Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Religion and Science…..

Many people view religion and science as opposed to each other. A very religious person puts all his or her faith in the All Mighty to determine the course of his or her life while a worldly man or woman puts his or her trust on worldly knowledge, technology and science to guide and determine his or her future. Many see the Muslims as belonging to the first category while westerners belong to the second category. I say westerners,not Christians, for there certainly are many devout Christians who believe the good Lord determines everything. Man proposes God disposes. Followers of other religions in the east tend towards the first category, giving emphasis to prayers and God's blessing to achieve their ends, over and above their humble human efforts.

We even see religion and Science as two factors pulling people apart. When you believe more in science (secular knowledge, technology etc) as the determinants of life, you rely less on faith and religion. You rely less on prayers and humble appeal to God to help you achieve whatever you want to do and depend more on planning, research and applying modern technology to accomplish what yuo desire. But the easterners, the Muslims especially, will pray harder and appeal more humbly to God (Allah) to fulfil their hope and ambition. The Muslims even hold special prayers to request Allah for rain during a spell of dry season, to end the senseless war and killings in some Muslim countries like Syria and Egypt, and even for the return of lost relatives as what had happened in the case of flight MH370.The prayers are, of course, accompanied by continuous efforts and actions to make their hope a reality.

Based on the existing views of the apparent conflict between Religion and Science, must we therefore see people and the world being torn apart, one group allowing religion to dominate everything while the other allowing science to determine everything?
Must the youths of today face the problem of becoming more scientific or religious, trusting science more than the will of the Creator? Must the advancement of science and technology push religion to the back seat as it seems to happen today among the young people of the world, and religion is 'reembraced' as one gets old and faces the uncertainties or fear of death?

I think there's a better way of examining ourselves and our nation in terms of religious and scientific proclivity or inclination. We can create a graph charting our religious or 'Belief in Faith' and 'Believe in Science" mix by presenting the first on an X axis and the latter on a Y axis, starting with 0% and rising to a full 100%, as in Fig. 1 Figure 1.

We can then place ourself or our nation at the most appropriate spot or reading along the X and Y axis. For example a devout Muslim could be placed at 95% along the X axis (belief in faith/religion) and, maybe only 10% on the Y axis (belief in science. An eminent scientist could be placed at maybe 10% or less on the X asia and 99% on the Y axis. This will give us a graphic presentation of their religious-scientific standing in determining the direction of their lives. Fig 1.

If we agree that both religion and science are important in out life, we should then aspire for a more comprehensive mix as in Fig 2. Otherwise we or our nation can become a lopsided kind of entity which can cause a lot of problems in choosing the priorities of life as a common goal.
Figure 2

Friday, May 16, 2014

Quality of Life vs High GDP

I was very attracted by Cina'a policy of putting the pursuit of a high GDP in the back seat in preference for improving the Quality of life. See pic as reported in the NST. It sets me into thinking that Malaysia should follow this example because the pursuit of a high GDP and income Per Capita seem to have dominated the thinking of the government in the interest of achieving a developed nation status by 2020,less than 6 years away.
a commendable policy
Meanwhile so many problems affecting the quality of life of the people have emerged. The most predominant concern is the escalation of prices for popular food at food stalls and restaurants, increase in the price of essential consumer goods such as rice, sugar, fish, vegetables etc, the sudden increase in evaluation rates for land in urban areas now considered as industrial while it carries an agricultural status before and is still undeveloped, the sky rocketing prices of modern houses both in the urban and rural areas, the increase in charges for electricity and water, increase in toll rates etc.
eating place for the average Malaysians
The overall impact of these increases seem to far outweigh the relief that people get through some increase in wages, reduction in taxes, and the BRIM handouts.You can never get s good meal for the family at the restaurants anymore for less than RM50. Don't try the exclusive ones if you have less than a few hundreds. Even a good breakfast at a roadside stall for one person might cost you no less less than RM10. Evaluation rate for an acre of land can go up to RM12,000 whereas before it was only a few hundreds. A semi-D house can now cost more than RM800k while a terrace house can cost some RM300k. Soon, only the rich businessmen can stay in the cities and town areas….
many places don't have the facility
Cost control, and for that matter Quality control for both consumer goods, services and housing facilities seem to have been neglected or just not effective enough. Cracks in new building and homes, power failures, water shortages, etc had become a common heartache. Although there has been some improvement of late in the cleanliness of the urban and town ares, there are still a lot of rubbish lying around, especially in areas where 'pasar malam" (nigh markets are dele. The Authorities alone are not to be blamed for we still see people throwing rubbish and smelly refuse on the road from their cars. This makes me question whether some Malaysians are still not civilised enough to become citizens of a developed nation, even by 2020.

The quality of life in the modern sectors of Malaysia can certainly be called developed even now. Except, of course, for the slump areas. But some services still fail to make the grade. Facilities for the old timers and handicapped people to move around in wheelchairs are sadly lacking, few trashcans can be seen by the corridors of shophouses and on roadsides to enable people to learn throwing rubbish where it belongs. The smell at eateries and open air restaurants can sometime hurt the olfactory.

Quality of life is certainly not determined by income alone, both at the national and personal level. It depends a lot on the quality of goods and services given by the providers. When the price goes up and the quality comes down, it means a downgrading of life, even if the nation and the rich are rolling in money. What differentiates a developed country from an underdeveloped one is the quality of goods and services that citizens of the former enjoy and what citizens of the latter are deprived of.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What do we remember people by?

Great people and leaders passed the corridor of fame on earth everyday. Some are immortalised by historians, some leave behind a legacy that becomes a tradition, some continue to live with us through their works of art or literature. Others, the film stars and crooners continue to entertain us through their films and songs as if they have never left us.
satar, P. Ramlee and S.Sudin in Bujang Lapok

We seldom realised that we are often being entertained through the TV and radio by artists singing from their graves.In Malaysia where the legendary actors and singers are few in number, we often see films and hear songs by artists like P.Ramlee, his wife Saloma, Ahmad Nordin, Norma Diah etc almost everyday. They live on unlike great leaders like Tengku
Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tan Siew Sin, Sambanthan and others who are only remembered on certain occasions. The younger generation doesn't even stop to think about their contribution to the nation at the mention of their names.
P.Ramlee and Saloma
Even sports heroes are remembered better than great leaders and statesmen. Young sports enthusiasts would still smile with admiration at the mention of great names like Ghani Minhad in football, Wong Peng Soon and Eddy Choong in badminton, while international champions like Joe lewis,Michael Schumacher etc can still capture their imagination. But politicians and national leaders are often remembered better for their bad moves and deeds than the good ones, just like the abominable villains in a popular film are better remembered than the heroes.
Aziz Jaafar and Norma Diah
But many popular artists. at least in Malaysia, passed away quietly although given a rousing farewell by their fans.They die a poor man or woman without the pomp and ceremony accorded to the national heroes. Even P. Ramlee was only honoured and decorated with the state titles of Dato' and later Tan Seri, long after his demise. Many passed on without being given any state recognition- like the late Ahmad Nordin, Aziz Jaafar, Normah Diah, S Shamsudin etc. At least Aziz Satar who passed away a few days ago had been awarded a Datukship while still around. May Allah shower His blessings on him. With his demise all three unforgettable characters in the famous comedy film series called "Bujang Lapok" ( i.e. P.Ramlee, Aziz Satar and S. Shamsudin) are now gone, although we will continue to meet them in the films that had been played on TV again and again. We will continue to laugh around with them.

All these set me into thinking: what would you like to be remembered by after your death? Unless you're filthy rich and your decedents continue to wrangle over your wealth (at times with a lot of misgivings if not hatred), few will remember you. It's sad that the evils that you leave behind will be better remembered, the good is oft interred with the bones, as said by Shakespeare.