Jamalul Kiram III, Sultan of Sulu, in the southern Philippines, is in Manila ailing and undergoing dialysis. Meanwhile hundreds of his followers are lying low in the village of Tanduao in Lahad Datu in Sabah, Malaysia. Having arrived there by swift boats, they intend to stay there for keeps, unless the sultan recalls them.
Sabah once clearly belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu. To the sultan and his followers, that has not changed. The government of Malaysia isn’t amused. In defense of its sovereignty over Sabah it would deport the “intruders” from Sulu, using armed force if needed.
In his State of the Union address last week, US President Barack Obama paid tribute to Filipino-American nurse Menchu de Luna Sanchez for her heroism. While typhoon Sandy was pummeling New York City last November, she planned and supervised the transfer of 20 newborn babies from NYU’s Langone Medical Center, which the storm had plunged into darkness, to safer intensive care units in the city.
She had the babies wrapped in warming pads, then led doctors and nurses, cradling the babies in their arms, down a stairway with only their hand phones lighting the way. Other personnel pumped oxygen and bore vital hospital equipment.
“ I have a dream,” proclaimed Martin Luther King Jr. in August 1963. And when that dream came true the United States became the better country for it. A country that caters to the civil rights of its citizens regardless of race.
“I have a dream,” says North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. And if that dream comes true the United States will cease to exist as we know it today. Its greatest city, New York, arguably the financial capital of the world, will go up in radioactive smoke.
Jesus Christ — Nabi Isa to Muslims — is quoted in the Bible (Al Kitab) as saying: “The poor you will always have with you…” That out-of-context quote has been used to justify the neglect of the poor, and to argue that the fight against poverty is a lost cause. Thus a holy book has been badly used by those who take a dim view of humankind.
But the fight against poverty is by no means a lost cause. Not if progress in the pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals means anything.