IT’S Christmas time – there’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world at Christmas time
But say a prayer for the other ones
At Christmas time
It’s hard but when you’re having fun
There’s a world outside your window
And it’s a world of dread and fear
Where the only water flowing is the bitter sting of tears
And the Christmas bells that ring there
Are the clanging chimes of doom
Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you
And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
Oh, where nothing ever grows, no rain or rivers flow
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
Here’s to you, raise a glass for everyone
Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun
Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
I was emotive when I hear this song – Do They Know It’s Christmas – playing over the radio.
My heart said “switch it off” but the head said “keep it on. It is a timely aide memoire of a heavy but necessary cross to bear.”
This song by Band Aid was released on the Eve of Christmas in 1984. The charitable group of 40 mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists, led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, recorded it to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia.
“Let us be reminded of the less fortunate,” the humble group of renowned artists likened themselves to putting a band-aid on a wound.
This is not Ethiopia but aren’t there wounds everywhere?
Today, Malaysia’s national debts stand at RM684 billion with interests estimated at RM25.44 billion a year.
The organisation National Debt Clock suggests that we can wrap around the Earth 595 times with the debt amount in RM1 bills or if we stake up the RM1 bills, its height will be 16,681km!
In the capital city of Kuching, the father of Jenny (not her real name) has been out of job for six months. The family lived in her grandfather’s old car for the past one month.
During the day, the father drove around the outskirts of Kuching, looking for bananas to sell to vendors in the city.
At night, the car was the home and beds for Jenny, his three-year-old brother and their parents. The father’s miserable daily income was just too little for them to even rent a room.
At about 4am five days ago, tragedy befell the family when a car rammed into their stationary old car while everyone was sound asleep. It crashed into the side nearest where Jenny was sleeping and she has been unconscious since.
Jenny is four years old and she will wake up in an ICU bed, in grave pain, but too young to understand her wound, the family’s wound or that of the country.
The greatest gift Jenny will get this Christmas is her life! And we are indebted to the good doctors and nurses at the Sarawak General Hospital.
Jenny doesn’t have proper documents, not even a birth certificate because her mother is an Indonesian national. But Jenny was given the best medical care that the doctors and nurses can find. And the parents and her young brother are given temporary shelter at the welfare home at the back of the hospital.
I salute the SGH doctors and nurses who are the light that banishes the shade this Christmas Day.
I feel ashamed of myself as I have always thought that the politicians are the ones who lead to shine light to banish the shade. I can never be more doubtful.
Gritting their teeth to win the coming general election at all costs, the politicians are no band-aid to the country’s wounds. They couldn’t care less about inflicting more wounds.
The speeches and debates on Act 355 or the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, which has merely three sections, are made obscure and mystifying, and will slit a deep gash – not just an ordinary wound – on the country.
The Syariah Courts, which are constituted in the states of the Federation, have jurisdiction over matters in List II of the State List of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution.
It concerns Islamic law and personal and family law of persons, professing the religion of Islam, enumerating the Islamic law, relating to succession, testate and intestate, betrothal, marriages, divorce, dower, maintenance, adoption, legitimacy, guardianship, gifts, partitions, non-charitable trusts, Wakafs, charitable and religious trusts, trustees and institutions operating wholly within the state.
Also covered are Malay customs, religious revenues, mosques and public places of worship, creation and punishment of offences by persons, professing the religion of Islam against the precepts of that religion, except in regard to matters included in the Federal List.
Matters relating to crime and security, civil and criminal law and procedures and the administration of justice, maintenance of order and security are enumerated in List I of the Federal List of the Ninth Schedule to the Federal Constitution.
The Federal Constitution is also clear in its command that any changes to the laws affecting matters enumerated in the State List must obtain prior consent of all states of the Federation and the Conference of Rulers.
This is consistent with the wishes and visions of our country’s founding fathers in maintaining the sanctity of the aspirations and hopes of the masses for a nation of plurality and diversity, a secular nation as our first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman recapitulated and reiterated during the last years of his life.
Our politicians have shown they are not concerned about the spirit of the constitutional federalism we embraced. The nation and her citizens are at risk of being divided, the inviolable notion of unity replaced by laughable and pathetic wits.
Datuk Haji Ahmad Maslan, Umno information chief and a deputy minister, said the bill to amend Act 355 was how Umno would cement its “unity” with PAS.
And he believes the bill is something that would be brought up in the afterlife.
“When asked (in the afterlife) what we did about the development of Islam in Malaysia, we can’t answer that we didn’t support amendments to Act 355,” he said.
He further elaborated the political philosophy of the ruling Barisan Nasional, stressing that BN component parties are compelled to support the bill as part of the ruling coalition.
Washing the tainted linen in public, he revealed: “Before this, we hear that MCA didn’t like (the planned amendments) to Act 355. MIC objected, and Gerakan objected too. When we asked them why they opposed, they answered ‘How can we not? (The bill) was brought by (PAS president Abdul) Hadi (Awang)’.”
Our former state senior minister who is also an MP was quick to reaffirm it, saying he, along with other BN MPs, would ‘most likely’ support the bill as they have a moral obligation to do so since the Bill is now in the hands of the BN government.
The loyalist BN senior legislator may be indiscreet but he is true to his famous words that “when my boss tells me to do something, like if he asks me to jump out of a building, I don’t ask why, I ask from which floor, sir?”
Blind loyalty reigns over the oaths that our parliamentarians have sworn and affirmed that they will faithfully discharge their duties to the best of their abilities, that they will bear true faith and allegiance to Malaysia and will preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.
Is there hope for a secular state? Is there hope for the country? There is!
Sarawakians have lived their lives in our secular State. Our Chief Minister has called on all Sarawakian MPs to vote against the Bill and he hasn’t renege on it.
Despite past failures, there is hope we will not be let down again.
MPs from Sarawak now bear the calling to let in light to banish the shade, to defend a secular State and give hope to a divided country and a population racially polarised.
What do we give our country and our children if not hope?
And Sarawak will deliver the greatest gift to Malaysia.
See Chee How, Batu Lintang assemblyman (writing for Column “How I See It” in Sunday Post, published on 25 December 2016.)
Making his writing debut, he said, “Former Kuching MP Sim Kwang Yang (SKY) is the inspiration. He has always believed and taught me that partisan politics should take a back seat, public interests and the good and progress of humankind is of utmost importance. And public interests and the good and progress of humankind can be best served through social awareness building and learning, the less partisan politics the better.
“Therefore, I will write more as a lawyer, an activist and a non-partisan political worker.”