'Seeds' to counter negative sentiments
Published on: Friday, November 21, 2014
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KOTA KINABALU: The need for a platform to address issues relating to Sabah and Sabahans in an intellectual and logical manner led to the establishment of the Centre for Society Empowerment & Democratic Studies (Seeds).The timing is right, given that people in Sabah and Sarawak are now more aware of political developments in Malaysia and have begun to actively voice their opinions about issues that matter to them.

Seeds is therefore the answer to a non-governmental "think tank" that is dedicated to the ideal of creating a modern, moderate and progressive society through its research and outreach programmes.

One of its challenges is to address situations where people are more interested in raising sentiments rather than finding valid solutions to real world issues.

Among the key people behind the conception and birth of Seeds are the Chairman Badil Zaman Fazul Rahman and protem CEO Dr Arnold Puyok, both Sabahans.

Badil Zaman said Seeds is of the view that rational and unemotional discourse is an imperative way in any attempt to address issues that relate to Sabah and Sabahans.

"Our rationale is simple. Dwelling on what went wrong only creates chaos and negativity. Which is why we must shift our focus to what we must do next.

"Only by redirecting our focus to solutions that are rooted in objectivity and solid research will we be able to bring about positive outcomes.

Through this approach, we will be able to move even mountains," he said when interviewed. The Chairman encouraged the people in Sabah and Sarawak to make their voices heard.

Dr Arnold, a political scientist by training, hails from Sipitang.

His collaboration with 10 young, talented and highly-educated Sabahans of different backgrounds paved the way for the formation of Seeds.

According to him, they share a common desire to contribute to the country's progress and to exorcise the current racial, religious and regional tensions that exist today from our socio-political landscape.

He welcomes more progressive and moderate Sabahans and Sarawakians to join this non-governmental organisation (NGO) in making Malaysia a better place to live.

"It is high time for the country to move forward. We cannot afford to sit idly and do nothing. The future of Malaysia depends on the resilience, unity and active participation of its citizens in building the country," he said.

Seeds is headquartered at Lot 21, 1st Floor, Lorong Grace Square, Jalan Pantai Sembulan, 88100 Kota Kinabalu. Those who subscribe to the ideals of the Centre may contact Dr Arnold at 088-270637 (telephone) or 088-256613 (facsimile).

It is scheduled to be officially launched in the first quarter of 2015. For starters, Seeds conducted a workshop on Historical Truth Behind the Formation of Malaysia and the Way Forward at Magellan Sutera Hotel recently.

Dr Arnold said its aim was to increase awareness among Malaysians, especially Sabahans and Sarawakians, on the founding of our country from the nation-building perspective.

"The topic is important because the younger generation must know the reason why Malaysia was formed and what needs to be done to keep the spirit of Malaysia alive," he said.

"The process of building the country is an ongoing one as we think of ways for the country to move forward."

To a question, Dr Arnold said information on the real situation and what ought to be done will be documented and packaged in pamphlets, for example, for dissemination to the public at a later stage.

Meanwhile, Badil Zaman said the inaugural workshop was purely an academic exercise to clear one's doubts through an intellectual, fact-based discussion, rather than political rhetoric, and the initiative would not stop here.

"People tend to get carried away by political interpretation of history versus factual history. There may be bias or misrepresentation of facts by unscrupulous politicians.

"So there will be more forums, seminars, roundtables and other outreach programmes in the future to enlighten the public. Seeds will take that initiative," he added.

On the outcome of the workshop, Badil Zaman said the participants have a better understanding of the basic parameters about the formation of Malaysia and the way forward.

"Members of Seeds need to form a credible opinion first about Malaysia and its future as well as issues affecting Sabah and Sabahans before venturing out to engage people in rational discussions," he said.

Answering a question, Badil Zaman said the younger generation cannot be blamed for their ignorance about the historical perspective of Malaysia because they have not been given enough historical information.

"So this is what we (Seeds) are trying to do. Unlike in bygone days, the historical truth about the formation of Malaysia is not included in history books today," he lamented.

The guest speakers at the workshop were former Berjaya Minister Tan Sri Majid Khan, Prof. Emeritus Dr D.S. Ranjit of Universiti Utara Malaysia and Sabah's senior lawyer S. Vanugopal.

Caption: Participants of the workshop with the organisers and guest speakers.


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