“It is a time to reflect on the values espoused by Christianity and our other great religions - of mutual respect, tolerance for one another, and helping those less fortunate.
“These are the same values that bind us, in this diverse and vibrant land of ours, together.”
These were the words of Najib Abdul Razak in his Christmas message to Malaysians.
There was once a time when these words would have held great meaning to everyone, but as events have shown in the past year, not everyone shares these values.
Yesterday, as we sat down to say grace and enjoy our Christmas lunch, did we ever wonder about those who are less fortunate?
Take for instance the Penan girls who were raped in 2008. If not for the revelations of a foreign NGO, the rakyat would not have known about their rape by timber loggers.
The government repeatedly denied that the girls had been sexually abused, and accused the victims of fabricating stories.
So, did the victims receive counselling? Did the pregnant girls receive financial help? What steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence?
Over in peninsular Malaysia, in Kelantan, two teenagers were allegedly gang-raped by 30 Malay men, who were high on drugs.
Malaysians were outraged, especially as it was revealed that the rapists included an uncle, his son and a nephew.
The gang-rape was committed in a hut, which was known to be a drug nest. Did the villagers think to call the police?
Newspaper photos showed a line of men, in purple fatigues, hiding their faces and being frog-marched to court.
So what happened to the two young girls? Did they ever receive justice? Or was the case considered “No further action” because of “insufficient evidence”?
Whilst PAS president Hadi Awang gallivants to Iran, and invites criticism from all sides in Malaysia, did he not think that the money spent on his trip could have been used to help the victims of Kelantan’s great flood of 2014?
Some flood victims are still in temporary shelters. When will they be rehoused? What happened to the money which was collected to help them?
In both East and West Malaysia, the indigenous people like the Orang Asli and the Sarawak natives have been displaced by logging activity, the spread of oil-palm plantations, and the building of mega-dams. They organise blockades to protest about the destruction of their way of life, and the violation of their rights.
Living in tenement-like ghettoes?
What happened to the indigenous people who were relocated to areas distant from their ancestral lands? Are they thriving, or are they living in tenement-like ghettoes?
These are some of the less fortunate about whom Najib talks.
Recently, the former junior military official, who was attached to the Malaysian High Commission in New Zealand, returned to Malaysia, having served his nine months home detention.
Muhammad Rizalman Ismail, 39, claimed that the woman whom he tried to rape had given him the “come-on”, because she smiled. He disgraced his family and all Malaysians when he said that he defecated outside her home to invoke a black magic spell that would make her fall in love with him. He also admitted taking synthetic cannabis. What must foreigners make of Malaysian men, and the strange tactics they employ to woo women?
So has Muhammad Rizalman been dishonourably discharged? Is he under police watch? Are women aware that he is a danger to them?
It is not just older men who have heaped shame upon Malaysians. Two years ago, Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin, a Mara maths scholar, was arrested in London for possessing over 30,000 hard core child pornography photos and videos. It is alleged that he has returned to Malaysia.
Where is Nur Fitri now? The Mara officials were willing to offer him a second chance and continue his scholarship. It is a slap in the face for all victims of child sexual abuse.
Are our children safe with Nur Fitri on the loose? Why should he be given a second chance?
This brings us to the case of Richard Huckel, the British man, who received 22 life sentences for raping children while employed as a teacher in Malaysia.
Huckle boasted about his prowess and wrote a manual on how to abuse children. What has happened to the children he molested and raped? Is the Malaysian connection now a non-starter? Will the children he abused, also be denied justice?
Some of the Malaysians we send abroad to represent us have shamed us. The Tourism Malaysia director and his wife, who were convicted of abusing their children whilst they were posted to Sweden, returned home after a prison term. Has the wife, who was a teacher, been allowed to continue to work with children?
Najib talks about mutual respect and tolerance. Umno Baru claims to defend the Malays and to protect Islam. Why do Umno Baru Malays treat the Felda Malays with contempt and disrespect?
The National Audit Department logged losses of several hundred million ringgits in Felda and said that contracts to procure capital goods were signed without the necessary authorisation. The chairperson of Felda, Isa Samad, who even former PM Mahathir Mohamad accused of money politics, has now been made a Fellow of Pembroke College, The University of Cambridge.
Whilst Isa is wined, dined and wooed by the unsuspecting foreigners, the Felda settlers tear out their hair as they see the value of the shares in the Felda Global Ventures drop.
Felda started off as a cooperative for rural farmers to grow cash crops on their smallholdings. It has now diversified into activities like running hotels in London.
Will the Felda which was successfully promoted by Abdul Razak Hussein end as a dismal failure under his son, Najib?
NB: Merry Christmas.