Tuesday, August 29, 2006
We have perhaps lost the urge to strive for excellence. In the 60s and 70s, Malaysia was not only strong in football, but also in hockey and badminton. We also excelled in our studies. Malaysian students who studied overseas regularly topped their classes in universities and colleges. Even our local universities such as MU and USM had very high academic standings in the world. What has happened to us? We need to gain back the urge to do well, to strive for excellence in all our endeavours, not only in sports and in our studies, but also in our courts, our police force, our industries and our businesses.
I have a business in Malaysia and as I see it, the desire for excellence has been replaced by the desire to get rich and get rich quickly. The 80s and 90s were years of phenomenal growth for Malaysia and many of us in our mid 30s and 40s today benefited most from those years. There was much wealing and dealing and there were many who stood in the middle as “consultants” who merely collected a fee for referrals for projects. Basically people who had no value add but to collect a fee.
Furthermore, we as a people became fascinated with bigness, elegance and style not for any commercial or internal value but so that “they (the west) will respect us”. We build the tallest buildings, the first F1 in Asia, the longest, the widest, the fastest, the deepest whatever that could get us any form of world recognition at the expense of our identity, character and national coffers.
It is true what John Adams said ; “I cannot help suspecting that the more elegance, the less virtue in all times and all countries.” We were in such a hurry to be recognized, we failed to build and invest in our human capital. We lost our sense of identity as a hardworking and productive work force. We instead sought grandeur and mega-ness.
John Adams in advise to his grandson had this to say;
“Have you considered the meaning of the word "worthy"? Weigh it well…I had rather you should be worthy possessors of one thousand pounds honestly acquired by your own labor and industry, than of ten millions by banks and tricks.”
Are all that we have achieved as a nation worthy?
Finally, in closing we should wish for our nation this 49th Birthday what John Adams advised his daughter in choosing a spouse:
Daughter! Get you an honest man for a husband, and keep him honest. No matter whether he is rich, provided he be independent. Regard the honor and moral character of the man more than all other circumstances. Think of no other greatness but that of the soul, no riches but that of the heart. An honest, sensible, humane man, above all littleness of vanity and extravagances of imagination, laboring to do good rather than to be rich, to be useful rather than make a show, living in modest simplicity clearly within his means and free from debts and obligations, is really the most respectable man in society, makes himself and all about him most happy.
God Bless Malaysia on this 49th Birthday!
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Saturday morning is a great time to connect with parents over breakfast as I wait for the kids to finish their gymnastics. We exchange notes and talk about….raising kids.
There is a Chinese school in Subang that is obsessed with good academic results to the extent of having extra tuition (mandatory) for those approaching the UPSR (Standard 6 exams). They have their regular school classes in the mornings and then extra tuition classes in the afternoons everyday including Saturday. My family doctor tells me that there are many “black out cases” from this Chinese school when nearing exams. The child comes to her stares blankly at the wall and cannot say a word. I was told that ECA’s (Extra Curricular Activities) in that school is often cancelled in favour of studying for exams.
In case any kiasu parents read this, please think with me in a rational manner for awhile….for the sake of your children.
The standard 6, UPSR exams is only an assessment of the child’s progress before secondary school. Failure does not prevent him from moving on to Form 1…or does it? Getting a B or C is certainly not the end of his career or life which has not even begun. In fact doing well in exams is not any indication of a person’s success in life or in business.
Einstein’s early failures:
- In 1895 Einstein failed an examination that would have allowed him to study for a diploma as an electrical engineer at the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule in Zurich.
- Following the failing of the entrance exam to the ETH, Einstein attended secondary school at Aarau planning to use this route to enter the ETH in Zurich.
- While at Aarau he wrote an essay (for which was only given a little above half marks!) in which he wrote of his plans for the future.
In fact the very things that are important in a having successful career (assuming that is what we are after) are not taught in school. Things which Daniel Goldman calls the Emotional Quotient (EQ) are far more important in having a successful career. Character qualities like honesty, self control, patience, trustworthiness, meekness and benevolence etc...(www.characterfirst.com)
I think our quest to give our children a good future is now preventing them from having a meaningful childhood which is essential to their life as a responsible adult and citizen. We must relook at what is trully important in life and rethink how we shape this brief formidable years.
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Are they signs of a cracking economy? With figures of unemployment at around 60,000; lay offs at MAS, JVC and other factories around Malaysia I tend to think so. Real money is hard to come by and is not circulating as before. Its not hitting the middle income, but the lower income group, the blue collar workers. I do not subscribe to the deficit spending of the last 20 years but real changes has to be made to bring confidence back and foreign investors returning. We have to be competitive once again.
My point was not economics, but to say that many of us in the Klang Valley subscribe to security services. We have done so because the police force is simply incapable of protecting the rakyat and ensuring a level of safety when we go out. The government must begin to revamp the Royal Malaysian Police. I hope the changes implemented go beyond wearing buttons and issuing car stickers.
- The government must pay the police sufficiently so that a RM50 bribe is not worth them taking. Their current salary is meagre income when living in the city. We can built a sports complex in the UK, why can't we pay the police officers a bit more and make the profession more attractive.
-The police force must be re trained to be service oriented to the public. Willingness to help and courteous
- The police force must be equipped with the latest crime solving tools. Every police office should be sufficiently equipped. Better distress call systems and speedy repsonse.
- Instill greater discipline. It appears very tardy when a police officer in uniform is seen smoking. I think police officers in uniform should not be seen smoking. It is bad example to our young and it simply looks unprofessional.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Its no longer safe. Last week as I crossed Jalan Raja Chulan, I eaves dropped in a casual conversation between 3 colleagues. (two men and a lady) The lady said to her colleague, “you still cycle? Its not safe. Get a exercise bike in the house.” There is something very wrong when we cannot even take our bicycles out for a ride around the neighbourhood anymore? It may be an over exaggeration by a fearful young lady, but the chances of being mugged, murdered or mutilated is higher than it was 10 years ago.
I am sure this decline is in tandem to world crime rates as many countires become more urbanized. However, I believe we could do a lot more and lack the resolve to do so. The Police for example do not have the latest in modern equipments to solve crime. We have regressed in this aspect. A simple example is the communication system. 20 years ago, I recall that wherever you are in Malaysia the number for an emergency was “999”. Today, if I was in USJ reporting a crime at the Subang police station, they say, “sorry not my jurisdiction, call USJ beat base. I am not even sure which numbers I am suppose to call.
Many police officers do not have the attitude of providing quality service and respect to each member of the public. Back to the story, of uncle at the Pharmacy who told me that they had a hidden video and was ready to surrender it to the local police station. Uncle however was told to go and process the DVD, take still shots and enlarge it for them. An angry uncle told me, “I must as well catch the bloody robber and hand him in to you.” I wonder if that was the same reply if a Dato got robbed. It’s a horrible thing to say, but unfortunately its true of our Malaysian culture. We do not respect the individual for who he is but for what title he carries.
The Rakyat cannot be accused of not doing their part as Neighbourhood Watch Groups spring up all over the Klang Valley. Security services are hired by households everywhere for fear of getting robbed. I must say that it is infuriating to hear billions of Ringgit wasted because of a shelved project or millions spent on a sports complex in another country when we are in dire need to give the police force better salaries, better equipment and facilities to protect its citizenry.
Keep safe everybody!!!
Thursday, August 03, 2006
Israel's justification is that it is a necessary evil. Its seige on Lebanon is to free itself and Lebanon and the middleeast at large from the influence of Hezbollah. I strongly disagree and tend to believe that Israel has accomplished the exact opposite. Whereas before there were a 100 Hezbollah sympathizers, today you have 1000. Israel's action has succesfully spawned more Hezbollah sympathizers and you will see them regrouping when the fire dies down. Where do you think the men and children who have lost their mothers and fathers and entire families turn to? Where will they channel all that anger and hatred? Who will provide them the platform? If not Hezbollah, it will be another terrorist group. Essentially, Israel is now running a recruitment campaign for the Hezbollah movement.
How do you then fight these terror groups? Many world leaders agree this is not a traditional enemy who has borders and government. Terrorism is an idealogy based on a religious convictions and they (believers) could be anywhere within a nation. The way is for nations to seek them out and to engage with them in dialogue and discussion. This is how I have always seen it on Television. When a group of bad guys hold up in a building with hostages, the SWAT team doesn't go in with guns blazing killing hostages and bad guys together. They don't do that claiming to free the world of bad guys, instead they try to engage the bad guys in a conversation learning as much of him/them as possible and trying to understand his psychi. They pull people who are close to them to try to talk them out of their mission. Usually, the bad guys do this because they have their backs against the wall and getting them to disarm means understanding where they are coming from.
I only pray that the violence will stop and that innocent men, women and children will be spared. I pray for an end to the cycle of hatred in that region.