What our 16-17 year olds want – SSS Unity series No.3

12 05 2010

Here are the hopes and aspirations of some of our young Malaysians in respect of national unity, living in peace and harmony in this blessed country.

Let’s ponder and give some thoughts to what they are thinking and hoping. Let’s do whatever we can to bring about national unity that practically all of us cherish. Let’s talk it here if there’s anything that’s bothering us.

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http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100428154016/Article/index_html

Fostering national unity

2010/04/28

By Kugan Kanapathy, 17, Kuala Kangsar

IN my opinion, anyone who resides in Malaysia, be it in the peninsula, Sabah or Sarawak, is certainly blessed. Honestly speaking,there is no country that can attract me to be its citizen — not the power of the United States, not the ancient history of Italy, not the fascinating scenery of Switzerland, not the resources of Saudi Arabia and not the technological advances of Japan. I am indeed grateful to be born Malaysian.

I admire the diversity of culture, tradition, food, ethnicity, religions, races. Malaysians seem to live peacefully and harmoniously, and with a sense of pride. Racial integration needs citizens to foster and enhance the relationship between individuals regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, culture and beliefs. There is no better example than the struggle for independence. If Datuk Onn Jaafar, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Tan Cheng Lock or Tun Sambanthan had chosen to be narrow-minded and fanatic, the world map today would not feature a nation named Malaysia. In the same spirit, our current Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Haji Abdul Razak, has initiated a momentous programme called 1Malaysia. These days though, while we magnify all we have achieved in our 50 years of independence, the spirit of racial integration seems to be waning. I blame rapid globalisation and technological wonders. Leaders in our country have also realised that loyalty and love for the nation are also lacking among teenagers.

How do we improve the situation? Education is often described as the most valuable resource that any nation can rely upon. While the educational system has introduced subjects such as Moral Education, Civics and Islamic studies, students only focus on passing examinations rather than apply the noble values taught. Integrity-based programmes are necessary to promote loyalty and racial unity among teenagers. In this context, the National Service is an excellent effort initiated by the Government. Although only selected teenagers are given the opportunity to participate in this programme, the end results are very encouraging. Nevertheless, the National Service cannot be the only solution. From pre-school to tertiary level, different activities that instil and emphasise patriotism should be organised. The crucial task of educating the young may seem difficult to surmount.

Failure and dejection may settle heavily on patriotic hearts. But we should never quit.

As the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. So, as long as there is hope, we will achieve our aims, provided we are equipped with courage, aspiration, inspiration, perseverance and cooperation.

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http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100428154016/Article/index_html

By Juliati Hanis Azwa Jaafar, 16, Bandar Baru Bangi

THE late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj once said: “Nationalism, the patriotic love of Malaysia, by all the Malaysians, is the sine quo non for the viability and durability of the Malaysian nation.” According to the quote by our Father of Independence, it is a must for all Malaysian to cherish the spirit of unity and continue to sustain peace, stability, and tranquillity for the betterment of the nation. And the seed of national unity must be sown among the young. From a teenager’s point of view, national unity can be achieved by taking the initiative to mix with those from other races. We can help 1Malaysia succeed. This can be done by, say, participating in group work when there are projects to complete.

Include those from other races and religions. Teenagers can also foster national unity by celebrating the National Day. These days, teenagers lack the patriotic spirit. We teenagers should organise campaigns or even events to celebrate National Day that will draw all races together. National unity can also be fostered through the learning of other languages.

It’s really fun once you have tried them. For instance, even if our mother tongue is Bahasa Melayu, learning Mandarin or Hindi could benefit us in a number of ways. We will understand and learn to respect another culture, its traditions and people. All your questions get answered too — such as how other races address themselves, how they celebrate their festive occasions and how they dress during these occasions. When applying for a scholarship, knowing more than one language will also be an advantage. Cliched as it sounds, learning something new and different can be so exciting. National unity can also be fostered through entertainment. For instance, if a girl is planning to hold her 16th birthday party, she should invite friends from different races.

The party could well turn out to be super cool. Watching reruns is another thing to consider. It may sound boring to some people but watching reruns portraying historical themes in Malaysia can be beneficial. In my point of view, it’s a great way to help foster national unity because it makes people realise how great things are right now and how bad things were back in those days. Fostering national unity is not as simple as ABC.

It takes courage and self-initiative.

Let us all be grateful for what we have and tighten our bonds of unity.

Let us all achieve the aspirations of 1Malaysia. All for one and one for all!

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http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100428154252/Article/index_html

Racial harmony among students

2010/04/28

By Prasad Nallusamy & Le Roy Gan, both 16, Malacca

THE racial riots of May 13, 1969, rocked the nation. Four decades on, one question persists – is racial unity the scenario in schools now as it was in years past?

‘Work together to make 1Malaysia a success’
We interviewed veteran teacher and senior assistant of Students’ Affairs in St David’s High School, Malacca.

We were slightly nervous as this was our first “formal” interview.

But Mr S. Gunasegaran was happy to spend 45 minutes with us.

His answers, which we share with you, shows us how important it is for us students and the next generation of leaders to really value our racial unity and harmony.

Q: How did the May 13 riots affect students in your time?

I was in Form 2 when it happened.

We could only get to know about this through the radio and this conflict happened after an election.

After the curfew, the government introduced a lot of programmes in schools to foster racial unity.

As a prefect, I did not find any problem mixing around and at that time we would go to school even on Saturdays to help teachers.

Q: How do the students now differ from students at that time in terms of cultivating unity? At that time we were not exposed to modern gadgets and our sole entertainment was playing sports together.

Now, things have changed.

The exposure to modern tools may be a factor influencing the unity bond.

Nowadays, students tend to spend time on Facebook than outdoor games.

Q: How do co-curricular activities help strengthen racial unity? The National Service is a good programme organised by the government.

Besides that, the formation of Kelab Rukun Negara and uniformed bodies like the Scouts and St John’s should not only be controlled by students of one race.

Schools should play their role in promoting racial unity through co curricular activities.

Q: As students, what can we do to promote racial integration? Students should be more tolerant of each other and a student from a vernacular school background should not hesitate to mingle with other students as it will definitely affect the efforts to promote racial integration.

Q: What is your advice for teens like us regarding this issue? First of all, learn to respect each other.

When a rule is implemented, we must always obey it no matter what race you are from.

Whatever the situation, we must always give our national pride priority.

Unity is the base of a well-developed country and 1Malaysia is all about understanding the different cultures and religions.

Don’t be big-headed, and learn to say sorry.

His last words for all teenagers:

1. Emulate the good examples from past generations.

2. Take part in co-curricular activities because you get to meet and mix with students of all races, and learn to work with them.

3. Learn to say sorry and forgive.

4. Work together to make 1Malaysia a success Racial unity is easy to achieve if we try to remember that under our races, our creeds, our skin tones, we are all Malaysians, and we are all one human race.

How the future will turn out, and whether we can forever prevent another May 13 will depend on us, today’s teenagers.

The choice to strengthen racial unity lies in our hands.

1Malaysia Boleh!

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http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/NST/articles/20100428153741/Article/index_html

Happy together

2010/04/28

By Himmat Singh, 17, Selayang

EVER come across situations in your schooling life where all the Malay students would be huddled in one corner, the Chinese mixing among themselves and the Indians chilling out with those of their own race? My bet is that’s a yes.

Such situations are prevalent to varying degrees, in most schools, with a student from a particular race feeling “secure” when with those from his or her own race, and therefore a minimal amount of communication is made with others. However, is this the way to go? Is this how we Malaysians, who hail from a racially diverse country, should behave? Where on Earth has racial integration gone to? Before I go on, let me clarify though that not all students, or even adults for that matter, fall into this bracket.

But a good percentage do tend to stick to their “own” kind.

This, sad to say, paints a bad image of what a Malaysian stands for. Speaking from my personal point of view, I have come across the situations I mentioned earlier.

But I don’t even get the chance to hang out with those who share the same race as me in school because I am a Sikh, and how often do you come across a Sikh, if at all, in your school? So I have to mingle with others.

You can say I have had no choice, but even if there are many Sikhs in my school, I wouldn’t be clinging to them. From what I have observed, generally, the Chinese students who come from Chinese medium primary schools are less likely to mingle with Malays or Indians as compared with Chinese students from national-type schools.

In my class, there are 20 Chinese students, 10 Malays and the rest Indians.

Every day, I make it a point to have a chat with as many of them, and the racial factor doesn’t come in.

Interestingly, something that I have observed in any given class since day one is that an Indian would tend to sit next to an Indian, a Malay next to a Malay and so on.

One common excuse I hear for the lack of racial interaction from some students is the language barrier.

Some Chinese students cannot speak fluent English or Malay, while some Malays cannot speak good English.

But hey, this is a lame reason because the language barrier shouldn’t be there.

It is a self-created mess. The benefit of racial interaction is that we get to know other cultures, their beliefs and their way of life.

It would be shameful for a Malaysian not to know the festivals celebrated by, say, an Indian Hindu.

Not only that, but we would learn to adapt to different environments too, and this would especially come in handy during our working life. My parents have always placed emphasis on racial integration.

Two years back, I was studying in a private school which did not have a good racial representation and part of the reason for my switching to a national-type school was to get greater exposure to students of different races. Hopefully, after reading this piece, you will communicate with those from the other races, if you haven’t been doing that already.

I sound optimistic here, okay.

And make sure you make that a promise!


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10 responses

12 05 2010
antubahasa

There is nothing wrong in learning other languages like mandarin, tamil, french, japan, etc etc.

But something is SERIOUSLY WRONG if one cannot command the National Language of his so claimed country of citizenship. Not only that, he speaks, writes, breathes FOREIGN language in foreign land. Is he a PENDATANG ? He looks like one!!!!

Equally, seriously wrong too when the head of the country keeps promoting foreign language yet, putting the National Language at the back seat!!

13 05 2010
SSS Admin

antubahasa,

This is what allowing the continuation of vernacular schools has led to. The matter should have been settled at Merderka as soon as the draft Constitution was passed by Parliament. Article 152 clearly spells out the position of Bahasa Melayu, now known as Bahasa Malaysia, as the National Language of the country.

The leaders at independence were excited at the prospect of ruling their own country, were so carried away by the aura of independence that language proficiency tests were dispensed with when issuing citizenship certificates soon after independence. This is what led to Tun Tan Siew Sin, then MCA President, saying the Malays have been “generous enough” on two occasions – once in agreeing to citizenship at independence, another in doing away with language tests after independence. The continued existence of vernacular schools had laxed the attitude of those who were not keen in using Bahasa Malaysia in daily communication, even in official business, as schools are official business and vernacular schools use Mandarin and Tamil as the medium of instruction.

They are in fact not respecting Article 152. So is the country leadership in not enforcing Article 152. Let us continue pointing this out and getting the attention of the public on the need to respect and apply Article 152 to the official business of schools in the country.

13 05 2010
sepadu

I am very proud of these teenagers having such a sense of belonging to one another and to the country, wanting togetherness and unity. They have such mature thoughts and agile, productive minds. The sincerity of their thinking and the willingness to share out their thoughts, hopes and aspirations would certainly help in making Malaysia a better place for all of us and future Malaysians. How I wish the vast majority of our young are like them.

I wish less of Mat Rempitism and “kutu embunism” or the phenomenon of being out late until the wee hours of the morning. The authorities must take stiff measures in controlling the downward spiral in moral and social values among the young. Parents must also play their part in ensuring no driving without licenses, racing and gallivanting at odd hours of the night. The authorities must reduce the opening hours of the 24-hour joints that have been reported in the newspapers as filling such crowds of teenagers of all races. They should be closed by 12 midnight.

Otherwise these may lead to the young using the excuse to disappear to some unknown places engaging in rampant sex and resulting in unwanted pregnancies. They also would be the cause of teenagers’ bad moods at home and at school, and the consequent under-performance, from inadequate sleep. Good boys and girls turn into bad in the process.

Good of the New Straits Times to publish such articles on nation building. Let’s implore on others to do the same, both in providing column space and in filling up such column spaces with inspiring and morale boosting comments and articles.

13 05 2010
SSS Admin

sepadu,

This kind of young minds is our hope for the future. But let us not be carried away into thinking that the overwhelming majority if the young in the country have this stand. Those in vernacular schools, as pointed out by the last writer, were observed not mixing much. Those attending national schools in their primary level have no problem in mixing with the other races. We need to keep on speaking for one-stream schooling where the vernacular schools adopt Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction and the same curriculum and syllabus as the national schools. When that happens the vernacular schools will be funded by the Government and gradually be become mixed in attendance.

Then there are the many distractions that have come about as a result of globalisation – the Internet, satellite TV, etc. Foreign TV influence has led to loosening of moral values – gangsterism in schools, illegal racing on the roads, driving without license, going out until 3-4 am, random sex and unwanted pregnancies, non respect for elders and for authority. These are very serious problems nowadays, the 24-hour restaurants, snooker, computer games etc all-night places have, as reported in the newspapers, contributed a lot to this social menace. Parents need to exercise strict control over their children and the Government has to take drastic measures by limiting the opening hours of those places to, say, midnight. Otherwise, more of the good teenagers like those who wrote those articles might be lost to the misbehaving lot.

13 05 2010
Ambiar

This is the honest and frank opinion of a 17 year-old in his school:

“From what I have observed, generally, the Chinese students who come from Chinese medium primary schools are less likely to mingle with Malays or Indians as compared with Chinese students from national-type schools.”

I support single-stream schooling. If all vernacular schools use Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction, there will be more mixed races. School children can learn to mix with other races right from the day they first start school.

14 05 2010
SSS Admin

Ambiar,

More than just the mixing in primary school, perhaps more important is the attitude of the parents and those around them. Those who send their children to Chinese schools may have a different set of beliefs and value system. They talk about learning Mandarin though that language can be studied in national schools as an elective subject. They say they want to maintain their culture and no one is stopping that. The single-stream schooling concept says that during normal school hours, which are deemed as the official business of the country, children should be studying through Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction and use the national curriculum and syllabus.

Unity can hardly emerge when people seclude themselves from the mainstream of society. The children suffer and, as indicated by the writer, find it hard to mix and adjust to society in later life.

13 05 2010
Kenn

…students only focus on passing examinations rather than apply the noble values taught…

This has been long observed …. getting as many “A++”s as possible has become the primary objective in our education. So much for the ever great and wonderous Education System/Policy we are having. No need to change huh?

Now the disease is infecting the Economic Policy. “NEM in the hurry” also pointed out “High Income” will become the primary objective. Looks like not much difference from getting “A++” in education. Whatever happen to the noble value of civic mindedness? ethic? etc? etc?

14 05 2010
SSS Admin

Kenn,

We fully agree with you that the trend has not been encouraging the development of a civic-minded, unity-seeking and responsible citizenry. There should be greater emphasis in producing better citizens in terms of understanding, respecting and living by the Constitution. Civics should be taught either as a subject or infused in the other relevant subjects like history. History should be made compulsory and emphasis be placed on the history of the country which should cover its ancient, medieval and modern segments.

This rush to reach a developed status must not be at the expense of the orderly and fair distribution of wealth and educational advancement among the races. The vast disparity of economic and educational well being among the various races that had been the underlying cause for the racial clashes in 1969 must continue to be fully addressed to avoid similar happenings in the future. Assistance must continue to be given to the disadvantaged in the New Economic Model being formulated.

13 05 2010
sohbet

Thanks admins so much for good sharing.

14 05 2010
SSS Admin

You are very welcome, sohbet. We try the best we can to put out views on nation building.

We need to promote understanding, goodwill and harmonious relations as much as possible to bring about long term peace and progress in this country.

We owe it to future generations. When we were born, we had the benefits of electricity, air-conditioning, motroized engines for transport etc that were invented, developed and produced by the many generations before us. We should aim to do whatever we can, however insignificant it may be, for the benefit of the generations after us.

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