“Man does not live by bread alone”

I would like to post excerpts from an  article by Tunku Abdul Aziz on his maiden article for my sinchew published on 22-2-2208. Tunku Abdul Aziz used to write for NST and was formerly the president of Transparency International Malaysia.

For the full article , please go to mysinchew.

He wrote:

Two days ago, I had lunch with a parliamentarian and two senior bureaucrats from Germany on their first official visit to Kuala Lumpur. They came, they saw and were impressed with our capital city and the development they had seen so far as they travelled around KL and its environs

“Why is there all this flurry of activity to bring about a regime change when the government has brought so much prosperity to the country?” I must admit that for a while I was stumped for words. Why indeed!

Underneath all the glint, gleam and glitter of aluminium, stainless steel and plate glass lies a sad tale of greed and corruption, involving the political and bureaucratic elites who govern and administer this land. There will be official denials galore. Some years ago, Transparency International estimated, somewhat conservatively many thought, that Malaysian public infrastructure projects cost 30% more than they should. As far as political corruption is concerned, a major component of the ruling coalition has admitted that problem exists among its membership and the party is wrestling with it as best it can.

The real issue here is not just how well we have done, but, more to the point, how much better we would have succeeded in all aspects of national development and social integration if we had adopted policies that were fair for all. For example, much of the sense of marginalisation felt by certain ethnic groups as well as the rural poor could have been avoided had more thought been given to the needs of our citizens irrespective of race or creed. Instead, for much post-Merdeka period, we spent our time and energy on implementing policies that have tended to divide rather than unite us.

As we sipped coffee towards the end of the meal, I made my final observation that material progress measured in economic terms alone was no substitute for an incorruptible regime that put great store by sound ethical governance principles and practices. My German friends left, I hope, with a better understanding why the well-fed people of this strange country wanted more than bread to sustain them in their relentless quest for a new Malaysia that is grounded on democratic principles, justice and equality for all. Therein lies the soul of a country.

The time is different now. People want more than just bread and food.

People want good governance, transparency, better usage of our resources; people aspire for better quality of life, a life that gives them more freedom and the rights to live this freedom; people want to feel safe , from thugs, from corrupt officials, from bullying little napoleon, and ironically from some of the enforcement people; people want their tax money to be used properly and not into the pockets of certain individuals; people want quality education for their children; people want the ability to seek justice and that justice dispensed by court is just and fair.

IT is true that the standard of living has gone up since the 50s… But what about South Korea, Taiwan,Singapore and Hong Kong, which were either same as us or behind us. These have gone much further ahead.

Most important of all, after 51 years, we have not been better united. If anything, we are more divided and more polarised, along racial and  along religious lines.

I will end this article by quoting the title of Tunku Abdul Aziz’s article, “man does not live by bread alone”!!


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tonyboneka
    Feb 23, 2009 @ 17:43:41

    Bread matters. I think our standard of living is highest before Asia Financial Crisis. In recent year unemployment and crime rate are climbing. Reinventing is the only option.


  2. monsterball
    Feb 23, 2009 @ 18:12:06

    Foreigners see the beautiful modern Malaysia….and are bowled over by the ever friendly Malaysians.
    Tunku Abdul Aziz have said it all.
    To me…under Mahathir….big huge developments were see….killing two birds with one stone…..by this devil reincarnated man.
    Making Malaysians….happy and proud…..and make the biggest commission…from each project.
    Catch word is…”Do not feel small…inferior to others”…meant only for Malays. It worked!
    So cronies..party and most of all…his family get much richer…every UMNO minister learn the art…the style..how to cheat…..love it..kept him there for 22 years…..as not only he can cheat….con and rob….but got the art to get away with all crimes…..never been done by precious PM before.
    This is just part of the many more evil deeds UMNO is doing to us…that foreigners cannot see…and understand..


  3. nick
    Feb 23, 2009 @ 18:31:47

    This Sin Chew article by Tunku Abdul Aziz does strike a chord. I have seen the show “Valkyrie”, a true story about Hitler’s attempted assasination. There was a brave man named Colonel Stauffenberg who led an attempted coup believing that the bomb he had planted and detonated took the life of Hitler. Alas it was not to be and the coup was put down. The coup leaders nearly pulled it off but there was small mistakes here and there. But the point is there was a large group of people who believed that Hitler was taking Europe down the wrong path. After GE 12, it is the same here. Large groups of people in the country are beginning to open their eyes to the blatant and corrupt ways of the present UMNO government and the latest fiasco by MACC is enough to make anyone flinch at how deep seated the corruption has become. Indeed, I too wholeheartedly agree with the article: “Man does not live on bread alone”. We need freedom from opression, we need to get rid of the evil ISA, we need to dispense Justice with a capital “J” to everyone, we want to see an independent Judiciary, we want equal opportunities for everyone in society, we want to be Malaysians first!


  4. klm
    Feb 23, 2009 @ 19:09:58

    Tunku Aziz forgot to mention the business elites in the corrupt corp of politicians and bureaucrats. Corruption is more much wide spread than described.

    Otherwise, the article describe my feeling precisely.


  5. romerz
    Feb 23, 2009 @ 19:56:13

    Reminds me of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

    In July of 2008, had written something along the lines of ‘needing more than physiological needs’ but wrote it along a migration context.

    Tunku Abdul Aziz’s and Dr Hsu’s observations are very true. It is called evolution.



  6. Disgusted
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 01:13:34

    Dr Hsu,

    Sorry for the diversion.

    I’ve been asked to inform you that your interview will be posted to coincide with the changing of the UMNO guards sometime in March.

    They have not forgotten your interview piece. Just in case you’re wondering what happened.

    cheers monk


  7. Disgusted
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 10:12:33

    Dr Hsu,

    Another state by election to be held in Sarawak, its state minister Dublin Unting Ingkot, 53 for state constituency Batang Ai died since May after brain surgery (stroke).

    Bukit Lancang (Sgor): by election will happen after Eli comes back.

    Yes, when all these happens, there will be 5 by-elections, and more……

    And the recession impact will increasingly be felt…..as far as bread is concerned.



  8. klm
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 11:14:06

    All these by- election would cost maybe a total of
    RM 100 million (cost of holding election + security cost). Not included will be money to buy votes.

    I wonder how long can Malaysia afford this monkey show?

    Meanwhile the economic fire is at the gate.

    I think i want to be a hermit in a cave in the desert.


  9. cilipadi
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 12:10:55

    “IT is true that the standard of living has gone up since the 50s… But what about South Korea, Taiwan,Singapore and Hong Kong, which were either same as us or behind us. These have gone much further ahead.

    Most important of all, after 51 years, we have not been better united. If anything, we are more divided and more polarised, along racial and along religious lines.”

    Well, I wish to add in some points on the statement above. These four countries have similarities. Their people are more or less culturally similar, that is based on ‘”Confusionism” and have common language. So, unity is not a problem in these countries. Of the four, Singapore is the similar to Malaysia but Lee Kuan Yew was clever to use English Language to unite its people.

    Fair enough, Malaysia is using the Malay Language to unite its people, but apparently, it has failed as many non-Malays are still not proficient in Malay Language. This is further aggravated by unfair and bias policies.

    This is why I said Lee Kuan Yew is clever in using English Language to unite its people of diverse culture like Malaysia instead of Malay Language. Using English as the common language will eliminate the argument amongst its people whose language is more superior than the other. Apart from that, English is an international accepted language and has advantage in business, science and technology.

    As an outsider, I feel that Malaysia made a grave mistake by switching English to Malay in its education system many years back. It should have stick to English Language then. You can look back, Malaysian people of all races and religions were more united than now, and Malaysia was on par or even better than the four countries then.

    Mind you, Malaysia has natural resources that the four countries don’t, and I don’t think Malaysians are less inferior than people of those countries.

    If Malaysia really want to create a race called “Bangsa Malaysia” who only talk Malay and adopt Malay custom or lifestyle, then I should say it is impossible simply because the history of each culture differ by so much. Chinese and Indian history are much richer and longer than the Malay.

    Meanwhile, the best that Malaysia can do is to create “Bangsa Malaysia” that is rich in diversity and see it as a ‘strength’ rather than ‘weakness’. Assimilation of all races into one must be through practices and policies that are not bias, fair, meritocracy and not by force. We can witness this successful assimilation in Thailand.

    If Thailand can do that, why not you, Malaysia?


  10. klm
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 12:19:25

    hey cilipadi. Malaysia truly Asia!


  11. klm
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 14:00:27

    Factors of modern economics

    Long ago in high school economics we were taught the factors of production;

    – Capital
    – Land
    – Labour

    These were the key things that make a nation economy work till the sixties and seventies.

    In the last decade, the factors of production has changed and became more complex. In the 21st century, we need beside – Capital (money), land and labour, many other important factors.
    – human capital
    – intellectual capital
    – technology
    – entrepreneurship
    – freedom of movement (of people, goods and funds)
    – freedom of ownership

    So the saying man do not live by bread alone is true even in the economics sense.

    The NEP (or whatever we call it) essentially distorts all these factors. The biggest impact is in the human and intellectual capital. The economy cannot function efficiently and the nation cannot develop and progress quickly enough to prevent the lesser developed countries from catching up with Malaysia. And of course, Malaysia cannot move fast enough to keep pack with Singapore and Taiwan, for example.

    As had been discussed time and time again, the proper management of these factors is key to the progress of Malaysia.


  12. cilipadi
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 14:06:54

    Another point I wish to add to my last comment is that, in these four countries, ‘Confusionism’ background plays a significant part in the people’s thinking, mentality and attitude which make them very resourceful people. They are basically Han & Tang origin from ancient China where Han & Tang Dynasties were one of the most illustrious dynasties in the history of China.

    When the Mongolian and Manchurian ruled China, they were influenced by Confusionism and adopt them as well instead of the other way round. That speaks volume how rich is the culture of Han & Tang. This culture become even richer when Buddhism were brought in, and the rest is history until today.

    To me, Buddhism, being a modest religion, was able to refine the Han & Tang culture into a finer one where they are able to adapt and tolerate other cultures and religions of the world, as what you can see in Chinese of Malaysia, “Truly Asia” as claimed by klm.

    Important thing is, let all cultures and religions in Malaysia mix freely and fairly without suspicion on one another. In short, let assimilation happens naturally, not by force. If not, how to claim yourself as “Malaysia truly Asia”?


  13. Dr Hsu
    Feb 24, 2009 @ 19:20:24

    Thanks for informing about when Malaysiakini is going to post my interview with them.



  14. Yong
    Feb 25, 2009 @ 15:06:25

    Those idiots will argue that Malaysia is still strong as compare to Korea which is going bankrupt now, there is no Chen Shui Bien here, etc.
    By the way, do you know that certain flavour types of Gardiner’s bread are not sold here but S’pore only ?


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