CommentaryConnexionOPINION

Connexion: Rwanda overtakes Malaysia in hygiene

By Joachim Ng

It is welcome news that a place of worship in Ipoh has directed the attention of its congregation to protection of Nature. Calling on humanity to be united on the issue of improving the environment, the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in Ipoh Garden held an interfaith dialogue session recently at which speakers highlighted the urgent need for remedial action.

The church’s effort goes in sync with this year’s UN World Interfaith Harmony Week’s theme of “Sustainable Development through Interfaith Harmony.” It is quite a tall order from the UN because interfaith harmony in Malaysia is like a shallow koi pond: there’s just enough water to keep small fish. “Sustainable development” resembles a marathon — you see big crowds at the starting line, but they are there for the fun and not the run.

To sustain its effort, the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help needs to maintain focus through environmental updates in its weekly bulletin and regular sermons from the pulpit. Going forward, it could try persuading the National Unity Consultative Council to form a Perak Ecofaith Brigade to smash the pervasive littering habit.

One valiant ecofaith warrior is retiree Kamaruddin Ismail in Simpang Pulai, a town near Ipoh city. Daily the 67-year-old cleans the pavement, roads, and drains around his house, the neighbourhood field, community hall, and surau. Starting out as a lone ranger, Kamaruddin has inspired some neighbourhood folks to join him in keeping the area free of litter.

Our faith in God must translate into ecofaith. It no longer matters what is your faith or my faith, but whether all of us have ecofaith. Faith in God requires that we act in unison to save the human-friendly climate — or else we risk perishing when the natural environment turns hostile all around us.

Has any poor developing nation surged ahead of Malaysia in climate preservation efforts? Yes, Rwanda, the African country that was horrendously ravaged by civil war in 1994. One of Malaysia’s foremost journalists, Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai, recently made an eco-trip to Rwanda and was amazed at the great care the people were taking to keep their nation litter free.

Rwandans have become more aware than Malaysians of the health dangers posed by litter. They probably know that a United Nations study has indicated that acute respiratory infections can be six times higher in garbage-dotted areas than in clean neighbourhoods. Now you know why the most heavily consumed supplement in Malaysia is Vitamin C for warding off the flu bug.

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Joachim Ng

A veteran interfaith researcher and science enthusiast, Joachim Ng has acquired more than 45 years of research experience in studying the world's scriptures and harmonising them with latest scholarly findings in many disciplines especially science and spirituality. In the 1980s, he penned a weekly interfaith column that won him a Promotion of Unity award from the Malaysian Press Institute. In addition to five earlier books, he has delivered papers at international conferences held in New York, Los Angeles, Seoul, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Assisi near Rome. A Master's degree holder from the University of Hull, UK, he is a former chairman of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship and the recipient of an Ambassador for Peace award conferred by the Universal Peace Federation.

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