Friday, March 22

The wonders of the small


MOTHER Theresa once said “not all of us can do great things but we can all do small things with great love”.

On Dec 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, USA, civil rights activist Rosa Louise McCauley Parks (1913-2005) refused to obey the bus driver’s order to give up her seat in the “coloured section” to a white passenger as the whites-only section was filled.

Parks was eventually arrested for civil disobedience in violating Alabama segregation laws. She was found guilty and fined US$10 plus US$4 court costs. But her act of defiance triggered a wave of protests that led to a boycott of the city bus line for a year. In Nov 1965, the US Supreme Court declared segregation on Montgomery buses unconstitutional.

Parks became the international icon of resistance against racial segregation. She collaborated with civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. In 1996, President Bill Clinton awarded her a much deserved Medal of Freedom.

Mahatma Gandhi, the worldwide symbol of non-violence and civil disobedience, began his activism as an Indian immigrant in South Africa in the early 1900’s. He was alone but in the years following World War One, he became the leading figure in India’s struggle for independence.

These are small things but when done with integrity and great love, it works wonders.

On May 21, Sarawakians were excited to see the first reform in education with a shift in policy towards promoting greater use of English in schools. Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato’ Sri Michael Manyin announced that bi-lingual signboards in Bahasa Malaysia and English as well as the English translation of Rukun Negara will be installed in schools throughout Sarawak.

The Rukun Negara  goes like this: “We pledge to achieve greater unity, maintain democratic way of life, create a just society in which the wealth of the nation shall be equitably shared, ensure liberal approach to our diverse cultures and traditions and build a progressive society, making use of science and modern technology. We pledge our united efforts to attain all these by the principles of believing in God, loyalty to King and country, upholding the constitution, rule of law and good behaviour and morality.”

This is small step to big things – not least of all, a ‘Rukun Negara society.’

And thanks to the Chief Minister’s foresight in appointing an Education Minister for Sarawak, a small but significant step has been taken towards autonomy for education in Sarawak. Thanks also to Manyin – as State Minister holding the education portfolio – for this first and the subsequent small steps to come vis-a-vis an autonomous education policy for Sarawak.

Ten days later, Manyin urged all 82 members in the State Legislative Assembly to take their small steps towards adopting at least one school in their constituencies with the aim to improving English proficiency among the students in line with his priorities as Sarawak’s Education Minister.

Manyin rocks and we hope to see the 82 YBs rock with him.

The Borneo Post carried the headline ‘Significant move by Sarawak,’ this week where we received federal praises for having integrity and highlighting the role of an ombudsman with ministerial status in the Chief Minister’s Office. In the words of Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low who is in charge of governance and integrity, it has laid a good foundation for better things to come.

The attainment of big things always starts small things with faith which are often brushed aside as being unable to make a difference. Apparently, there is a need to keep the faith. No one should ever called to God for elevation to a higher position without attending to the small details of life first.

High and low position aside, it is, nonetheless, required of a servant that he be found to be faithful. The one who is conscientious now about the little things will be made ‘ruler over many big things.’

Abang Jo is taking small steps towards education reforms and integrity efforts. As it is said, with little things come great things. So let’s play a positive part in Team Abang Jo’s endeavour to lead Sarawak to bigger and better things.

Someday, these words from the book of Jeremiah of The Bible will apply to all the faithful – “I will glorify them, and they shall not be small.”

From small things come great things.