SEPT 9 — What are the characteristics of a civilised nation? Is Malaysia a civilised nation? These two questions remained with me well after I left a two-hour public forum at the Bar Council yesterday at which I heard Maina Kiai, the United Nations Rapporteur for the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and several others speak about freedom of association and assembly.
Maina, a Kenyan with degrees from Nairobi and Harvard, used the words “civilised” and “civilisation” often during his 30-minute address. He applauded the economic progress of Malaysia, emphasising his sense of awe after a visit to the Petronas Twin Towers.
If the measure of progress in civilisation is the magnificence of our finest building, then we are doing very well. But is that an adequate measure of civilisation?