Sunday, June 7

Cheshire Home secular, apolitical   

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In his address president of Cheshire Home Sarawak Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon stressed that the organisation accepts all religions and is non-political

Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon

Freedom and rights should never ever be abused.

In this organisation we respect all religions. Thus we have members and residents who are Baha’i, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims and from other denominations.

Basically, all true followers spread love, goodwill, peace and the brotherhood of Man. We welcome all.

I suggest that we set aside a Room in our premises, a simple and plain room, with no decorations whatsoever for anyone to pray or meditate quietly anytime of the day or night.

While we believe and respect the freedom of ideological and political beliefs of all, we do not allow political activities of any nature within this Home.

Public are asked to RESPECT our organisation, being strictly a apolitical and non religious charity, and to observe our house rules and regulations at all times.

Liberty was defined in article 4 of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen in1784 as” Liberty consists of being able to do anything that does not harm others …”

Freedom of religion means we all can practise freely what we individually believe in. This is protected and is enshrined in The Constitution of the Federation of Malaysia.

This home cannot be held responsible for any irresponsible and unlawful acts of visitors or groups.

Freedom of speech means we can speak freely within the framework of the law . We can express our views and opinions fairly , justly and freely , but unfortunately libel and slander are deliberate lies aimed at defaming innocent people, and honourable, good and decent law abiding citizens just do not engage in such activities.

There was none of the traditional celebration when we observed our Golden Jubilee. I personally do not believe in spending on big scale celebrations, especially involving charities and NGOS which depend heavily on public funding, and sometimes taxpayers’ money.

The Golden Jubilee was observed by the unveiling of a simple Golden Jubilee plaque by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, daughter of Queen Elizabeth Ii of England, Patron of the international disabled organisation.

No expenses, as the cost of the bouquet of roses and souvenirs for the princess were taken care of privately.

I am not sure how many of you here can remember the day when this Home was opened and the admission of its first residents.

The present Honorary Secretary was one of the earliest residents of the Home.

Most people in those days did not have any idea of what a disabled person was, before they visited the Sarawak Cheshire Home during the first Annual Open Day.

To address this problem and to give the public an idea of what was going on in the Home, I suggested to the Exco that we would organise an Annual Open Day with 2 objectives,

First to let them see what we meant by disabled, and to let the public see our work done for the disabled, which naturally would be followed by financial support.

We achieved both aims.

The first ever Open Day in Sarawak was a great success.

It was a most satisfying achievement for this humanitarian organisation.

The rest is history.

 

Our humble early years

When this Home was opened, we needed a manager to be in charge of its management. It was suggested that we could engage the service of a nun. The late Rev. Father Harry helped us to find one but we were told a nun’s job was quite different , as any nun was, and still is, not trained to be a manageress of an NGO like Sarawak Cheshire Home or otherwise .Father Harry further emphasised that a nun had no experience in office management or any administrative skill of this nature. I said we would try, and a decent salary was paid, having just established the Home.

We had a total of 3 nuns serving as matron.

Together with other nuns, they have played their role well in this home over the years.

I thank the nuns , all generous donors, in cash and in kind, volunteers serving in various capacities, and supporters, all NGOs , uniformed and otherwise, medical and other departments, and the public spirited mass media for their contributions .

 

My hope, wish and fervent prayer

This organisation has been looking after people with all forms of disabilities, It is hoped that the government (state or federal) will provide residential homes in the cities and bigger towns for persons with intellectual disabilities e.g. Autism, Down Syndrome, and global mental retardation, when they are orphaned,and their siblings cannot take care of them. Such residential homes are necessary due to the increase in population.

Meanwhile, many of these people are not properly looked by the lower income groups. We must help them.

It appears that this country has the policy, law and national plan of action on rights of persons with disabilities of all descriptions since 2007.

I am of the opinion that both the Federal and respective State Governments (social welfare being a joint responsibility of both federal and State Govt under the Federal Constitution), should make sure that the rights of persons with disabilities of all descriptions , must be streamlined and incorporated in relevant government policies, laws and development plans and projects, so that these persons with disabilities are not being left out or marginalised in our society, etc.

Such a policy and practice are also in line with the ASEAN Masterplan 2025 on Mainstreaming of rights of persons with disabilities in the ASEAN Region approved by ASEAN Foreign Ministers in 2018, to which Malaysia is a party.

Life has never been easy as a disabled person. Every physical moment is a great effort. I salute each and every one of them in such a situation for her/ his will, courage and determination to overcome her/his disability. I can’t but admire them.

 

No Nonsense And Prudent Policy Built Up A Substantial Reserve Fund. How To Protect It?

In the last 50 years we are fortunate having been able to build up substantial reserves. so much so that one very observant and energetic chief minister’s wife said: “I have noted all 4 organisations under you have funds when many others are….” I was asked by this energetic President of SABATI (ministers’ wives club) to address their members on this issue and to share the so called “secret formula” ! (as jokingly called by this lady)

She was most persistent and asked the then Speaker-of the State Legislative Assembly and her own sister-in-law to persuade me to accept their invitation. When this President of SABATI spoke to me again and asked again about my “secret formula”, I told her there was simply none! But we just did not spend public funds for the wrong reasons!

I mentioned to this good lady exactly what I meant. She whole heartedly agreed. I said there was no need for me to waste the ministers’ wives’ time listening to my speech, but just suggested Sebati might consider my humble advice on unnecessary expenditure.

I must admit that the stringent measures and prudent financial policy advocated by me for the Home did not make me a popular person!

The reason is obvious.

My presence in any NGO is not to make myself popular by spending freely public funds or taxpayers’ money . My job is to get a job done guided by my conscience , and my personal belief to serve without fear or favour, and without personal gains, directly or indirectly.

I seek neither fame or fortune, as this is found elsewhere, definitely not in charity work. Some people, unfortunately, have abused their association with, and damaged the reputation of, respected charities. A global problem and an open secret in life.

However, I thank successive Executive Committees for their understanding and cooperation and acceptance of this no -nonsense policy.

I apologise profusely for not being able to make myself a popular person when it comes to generous spending of public funds.

It is my hope , my wish and my fervent prayer that one day when we leave , which we must, this organisation ,I hope this no nonsense and prudent policy will continue, so that those disabled under our care are always protected, and could continue to enjoy the same standard of care without any worries. We just cannot afford to do otherwise.

The Cheshire Home must move on as I believe we have a good foundation, and we must move on with the time in all aspects , no exception, failing to do so-we will be doing gross injustice to all those disabled under our care , and also failing the public in their trust in us .

We must be relevant in this new millennium, with proper and professional management to be guided by standard procedures (to be updated) and be enforced in order to avoid a “sole proprietorship“ type of operation.

Law, rules and regulations must be upheld.

At the same time equipped with well managed facilities for our disabled.

We must aim higher at all times.

We have no choice but to succeed.