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Fuziah Salleh: What Mothers Are Capable of, for Their Children

May 8, 2011

Mother’s Day Wish


By YB Fuziah Salleh,
Member of Parliament for Kuantan

Let me begin by wishing all the mothers and soon-to-be mothers, a very Happy, Mother’s Day! Everyone of us has a mother that brought us to this world and we must take a moment to pause and remember as well as to appreciate that fact. If not everyday, at least for on one day, on Mother’s Day .

Even though I believe that everyday should be Mother’s Day, it still make sense to allocate a specific day to remember a mother’s sacrifice.

It also provides an occasion for children to express their gratitude towards their mothers. They do this by buying cards, delivering flowers, writing poems, and if you’re lucky, your children might even surprise you with a breakfast in bed!

For myself, a mother and grandmother of 5, soon to be 6, Mother’s Day is special to me because my children show that they appreciate me. That they recognize my hard-work and my efforts, not just in raising them and providing for them – but also in my service to the community, within the Kuantan constituency and beyond.
As mothers, we all know that our love for our children and our concern for their well-being does not end. And neither will our responsibility and care towards them. When our children begin school, our job doesn’t finish. When our children start work, our job doesn’t finish. And when our children get married, our job doesn’t finish either. Instead, it multiplies because then we have grandchildren!

Mother’s day is also an opportunity for mothers and soon-to-be mothers to reflect on the future. Despite our efforts to provide the best for our children, imagine the life that they will be facing if the Lynas rare-earth plant project goes through. It is our long-term responsibility to provide them with a comfortable home, a safe upbringing, a safe and healthy environment as well as a bright future through education.
But if the Lynas project continues and the radioactive waste is not managed properly, the consequences will be very severe. For soon-to-be mothers, imagine during your pregnancy, you are told that your child has a defect? Or is handicapped? Or will have a terminal illness?

And for all the mothers, including myself, we have to ask ourselves; can our children have a long and fulfilling life if both mother and child are exposed to radioactive waste? For me, no one, mother or child, should be subjected to such risk or potential harm. Because of this, we must stand together to oppose the Lynas rare-earth plant.

If you have grown-up children, then please ask them to join the protest as well. If your grown-up children ask you, “Mum, what do you want for Mother’s Day?”. Instead of saying “I want flowers” or “I want jewelry”, I hope your response will be, “I want you to help me to stop the Lynas project”. Let them be part of the efforts. Let your family support you in this important cause.

Do not underestimate our family’s awareness on key issues and their passion for justice. Because we are living in a democratic country, encouraging our families to increase their level of participation in community initiatives will shape their mindset and attitude towards fulfilling their civic duties and being a responsible citizen. Through this process, they will realize that they too have an obligation to support and serve the wider community and help our country to uphold pillars of democracy as well as propogate sustainable development.

It is never too soon to start educating our children on their civic duty, democracy and good governance. In Canada, starting from elementary school, the children learn about the responsibilities of the government and the role of Parliament. In Australia, primary school children have the opportunity to experience democracy through mock elections, which includes the campaign process, free speech and freedom of expression.
Through such early education, our children will also learn the importance of standing up for what they believe in. if they believe something is wrong, they should challenge it and find ways to amend it. In the case of Lynas, there was so much wrong that occurred from when the company obtained its license to start construction of the plant and now, lack of proper plans to manage its radioactive waste. The entire time, the regulators in the government was playing the role of promoters rather than putting a check on Lynas. But it’s time for us to stand up against those responsible and make them realize that they cannot make ruthless decisions to the detriment of the Malaysian people.

The Lynas issue has also forced us to reflect on our own environmental consciousness. We protest against the damage that the plant will cause to the environment, but what are we doing to protect it instead? We cannot tell Lynas that we do not want their waste if we ourselves do not care about the environment. Malaysia, unfortunately, is only ranked as average in the Asian Green City Index survey (2011). But as mothers, we must always set a good example for our children and be an effective role model.
Have we taught our children to switch off the lights, to conserve energy? Or to plant a tree, recycle bottles or save water? If we do not make our children realize the importance of protecting the environment, then our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will not be able to enjoy the earth the way did when we were growing up. Instead, they will have fewer trees, increased pollution, and contaminated water. And to add to this list, is radioactive waste, should the Lynas project be allowed to continue.

So for this year’s Mother’s Day, I appeal to you, please join the protest against the Lynas plant. Lynas and the government must be held accountable for their wrong-doings and must find ways to make amends. This is to ensure a brighter and better future for our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Thank you, and once again, Happy Mother’s Day !

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