Wednesday, June 28, 2017

WHEN GOVERNMENT WORKS (WE GOT OUR URBAN FOREST)

Franklin Roosevelt the 32nd President of the USA once said this, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
 I think the voters in Malaysia over decades have felt emasculated in many ways thinking that the people who represent us care little for our welfare. They rule over us as like an alien power. We feel distanced from government and unable to have a say in what truly affects us on a daily basis. This can be very frustrating even depressing.

Sometimes however government works and when it does it affects us all and brings immense benefit to the people. I like to cite an example to show how our neighbourhood became a little better off because we had the channel to voice our proposals and to have it heard and considered. I know this is a rare story nevertheless we are thankful for the small improvements in Selangor. 

About 10 years ago when we moved in to Pinggiran USJ, there was a sizable piece of land next to our taman. Approximateky 3ha. When we purchased our house, we were told that the empty land was an MPSJ reserved land. As years went by we heard of the possibility of an eatery or hawker center, a motel with sports facilities, a driving range, even a shopping complex etc.  Many a times I drove by and saw people in their long sleeve shirts parking their Mercedes surveying the empty land with rolled out maps and drawings of the area.  I, as with all our neighbours were obviously very concerned. As it is we have so little public spaces and the last thing we wanted was another concrete mall next to our taman.

In 2010, I served as the Chairman of USJ3ABCD Residents Association and because of that was onboard the MPSJ Residents Committee for Zone 3 (JKP Zone 3).  The Committee was under the leadership of then Councillor Rajiv Rishyakaran who is now the ADUN of Bukit Gasing.  Afraid that another shopping mall or concrete building was to come up instead of a recreational space, I drafted a proposal in March 2011 through the JKP, the idea of an Ecological Urban Forest. We called it the Z3 Eco Forest. The JKP accepted the idea and we presented the proposal to the Council.  MPSJ approved the idea and on Nov 11th 2011, the Subang Jaya community together with a private school nearby planted 1,111 trees in the area, officiated and supported by our ADUN, YB Hannah Yeoh.    

Today, 6 years later, the Park is fully supported by MPSJ and earthworks is being carried out.  This is a win for the Residents of Pinggiran Subang Jaya and Subang Jaya at large as we will have an Urban Forest right in our township. I was told that because of the Urban Forest the value of the properties in the area would also escalate.


 In the midst of all the skepticism and frustration of government working for the people here is a success story.  When government works, and the people’s interest are heard; residents are happy and the state prospers. It works only when ordinary voters, residents, neighbors care enough to get  involved in resident groups or committees.  I can only imagine this on a larger scale, perhaps one day not just in Subang Jaya or Selangor, but the whole Malaysia when we can then fully comprehend Roosevelt’s quote; “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” 

The ambitious proposal included these facilities:


Facilities
The proposed facilities available on Z3 Eco Forest are as follows:
1)      A 2Km walking and jogging path around the park.
2)      A bicycle path along the walking and jogging track
3)      Ponds and streams along the path
4)      Picnic and Playground area with water features and landscape
5)      An arts and cultural center approx 2000 square feet
6)      A small amphitheatre
7)      A Eco Farm
8)      Parking

The Empty land before 2011


View towards the kindergarten in 2011


Sunday, February 05, 2017

Why we can have hope living in Malaysia

This Chinese New Year like many others before, there are ample discussions about politics and the state of Malaysia. Only this time, there is little anger vented just a sigh of tiredness and resignation to a seemingly hopeless situation in Malaysia. After 2 General Elections with change seemingly within our grasp, now all that is left is a sense despair and hopelessness. Many have left the country in desperation, unable to see any hope for a better Malaysia…even Christians.

While it is never our place to question each person’s calling to another country as God can also turn this into a blessing there is a clear reason why some should stay.  I can think of 3 reasons :

1) There is always hope for the believer.
It really depends what we put at the center of our lives.  If its comfort and a better life for ourselves and our family then when we look at the Malaysian horizon, it is clear that it ain’t going to happen anytime soon.  Is that what we have been called to though? 
What has been promised for the believer is the hope of eternal life with Christ in heaven. We have received all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places, we have been adopted as His sons and daughters because of Christ, we are the beneficiary of lavish grace even when we deserve death. Is this not sufficient a hope of the things to come?  For some your theology informs you that God promises a life without sickness and diseases. Someone told me (a well meaning friend) during my recent fight with cancer to claim healing for it is my right as a Christian.  A quick view of the New Testament saints reveals a people not unfamiliar with persecution and suffering, yet their prayers are not about alleviating the present suffering but always about the advancement of the Gospel. 
When our hope lie in Christ and the eternal life which He procured for us on the cross, it frees us to bring goodness, justice, peace and righteousness upon this broken, corrupted, sinful and disease laden world.  Indeed there are Christians in places of authority who are currently bringing reform and change to institutions of government because of their belief in the Gospel of Christ. This leads me to the next point.

2) God is mission minded.
In Jeremiah 29, a letter was sent to the exiles in Babylon from the prophet Jeremiah.  He told the exiles, go into the city, built your houses, plant your gardens, raise your family and then seek and pray for the shalom of the city.  Imagine that, to seek the shalom (wholesome peace) and to pray for the good of your captors.  Why? Because God had sent them there.  This was not some random occurrence. Yes, they were under discipline but God had also ordained that the people of Israel were to settle in Babylon for 70 years to influence and to bring goodness, wholesomeness, peace, justice and righteousness as they live out their lives in a hostile city.  Somehow the citizens of Babylon mattered to God and the people of Israel were to bring shalom into their lives.
We are to do the same in our Babylon. It is not by chance that our ancestors settled on the shores of Malaysia some 100 years ago. We are to settle down, find our vocation, do business, work and seek the welfare of Malaysia.  Heck! We are to pray for Malaysia!  Pray for the very people who receive the promotion which we were hoping to get but because they were of the right race?  Pray for the people who asks you to return to China when we born in this beautiful land?  Pray for the very people who use Christians as scapegoats of bad things that befall the city?   Yes, Yes and yes!  We pray for the shalom of Malaysia, we pray for righteousness and justice to prevail so the country can begin to prosper.  We can do this because our hope and reward is in heaven.

3) We must see with spiritual eyes
In Numbers 13, Moses had sent out 12 spies to the Promised Land to recce the place. They came back with grapes and reported that the place was flowing with milk and honey. It was fertile and productive, but the people there are strong. Very strong and intimidating. Out of the 12, 10 returned fearful and opposed moving in. Only Caleb and Joshua believed that God would deliver them.  They said; “Don’t rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. We will devour them like bread. They have no protection, and the Lord is with us. So don’t be afraid of them.”
When our eyes are fixed on the giants and seemingly hopeless situation we tremble in fear. Where got hope? The opposition is in disarray. The corrupt leaders will still be in power. The economy and education is in shambles. Islamization is inevitable as the Hudud is implemented step by step. Tell your children don’t come back. No more hope in Malaysia.  However if we like Caleb and Joshua set our eyes on Jesus and place our hope in God, we shall see God’s will be done here in this country.

I have to admit many times I too think what am I doing here?   It does look bleak, perhaps this is the best time to make our exit for the next generation. We must encourage one another; that our hope is not on the temporal things of the earth but on the future glory of heaven. We must belief that God has called us in the meantime to be here in Malaysia, to bring Kingdom values and shalom to Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Penang, Kuching and every corner of Malaysia. We must see with spiritual eyes that God is doing something significant and we have the privilege of being a part of his mission in Malaysia.  We must remind one another to keep our eyes on Jesus and not on the seemingly fragile situation we are in.


God bless you and lets pray for the shalom of Malaysia.