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.
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
- 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.
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.
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
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