Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How courteous are Malaysians?

Accoding to a Reader's Digest survey on how polite or courteous are people in 35 cities around the world ( Reported in RD July 2007 issue), people in Kuala Lumpur are soome of the LEAST COURTEOUS or LEAST POLITE. KUALA LUMPUR RANKED 33, well below Singapore, Jakarta, Hong Kong let alone the western countries.

Are we surprised or annoyed? Angry....and start questioning the survey, its methodology, sampling technique, how conducted etc.? Go ahead but the listing is done and published for the world to read! Only three simple tests were used:
*We wakled into public buildings 20 times behind people to see if they would hold the door open for us,
*We bought small items from 20 shops abd ereecorded whether the sales assistants said "Thank you",
*We dropped a folder full of papers in 20 busy locations to see if anyone would help pick them up.

Simple enough and to me very appropriate for testing the courtsey or politeness index of a crowd. The actions expected in these tests do not involve others, especially the law, to cause any cautious reservations. Kuals Lumpur scored only 37% as compared to Singapore 42%, Jakarta 43%, Hong Kong 45%, Amsterdam 52%, London UK 57% Berlin 68%, Toronto 70%, Zurich, Swizerland 77& New York USA 80%. The least courteous is Mumbai with a score of 32%.

Well, what do you say? I'm a proud Malaysian but I have to agree with the propensity indicated by the survey. I say only 'propensity' or 'tendency' because that is all that a survey could hope to potray. The truth lies under various other layers of social indicators. But what is indicated is enough to make up examine ourselves seriously. How do Malaysians behave on the street while shopping, while driving, while attending a concert, while eating in a restuarant etc. Do they show courteousness or politeness to other Malaysians ( especially from other racial group) and foreigners? How do shopkeepers and shop assistants, waiters and waitresses, the technicians in motor repair shops amd other functionaries behave towards their clients
and customers?

I for one have witnessed many ocassions where rudeness, lack of decorum, insensitivities, lack of concern for the right of others, lack of civility and a thorough lack of respect for others have showed up. To list them all would be voicing what many of us, I'm sure, have witnessed. We can of course make many excuses for our lack of courteousness. " He didn't show me any respect, so why should I respect him," is a common one. " Who cares lah!" is another.

Well, the world now knows that the traditional Malaysian courtesy and politeness, the ready smile and willingness to help,
the warm greetings on the street and the " You first, Sir/Madam," attitude, is not always there anymore. Just driving on a busy street or even on the highway, will tell that Malaysians have changed for the worse. Maybe it's time for the Government to hold a courtesy campaign again since the modern education system adn 50 years of Merdeka seemed to have failed to produce courteous people...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Illegal Assembly: Is Prevention the Answer?

We've had several attempts recently at holding an illegal assembly, protest march, unapproved 'ceramah' etc. The Police had dealt with them very effectively. But at what costs? While the legal action against those involved will take time to show result, many are injured( including innocent bystanders), traffic flow is seriously interrupted, shopkeepers loose some business, and most importantly, the havoc caused by police action to disband the gathering are excitedly photographed and reported by the media, inside and outside the country.

The more often we have this kind of skirmishes between the police and the protesters, the worse will our image become as a peaceful country. The Batu Buruk insident, the Yellow Wave two weeks ago and the impending gathering to be held by HINDRAF this Sunday, will continue to create the impression that the Government and the Police are really clamping down on the freedom of people to meet and express their views and grievances. No permit was given for such gatherings,'ceramah' or demonstration because the Police feared that it would cause public disturbances or clashes between opposing elements.

Such gatherings become illegal because a permit is not issued or refused to be issued. The police have their reasons for doing so. They boiled down to the need to prevent undesireable clashes between antagonistic elements, causing public disturbance and distruptions, and that protesting on the street is not the Malaysian way of showing disagreement. The argument is that there're many other ways of expressing any disagreement with government action and the public can always show their diagreement through the ballot. The Police action to not allow the gathering can be considered as preventive.

But are there really any alternative way for the public to air their grievances or disagreement with government action when such gatherings are generally disallowed, the media which carry critical views of the government can get into a lot of trouble,
websites owners and bloggers who criticise the government and political leaders can be hauled up for questioning and even
SMS communication is regulated and policed? Is preventing such gatherings, which would be legal if permitted, the best way to curb criticisms, expression of grievances, and gaining the support and confidence of the public as a whole on the government and its actions? How else can people express their views of the government and government policies and their implementation? Write letters to the govenment which will never surface or be acted upon except perhaps in a negative way?

I believe that peaceful public gatherings should be allowed. Permit can be issued subject to the condition that the organizers would be held responsiible for any irresponsible action or behavior, causing undesirable disturbance of the peace and inconvenience to the public or endangering the lives of people. The police can standby during such gathering to stop any form of undesirable action, catch those initiating it and investigate their motives. Put the responsibility of maintaining order and peace during a gathering on the organizers and go after them only if the conditions laid down for issuing the permit are violated. If these organizers are detained and harassed BEFORE the gathering how can they be charged for holding illegal gathering when the gathering has not even taken place?

If we were to say that it's better to stop an undesirable event before it occurs rather than clear the mass after it happened, then we're already prejudiced that the mass will occur, that a public gathering will certainly produce such results, that a protest movement is an undesirable thing. Such prejudice is inimical to the social philosophy that people are inherently good - the basis of democracy itself,

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Angry Old Man

'The Angry Young Man' has been an accepted political culture in most countries. The young men, even in the family, have a lot of grouses over their elders, on any thing at all.

But I notice of late in Malaysia, that it's not the young men who are so provocative, toucy and ready for a fight. That stance has been taken over by the 'elders' in the government. The seniors in the coalition parties of the government now seemed to be so edgy and ready to launch a venomous tirade on any question or issue raised by the oppositon or just an unhappy member of the public. Any criticism will be met with a fiery blast of 'official reply', sometimes in words that are more abrasive than persuasive, more accusatory than explanantory.

Just listen to some of the replies given to questions tabled in parliament. Especially when things get heated up and words fly around with the Speaker trying in vain to stop the coffee-shop type of quarrel. No, we dont even see such quarrels in coffee- shops anyamore. The common citizens have become more cultured and diplomatic! MP's and Ministers have often resorted to
broken, ungrammatical and untutored English ( or Bahasa) to ventilate their anger on the critics, be it in the Parliament, in the Press....or even on radio and TV.

The younger Ministers seem to show this tendency more than the older ones although there are many exceptions. I have no intention of mentioning names but the saying that 'attack is the best form of defence' seemed to be gaining in popularity. What beats me is: why do you have to be angry if you're explaining the truth? The angry face and disturbed ( or distorted) look when replying to a question often makes people more sceptical of the answer, especially when no direc t answer is given. The more I see such faces on TV when answering questions from the public, the more questions I want ot ask.

Where have all the good old ministers who answered questions with a friendly smile gone to? When do we see and hear some
informative, intelligent and seriously sincere debate on national issues in Parliament, rather than lots of accusations, fingure-pointing, invectives and unanswered questions? Why are the old men in government getting more and more angry by the day? I wonder.....

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Check and Balance in Government.

One of the most important aspects of a democratic govenrment is the the separation of power between the Executive branch of government. the Legislature and the Judiciary. Each has its own area of authority and the three check each other against any misuse of power, thereby maintaining a kind of balance so that no one branch of government becomes too strong such that it can force its will over the other branches. The 'separation of power' and 'check and balance' doctrine had been honoured by most democratic governments of the world, with the 'fusion of power' theory offering a midway alternative where the Executive had the power to appoint the non-elected members of the Legislature.

In the US, the Senate can hold the President in check, whilst the President can veto any legislature the Senate is trying to pass.In UK the Prime Minister can be questioned by both the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament and any bill could be blocked or delayed by both. Question: Who can check( and balance the power of) the PM or even a Minister in Malaysia? Even the Yang Dipertuan Agong cannot block a bill from becoming a Law after Article... ( citation required).... of the Constituion was amended.

This question is raised because the doctrine of check and balance seemed to have disappeared from our democratic tradition. Without any serious checks on the powers of the Executive, the Legislature and even the Judiciary can be suspected of becoming very docile and inefffective. It is no surprise, therefore, that the independence of our Judiciary has today been questioned, not only by the political enemies of the Barisan-led government but also by the Judicial freternity itself - the lawyers and members of the Bar. When 'Justice must not only be done but seen to be done', any doubt on the independence and integrity of the Judiciary is most pernicious to the concept of fairness and justice in the country.

This issue must be addressed as quickly as possible if national confidence on its judicial system is to be restored. The uneasiness among the judicial fraternity members has been compounded by a sudden confrontational attitude which seems to have taken a grip on two of the most important law enforcement units of the government - the Police and the ACA. Senior members of the former are being questioned by the the top guns of the latter. So are some senior members of other law enforcement agencies such as the Customs and the Emigration, including senior members of the civil service. Where must we now turn to, to ensure that justice is done and seen to be done without any lingering doubt that an injustice has been committed?

Once public confidence on the independence of the Judiciary is eroded, the rule of law will be jeapordized at all levels. Even students begin to question the authority if their teachers, employees their employers, the public servants their political masters etc, etc. Where will it all end? The UMNO General Assembly which is now in progress should be examining this issue rather that just " the checking and balancing of ethnic interests" within Barisan. National integrity, unity and understanding can only be fostered within an enviroment where the law will protect the innocent and punish the guilty party, irrespective of
poitical affinity or status. Nobody is above the law but the Executive arm of government must ensure in the first place that the Judicial system is independent , beyond any shadow of a doubt!

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Show must Go On...

There seem to be so many mega development projects launched by the PM recently that I've begun to loose count of them, or rather loose perspective of their potentials. The Iskandar Development Region ( IDR), the Northen Corridor Economic Region ( NCER) and the East Coast Economic Region ( ECER) seem to almost simultaneously open up the borders of peninsula Malaysia to foreign investors without any reservation. Like peninsula Malayasia Sabah and Sarawak will also have their own mega development projects to be announced within the year, in addition to all the development projects that have been identified in the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

The capital for development is of course expected to come from foreigh investors although Malaysia will have to bear the cost of providng the basic infrastructure. ECER for example requires some RM112 billion and 53% ( ie. RM59.36 billion) will have to be borne by the government over a period of 12 years @ close to RM5 billion a year. 40% of the entire budget is required for the construction of roads.

Assuming that most of the capital required will be forthcoming from foreign capitalists as we offer prime, virgin land at specially low rates to them to develop , what stumps me most is how we're going to get the skilled and semi-skilled manpower to get the projects going. Even the NMP projects are expected to run into some manpower problems. even though we've already absorbed millions of foreign workers into the country. How many millions, there's no telling since more than half of them came in illegally. Workers from Indonesia, Myanmar and Bangladesh can be expected to come into this country in bigger droves. The social impact which remains controversial and tenous at this moment, will no doubt be enhaced greatly.

The bigger question is: are we training adequate numbers of our own youths for the huge increase in manpower requirement
to cater for the need of these mega projects? Have we adequately adjusted the education system to produce the various categories of skilled and semi-skilled manpower required, or are we getting more and more of the youths interested in our own space-age programs? The Bumiputera youths especially have never been really interested in blue-collar jobs. Politics and corporate management seem to be the special area of interests while their interest in the entrepreneurship training programs seem to be placed more on the funds made available rather than becoming small-time shopkeepers!

Attitude seems to change little. As the Prime Minster said ( NST Monday Nov, 5) " The Malays are fond of making announcements. They are like the proverbial chicken that, after laying one egg, announces it to the whole village. The turtle lays its eggs quietly. When we come to know about it, the turtle already has many hatchlings. We need to talk less and work more."

My fear is that the annoucement of all the mega projects came from the same kind of attitude. Of course the mega projects must be widely publicised to get foreign investors interested. But making the all the announcements in quick succession can get the investors confused. Why not "sell" first and announce later when the main players in the game have been more or less identified so that once announced, development work will commence. Unless, of course, there's a political mileage to be gained through the proverbial 'chicken laying an egg' strategy and the show must go on. We need smaller projects with quick, tangible results though all must come under a well-thought-of Master Plan, not huge mega projects, loosely conceived and dependent on foreign response to get started. As the Malay saying goes: Jangan jadi yang dikejar tak dapat yang dikendung berciciran. ( Don't get into a position where you don't get what you're chasing after while what you have is dropped off during the chase).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Humanizing the Demigods

Many of the tragedies of life today seem to point at human inconsideration and callousness as their cause. Natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis, or meteorites smashing onto the earth, maybe the exceptions. Even then who decided to build human settlements on volcanic mountainslopes, too close to the seashores etc. Human beings are still to be blamed, or rather the human demigods who control and manipulate human decisions by the powers that have been vested on them by other human beings.

These demigods take many shapes and forms. From elected or appointed high executives to enriched human entrepreneurs. They determined and sactioned what people can do or cannot do. Their action brings forth prosperity or disaster, thus giving them the feeling that they are ever so powerful, even mightier than God sometimes.

These demigods. pocket dictators, little Napoleans etc. are sometimes the saviors of human society or in other instances, the root cause of its insensitivities to human sufferings. People become disinterested and unconcerned with the welfare of their neighbours and fellowmen because the authorities are not concerned with their problems. Rubish dumps and oxidation ponds are left to exude sickening odours, perpetual traffic jams make people tensed and short-tempered, unchecked minor criminal activities lead to major and vicious crimes, playful bullying and ragging in schools lead to widespread indiscipline and juvenile social abberations. Crammed housing with narrow and unkempt streets will lead to the creation of squalid urban sprawls and sordid slumps. Under such conditions human being can easily loose their dignity and moral values, slumping down under the the pressure for survival and tolerence.

Under such circumstances the demigods must first be humanized before a new culture and concern for the common weal can be generated. The demigods themselves must not be activated by the pursuit for wealth and power only but be responsive to the more subtle requirements of maintaining human dignity and pride among both rich and poor. If they had never known poverty in their life, they should be exposed to its devastation and humility to understand how the poor feel. Their own moral values and ethical propensity must be retuned to conform to those of the middle and lower class society in order to regain their confidence.

Too many times the demigods of today's life show a heart that's ruled by their need to pursue and maintain power, wealth and all their worldly interests. Human beings becvome mere numbers and statistics in their deliberation. Ia a few must die to placate the majority, their deaths become a necessary evil. President Bush calls such death a "collateral damage". Such leaders are the first to need a lesson in humanization. But who can teach them? Osama ben Laden?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Policemen Shot Dead....

2 policemen shot dead and 2 injured in a shootout at Sungai Buluh! After several accounts of armed robberies, street murders, bizarre killings of kids, and open clashes between criminals and the police, the cold blooded shooting of policemen seemed to
confirm the notion that the criminals of today are like Rambos. Very daring and well armed. But are the policemen on beat ( not the real crime busters and commandos) also tucking in their overgrown paunches, cocking up their underused muscles and honing in their weaponry skills to meet up with the challenge? Or are they still expecting that their presence alone will cause the criminals to shiver or flee?

Verily, the policemen on beat must buck up for they may at any time come-up face-to-facee with the Rambos. Even the Mat Rampit can be just as dangerous since many a traffic corps had been rammed up. It's either a matter of the enemies becoming very strong or the police becoming very weak.....

It's hightime for the police to shed their uniforms and become crime busters in macho clothings like the nightfarers in the busy streets of KL. Uniforms don't scare the criminals anymore. Use automatics that don't kill but give you hell of a shocker that you cannot move. PM's and the IGP's insistent on following the mannuals, arrange proper back-up squads to cordon off target area etc., is bunkum. Before you're ready the criminals would have scooted thousands of miles away. Be ready to spring at any time with oozies and bombs. That's how you can scare them. Not with the snubnose that corps on beat carry.

No....I think our policemen had only shown their fangs at traffic violaters on the road. Otherwise they're just too soft, as one senior police officer did admit. Life has been too kind on them for a long, long while. Even the chiefs look clumsy and slow - not the Rambo-Rainbow type. Let the commandos loose, the Special Force Unit or SWAT. They should be the crime fighters of today, not the paper pusher at Bukit Aman. The Commercial Crime Unit should also be filled with people the likes of Colombo and Kojak. Do we train such people and do they get to the top or are the fanny-fanners (FF) cramming up the top echelon of the police force? More policemen are going to be massacred if the FF are allowed to run the Crime Busting Division of the force with softies doing the beat. We need fast-n-straight shooting corps, with Jacky Chan's fighting style and Colombo's persistence, patience and smooth-talking, respectful traits. Not the Lebih Gertak dari
gerak type,

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Balik Kampung Ritual

Balik Kampung is a must for Malays who hail from the kampungs, come hariraya.Ever ask why? Sure, go back to their roots, the old folks who didn't migrate along with them to the towns or cities, to the old relatives and friends, to celebrate in the ambiance of old memories and haunts.

But more importantly, as I begin to realize, is to meet with most of your friends and relatives who have migrated to the various urban centres in Malaysia and whom you've not met for years. You're not even sure where their current addresses are nor can you visit them all in one go. Chances of meeting them all in the kampung are brighter than attending a formal gathering where many may fail to appear.

Nothing can reflect the changes that have occurred in the rural communities after 50 years of merdeka than the hariraya festivities. Old houses that were once humble and serene are now transformed into grand and even palatial residence, well adorned for the occasion. ( Of course there are also many forsaken homes, battered and dilapidated, with no decendents of the departed seemingly interested in renovating and maintaining them!). The renovated or new houses will have a well landscaped and lush green compound, sporting some up to ten or more gleaming cars belonging to family members. When I visitted a relative of my wife who, she said, used to live in a rickety on-room wooden hut some 30 years ago, I was surprised to find a sprawling home with two guessrooms each of which can be turned into a fullscale badmington court. In the courtyard was a
brandnew blue Mercedes Benz 240C, a 4WD Sportage, two other sports cars and some huge motorbikes. The grand old lady had fourteen kids and is now a grand old widow. Among her children is a big-time contractor, a senior university lecturer, several professionals, and one of the daughter-in-laws is an air hostess. The late husband was only a policeman - a private.

My first reaction was to reevaluate my stand on family planning. It was useful at one time when the Malays were trying to get out of the clutches of poverty. But now we should put it in reverse, at least for those who can afford to have a big family, especially since primary education is now almost free.

The big issue facing the remoter rural villages as is my own, is one of survival. Although it's just about a kilometer away from the main road some ten miles away from Kuala Pilah and fifteen miles away from Seremban, with a metalled single-lane road linking it to the main road, ther village is loosing its adult population. All the young men and women had migrated to the urban centres, leaving the tinytots and the very old folks in the village. Only three men under 50 are left behind. Most of the old houses though already renovated are being reclaimed by the secondary jungle. The padi fileds have been abandoned years ago. The population of the village has dwindled from some 800-1000 people some ten years ago to about 150.

I wonder how many villages in the nation are undergoing the same process of "dying out". Many, many years ago when the country was undertaking "urbanisasi" in a serious way, govermnet servants like me used to voice our views that rural-urban migration might depopulate the villages unless something was done to make the rural arreas appeal to the young. Agricultural modernization and bringing light industries to the rural areas were not enough. Bandarisasi should be accompanied by bringing the attractions of the urban areas to the rural, including nightclubs and funfairs. The ulamas, both self-proclaimed and aspirants, objected strongly. And now, many of the rural villages are dying and only those close to the urban centres seemed to have gained a new life.

What are we going to do about it? Shall we just leave the remote rural villages die away and be reclaimed by the jungle?

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Cultural Divide

After 50 years of merdeka, we suddenly feel that the cultural divide between us Malaysians is resurfacing in a way that's most disturbing. It's more like the elderly mixed-marriage couple suddenly realizing their differences as their offsprings begin to form different ethnic groupings. And they started to quarrel on what went wrong!

Our political system has always been based on the coalition of ethnically based parties. Why the sudden panic to merge the parties together as suggested by the Acting Gerakan President TS Dr Koh Tsu Koon? Is it just an effort to put the party's "Satu Hati" slogan into high profile or the start of a new movement in line with the Malaysian Malaysia concept? The PM seemed very happy at the Gerakan national delegates conference ( NST pic. October 7, p.2) where the suggestion for the merger was made, but on the very next day commented that the idea was "impractical". He must have been taken by a big surprise with the suggestion, indicating that coalition leaders do not discuss things any longer before making important policy statements in their party's annual conference.

From another perspective we see DS Samy Vellu deriding Datuk Nallakarupan's effort to create MIUP, maintaining that MIC is enough to represent the Malaysian Indians' interest in the coalition government. The MIC boss is also unpurturbed by the allegation made by PPP's chief Datuk M.Kayveas that not enough is being done for the Indian community, though the former's generals keep lambasting the PPP champion. Promoting ehtnic interest is still the issue as is the main cause of Chinese dissatisfaction presented to MCA President Datuk Ong Kah Ting by critics of the MCA.

So many racial issues seemed to be cropping up these days making the ethno-cultural divides in Malaysia more and more conspicuous again. The National Education Policy is alleged to be biased in favour of the Malays, the NEP and all the concomitant creation of various special Funds (which to the Malays themselves, seemed to merely line the pockets of certain party bigwigs and enrich their cronies), the issuance of licence for business and provision of public services, etc.etc. All these talk about the non-Malays being sidelined or marginalized in spite of the fact that the business magnates and tycoons, the new millionaires and billionaires in Malaysia, and the majority of the nouve riche, are NOT Malays. The wealthy Malays are mostly those who have strong connections with the powers that be or the stalwarts of UMNO, such that the ordidnary Malays categorized them as a 'cultural class' of their own. Discomfort and distrust about their leadership is also beginning to be felt and even openly expressed through the grapevines.

Thus, national reintegration, seemed to be be what is required now. The ethinic, cultural or politico-economic subcultural divides or groupings which have acquired clearer and sharper profile all these years of rapid growth and development, must be defaced and obliterated. Racial issues usually stemmed from such divides and groupings, not just interracial but often intraracial in nature. Malaysians who have worked together, attain a more or less equal standards of living, live together in the lower and upper middle-class housing development areas, do not seem to have much problems of interacting among themselves. Their problems and dissatisfactions are directed more at the luxurious and high-flown style of living among the wealthy and powerful, because of their positions and connections in the ethnically based political parties, irrespective of race or religion. Their grievances become more worrisome and obsessive when the wealthy and powerful involved are considered not even fit to lead the nation and its people.

The merger of political parties need not be the solution to the problem. What is important is for the party bigwigs to stop creating their own clans and cronies which are enhancing the ethnic and cultural divides through their indiscretions, complacency, imperviousness to criticisms and superficial efforts to champion the cause of the ordinary Malaysian citizens,
especially of their own racial group. The ethno-cultural divides that exist in the country today is more the result of politico-economic exclusivity rather than ethnic differentiation. The working man-in-the street has nothing against his collegue no matter what the colour of his skin is or whther he goes to the mosque, the church, the temple or elsewhere to pray. Or whether he orays at all. It's the all-powerful and filthy rich party-men who act like mini Gods which cause the ordinary Malaysian citizens to split.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I'M SURE WE'VE ALL BEEN FOLLOWING THE TRAGIC CASE OF NURIN JAZIMIN. She suffered the worst of what a tormented, sadistic, perverted criminal mind can offer, facing up to the most heineous of all sexual crimes, and showing up to all Malaysians what the most abnoxious criminal among them could do. Nurin showed up the the most evil criminal among Malaysians at the cost of her life, taking all the tortures and sufferings that such a criminal could deliver and won by attaining the ultimate peace in death.....

Yet....there are only sighs and groans of sympathy among most of us. From the national leadership to the common man-in-the-street. Yes, there's an offer of a reward for information leading to the capture of Malaysia Criminal No.1. But that's about it. We forget about what the little girl had suffered, and what she must have gone through to bring to light the worst of the perverted human minds and how helpless we are in the hands of such criminals, including the Police and the network of authorities that's supposed to safeguard the safety of our children.

To me Nurin died a heroine's death and the nation should be moaning her death with a full realization of the fact that the country had given birth to such a criminal, that such a criminal exists among us, and that our entire public security system has a flaw that needs to be immediately remedied. Shouldn't the policemen on beat in busy streets and shopping and food centres be also on the lookout for innocent kids moving alone in the crowd, ready to offer help and responding to any cry of help etc.,etc.? Shouldn't they be on the lookout for suspicious characters,,,or are they more interested in jumping on traffic offendersand petty law breakers who will ultinmately be nabbed....?

The nation must show its respect for the girl who became a sacrificial lamb for the laxity of parental care on kids, the flaws of our public security system and creating the style of life which creates such satanic criminals. Nurin should be proclaimed a national heroine for standing up against the most repulsive sexual crime in Malaysia's history and paying for it with her life.
Other children had also suffered and died as victims of such criminals but Nurin suffered the worst and will become the symbol of ciminal mental abberations and perversion as imposed on a young and innocent girl.

The ability of this country and its people to revere her memories and honour her death will indicate the extent to which this nation is committed to the eradication of such criminal abnoxiousness as suffered by her. In other countries people will
light up the candles and stand virgil by her grave to wish her peace and comfort in her afterlife. Over here it would be sufficient if a "majlis tahlil" is held all over the country to offer prayers that Allah may place her among the "syuhada". Nurin's death is, to me, more like that of a child-warrior who stood up to the satanic wrath of a "kafir", a convoluted and sick mind.
Her picture should be displayed all over the country as a reminder of what a perverted and sick mind can do to our children and our nation.

Let's all pray for her soul.....Alfatihah...

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Festivities, Uncertainties and Realities..

The hectic festivities around the 50th Merdeka Anniversary ( I watch them over the TV mostly for the KL traffic is most threatening!), and some of the vitriolic remarks about them in the blogs, left me very uncertain. Even the picturesque "Jubli Emas Merdeka 50" booklet which gives some historical highlights to the Anniversary, failed to convince me that the whole country would be "inspired" by the extravaganza mounted by the 16 big-wig committees which masterminded the entire celebration.

Uncertain of what? Many things! The objectives other than just commemorating an important national event, the expenses involved, the high-level manpower put to work (at the expense of other tasks certainly), the participation of the public roped in, the response of the public as reflected by the small number of cars and buildings flying the national flags, et., etc. Well, the festivities will go on for a month. But I feel that the budget announcement has made more people happier than the annivesary fanfare.

Whatever it is, in the light of uncertainties people normally search for realities and truths. In that mood I always go back to the source of unltimate truth in Islam - the al-Quran and Hadiths. I wanted to know what Islam says about holding anniversaries and celebrations, beside the general ruling that everything should be just so-so and not too lavish or extreme. In the website I find that Kassim Ahmad, Mahaguru 58, to some extent The Moderator and a few others have said a lot about Islam itself and the way government is handling it. But as usual, the reading is tough and laborious. I wonder how many of our Muslim bloggers follow their writings.

And I asked myself again and again, how much can our non-Muslim bloggers learn about Islam from their writings (besides others sources in the internet)? Or care to read and share their experience as part of the total Malaysian experience in order to increase our common awareness: a very important factor in forging national unity. The more experience we share the more we have in common and the closer we feel to each other. But that's a subject for Sensitivity Training, T-Group Sessions, Group Dynamics etc. which our educationists must consider introducing in schools to enhance national unity in this country...

In as far is Islam is concerned, all Malaysians should know what the important tenets of the religion are, as simply as possible, so that there could be no misunderstanding about a Muslim or the Malay who could be your next door neighbour.
If you think you know about your neighbour without understanding what type of a Muslim he or she is, you can be in for a great surprise some day! Even if you have been neighbours for years. Why? Because a Muslim can be as different from each other as Kassim Ahmad is from Mahaguru 58 or The Moderator, the Ulama's, the appointed religious leaders such as the Imams and Muftis. the western trained Muslim intellectuals, the "sekolah pondok" ustazs, and the ordinary urban and rural Muslims (Malays). They can be very different from each other in their views of life and how it should be lived as a good Muslim! So, unless you know something about Islam and its many schools of thought, you could be making a lot of wrong assumptions about the neighbours that you have known for so long...

Most of our non-Muslim friends can certainly identify well or easily with the western trained religious scholars or just the ordinary Muslim with a good western education . They are very rational and based their arguments on sound reasoning. Yet some can be so steeped in orthodox Islamic teachings that they might not agree with the product of rational thought as a result of holding on to some religious values or believes. Don't try to discuss things or argue with them using common sense or straight logic. They will never agree with you. To question their logic would be to question their belief or faith.

In general, the stronger a Muslim's belief or faith in a certain aspect of religion is, the more difficult it is to make him change any of his views. There are of course some plain stubborn people but a stubborness or obstinacy born out of a religious belief is even more difficult to overcome. This in fact is true for all religions and it is for this reason that religious fanatics are more difficult to get along with in this world than the less religious people. Strong minded people often elevate their believes, even in non-religious matters (such as politics), to the level of a religion! Hence we have people in this world who are ready to go to war and kill other people because of their religious beliefs. And those who are ready to die because of their religious beliefs, rightly or wrongly imbeded in the religion they embrace, as understood by themselves.

I think all of us are influenced in some ways by our religious beliefs, or just our cultural orientation (which is a very potent source of values) when reviewing the 50 years of post merdeka development in our country. We evaluate our leaders against these beliefs and values. Unless we appreciate more of each other's value system can we ever come to a consensus on how things stand and how things should be? If people say that national unity in this country is backsliding, can this be the cause of the problem? If so we need to check back on our values and reallign them so that we see more things in the same light rather than highlight things in such a way that the same things looks different and we begin to get nervous about them!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Nation and Leaders

In many of the frustrations, dissatisfactions and grievances that I read or hear about Malaysia, I noticed a terrible confusion between THE NATION, MALAYSIA, and some of its people called "leaders". Because the aggreived party doesn't like certain leaders -hate them like shit, maybe - he or she started to rave or rant against the nation, insulting THE CONSTITUTION, THE NATIONAL ANTHEM,or certain racial groups, calling names and nemisis, indicting THE NATION as a whole.

Hold on to your asses my friends! It's not our nation or the beautiful country, Malaysia, and her beautiful people, I'm sure, that is at fault. It's those leaders that you abhore and would like to see hanging from the nearest tree, that you're up in arms against. So why insult our country and our people, our Constitution and our national symbols of nationhood, our pride and prestige? You insult Malaysians, you also insult your own self, your parents and your ancestors who have lived and thrived in this country. You cuss the nation and it's like cussing your own home!

Let's get our orientation right. If there are leaders that you hate, just aim your vitriolics at them and rap out why. The democratic processes in this country is still in place or otherwise we would not even be able to say the things that we have been saying. Politics is an evil that all human beings in this world must live with bacause it's about people influencing other people and getting themselves elected as leaders in an organized society. The alternative to politics is anarchy and lawlessness. Or getting foreigners to rule over you, perhaps with guns, rockets and missiles aimed at you and your homes....

If respect begets respect, insult begets insult. Who are we going to respect if we start insulting each other? The mark of civilization is when we can protest in a civilized way and not seek refuge in vociferating invectives using four-letter words....
especially in rap songs that only certain people will appreciate. Don't insult the whole nation and its people ( that is OURSELVES) because you dislike certain leaders. Let's get rid of them through the democratic processes....


Monday, September 3, 2007

Allegations and Resignation.

The Japanese Farm ( Agriculture) Minister, Takeheko Endo, quit after just a week in office (NST Sept.4) acknowledging "inappropriate" conduct, following scandals involving party bigwigs. Prime Minister Abe's 1st Agruclture Minister killed himself over the allegations he misued public money.

As I see it allegations of corruption, scandals over misuse of public funds, misuse of authority etc are rampant in all governments - in U.S., UK, Europe, Korea, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia etc.,etc. The difference is the parties who are subject of the allegation or scandal, often resign or withdraw from the scene, in their own honourable way. They don't even wait until a court of law convict them and are then "forced" to resign. In Japan of course, they redeem their honour in the most courageous way..

Elsewhere, allegations and charges can pour like a rainstorm. Until a court of law pounds the gravel and pronounces the accused ( if brought to court at all) "guilty", the dogs can bark at the hill as much as they like. The hill will not move or disintegrate. The barking will stop after the dogs are well fed.

I've read so many pronouncement of dissatisfaction, frustrations and accusations in both the media and the blogs over the week, both overt and covert. Some are fair but others....are a little over the edge. What we certainly need in Malaysia is a basis for measuring things quite objectively, so that broad negative generalizations can be avoided as much as subservient and sycophantic endorsement of futile efforts to achieve amorphous goals. It is always in the fuzziness of goal-statement that failures can be potrayed as success or vice versa. More destructive, people can be made to believe that pomps and grand ceremonies are the embodiment of success itself.

Well, as they say " Some people can be fooled sometimes..not all can be fooled all the times...!"

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Cheers..and Tears on September 1, 2007

The 50th Merdeka Anniversary parade and festivities on the morning and night of August 31, were of course superb, magnificent, grandiose, with perhaps a hundred thousand Malaysians jamming the Dataran Mereka for the march pass and thousands thronging the Merdeka Stadium for the mega concert. A bouquet of roses for YB Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim and his many high-powered Committees and Sub-Committees for producing a mind-boggling spectacularama...

But the anniversary cheers for me and family was rudely interrupted by news of the death of a cousin - a very jovial chap with diabetes, heart and kidney problem whose company could make you smile and laugh until your tears roll down and your stomoch aches. He had a chequered but successful career as a Felda Manager but he certainly carried his physical woes with dignity and decorum, right to the end. May Allah bless your soul, Adik Kamarul. We miss you dearly.

Hence the morning of September 1, was a sad and solemn day at his house in Jempol, NS. Tears flowed readily from many of our elderly relatives and his elder brother told me that when he visited some relatives in KL a week earlier including myself, he did say on parting that he was going back for the last time. Nobody took him seriously then. Without his presence the bungalow house he designed himself on a two-acre fruit garden,felt so desolated in spite of the hundreds who came to pay their last respect...

I had hardly managed to control my emotions when my wife and me drove to our next venue - a wedding reception for the daughter of another cousin. The sudden change of mood from tears to cheers left me somewhat confused. I met so many happy faces and exchanged the usual pleasantries while still choked with the thoughts of the other cousin's untimely death. Accommodating two contrasting experience on the same day suddenly made me realize its similarity with celebrating this year's merdeka anniversary - jubilation, pomp and ceremony on the one had and an awareness of the nation's nagging problems on the other.

But what the heck! I'm now just a senior citizen who can only reflect on what has passed and what is held in store for the Malaysians and the nation. After attending the wedding reception I still had the responsibility of visiting two Aunties before going back to KL, both of whom had had a big hand in helping me to grow up. One is my Uncle's widow with whom I stayed when I was attending school in Kuala Pilah. It was tears again when we met, even as I recount the days of my naughtiness and naivette which must have exasperated her to no end. Her illustrious second son whom I helped to take care of as a child was also present and the serious-looking ex-Director General of Felda looked so boyish and amused as we skimmed through some of the interesting pages of history...

The second Auntie is my late fathers's sister. She's of course like my own late mother...and she was alone at home when I stopped by, with two sons having passed away and the others working in KL and Seremban. She's about the only senior relative that I know who chose to stay home and not move around staying with her sons and daughters. It was tears again interspersed with laughter as my wife and I hugged and kissed her. Both frail and sick, she is still to me a tower of strength and inspiration, the grand old lady who helped to make my life both meaningful and pleasant. I love you very much, Auntie.

If August 31st is most memorable, September 1st has been most sobering and edifying for me, full of cheers and tears, fulfilment and anxiety with regard to the issues that Malaysians must now face....after the jubilations and falicitations are over.....

Thursday, August 30, 2007


It's 12.45am, 45 mins after the Union Jack came down for the last time on 31.8.1957 and the Jalur Gemilang (then known as the Bulan dan Bintang) took its proud position in the Malaysian sky. The reverberation of "Merdeka" has just died down and the PM is still on TV shouting himself hoarse with the Merdeka Celebration message. God....he almost choked on the word TER...BILANG....

As I expected, the celebration is fabulous. Boy...Malaysians love celebrations and festivitities. They give the young (and young at heart) a chance to stay up late, jammed up between people, in the dark corners of the padang, etc..etc. A few people I talked to this evening expressed the feeling that we're just wasting too much money. I wonder how many millions, this time? Or have we reached the grand B for BRAGGADOCIO GRANDE? Well, all's well that ends well, says Shakespeare!

There'll be more tomorrow ( ie. later today August 31) and the following night. The flower fest is at Putrajaya while the show will be at Stadium Merdeka to be capped by an international Tattoo exhibition, following the on-going international firework display competition. But how come I see droves of cars jamming both sides of the MRR2 but more going to the south. "People are going back to their kampungs for the holidays," said a friend in the front seat of the car we were travelling in. Are these people not
interested in the festivities being held in KL. Oh, of course there are festivities in their home town too, Really....How much are we spending nation-wide on these celebration?

I guess we'll never know the actual figure for as one pragmatic accountant (or is it an auditor) puts it: How the figures will look like depend on what you ( the employer) wanted to be shown. So, all figures can be trimmed or expanded depending on what you want to show. Does that explain why we should not be too gullible in accepting all figures shown to us in the national account? I've lost track of leakages in the national account when billions of ringgit start to disappear into thin air. When I asked some well-informed friends on whether THEY KNOW where the money has disappeared to, their answer inevitably is: " Ummmm.....no.....I don't know!"

Gosh..past 1.30 am! Is the PM still giving his 50th Merdeka Anniversary message or is this a replay on RTM1? He's going to loose his voice if he continues to punish his larynx. There's Smack Down on TV3, another deceptive show. Anyway, happy 50th Merdeka anniversary celebration, everyone. God Bless You.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One Day Before....

Tomorrow, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Meredeka. For the first time I see my wife flying the Jalur Gemilang herself, on the balcony. Great. I've already stuck one on the car several days ago. I feel rather sad when on coming back from visiting the flower fest in Putrajaya at 5pm, I got caught in a traffic snarl along MRR2 stretching for more than a kilometer on both sides of the road. I counted only about 10 vehicles were flying the flag....

What a shame...shame ...shame. I should congratulate those who had wilfully kept the JG in their lockers as a show of protest against some of the misdeeds and mishandling of the affairs of the nation. They've proven their point. So, after we celebrate the 50th Meredeka Anniversary tomorrow with a very poor showing of the Jalur Gemilang on cars and buildings, what's next? I'm sure the celebration will go on as usual, as will other things in this beautiful nation. Beauty indeed is only in the eye of the beholder. It's like holding up a magic miorror. You see only what you want to see.....

I'm as critical of things that I don't agree with as the next guy. But I love my country with all its shortcomings and its faults. They are created by people and people can uncreate it at will. Some say"rectify" it. But I'm not sure that the "rectified" version will be much better. It could be much worse! But one thing is certain. Don't stop people from complaining about things they don't like or disaggree with. Talking about what bothers you is a way of getting it out of your system. It has a therapeutic effect on the soul and those who agree with the ventilation will also receive a sensory reinforcement of his or her nihilistic vibes.

That seems to connect with what the DPM said today (NST). It's not that you can't say things but you must say it in the right way.

That sounds okay but WHAT IS THE RIGHT WAY? Let the Merdeka Anniversary Celebration be over first and we'll try to learn frorm the leaders what saying things in the right way is. Certainly it won' be in the way things are said in Parliament. Can it be in the way things are said during election campaigns? If still "No!" then how? Maybe the bloggers have something to show...at least one way of doing it!!!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dispute, Refute...Nothing Changes...

Its most interesting to see the Ministry of Health and the Dept of Agriculture refuting the findings of researchers from IMR and Universiti Kebangsaan that 6 popular veges sold and distributed by the Selayang Wholesale Market, "were" contaminated (NST August 27). The 2 former authorities stated yesterday that only 10-30% had been found so! And that's NOT DISTURBING! City Hall Health Dept was also surprised that the findings had not been submitted to the Health Ministry before disclosure...The Vege Farmers' Association of course maintained that the contamination would be reduced after the greens are washed before cooking....!

A very familiar scenario where academic reports are vehemently refuted by the authorities involved. It would be the very reason why the report was not submitted to the Ministry of Health for it would be thrown out offhand. I'd imagine there are tons of disturbing academic findings, dismissed outright by the authorities involved. This is just the opposite of the culture in developed countries where the academes are "sponsored" to undertake the research since bureaucrats are either too busy or less qualified to undertake them in the most scientific way possible.

The tradition of distrusting the academic researchers could be a real stumbling block to development - especially the development of the high-level bureaucratic minds. It is for this reason that the nation is often "shattered" by the actual facts -high profile projects falling on their faces, landslides cracking up good roads and houses, denudation of the sylvian green, children falling sick after eating in the cateen etc,etc. The bureacrats own research had failed to uncover "the truth".

In this case of vegetable contamination it's interesting to see that the Ministry of Agriculture is not even involved since Ministries are supposed to oversea, supervise, coordinate and rectify all malfeasance and shortcomings of agencies under their control. When facts uncovered by other than beaucratic sources are continously being ignored, disputed or refuted....don't be surprised if the ceiling falls down (figuratively speaking) on the Ministries themselves, including the Ministry of Work, Housing and Local Government, etc.,etc.....

Saturday, August 25, 2007

5 Days to D Day...

I wonder whether those of us who REFUSED to fly the JG in protest over the inefficiency, corruption and hypocracy of CERTAIN people in the government, HAD CONSIDERED OTHER ALTERNATIVE COURSE OF ACTION. Or is INACTION, NON-INVOLVEMENT and a YUKKY-LOOK of disdain over the mounting 50th anniversary festivities going to be the order of the day, even on D Day itself?

Look guys! Doing nothing when the whole country is celebrating, is an expression of the WITHDRAWL SYDROME. DOING YOUR OWN THINGS IN PRIVATE on the other hand is an act of self-centered greed and an antisocial propensity with a cliquish overtone. So, at least fly your own flags, make some noise to usher in the D Day, and let the bloggers presence be known! Not just on the website but...on the street and.... in a civilized way!

I look forward to see some action from the bloggers. As they say action is louder than words. Let's not just rant and cuss (and joke around) in cyberspace, but throw our bit into the D Day celebration to mark the half-way march through a century of however u c Malaysia's progress. Let's not take the "monkey"and "karaoke" challenge lying down...

Wave your flags way up high......!!!
(See also "Countdown to 50th MA")

Usual for Bus and Truck Drivers to Take Drugs?

I thought I heard someone saying over the TV3 News at 8 pm today that it's usual for bus and lorry divers to take drugs in order to give them strength to undertake extra trips.( NST August 26, confirms that En. Mohd Yasin Yacob, President of the Peninsular Bus Drivers Association said about 30% of the drivers did so). It made me literally jump out of my seat to make some comment about it. No wonder they can get their "trips" mixed up - the narcotic and the one on the road!

PM's directive was just to investigate what makes them turn to drug. "We don't know whether they take it before or after their
(presumably road) trip," I heard him say on TV . Investigation is good but I'm sure we already know some of the causes as given by Union or Association officials. They had to do as many trips as possible in order to make more money since the basic pay is so puny ( about RM200?) I remember the MOT making a ruling before that lorry and bus driver should not do more than 8 hours without a period of rest. What happened to that ruling?

Trying to find out why the drivers take drugs would be like trying to find out why we have thousands of drug addicts. The simple answer is because the 'shit' is available and it certainly has more kick than a pep or vitamin pill. The drivers surely have other alternative sources of extra energy like coffee "tongkat Ali", vitagen, red bull etc. Liquor is of course a no-no, before or while driving.....! "After driving" doesn't exist. If a driver takes on another trip immediately after one is done, it automatically becomes "before driving"!

So, what's the solution? To me it's back to the question of self-discipline and a sense of responsibility. Bus and truck drivers in western countries, even in Japan an Korea, are known to be hearty drinkers. But they take full responsibility over their "loads"- that include passengers - and we seldom hear of long-distance busses ( like The Greyhound in the US) or trucks ( like the Fedex or HDL) meeting with serious accidents. The drivers worked very long hours too and they do just as much extra time when they needed more money. What makes them different from our bus and truck drivers?

Good working conditions, adequate remunerations and well-maintained vehicles could be the cause and must be given priority consideration by the employers in Malaysia. Government should have a special team of officers to look into these matters as part of the responsibility for issuing various licences and permits. Drivers should be given regular health and efficiency tests, the cost to be borne by the employers.

But on top of all these, the drivers must have or acquire a sense of responsibility and dedication to the people and the goods that are placed in their charge. You can see a lot of these among the bus and truck drivers of the developed countries. Most of them wear uniforms which give an added sense of discipline.

Developing and inculcating such a sense of responsibility, dedication and self-discipline is what "becoming a developed country" involved. It certainly is not just a matter of developing the infrastructure and economic fundamentals, nor is it a question of developing the human assets through training and education to suit the need of the labour market. It is the conditioning of people to acquire a sense of responsibility and self-discipline which is the more difficult thing to undertake. Neglect this and development will become a mad scrambling for self-enrichment on the "dog-eat-dog" basis, where bus, lorry and taxi drivers couldn't care two-hoots for the wellbeing of their "loads", teachers are not too concerned about the general wellbeing of their students as long as they get got grades, public officials don't really care if their clients are "happy" with the service they get or otherwise.

Everybody ( especially those in a position of power) will then be only concerned with "getting rich quick" or "making as much money as possible" and everbody else can go to hell! With such an attitude everyone might end up in that godforsaken place...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Countdown to 50th Merdeka Anniversary.

7 days to 50th M.A. Look at the buildings, shophouses, the homes and the motor vehicles that crammed the roads in KL and elswhere in Malaysia. Overall, there are so very, very few Jalur Gemilang that you can see gracing the buildings and the homes with the obvious paradox: the smaller the building or house the more likely that it'll fly the flags. More interestingly you can see a small house flying a huge flag, and often many flags, whilst the big imposing one flies no flag or a tiny one.

As for the vehicles on the road there could be as many as 50 vehicles w/o a flag to 1 that has. Again the smaller the vehicle, especially the Kancil and the cheaper Protons, is more like to fly the Jalur Gemilang - sometimes many of them creating the danger that the car might just fly - than the huge expansive ones. Some of the amaller ones or the old and almost discoloured vehicles are neatly wrapped up in the Jalur Gemilang. The big, expensive and luxurious vehicles would not, it seemed, want people to be distracted by the flag and pay less attention to the cars.

What's wrong with the way we're celebrating the Anniversary such that some people are not even interested, or let's say could not be bothered to even fly the Jalur Gemilang, a symbol of the nation's sovereingty and prestige? Is it the way we're celebrating it or is it those non-flag fliers themselves who have some attitudinal problems? If they are the owners of the huge commercial buildings, the palatial houses and the big expensive cars - ie. the cream of the Malaysian society, the rich and the successful-there can't be anything wrong with their psyche! Are the relatively poor or the lower class people in Malaysia more nationalistic than the rich and more successful? Surely flying a flag to show our respect to the nation ( that is if you can't find in your heart even a speck of genuine gratitude or love for your country) is no big deal?

I think the disinterest in flying the Jalur Gemilang is borne out of the Malaysians pencant for a reward in whatever they are asked to do - the overmaterialistic nature of our development culture. Start a competiton with a RM100,000 reward for the
100,000 car with a Jalur Gemilang flying on it, and I think everyone will fix a Jalur Gemilang to his or her car. Unless of course RM100,000 is chickenfeed to him or her. Even a chance in a million would be enough to motivate a Malaysian, especially the poorer ones.....lah! If monetary reward is bad for the soul how about an all-paid-for round trip to Hollywood or Las Vegas.
You know why I suggest Las Vegas? The gambling hantus will wrap their car in Jalur Gemilang if they can win a price for it.

The suggestion is of course, not a solution to the pathetic show of interest in flying the flag. The question is how to get the public at large involved in the Anniversary celebration. Certainly watching a march pass and parade by the roadside, a firework and perhaps singing the National Anthem, is not enough. All shows must not only be open to the public but allow them to participate, not just be a bystander. Perhaps the public can be invited to dance with the beauties as they move down the road. Perhaps there could be free food stalls for the family stacked with Jalur Gemilang, prizes for the best decorated cars
with Jalur Gemilang as the theme, etc.etc. The think-tank appointed by the Government to prepare for the celebration must have done the thinking.

Let's not have more of the same year in and year out. Otherwise the 50th Merdeka Anniversary becomes just another red-letter day for the officials and those paid or forced to take part in the celebration. The public will watch, of course, but don't ask them to do more, like flying the flag on their homes and cars!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

QCC in Public Sector Once Again!

I left the public service more than a decade ago. By now I thought I'm terribly outdated. But..every now and again I hear the public service grappling with problems we grappled with years ago, as if nothing had changed.

Paklah our PM had just asked that the Quality Control Circle(QCC) be introduced again in the public service ( Speech in NS on August 23). That's when groups of workers sit together to discuss major problems and trace their relationships using the fishbone concept in order to tackle the problems from tail to head. The MOP approach ( Manual of Office Procedures) and Checklist system were insisted on again just sometimes back. Productivity increase was insisted on again and again, ad nausea.There also was the Star Rating System to track and evaluate the performance of Ministries and Department...and the Micro Accounting System suggested by Tun Mahathir ( exPM) which never saw the light of day, because the Chief Secretary to Government then could not fathom what that was.

There were enough management tools even then to track a technical or human malfunction before it stalls normal service operations. But now there are the computers( e-mail, on-line services, internet etc.) the mobile phones, and other nonasecond eletronic gadgetaries that can enable a public servant to operate even from their homes while on leave without moving their oversized bums.But....the bureaucracy moves as slovenly as before, if we are to go by the calls to higher productivity and better quality of work that we constantly hear from the national leaders and the public.

And...corruptions goes on in the midst of delays and bureacratric intricacies which allow "the pocket Napoleans" (or blood suckers!) to flourish. If all procedures in govenment are made simple and transparent, traceable on the computer by anyone,
I'm sure all unjustifiable delays and the opportunity to "make money" on them, will slowly diminish. If all decisions are recorded on computerised minutes which can be made accessable to authorised parties, it would be very easy to trace who made what decision and when in order to pinpoint who had used the decision to his or her advantage to make some quick bucks.

I wonder if all senior government officers are now computer literate and functional? To me this ability is more important than passing the PTK (Penilaian Tahap Kecekapan) and other memory-based examinations. As we know there are two kinds of knowledge. One is what you know and carry in your head. The other is to know where to find the information that you want qickly and efficiently. The computer is an extension of the first and a means for the latter.

So, the QCC should now be turned into " Quick Computer Consultation" whilst internal office problems should be dealt with
at the interpersonal level through Face-to-Face Interaction ( FFI). How about that, YAB?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Rich and the Poor...

Most of the Development Plans of developing countries in the world focussed on "poverty" and "the poor" as the reason for many public action programmes. It's always to eradicate poverty and help the poor. But poverty and the poor remain, at 4-10% even in rich countries such as the U.S. and Japan. Overt or covert, obvious or invisible! Over in Malaysia, while poverty is said to be disappearing ( <4% ) once in a while when TV3 focusses on the poor, it's heart rending.

What the development plans often failed to highlight is "the amassing of wealth on the part of the rich." Often 90% of the wealth of the nation is enjoyed by 10% of the population which means, if it's not obvious to you, that out of 10 people eating a cake, 1 person eats 90% of it while 9 people get 1% of the cake. Income concentration is increasing in Malaysia itself with the gini coefficient ( that's the measure of concentration) being well above .65 (or 65%).

Hasn't the obvious ever occurred to us that the more the rich have, the less there is for the middle-class and lesser yet for the poor? If the poor is to be helped does it not stand to reason that we must also study the rich, "the filthy rich" they say ( I didn't coin the word!), in order to make certain that a certain portion of the national weath will go to the poor? Those with millions in the bank can easily make more millions but the RM10 a day family cannot even risk the scant source now available to start a new venture!

Shouldn't we examine where the bulk of the river water is flowing to understand why the little outlets are running dry? No, we don't rob the rich to pay the poor but ensure that the poor have their cut in the new wealth of the nation. Islam insists that the rich share their wealth with the poor to save their souls in the afterlife. Those who don't may get melting gold poured down their throats on the Day of Judgment. I wonder what other religions got to say about this?

The fact remains that when the rich are getting too much of the nation's wealth ( and they are the most able to do so) the poor will have that much less. Can we then plan anything at all to help the poor without scrutinizing the rich and very rich, to see in what way they can help? Do we have the very poor because we've allowed too many to become too rich.....? I've a thousand questions without answers!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Let's Just Kid Around

I think I've been commenting on serious things all this while and missing the lighter side of life. No, I've been following the blogs of some of our star humourists and jokers - Rojak Today, What a Lulu, Kenny Sia and many others- and having a wonderful time. I learn a lot about Singlish from (can't recall) .......When I found out that "sial" means good or showing admiration, and there're so many aspects of "tua" - tua kee, tua pin sian, tua teow....I really felt "song". Don't know whether that is correct; tio ba? That sounds like a Sabahan speaking: tau sikit-sikit saja ba!

The Singlish, Manglish, Capcainglish, Rojak English are all fascinating, so long as you know what the correct English is. For students, too much of the pidgin (pigeon), will result in your marks for English flying out of the window. You know how difficult it is to land a job nowadays if your English is substandard. I read in the papers the other day that even Ministers make grammatical mistakes when speaking in English. Even reporters and the media scribes sometimes bungled up their tenses, unless it was the printer's hantu at work!.

One blogger did assume the role of an English teacher for a while but swung a hammer with his grammmar, aimed at some prominent people who flouted the highway rules yet went scot free. Others get into trouble for just parking on the side of a forsaken road ( not a car around) but with a faint yellow line at the curb. Or for parking with a tyre on a yellow line of the parking lot, though not posing any danger to anybody except perhaps a blind man.

I wonder if some bloggers can start some jovial lessons on Chinese, English and also Bahasa. ( Hokkien Lang writes in highflown hokkien for experts only). Nothing works better than learning while laughing. The harder you laugh the deeper a lesson sinks in. If bloggers can help to improve the command of languages among the young, we'd achieve more than just sharing some light moments together And, of course, shooting paintballs where some injustice needs to be highlighted!

Just make sure you shoot paintballs NOT acidballs or you'll get into trouble with the law!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Ineffectiveness, Corruption......

When the public starts to question the effectiveness, efficiency and/or integrity of the Police Force, the ACA, the AG's Chamber and the Judiciary as a whole, the government has to do something immediately to allay people's doubt and fear. These are some of the highest institutions in the country aside from Cabinet, Parliament and the Yang Dipertuan Agong.

What can be done when these powerful instutions themselves become suspected of corruption and inefficiency? Who could investigate and who would mete out the punishment for any misconduct or malefeascence? Even Cabinet members and Parliamentarians can come under their surveilance and prosecution according to the Laws and the Constitution! The question is: Can one hand be relied upon to sanction and punish the other for any wrongdoings?

Yes, there can be Cabinet Committees, Party Disciplinary Committees, Royal Commissions etc. created ad hoc to look into any serious violations of rules and regulations, not amounting to criminal offence. But corruptions and "deliberate inefficiency" may not be just cases involving person or persons but whole organization, institution of even government. In the United States where democracy is supposed to work at its best ( majority decisions need not always be right from the ethical pov!), even a President can be impeached for any wrongdoing after due investigation by a Special Senate Committee. That Committee, therefore, is the highest Judicial Authority in the country. It stands above the Party Disciplinary Committee and can deal with any suspicion of wrongdoing at even the highest level of government.

Can't we start thinking of constituting such Committees when an entire executive arm of government, an institution or even the Judiciary is suspected of some wrongdoing and needs to be investigated . The Commmittee should be called Special Parliamentary Committee comprising senior and prominent Representatives of the People (Wakil Rakyat) and Members of the Senate, since the latter are not elected as in the US. This will overcome the "window dressing or "lepas batuk di tangga" investigation that people suspect will take place when the Police is set to investigate on the Police, the Judiciary on the Judiciary etc. etc. This will be far more approprite than establishing an OMBUDSMAN as has been suggested before in the press, to ensure that justies be carried out 'without fear or favour'.

This is just an idea, brought up by the fact that the very institutions supposed to maintain law, order and justice in this country have been questioned by the public. ( Ref. Tun Hanif's article: The Fence that Eats the Rice and various Press reports). I'm sure many people are very disturbed by what's happening in the Police Department, the ACA and the AG's chamber, three of the most respectable institutions in the country.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Prices of Books

I've read some comments in the newspaper before, on the high cost of books in Malaysia. A paperback novel from oversea will cost around RM30-40, a local Malay novel around RM30, a serious read on any specific field of knowldege from RM30-200 and a book on Islam could cost as much as RM180 or more.Even books for children and students are not something you can buy with your out-of-pocket expense surplus.

Is there an authority out there looking at this matter? How can we develop a reading culture when to buy a good read is a sacrifice, and in some cases clearly beyond what a non-executive employee can afford. I used to buy text books when I went on a seminar to the Philippines before. Textbooks on economics, philosophy, sociology etc, that would cost hundreds of Ringgit in Malaysia ( and often not available) would cost only RM10-20. They're, of course, printed on cheap newsprint. But who cares. I want to read not eat them.

Over in Malaysia I can see some cheap novels and general read compiled from odd sources ( not even entire original), printed on expensive glossy papers. No wonder the cost is surprisingly high. I wanted to publish a novel on newsprint paper like the novels from the U.S. to keep the price down. The publisher would not do it for it wouldn't sell. "The only novels that'll sell today," he says, " will be teen-age love stories," and he asks me to write some. Very tempting but....let the young people write them, from their own experience!

So, parents!!! You just have to create a proper budget for purchasing books.We have no choice but the young people would have to decide to pass over a number "makans" and "cinemas" or "outings" to buy some good books. Those who can afford have other interesting things to do beside reading, and whose who can't afford, well, join the crowd! They read less than 2 books a year!

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Another Speak Up call, this time from Jacqueline Ann Surin ( The Sun, August 16) who asked why "The RUKUN NEGARA rings
hollow, even more today than before," and how it can be "made more meaningful than a mere recitation...of an oft-used mantra by politicians and the media..." The Editorial added: "she would rather celebrate Merdeka scaling Mount Kinabalu than reciting the Rukun Negara..."

RUKUN NEGARA was drawn up and proclaimed after the MAY 13 1969 INCIDENT, a racial conflict and bloodbath which NO MALAYSIAN WHO SAW IT WOULD WANT TO HAPPEN AGAIN. Those born after the blood curdling tragedy or were too young to understanding it, may therefore, take RUKUN NEGARA lightly as just some sanctified jumbo-mumbo which must be recited at gatherings and functions.....

Talk to some senior citizens who witnessed the tragedy, and you'll appreciate what RUKUN NEGARA is. It's an encapsulation and a pronouncement of national intent and aspirations: to achieve national unity, preserve a democratic way of life, create a fair and just sosiety, ensure a liberal approach to cultural traditions, and build a progressive society. The five PRINCIPLES are points of reference in the EFFORT TO ACHIEVE THE NATIONAL GOALS AND ASPIRATIONS.

We haven't achieved all that we want yet, right? There're many problems and impediments which stand in the way, such as those which are the very subject of the Bloggers' scorn and the Scribe's cynicism. To speak up and to fight these impediments, there must be some ground rules or otherwise it will be a free-for-all. The RUKUN NEGARA SETS THE RULES. Even soccer or footbal has its rules and even Pele, Medona or David Becham would get a red card if a rule is violated!

Think of the wars, the bloody conflicts and bickerings in other countries, the bombings, the muggings and the riots....... If Malaysia had been able to keep crime down to a minimum ( and its increasing!), it must be because we're on the whole law abiding citizens. A lot more must be done and the young people must get on with it. But there must be a common intent and purpose, a common goal, and a common set of rules for achieving it.

Do you have other rules in minds? Are they better than what the architects of RUKUN NEGARA have formulated? If you think so let's here it, Man.Only a diamond can cut another diamond.....

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Stand up and Speak.....

Brian Yap asks the question ( NST, Opinion page, August 15): Who stands up and speaks for Malaysia nowadays - The Asli's Centre for Policy Studies, the Allied Coordinating Committee of Islamic NGOs, the Muslim Youth Movement, the Muftis, Newspaper columnists, the Bloggers, Dato' Siti Nurhalizah or Chef Wan?

A quaint way of saying that there is a lot of dissenting voice in Malaysia today and every citizen has a right to air his or her views including "Namewee" and Reverend Ouyong Wen Feng. " There's no one person or organization ( who/which) can truly speak for all Malaysians..."( What about the Parliament, the various Government Committees with members representing all racial groups, the Unions and Workers' Organizations, multiracial clubs etc?)

The question asked and its implications, suggest that the right to speak up must be respected. " Malaysians are increasingly speaking up for themselves. Expectedly what we're saying is as disparate as can be, and will cause headaches for those who want us to have only sanctioned opinions and thoughts.

"Unfortunately, we're not going to celebrate the 50th Meredeka ( anniversary) in only one way. We're not going to let other people tell us what is acceptable and what isn't. And we're certainly not going to let anyone tell us what Malaysia is or isn't."

Beautifully put, wholesome, and non-offensive as is expected of a media scribe. But the same massage might have sounded differently if said by us bloggers. It might sound like: "Don't tell us what's right or wrong, what we can or cannot do. We say what we want in Bloggerland, for no one else can say it for us!"

Sometimes it's not what is said that is wrong but how we say it. And of course, most important of all is: who says it! Such an inquiry would lead us to question what is "truth" nowadays since there're so many views and opinions on anything at all. I remember a professor saying that truth is only "a transcient concensus of opinion" which can change by the day....

I think we need to get back at the ethical definition of "right" or "wrong", "truth" or "falsehood", and "fair" or "unfair", if people are not to be wrongly punished for what they say in a multiracial society like Malaysia. A social system can collapse if
"truth" is sacrificed for whatever reason.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Villages without People

Some years ago we talk about poor villages in the rural areas and poor villagers. Now, while poverty has been successfully reduced to about 4% (let's not quibble about percentage and what it means), we can see another problem emerging: villages in distant, rural areas, without people except for the very old and very young.

The able bodied men and women have migrated to the towns and cities, buy up a modern house (or houses), and visit their home-village once in a blue moon. May be every Hari Raya if the parents are still living or have not decided to follow them.
The young ones are often left with the parents in the vilage if they're not well established in the towns or cities as yet or if they have one too many to take care of in their tender years!

What becomes of the village where most of the young people have migrated to the towns and cities? Rural Development Programmes (RDP) and the Village Development C'tee (VDC) may have brought in a lot of infrastructural and social facilities, but there are many beautiful traditional houses left to rot when the elderly occupants passed away and the young don't return to stay. In the deeper rural areas, secondary jungle soon starts to swallow up the unoccupied homes.

Rice fields once lush and green, turning brown and laden with golden grains during harvest season, gardens and orchards once protected and wellcared for, small rubberholdings which had been very productive, become deserted and forlorn. Thickets and wild bush take over as fewer and fewer people give the village its life and vibes. The once-in-a-while visit made by the young during holidays ( balik kampung time) is not enough revive the old vibrancy of the village.

Are their days numbered? The attempt to redevelop the ricefields on a commercial basis does not seem to involve the old villagers nor interest the young. Only villages around urban or suburban areas seem to hold out some promise - to finally become urban! So....the villages will still have to go, ultimately. Is that it? My own home-village seemed to be left with just 4-5 old men. My uncle and aunt moved out and stayed with their daughter in a suburb, for they could not count on getting any help from others if they fell sick. Old widows are also moving out for some foul characters have begun to visit the village,

If this is happening in many of the distant, rural villages in Malaysia, we'll soon have many villages without people. We'll have
not many "poor village-people" but "people-poor villages." How's that for an interesting twist in our development effort?

Friday, August 10, 2007

LID - It's Good for a Chat!

I can't see the difference between good bloggers and good media scribes anymore. After a wonderful commentary and analysis of the LID gathering in Langkawi where "presidents, prime ministers and kings (meet) in shirt sleeves and open collar" to discuss eradication of poverty, Rehman Rashid sums it up: "..it's good, from time to time, to get together for a chat." (NST August 10).

The tongue-in-cheek bloggers couldn't do better when it comes to being cynical ( about Bahasa, NEP, the National Anthem etc),
But, they have a very important point to raise, as do the silver-tongued media scribes. People become cynical when oft-repeated, big national dos produce little benefit to them. ( Of course they tend to forget the good they do to the tourist industry and to the image of the nation!).

Johan Jaafar in a very interesting and informed article on 'difficult (film directors and) writers' described Rehman Rashid as " a fellow scribe (who) goes into auto cruise illuminating the pages of this newspaper with such virtuousity that it's more than just an audacious spray paint job on the language canvass." Wow. Compare that to Charles Dicken in the opening sentence of Pickwick Papers: " The first ray of light which illumines the gloom and converts into dazzling brilliancy the obscurity which surrounds the Pickwick Club..." or this anonymous piece: " On one particular occasion when the solar luminary had hidden it effulgence beneath the occident, there came within my purview an expeditions son of Neptune." Words vary but the message remains the same, like Einstein's constant...

The LID is certainly more than a get together for a chat. If a blogger has said that he might get into serious trouble, just because he or she cannot go "into auto cruise illuminating..the language canvass." He or she will write in bloggerland lingo with a lot of "chapchai" ingredients, (w)rap massage, and photos, to express an opinion and get the heat out of his or her chest! Isn't that as ego-satisfying and therapeutic as writing for the print media? In many ways the difficult or "obscure" writers have just as many things to pour out as subtle and innocously as possible. People don't get angry over things they don't understand but often misunderstood simple act done in good faith.

So, to those concerned with "policing" cyberspace. Please don't be confused into thinking that the silver-tongued scribes, both plain and obscure, do not resort to obfuscation and obscurantism to get a bitter message through. The plain and simple expression of uneasiness among men-in-the-street, and bloggers in cyberspace, is a good window to the heart of Malaysia.
Of course, I could be wrong....

Mentor and Successor...

Nothing is more heartening and reassuring than to see Pak Lah and Tun Dr. Mahathir standing together side by side on their way to The Beach Restuarant at the LID venue ( Bernama Picture, NST August 9). Mentor and Protege...But Protege is now King Mosabe ( The Boss). That's politics and that also happens in the working environment when your subordinate or even man/girl-Friday can suddenly become your boss, directly or indirectly......

Both faces reflect a magnanimity and the best spirit of the Islamic code of ethics viz. two old colleagues despite some differences of opinion do not show any rift or ill-feelings towards each other when in the midst of friends and guests. That's more than what I can say about other leaders today, who prefer avoidance rather than meeting up to promote common goals in spite of some divergent views and conviction.

Pak Lah's gesture in extending his facilitations to Tun and Tun Dr.Siti Hasmah on their 51st wedding anniversary and handing over his turn to speak on the last day of the Dialogue, was very gentlemanly to say the least. And Tun's response was simply magnanimous. Those at the Dialogue session who knew both of them must have been jubilant and deeply touched. Just reading about it in the papers makes me so happy because I've had the honour of serving both of them and.... what happened after the crooked bridge project was dropped, had made me very sad. They had complemented each other very well when Paklah was the DPM and to see an ex-boss getting angry with an ex-deputy is something else....

I think all Malaysians hope that the architect of Vision 2020 and the man who now holds the chisel to put the Vision into shape, can continue to work in the spirit of Islamic brotherhood as shown at the LID. With a hindsight of more than 20yrs as PM, Tun Mahathir has certainly a lot of good advice for Paklah. Sure Paklah must have innumerable advisors at his disposal now but Prof. Dr. Yusuf Abdullah al-Qardhawi in his book Fiqh al-Awlawiyyat said that quality must be given priority over quantity in choosing an action and I believe, that applies to getting advice as well. Especially since advice is often free. But it shouldn't come from the "inner circle" only.....Must have the "ad" element or it can become something else!

Hey, I'm straying. Here's to a happy and productive relationship between a great mentor and a great successor! My unreserved respect for both.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Planet Can-do in trouble....

Bloggers in cyberspace should keep track of the gems produced by bloggers in mediaspace. Kathirasen just came up with a very amusing ( and scathing) one-act play entitled "Meanwhile, on Planet Justica.." (NST August 9). The Elders on Planet Justica were
discussing the need to send Justiceman to save the inhabitants of Planet Cando from destroying themselves. Why so?..

- they have difficulties in upholding justice; even ceilings in governemt buildings were collapsing;
- many criminal cases were thrown out because of the incompetence of investigators and/or prosecutors;
- crime is on the rise and deterntion centers are full; many detainees and prisoners are aliens;
- they cannot decide on the appointment of a head "tribunator" ( Tribunal=Terminator);
- a few tribunatos are rather tardy in writing judgements; one has not written many judgements.

When Elder 4 asked Elder 1 why he was not informed, the latter answered he could not say it in public.
Elder 4: Oh, I see. ( O.I.C) ( He accepts the reason)
Elder 1: OSA, not OIC ( Would not say it in public because of OSA - Official Secret Act!)
A very subtle joke there! But that's not all the trouble yet. There are more:
- many officials in Planet Cando are rather adept at closing an eye when they need to ( in collecting import duties) when important or rich persons are entangled; a popular song among inhabitants is: (Sung to the tune of " Please Release Me" by Englebert Humperdinck):
Please release me, let me go
For I will give you money, more and more...

That's a real killer and A CHILLER! Imagine the number of Mafia-style bosses that can go scot free....

The rest is about the need to maintain justice and to appoint the head Tribunator quickly so that the inhabitants will not loose faith in the justice system. Is he to be appointed based on competency, qualification or seniority? Hey, there's a lot more of word-play and cynicism. But the disturbing closure is:
Elder 4: During my last visit to the planet, I found that they say nice things and mouth words of peace publicly, but at their closed-door meetings, they sing a different tune. Why can't their words and action match?

In Bloggerland lingo : CAKAP TAK SERUPA BIKIN! Is this the real malaise in Can-do land today?