in society, regardless of ethnic group, religion or gender, must participate in making decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. “The people we work and play with, the friendships we make must never be constrained by ethnicity.'' “Preconceptions, parochialism and chauvinism can be eradicated if we interact actively with others of a different ethnic group or religion – even if it is just one teacher, one man, or one schoolmate. In many areas, this is absent and it must change,” he said. The third vital essential highlighted by the prince is good governance. He said institutions of governance must show and generate norms and behaviour that are fundamentally efficient, productive and just. “Only those who are capable, responsible and scrupulously honest should be allowed to serve in positions of leadership. The inefficient, incompetent and, most importantly, the corrupt, should be held in absolute contempt.” “We must have leaders who are earnest in maintaining unity, never resorting to religious or ethnic posturing to further political careers at the expense of peace and security. Should they fail in this respect, they must be held accountable and answerable before the law.” The prince suggested several ways for young Malaysians to “tenaciously forge this nation”, beginning with getting copies of the Federal Constitution and familiarising themselves with the rights enshrined in the document. He advised them to study the country’s history and former leaders like Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman who dreamed of a nation without colour lines, ethnic borders nor any group feeling a sense of inferiority. He told them to take “personal ownership” over the well being of the country, hold on to their ideals instead of giving way to apathy, cynicism or opportunism. The prince urged the young to take active part in community services that promoted interaction among the races, serve the country to the best of their abilities and not shy away from working in the public sector. Wouldn’t it be nice if his speech were made a subject of study in schools? Every Malaysian child, teacher and headmaster must also be made to understand it, along with all policymakers and implementers in the civil service. Needless to say, the country would be a much better place if our politicians, irrespective of whichever party they belong to, and those who sit in local councils, state assemblies and Parliament, can grasp the simple truths bravely espoused by the people’s prince.
extracted from The Star.

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