The Citizens Agenda for the Next Millenium

This address was made by Dato’ (Dr.) Anwar Fazal at the 28th Convocation ceremony of the University Sains Malaysia, Penang, 14 August 1999 on the conferment of the Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy on Anwar Fazal. 

Dato’ Jins Shamsuddin and I wish to thank Universiti Sains Malaysia for honouring us today. It is a special honour to be recognised by a university that itself has been a pioneer and a centre of excellence in many fields.

About Peace

Brothers and sisters, let me first say Assalamualaikum -May peace be upon you. I start with the word “peace” because there is no other word in our vocabulary that is more relevant, more important during these times.

Brothers and sisters this peace has three dimensions each of which is important:

  • Firstly, peace within ourselves
  • Secondly, peace with other people
  • Thirdly, peace with the environment


The Challenges

  • Today unfortunately we live in a world where this “peace” is severely shattered.
  • We see the rise of the evil forces of violence, waste and manipulation.
  • We see a world in which politics is dominated by the powerful, by insincerity and double standards.
  • We see a world in which the environment is being recklessly destroyed.

·         We see a world dominated by an economic system that is driven by an ideology of greed and selfishness: “casino capitalism” with chasing money.

What can we do?

What must we do?

Firstly, I want to share with you a beautiful flower with five petals. And secondly, I want to share with you a five-point star.


The Vision

First, the flower with five petals represent a holistic vision that is being pioneered here through “The Sustainable Penang Initiative.” A good society must have the following five fundamentals:

  • Economic Productivity - For this we must nurture the “culture of innovation” as well as the “culture of maintenance.”
  • Ecological Sustainability - Destroy nature and surely nature will destroy us.
  • Cultural Vibrancy - This comes from the wealth of our diversity. We must not just tolerate diversity, we must respect it. Take a walk in Penang from the Acheen Street Mosque to the Anglican Church. That street has such richness of so many civilisations. It is a treasure house of heritage.
  • Social Justice - Respect for human rights and human dignity is fundamental. The cause of women, indigenous people, people with disabilities must be a cause for all of us.
  • Political Participation - Democracy requires that people participate through elections, through constructive criticism, through asserting our rights and duties as citizens.

I hope that this flower will be part of your life.

The Action

Now let me share with you the five-pointed star – I call it the “panchasila of power”:

  • The power of “One” – never underestimate the power of a single individual. Through their example and action, individuals have transformed the world as history shows.
  • The power of “Many” – networking, alliances and partnerships can build your strength – Social movements must link and build on the core values we share.
  • The power of “Faith” – belief and drawing from spiritual traditions can provide powerful universal and inner as well as external strength.
  • The power of “Information” – access to research, education programmes and working with the media can provide the outreach we need for transformational change. Links with the United Nations, its resources, information networks and global agreements are important as are the new information technologies. Those who control ‘IT’ will control the future.
  • The power of “Success” – every victory however small should be shared and celebrated. Good things inspire more good things.

So remember the five-petal flower and the five-pointed star. May they enrich your lives as they enriched mine. May they bring beauty and strength into your work.

Lastly, I want to share with you a poem that I recently contributed to a book called “Prayers for a Thousand Years”. It is a poem to remind us of our common heritage and our common destiny. It is called “Remember, we are one.”

We all drink from one water

We all breathe from one air

We rise from one ocean

And we live under one sky



We are one


The newborn baby cries the same

The laughter of children is universal

Everyone’s blood is red

And our hearts beat the same song



We are one


We are all brothers and sisters

Only one family, only one earth


Together we live

And together we die



We are one


Peace be upon you

Brothers and Sisters

Peace be upon you


Thank you.

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