Last Thursday, The Star's Group Chief Editor Datuk Wong Sulong decided to talk about the seven changes that he would like to see happening in Malaysia in 2006. He challenged readers to come out with their own wish list. The response came fast and furious via his email. There were more than 60 letters in all (with more coming in). “Selecting three of the best for publication was difficult as the standards were high and the ideas were great. In the end, I chose four letters which are published below, Each of the writers (winners) will receive RM100 for their efforts. The Star will also be publishing some of the remaining letters tomorrow. Thank you for participating. I hope our views for change will make Malaysia a better place to live in 2006. Happy New Year.” - Wong
Sulong's Seven Simple Steps
1. Let’s be kinder to each other 2. Let’s be more courteous 3. Let’s be more tolerant 4. More interesting and intelligent debates in Parliament, state assemblies and at general assemblies of political parties 5. Cleaner public toilets 6. Bring sanity back to our roads 7. A crackdown on illegal parking
From Manja, Shah Alam1. I would like to see Malaysian parents giving more time to their children. Let’s not find an entire generation brought up by tuition teachers, foreign maids or computer games. Let parents be the ones to inculcate good values in theirchildren and not expect the Government or the school system to do their job.
2. If labourers (local and foreign) were to be paid fair and realistic wages, perhaps they would be less likely to turn to a life of crime. In 2006, I would like to see someone inpower make changes to help these people.
3. I would like to see our taxes put to good use. No expensivedecorations that are alleged to be works of art on the streets please. Instead, let’s have well-maintained playgrounds and parks. And are working streetlights too much to ask for?
4. If animals could speak they’d ask to be treated better in 2006. They’d ask to be spayed or neutered rather than to see fellow kittens and puppies starve on the streets. They would find comfort in knowing that any human who ill-treats them will be made to pay dearly for his or her sin, thousands of ringgit and not a mere hundred.
5. Everyone has got to say something about Malaysian drivers. We embarrass ourselves. Let’s step up the enforcement ofroad rules. Let’s see people being fined based on a fixed percentage of their income. It does not seem fair to fine a single mother of four rushing her kids to school before getting to her second job the same amount as that CEO rushing to the golf course to catch a game before his next board meeting.
6. Next year, I would like to see race and religion divide people less. I would like never to have to fill in my race or religion in any application form ever again. We are all of one race, the human race. I am sure that is how all the ‘different’ gods we believe in intended it to be. Happy New Year to my fellow Malaysians.
From Alina Ranee, Kuala Lumpur1. More transparency in the running of GLCs (government-linked companies). If foreign consultants are to be appointed to help run the GLCs they must be shown to be worth what they are paid. If, as is rumoured, a consultant is being paid thousands of ringgit per day then he/she should be terminated if the company concerned is running at a loss.
2. More humane treatment of women in custody. Women should not be made to strip but instead should be given some decent covering. I think it is okay for them to do squats if the purpose is to remove hidden items but their chests and lower part of their bodies should be covered with an apron-like garment.
3. Harsh penalties for road-rage perpetrators especially if the road-rage incident causes death. The increasing number of road-rage cases is a grave cause for concern. So is the rise in cases of assault by groups at the slightest provocation. Mothers are not bringing up their children the right way ifthey become aggressive as teens or young adults.
4. Disabled-friendly buildings. At present many public buildings lack facilities for the disabled. Let's not forget that the aged and infirm can also benefit if buildings are made disabled-friendly. Civic-consciousness should also be inculcated so that the physically able are not parking in spaces meant for the disabled.
5. Malaysia's rise as a sporting nation. Kudos to Nicol David for reaching the pinnacle of world squash. I hope the badminton players and hockey players do the same. And don’t forget bowling, lawn bowls, basketball and gymnastics and any other sports where we have medal prospects.
6. More consultation with interested groups before laws are passed. As a democracy, we have to allow interested parties to give comments and suggestions before laws that affectthem are passed. Pushing through legislation knownto be flawed defeats the whole purpose.
7. More protection for minority shareholders. Given the high profile tussles for a few companies and mergers that would affect thousands of shareholders, more transparency is needed to ensure minority shareholders' rights are protected.
8. Broadband penetration all over the country and not in urban areas only. The rural areas need access to the Internet so thatwe do not have a digital divide. Every shopping complex should have an Internet cafe so that youths who would otherwise “lepak” are encouraged to surf the Net. But care must be taken that they surf safe sites only.
9. No smoking in eateries whether indoors or outdoors. Right now, many air-conditioned restaurants have “smoking” and “non-smoking” areas. Second-hand smoke is circulated to all patrons anyway. Open-air eating places should have a no-smoking rule as well.
From Harry and Stephanie, Ayeh Keroh, MalaccaMy wife and I came from England to live inmagnificent Malaysia in July last year and weare enjoying our retirement here under“Malaysia My Second Home” programme.Malaysia is a wonderland of friendly smilingpeople, beautiful scenery and endless sunshineand we are rapturously happy here.Some changes that we feel may be helpfulfor Malaysia are:
From Linda Lim, Seremban As a parent three times over and a teacher for three decades, I cringe when I read in the papers about the atrocities of the children today. In schools this year alone some students have died, beaten by their fellow classmates, stories of bullies, unwanted babies by young mothers...the list is endless.
What I would like to see for 2006 is for parents to be more involved in the upbringing of the children. Perhaps this is one way to lessen the social woes of the young.
For a start parents must make sure that they sit down and have a meal with their children, at least once a day. As the family eats and chats during dinner they will get to know each other better. Also table manners can be instilled at this time. By giving children lots of attention, the parents can help fill them with love and acceptance of themselves. Then in return when they grow up, that's what they will have to give away.
I would also like parents to go and visit the schools. Do not wait for the annual Parent Teacher Association meeting. Go and see the class teacher, introduce yourself to him/her. The teacher will be pleased with this and the students will be on his best behaviour knowing that his teacher has met his parents. Believe me when I tell you that this works. The same also goes for tuition teachers. Do not just pay for the fees and feel your duty is done. See the tuition teacher to get the progress of your child.
For 2006, I would like parents to make it a point to have outings with their children. Go for a cinema show together, organise a picnic and include grandparents and cousins (to bond family ties), sightseeing. These fun filled activities will further strengthen family ties. The best inheritance parents can give to their children is to spend some time with them.
Finally for 2006, I would like parents to know what their children are doing in their leisure, (are they just glued to the TV? gambling?) make friends with the crowd they hand around with (how about inviting them over for a meal or tow? Have you met their parents?) And above all do not be too generous with pocket money. Many parents today are over indulgent and spoil their children. The children do not know the value of money and there is an abuse of its usage. (Hence, many of them can afford to buy cigarettes).
And so that is my wish for 2006 for parents to carry out their role as parents- for parents to be counselors, caregivers, advisors and above all a friend to their children.
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