Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections for the New Year

As my final post for this year (and quite possibly, this contest), I have chosen to interview 5 outstanding KL-ites in terms of their contribution to the country, society and the natural world on their hopes and goals for the coming year.

Edmund Bon
Lawyer, human rights activist and legal aid volunteer.

What was the best thing that you will remember of 2009?

Post-March 8, and this year particularly, we have seen a rise in the number of young(er) activists advocating civil society's causes. 10 years after the birth of the "Reformasi Generation" (as Liew Chin Tong puts it), we have many new, idealistic professionals and students wanting to be heard, to stake their claim, and to shape society by themselves; not allowing others to do it for them.

The successful launch of the "MyConstitution Campaign" or "Kempen PerlembagaanKu" on 13 November 2009 is strong testimony of this - our young Malaysians have sought to embark on a difficult terrain yet uncharted for 2 years to educate 28 million rakyat about the Constitution. These activists are the rising and future stars of the Bar, and include, among others, Mahaletchumi Balakrishnan, Syahredzan Johan, Grace Wong, Firdaus Husni, Adrian Chew, Daniel Albert, Kwan Will Sen, June Low, Low Boon Seong, Samuel Leong, Selena Kong, Shamala Balasundaram, Yip Xiaoheng, Yeoh Tung Seng , Tey Jun Ren, Yap Yin May, Sonya Liew, Young Ai Peng, Nadia Abu Bakar, Michael Loo, Leong Yeng Kong, Keith Chin, Joshua Tay, Gregory Marimuthu and David Siaw.

Malaysia's future looks bright!

If there is anything regrettable or anything you could change about 2009, what would it be?

The way the monarchy took an unprecedented role in our democratic affairs, noting what happened in Terengganu and Perak. Incidents which have caused public disquiet exposed the institution to attacks which could have been avoided. The perception of the Judiciary has not improved, some argue that it has plummeted.

And of course, more importantly, the number of beached whales that die every year. How do we stop that? It is really sad to see them stranded and helpless.

What do you hope 2010 will bring?

MyConsti is working hard to launch the remaining 8 phases by March 2011 - (i) institutions of the Constitution and separation of powers (coming your way on January 15 at Sunway University College), (ii) federal-state relations, (iii) fundamental liberties and the rakyat, (iv) Parliament, (v) Executive, (vi) Judiciary, (vii) elections and democracy, and (viii) Sabah and Sarawak.

I wish that many more people will work with us on the Campaign, participate in our discussions and workshops, attend our launches, join our Facebook page at check out our "Rakyat Guides" and "Rakyat Service Advertisements" at, watch our 1-minute video clips at and disseminate the enduring messages of the Constitution to their friends and loved ones.

Brian Lariche
UNDP Programme Adviser on HIV/AIDS Leadership, social justice activist and director-founder of Lariche Community, a consultancy that develops capacity-building programmes for NGOs and Corporate Social Responsibility programmes.

What was the best thing that you will remember of 2009?
The new social enterprise I started, Lariche Community, which specialises in Community Development.

If there is anything you could change about 2009, what would it be?
That the robbery did not happen to me and my family. I was robbed in my own home and the robbers traumatised us. The police were of no help or use. When I shared this with some people I know, many revealed they were also victims of a robbery. I think my loss of 'innocence' as a result of the robbery is the most painful and regrettable consequence.

What is your wish for 2010?
That Malaysia becomes safer for her citizens, that we will actually have a police force that is trained to have better people skills rather than pass annoying comments and then proceed to do nothing with regards to a crime. That NGOs become more accountable and transparent in their operations. Finally, that more companies do real CSR work and not just PR exercises.

Do you have any New Year resolutions you would like to share with our readers?
I will focus more on non-profit development and I hope to help create a method of public NGO assessment.

Loretta Ann Shepherd
Project Coordinator, Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT).

What was the best thing that you will remember of 2009?
The National Tiger Action Plan that MYCAT produced in collaboration with the government was endorsed by the Deputy Prime Minister. Such high-level commitment to doubling our tiger numbers to 1,000 by 2020 was a big boost – and we look forward to this translating to REAL action for tigers!

If there is anything regrettable or anything you could change about 2009, what would it be?
More dead tigers seized in Malaysia than ever before. Tigers are poached for man-made greed – for wildmeat consumption, medicinal use, trophy collections – the list is long. Malaysia is lucky because she still has tigers but that also means she has tigers to lose. Dead tigers popping up here and there really cut to the core of us working so hard to protect them in the wild. The demand appears almost relentless, and we fear that this coming 2010 will mean an increase in the demand for tiger parts precisely because it IS the Year of the Tiger.

What is your wish for 2010?
2010 being the Lunar Year of the Tiger = big buzz in the tiger world. There is much planned for the coming year, and we hope to ‘capitalise’ on the attention so that it is channelled positively to saving wild tigers.

I have more than one wish, naturally. I wish we could have more Malaysians join the field of conservation. There are so many things than need doing; and you have the choice of making it your career, or volunteering to help out, and taking steps to change the way you do things. For specific ideas on how you can help -

We need more Malaysians to join the cause by speaking up to the media, to their MPs, to their local leaders. If Malaysians don’t demand that wildlife needs better protection, why should any politician take a handful of ‘animal-lovers’ (the Press loves to paint everyone with that brush) seriously?

Lack of funds is not the only challenge we have, but it is a major one. It would be wonderful if we had all the money we needed to tackle the identified threats to tigers.

Do you have any New Year resolutions you would like to share with our readers?
To do more for tigers this year (and beyond) than I have, and one of the ways I can think of doing more is by inspiring more people, especially youth, to commit themselves to helping save Malaysian wildlife.

Joe Yap
Founder-Creator of the Waterfall Survivors Facebook Group, which aims to educate Malaysians on conservation of our water catchment areas and river systems, and which organizes, coordinates and conducts waterfall and river cleanup campaigns.

What was the best thing that you will remember of 2009?
Personally, I felt that the Save Our Waterfall cleanup campaign at Kanching waterfalls cum was a very successful event with more than 350 participants. This is really one of the events that made history for Waterfall Survivors in 2009. Why do I consider this the best thing that I will remember of 2009? Because we held this event together with thousands of other events across the world and we managed to reach out to people directly to tell them what the 350 movement is all about. Most participants contributed as much as they could in terms of hard work and that was truly very heartwarming, and a confidence booster for us to soldier on. It also proves that Malaysians are still a caring lot.

If there is anything regrettable or anything you could change about 2009, what would it be?
I would have liked members to be more active. We have almost 4,000 members but those that participate are only a handful. In fact, I can safely say that fewer than 1,000 participated in our events.

There were times when Waterfall Survivors (hereafter, “WS”) was criticized heavily because some members thought WS was becoming commercialized. It wasn’t easy to handle these situations, especially since we are a Facebook-based group. It is just so easy for people to post damaging remarks and there is no onus on them to be responsible for what they have posted. We hope they can understand that the grass always looks greener on the other side. We work with very tight budgets and our objectives and missions have never changed. We have always been about receiving funds from members and providing services back to the members and promoting protection of the environment. Since WS’s formation, our committee covers the deficit of events, if any. We didn’t perform well in terms of fund raising. Else we could have done much more.

What is your wish for 2010?
I’ll be a little greedy here because I have many wishes, not just one. Here goes:
-To explore more unknown falls;
-To do even more charity and social work for society, whether waterfall-related or otherwise;
-To make future Save Our Waterfalls campaigns even more successful;
-To educate the public and the younger generation, especially schoolchildren, about protecting waterfalls and the environment 350 days a year, oops, I mean 365 days a year;
-To bring underprivileged children, with the support of WS members, to enjoy the beauty of Mother Nature. Why with WS members? Because they will only feel more empathy for these children if they are personally involved in the programme. Sadly, people in general are still more interested in enjoying life and making money, even though they have more than they need. I think WS members can be much more active than they were in 2009. After all, one of the main driving forces behind WS’s activities is compassion for people and Mother Nature;
-To create more awareness of safety at waterfalls and hopefully this will result in zero drowning cases at waterfalls in 2010;
-To recruit more hardcore waterfall lovers to join us as committee members, as we tend to get tired at times. There simply aren’t enough hands; and finally
- To secure more sponsors for our events!

My resolution for 2010 is to preserve WS as the largest Waterfall Group in Malaysia and to reach greater heights in all its endeavours. And for all those who share the same passion as we do, to wake up with a smile everyday!

Ahmad Fansuri
Volunteer Management Coordinator, Rumah Nur Salam

Apakah pengalaman yang paling manis yang saudara lalui pada tahun 2009?
Pengurusan Rumah Nur Salam memberi kepercayaan kepada saya untuk menjadi Penyelaras Pengurusan Sukarelawan agar saya dapat menarik lebih ramai masyarakat menceburi bidang kesukarelawanan, khususnya terhadap isu-isu kanak-kanak di Rumah Nur Salam. Tanggungjawab ini bukanlah mudah kerana kerja-kerja kesukarelawan di Malaysia masih di tahap yang rendah, berbanding masyarakat antarabangsa yang menganggap kerja-kerja sukarela sebagai satu tanggungjawab yang perlu mereka laksanakan dalam kehidupan mereka.

Apakah pengalaman yang paling pahit yang saudara lalui pada tahun 2009?
Pengalaman Pahit - terlalu banyak yang dialami dan biarlah ianya menjadi pengalaman dan panduan diri dalam mengharungi kehidupan yang mendatang.

Apakah hajat, harapan dan azam saudara untuk tahun 2010?
Saya berharap pada tahun 2010, melalui "Nur Salam Volunteer Programme", lebih ramai ahli masyarakat akan menghulurkan bantuan dan berkongsi kasih sayang, pengetahuan, kemahiran dan pengalaman dengan kanak-kanak dan remaja yang mendaftar di Nur Salam seiring dengan misi dan visi Rumah Nur Salam.

Saya juga berharap Nur Salam akan berjaya dalam misi dan visinya, dan jika diizinkan, ingin melihat pusat Nur Salam ditempatkan di serata Malaysia kerana ramai lagi kanak-kanak yang perlu dibantu.

Berkenaan diri sendiri, saya berharap mendapat kesihatan dan kehidupan yang lebih baik.

Happy New Year, everyone! May 2010 be a year of social justice and environmental responsibility, and may the New Year bring hope and general amity to this troubled world of ours.

May 2010 bring out the best in people and prompt us to reach out to others in friendship and with love, empathy, understanding and respect.

May 2010 be a year of productive and joyful achievement for each of us, and may the coming year bring us a Kuala Lumpur with a reduced crime rate, better maintenance of public facilities and greater protection of green spaces.

I wish each of you and your families a year of joy, abundance, reconciliation and faith in all that is good.

Covert Operations ’78, OUT.


mum said...

this post brought a lump to my throat.

i hope the people you interviewed get what they wish for in 2010. noble souls, all.

mum said...

happy new year to you my friend:-)
am so glad to have run into you (online) thanks to the contest. i have added your blog to my google reader. will continue to read ya.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Dear Mum-In-Malaysia,
Thank you so much for your kind comments. I hope my friends get their New Year wishes, too. I am glad to have met you through the competition as well, and hope we remain friends. We must meet up one day, in real life, with the other lady bloggers. The KL bloggers are really big on having tea gatherings.

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

Here's wishing the 5 KL-ites get their wishes for a rewarding year ahead and more. We can make Kl a better place if we join hands to help these volunteers in their worthy goals.

Cat-in-Sydney said...

Well done CO78! May 2010 brings you greater joy. purrr....meow!

louis said...


Whatever your wishes for 2010 I hope they will all be fulfilled.

mamasita said...

Happy New Year E.Lynn!
Guard your health well because we have very few special people like you! Always doing lots of good for others!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Thanks, Keats! Your description of my friends as volunteers with worthy goals is accurate indeed. There are so many good people out there doing things to make this country a better place for all. I hope you get your New Year wish too! Happy New Year, my friend!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Dear Cat-in-Sydney,
Happy New Year! Or is it 5-6 years for you? What's your new year wish then? Fancy Feast every day? Lemongrass and tuna?
Much love from my kitties and me!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Dear Louis,
May God's graces be more abundant in 2010. Wishing you every success and happiness in the New Year!

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Happy New Year, Datin Mamasita and family! Thank you for your good wishes. I hope to remain fit and healthy for football too! Must cut down on the chips and cookies and start working those creaky old joints and muscles.

katztales said...

The dream team! wish they were elected into positions of power...

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Hey there Ellen! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, the Dream Team! Why didn't I think of that? It'll be a funny world if they were elected. Cooperation and collaboration for all, no wars corruption or fighting, clean waterfalls and rivers, no wildlife crime, everybody knows their rights under the law and constitution. Can you imagine?

Patricia said...

Syabas to you, and to your heroes in this post. You're all doing great work.

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

Dear Pat,
Thank you! There's so much more to be done! But there's really so many great people in our City who do so much for others! I guess I just interviewed some of the more articulate ones!

jusdelima said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Very cool! I always loved the quote/explanation in "Conspirary Theory" given by Mel Gibson as to who "them" are.

pearlyn said...

The KL photo at your banner, is beautiful.May I check with you where is the exact location that you snap the KL scenery ??
Thank you. From Lin