2 days ago, I attended to an injury case, a foreign worker from Myanmar. On unwinding and lifting the piece of cloth wrapped around his arm, blood spurted out and sprayed my shirt. I have to immediately cover the wound again , put a tourniquet and stitched up the wound.
After that, I have to drive home to change my shirt. Luckily, that was the day when it rained the whole morning, and I was relatively free but even so, I have to inconvenience a few patients who had to wait for my return.
Why I brought up this point is that I used to keep a few shirts in a cupboard in my restroom just for this purpose. But because over the years, I have never encountered this thing happening, I have taken the shirts home for washing and never brought them back again. This is the first time in over 20 years that I got sprayed by blood again; normally I would be very careful and would not get my shirt dirty.
The moral of the story is that we must always be prepared for things like this to happen. During sunny days, we cannot afford to just throw away the umbrella. We must keep the umbrella even if if there is no rain for a long time.
Similarly with our finances. We must always try to spend less than we earn ad keep certain amount in the bank for the ‘rainy’ days.
The same thing goes for the government. Government must be prudent in its spending, even when revenues are high, even when commodities’ prices are good, even when petroleum is fetching good income for the nation. It is important to build up the country’s coffer, so that this money can be used during a downturn like the present one.
It is now said that Norwegian Krone is the safest currency in the world. (click Time Magazine article here). I quote from Time:
Currently at its strongest against the dollar and euro since last fall, the krone is set for a “sustained appreciation” over the next year and a half, according to HSBC. The main reason: Norway’s budget and current-account surpluses are the biggest among nations with the 10 most traded currencies. Factor in the country’s $350 billion sovereign wealth fund pumped full of the country’s oil revenues, and the cost of insuring against government default in Norway — a key measure of a currency’s safety — is the lowest of those countries. With Norway’s output expected to shrink by a modest 1.2% this year, far less than in most of the world’s leading economies, the krone, HSBC said, represents “the ultimate safe haven.”
Krone, the safest ?
However, please do not rush to change RM into Krone. My purpose of pointing this out is not to ask all of you to rush to money changers to change Krone. My purpose is to remind those minding our finances to be prudent , especially during the good time. If we have built up our surpluses during the good time, we would have no problem now facing this recession. But if our coffer is empty during good time, we would be in big trouble during the bad.
We can afford to take some risk with our own money in investment, always leaving some in the bank for the rainy days. But for those manning the public finances, they could not afford to and should not take risk with other people’s money. The key word perhaps is prudence. Ask ourselves, over the past few decades, did we practise financial prudence?
As for the political scene, there is just a phrase to describe it , and that is ” Mou Gan tai”, Cantonese phrase literally meaning ” no eye see”.