Published on: Thursday, October 17, 2013
"We are proud of our economic achievements but we must always be conscious of the hidden dangers confronting us," said 1Malaysia Foundation Board of Trustee member Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
Lee said there are at least ten hidden dangers that threaten the society at the moment-drug abuse, juvenile crime, lack of parental care and guidance, society's indifference, lack of spiritual strength and moral values, negative peer influence, insufficient role models, the weakening of the traditional family relationships in modern living, low self-esteem and the lack of goal setting skills.
"There is also increasing concern over illegal electronic gambling at cybercafŽs which are mushrooming in every township including even in the rural areas. While these are good so we could be more IT literate and have greater Internet access, there are also those who abuse them for unhealthy activities such as gambling and pornography.
"With easy access to pornographic materials, it is not surprising that we read more and more stories of sexual crimes involving youths and teenagers," he said.
Lee was speaking at the Kinabalu Lecture Series 3 entitled Moral and Social Agenda for 1Malaysia at the UMS Foundation Building on Wednesday.
He added that in order to achieve a truly civilised nation, there must be social transformation in terms of changes in attitudes and the value systems, with youths and teenagers playing an integral part in it.
"They need to channel their energy into positive and constructive activities based on their individual interests," he said.
Lee stated that he believed social problems especially among youths could be curbed by providing them guidance and care not only from the parents but also from their communities as well.
"Moral decay is caused by the erosion of spiritual and ethical values which can be overcome by upgrading the quality of family life to impart basic moral values to the youths.
Good moral and ethical values must be given the highest priority in all programmes to train and build our youths for national development and nation building," he said.
He also said that everybody should strive to build a caring culture and not rely solely on the government to launch campaigns towards that objective.
"The private sector can play a very important role to promote a caring society through the setting up of welfare or charitable foundations to provide financial assistance to the needy for education, medical and other needs.
"The government can assist these foundations by granting them tax exemptions as an incentive for them to do more charitable work," he said.
Lee believed that the government needs to do more in controlling pornography by way of restricting accesses to the sites.
"I realise it is impossible for the government to block everything on the Internet. But I think there should be a way to do this. Online pornography is a major issue today and the time has come for Internet control over pornography.
"The public should be encouraged to lodge reports to the relevant authorities on any pornographic website and those who flout the law by creating these websites should face stern action," he said.
Lee also recommended that the family institution is further strengthened and advise parents to take better care of their children.
"These days, because of materialistic and the personality cult, people are more concerned about having more and for that, they work more, leave home more and in the end, their children will be neglected and left to their own device," he said.
Lee who was one of the main figures behind the National Service for school leavers said the programme was unlike other programmes such as in Singapore where youths are taught to handle weapons and train as soldiers.
"Here, it is more like summer camps actually. But in the period of three months, we are keeping the youths away from all the social illness. Parents could not control their children.
So that was what I thought was the best for the country.
"Some parents came up and said that after their children were sent to NS, they came back rejuvenated and became more disciplined and focused.
"Of course, there are those who disagree also. Every idea would have its supporters and protesters. I am not here to talk about some of the issues that happened during the NS as I only want to talk about the idea behind it. I am not part of the management," he said.
He added in line with the 1Malaysia concept of promoting unity and togetherness among Malaysians through mutual respect and trust for one another, students and youths of different races must break down the racial divide, reach out and make friends with those from other ethnic groups.
"I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Sabahans. I've been coming to Sabah over the years and I am very happy to note that Sabah is indeed an outstanding example of integration and unity, something that I think West Malaysians should emulate," said Lee.
Over the years, he said, he had been to many schools in the peninsula and saw that racial polarisation is still prevalent in the schools where children would only hang out according to their races.
He also said that the nation needs to go back to the basics in addressing the social and moral agenda for 1Malaysia.
"In this regard, going back to the basics means going back to the principle of Rukunegara. This unfortunately had been gradually forgotten because we have so many concepts now, the transformation programme, that we have lost the emphasis on the Rukunegara.
"Young generation, please always remember to do something in line with the Rukunegara which is our country's philosophy. Don't just memorise the five tenets of Rukunegara.
Please live by it," he said.
Meanwhile, Lee expressed his dismay at the lack of confidence shown by university students when he challenged the floor to ask questions in English and only one took up the challenge.
"English is a very important language, especially now that we are facing globalisation.
We need to be bilingual and our students should be comfortable speaking in English.
I am sure they understand the language because they could read. We just need them to be more confident speaking it either publicly or privately," he said.
The Kinabalu Lecture Series is an academic lecture programme to provide a venue for academicians and national scholars to discuss and analyse issues pertaining to Sabah's development.
Among past speakers was former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohammad who gave his lecture in the second series.