AN advertisement in a Chinese newspaper on Women’s Day made its rounds in social media.

It was inserted by a teacher, tendering apology to her student and the mother for some harsh punishment.

It reads: “I, Miss Low (Law) wishes to apologise to my student, Catherine (full name removed), and her mother, Koh (full name removed), for canning six strokes on the hands and legs of Catherine, leaving visible marks. I also agree to be responsible for medical fees for the sequela of the canning.”

There are varying opinions but most netizens stand by the teacher, pointing out that if a punishment of the student warrants a public apology through the press, many will shy away from the most noble profession.

I spotted some anomalies in the advertisement. The teacher’s name was not in full and bore even two different surnames while the identities of the student and her mother were fully exposed. Who had shamed who? The teacher shamed the student, and parents generally, or the mother thought she had shamed the teacher?

It’s all perspective. But there is one thing I am sure of – it has hurt the student and I hope it will not adversely affect her growing up years.

The truth is we never know what’s in others’ hearts. It can appear one way when it is quite another.

Last week, we witnessed the launching of the Citizens’ Declaration, led by former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad with the support of opposition leaders and civil society. They call themselves strange bedfellows. Indeed, they are, with all in the group propagating same slogan – “The enemies of your enemies are my friends.”

While Tun Mahathir’s agenda is to oust his hand-picked successor Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak even to the extent of working with the opposition to get the job done, Datuk Seri Wan Azizah or Kak Wan, the opposition leader, is angling to use the Citizens’ Declaration to free Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

Indeed, both leaders have a frightening ability to hide a hateful heart behind flattering words! They can sound, act and use a sweet tone, but inwardly, one wonders are they are actually seething with revolt, rebellion and revenge?

Whatever their agendas, and no matter how divided they are over the latest shenanigan, they have arbitrarily attached the word ‘Citizens” to the Declaration to give the impression that the whole nation have given them permission to do so and are behind their action.

But is it really the collective wish of “all the citizens” in the country to see the protagonists of the Citizens’ Declaration achieve their motive – Tun M to oust Najib, albeit, strangely, without naming who should be the next PM, or Kak Wan to use the same Declaration for the sole purpose of freeing her husband?

We are facing continually worsening scenarios. From the Citizens’ Declaration, scripted by strange bedfellows, to ministers declaring rather presumptuously in parliament that God-fearing businessmen will not raise commodity prices and that jammed roads and packed airports are proofs the people are not suffering, the situation appears to be getting from bad to worse.

I was sharing with a learned professor on what had become of the country and he said: “This indicates the system is breaking down.”

I beg to differ. God unfolds to Prophet Jeremiah the root cause of the miseries, heartaches, corruption, injustices and evils in lives of peoples and nations. In the Book of Jeremiah, the Kingdom of Judah was slowing falling apart with evils spreading across the land – from the king all the way down to the common people.

And the Bible, in unfolding the truth of the dying of the nation attributed it to our hearts, it says: “The heart is deceitful above all things. And desperately corrupt (Jeremiah 17:9a).

These two lines indicate all the evils and injustices stem from the heart which is deceitful and corrupt.

We know how deceitful our heart can be. It is clever, crafty and can always appear one way when it’s quite another – as in the case of the teacher tendering the public apology, and that of the differing agendas advanced by the cabal of the Citizens’ Declaration.

There is no guarantee that a major heart surgery, performed by the best heart surgeon, will save the diseased heart.

Some years back, a friend who had a heart surgery, said the surgeon gave her a 99 per cent recovery rate and asked her to ignore the one per cent uncertainty. Still, there is that one per cent uncertainty even with the best surgeon performing the operation.

Indeed, no government systems or the teachings from the learned and education will be able to completely eliminate the avarices and evil failings of the human heart!

What is the solution? Jeremiah 17:10 provides a useful lesson:

I, the Lord search the mind and try the heart

To give to every man according to his ways

According to the fruit of his doings.

Nothing speaks to my heart more relevantly than these words as more evils, corruptions, lies and injustices are revealed in the country, and for that matter, throughout the world.

Incidentally, also trending in social media is the following letter from a teacher to students – giving some light to the dark ages:

Dear students,

Next week, you will take your ISEP test for math and reading, and two weeks after that, you will take your IREAD test. I know how hard you have worked but there is something very important you must know.

The ISTEP and IREAD tests do not assess all of what make you special and unique. The people who create these tests and score them do not know each of you like I do, and certainly not the way your families do.

They do not know some of you speak two languages or you love to sing or draw. They have not seen your natural talent for dancing. They do not know that your friends count on you to be there for them, that your laughter can brighten the darkest day or that your face turns red when you feel shy. They do not know you participate in sports and wonder about the future, or sometimes, you help with your little brother or little sister after school. They do not know you are kind, trustworthy, and thoughtful … and everyday, you try to be your very best.

The scores you will get from these tests will tell you something but they will not tell you everything. These tests do not define you. There are many ways of being smart. YOU are smart! You are enough!

You are the light that brightens my day and the reason I am happy to come to work each day. So, in the midst of all of these tests, remember there is no way to “test” all of the amazing and awesome things that make you YOU.

All I ask is that you do your level best and not give up. You have been working for this since kindergarten and are ready. I believe in you!

And yes, may we be guided by the light – search our hearts and examine our souls.

Min Su YapFocusMalaysia
March 13, 2016, Sunday Phyllis Wong, AN advertisement in a Chinese newspaper on Women’s Day made its rounds in social media. It was inserted by a teacher, tendering apology to her student and the mother for some harsh punishment. It reads: “I, Miss Low (Law) wishes to apologise to my student,...