Senseless attack on nuns an eye-opener for Malaysians

On 14 May 2014, two nuns, Sister Julianna Lim and Sister Mary-Rose Teng were attacked and robbed outside the Church of the Visitation in Seremban by an unknown assailant.

May 23, 2014

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid
On 14 May 2014, two nuns, Sister Julianna Lim and Sister Mary-Rose Teng were attacked and robbed outside the Church of the Visitation in Seremban by an unknown assailant.

The latter has regained consciousness since the attack took place but the former is still in critical condition. Sister Julianna Lim reportedly may have irreversible brain damage as a result of the attack.

Most Malaysians, like you and me, will never find out the real reason for the attacks and we’re only left with swirling speculation. Conspiracy theorists, on the other hand, may already have their theories laid out and would be more than willing to share their side of the story. But as the haunting disappearance of flight MH370 has taught us, speculation is far too dangerous a game as it raises more questions than answers.

The truth is, many factors may have contributed to the vicious attacks on the two Sisters that morning. The worsening quality of education, the increased cost of living, unemployment and the rise in the crime rate (and the nonchalant attitude exhibited by the authorities) – any or some of these elements may have influenced a human being to disobey civil laws. In the face of this worrying situation, greater emphasis must be given to the development of intellectual qualities.

Issues concerning educational development and the education system are not just academic matters; they must be the direct responsibility of parents when nurturing their young. Society, too, has a tremendous role to play in influencing the consciousness of the people and, most importantly, in sculpting the minds of the young.

Unfortunately, society is growing dangerously accustomed and desensitised to the growing number of reported cases of senseless violence. This is by no means something tolerable or acceptable.

The government has a signficant role to play in leadership and accountability especially when individuals run amok. The role of the government is to empower communities, society and its citizens. The government has a responsibility to lead by nurturing positive traits such as courage, fortitude, temperance, justice and prudence.

These traits are often seen as virtues which constitute the moral integrity of a competent and respectable being.

Courage and fortitude are traits that will provide people with the ability to suffer through hardship. Those who lack courage might falter and give up when they are faced with obstacles; it takes fortitude to persevere through whatever difficult undertakings or situations a person might encounter.

Temperance is often seen as a person’s will to resist pleasure. The tendency to live in excess of one’s income or to be embroiled in corruption scandals appears to be a fixture in our political arena. It is evident that some of our leaders suffer from a deficiency of these noble traits. Somehow, this has led some Malaysians to believe that giving in to temptation in return for instant gratification is acceptable.

Justice is a virtue that guides and encourages a person to treat others fairly and not to subject them to any harm, be it emotionally or physically. It also instils the habit of remaining law-abiding and acting with common decency or with the general wellbeing of society in mind.

Prudence, though quite difficult to define, generally implies thoughtfulness and careful deliberations before decision-making. People need to be able to lay out the pros and cons and avoid making impulsive judgements due to an inability to disassociate themselves from rash emotions.

Our leaders have proven to us time and again that these virtues are sorely missing in our society. We often hear of the liars, the thieves, the slanderers and the plunderers who gloat at their “stolen victory” and flaunt their “ill-gotten gains” while brandishing their critics as infidels, ingrates or dissidents.

Our leaders speak of fostering greater kinship and harmonious racial unity but do the exact opposite by bullying the minorities and the marginalised.

The senseless attacks on these innocent nuns should serve as an eye-opener for all Malaysians: not only must we condemn and put an end to these mindless incidents, we must also emphasise positive traits and virtues.

The only way Malaysia can get rid of these hateful acts is through reason and sound moral logic. We cannot afford to “fight fire with fire” as this concept will only backfire and be met with extreme resistance.

The development of liberal education through upholding understanding, knowledge and wisdom can help mend the tears in the fabric of society.

To all those who have been attacked, harassed and bullied because you dared to stand up and voice your concerns – you’ve given Malaysians hope and we stand by you.

To Sister Julianna and Sister Mary-Rose, our thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family; Malaysians will continuously pray for your speedy recovery.


--Syerleena Abdul Rashid is a member of rights group Aliran.

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