Malaysia, pen drives and brain drain

In the fifties when I was born and in the sixties when i was a teenager studying in high school, Taiwan was a poor, underdeveloped country ruled by generals who lost the war in Mainland China and fled to this island in the late 40s.

In 1980, as a youn man, I went to Taiwan for a tour with my wife. It was then considered a developing country, with not much of industry and natural resources, but with many universities that churned out world class students.

Because it has very little natural resources, and much of its money were tied down in maintaining a huge army (relative to its size and population), the people were still very poor. An average Taiwanese family was poorer than their counterparts in Malaysia and percapita income was way behind Malaysia despite the fact that it had almost the same population in a country much smaller than us.

Many Malaysians, especially those educated in the CHinese Medium , went to Taiwan to study even in those days. I was impressed by the highly educated work force, and the worldly knowledge of the people. I mentioned to my wife then that it would be a matter of time they would overtake us, since they had very good universities and a very hardworking work force. Everyone there seemed to study so hard in order to be able to get scholarships to go over to the States.

Yesterday, I read an article that Acer is set to overtake Dell to be the second biggest producers of personal computers. For those who have not heard of Acer ( not many I suspect),  Acer is a Taiwanese company which has grown to be a big  multinationals.

Taiwan is also listed to be one of the richest countries now, while we are ranked around 60.

I can’t help but ponder ” what went wrong”?

While Taiwan has overtaken us and is now so far ahead, we are still at the stage of trying to lure investments from the likes of Acers from all over the world, including Taiwan.

Do you know who is the inventer of thumb pendrive? His name is Pua Kien Seng, and he is a Malaysian.

Wow! Malaysian, you will feel proud as a fellow Malaysian , just like me!

Pendrive is a small device which has become so big in usage. It is now an indispensable part of those who use computers. And it is invented by a Malaysian. Wow, we should be making tons and tons of money from this one invention from one of our own.

But wait a minute! Before you go out and celebrate this piece of news, which I read in my fellow blogger Justin’s blog, let me shock you with the following facts.

He is a Malaysian, but he invented the device in Taiwan and he is now based in Taiwan. So thumb pendrive is considered to be a Taiwanese invention. Or more correctly, it is an invention by the Republic of China, not Malaysia, even though the inventor is a Malaysian.

Another case of brain drain. You may want to read one of my top posts on this topic here (racial politics and Brain Drain).

JUst imagine how much our country could have earned if thumb pendrive is invented in Malaysia ? We could have sold millions of it and earns billions. NOt to mention the up and downstream industries that could have been spurned from this one invention.

This is just tip of the iceburgs. There are many other talented inventions by Malaysians in other countries, I am very sure. .

As usual , we miss the chance . Why are talented Malaysians not coming back?

I have written so many times on this , I am now feeling very tired to talk about the same thing. Tired yes, Sad yes, sick yes. Sick to the core. So sick that I would not want to go into the reasons of brain drain anymore.

Maybe you just go and read the article mentioned above and the 100 over comments in that post, some made by exMalaysians overseas, who are now professors, professionals , successful businessmen, etc etc..



Why are they so out of touch and arrogant?

 The post which I wrote 2 days ago, ‘one million gets you nothing nowadays’, attracted a lot of hits. The post is not about the one million, but rather about the arrogance and the out-of-touch-ness of some of the powerful people, especially those classified as VVIPs.

Why these people become so out of touch and arrogant? I will endeveour to tell you here.

Before I go further , I wish to say that most of us– honest people who take our jobs seriously and do it to the best of our ability– would not be able to save a million in our life time.

A family of 4  in Kuala Lumpur needs at least 2000+ for shelter , food, clothing and transport. These are the  so-called basic needs.

If the family income is 4000, and they save about a thousand plus, they can never hope to save the million in  their life time. This is because they need to use the savings for education, for emergency health expenses. Even if they have absolutely no entertainment and live a very frugal life, they can never expect to save a million.

In most cases, a middle class household may succeed in owning a house valued about 200,000 after a whole life time of work. And that is probably all they can leave to their children. Those earning below the status of middle class would be lucky to have a low cost house in thier name.

Contrast this with  those people whose money comes easily. A meal can often cost a few thousand dollars. A trip overseas can be as much as some people’s life time savings.

I think the some of the top powerful politicians  have been living  in a coccoon, and they are totally out of touch with reality.

 After dealing with huge sums amounting to 8 or 9 figures, it is difficult to imagine how they can understand the value of money in everyday life.  Money and power corrupt them , and it is easy to understand why these people think of themselves so highly and why they can become so arrogant.

I think some of the community leaders have to take certain blame too.

One of my friends , from a very well known family, and whom I was helping a few years ago and who rose to become MP and deputy Minister, used to have to attend at least 8 or more functions a days. So much so that he confided to me that he had hardly any time to sit down and think and plan.

When they are so short of time that they do not even have time to read papers or go to the market ( the news are all cut out and summarised by PAs), they  lose touch with the society. When true friends tell them the things that are true but not nice to listen too, they will slowly distance themselves from these true friends.  

At every function, ,  he was praised and ‘bodek’ by these so-called community leaders (I still get  goosebumps recalling  some of these praises, really) . Slowly and surely, all these praises  gave him a God-like feeling.

When these politicians  begin to  feel God-like, they will slowly reach a stage when they begin to think that nothing they do can be wrong.

So, breaking traffic rules , cutting corners, and using governemnt properties for private use is something that comes natural to them.

They think they deserve all these, since they are the  ‘goverment’, and they are the ones who ‘provide’ the rakyat with goodies . (They do not consider that this is the rakyat’s right).

Since they think they are the ‘providers’ for rakyat, it is natual that they become arrogant. They think that the laws apply only to the rakyat and not to them..

These human ‘God’s have no qualms running red lights, parking in no waiting zones, and if some policemen tried to stop them, they will immediately call the CPOs or even the IGP to report the poor policeman who is just trying to do a job.

 Slowly and surely, a culture forms, and the lower ranked police tend to just ignore these law infringements in order not to get into bad books of their own bosses.

And when these ‘God’s  lost the ministerial/DUN/MP position, they felt so lost, and  some of them ‘hopped’ to the other side, seeing that tables have been turned and that they have better chance to become MP again on the other side.  Few of them hopped because of ideology or the welfare of the rakyat. Most hopped because of self interest, and that is true!!

A legend passes away

                                                    michael jackson

One of the most talented singers and performers in the world, Michael Jackson , passed away this morning.

Crowned the “most successful entertainer of all times”, Michael Jackson was a legend. Who can forget  songs like ‘Ben’, ‘ Beat it’, ‘Black and white’, ‘BIlly Jean’, just to name a few, and of course the charity song that he co-wrote with Lionel Richie “We are the World”  which was released to aid the poor in Africa.

Whether you like him or not, there is no escape of the fact that he had a huge influence on music and culture not only in the States and also all over the world.  Millions grew up listening to his songs and watching his dances.

He had his shares of personal problems in life, but I suspect a lot of the eccentricities reported were due to childhood unhappiness ( some said he had no childhood since as a child, he had to perform), but those problems did not diminish his status as the “King of Pop”, and did not alter the fact that his songs and dances, the hallmark ‘moonwalk’, were unique and often trend setters. 

So it is real sad to hear that he had died of cardiac arrest. His spirits live on, and his songs and dances will be with us for generations to come.

Humanity has lost a great son! What more can I say except a silent wish:

‘May his soul rest in peace !’

“One million gets you nothing nowadays”

This is reported in the NST today:

She said since Todt, who was appointed last month, was serving and promoting the country on a voluntary basis, it was only fair that the government covered his expenses.

“Just because he is volunteering his services, you cannot expect him to pay out of his own pocket.

“This budget is not for his personal use, it is for the expenses incurred when he meets top people from television and the media.

“Besides, RM1 million in Europe gets you nothing nowadays,” she said at the Parliament lobby.

The ‘she’ refered to is a minister in charge of Tourism.

Before I go further, I would want to stress that Jean Todt, as a foreigner married who is a good freind of  a Malaysian Michelle Yeoh, must be commended for his good intention in volunteering his service to promote Malaysia, and I am sure being a super rich guy, he would never ask to be reimbursed for his expenses in promoting Malaysia.

It was also laudable for the Ministry to propose to reimburse him on his expenses, too.

What I cannot understand is the need to utter this phrase: “Rm 1 million in Europe gets you nothing nowadays”.

And because of that, and being the cynic I am, I wish to say that for most of us, 1 million is a big big sum, and certainly it can still buy a lot in Europe. Even in Europe, not many people earn a million RM a year (more than 200,000 euros)

I cannot help but to think of the time of the French Revolution.

This is from one of my old writings in 2008:

In 1789, during the French Revolution, when the people of France were living in economic and political malaise and a mob of hungry people marched to the Palace of Versailles, the Queen of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, asked a courtier that if the mob had no bread to eat, why didn’t they ‘eat cake’? So much out of touch was she as she had lived a lifestyle of excesses while the people were dying of hunger.


One million is by any count  not a small sum. Of course if you have been dealing with millions and millions  of govenrment budget ( which is funded with people’s money – in case she forgets), one million may seem small.

This is the common problem with many of the people holding high position. It is precisely because of this attidude that a lot of wastages occurred , since to them all these wastages may seem small and ‘kacang putih’ stuff.

Having said all these, if Jean and Michelle can do well to promote the country and bring lot of tourists to Malaysia, we should certainly reimburse all their expenses.

I would stress again that this article is not about Jean and Michelle , but about the mentality of the power-that-be that decides public funds.

You don’t put a rat in the rice container

One of the little things that my late father taught me is to honour obligations. In Confucian pratices, it is called “Xin 信”. It is difficult to translate to English, but the best term may be ” Trust”.

Under this concept, a person must honour his obligations, whether financial , social, family. For example, if you are married, you have to be trustworthy and faithful to your spouce.

If you borrow money, you must make sure to return it on or before the due date.

In the era of Spring and Autumn in Ancient China,  about 2000 over years ago, a nobleman Xu visited the king of a small kingdom. He brought along a very famous sword, and the king of the kingdom fell in love with the sword. XU, however, could not give the sword to this king since he had to  honour his earlier promise to bring the sword to another place to exhibit it to some of his friends. But secretly in his heart, he made a promise that he would give the king of this small kingdom this sword once he honoured his other obligations.

Some time passed, and Xu had honoured all his other obligations. He now wanted to honour his secret vow to give this sword to the king. However, he learned that the king of that small kingdom had passed away.

Not deterred, Xu made his way across CHina to the small kingdom. In ancient times, there was no jet plane nor cars, and the journey was mainly by horse drawn carriage and was very tough and took many months.

 He finally reached the small kingdom and went to the grave to pay his respect to the late king. He also hung the sword over the gravestone of the late king, and offered the sword to the late king , even though it was just a vow inside his heart.

This story illustrates the Confucian value of “xin” or trust.

I told this story because it was reported that our top leader  wanted to appoint one of his close aides to sit on the board of our National Oil company. This aide was a graduate from the top university  Oxford. You can read the news here. 

There is nothing wrong of course to appoint a brilliant young man, except for one point.

This aide may have graduated from Oxford, and may have the best brain of the country, but he had reportedly defaulted on his scholarship obligations some time back , and the scholarship was from none other than this Oil company.

I consider this default a flaw against the universal and confucian value of “xin” or “trust”. When someone has this basic flaw, it will not be advisable to appoint this someone to a position that influences decisions affecting millions of dollars.

You do not want to put a rat in the rice container, so to speak.

Even  TDM has written that while

“it was PM’s prerogative as Premier to appoint a man who failed to honour his obligation to Petronas when he was given a scholarship by it”.  He went to to say that : “Generally, I would say that it is not a good thing to appoint such a person,”

“A politician in Petronas may have other agenda which may or may not be in keeping with the national interest,” Dr Mahathir said in his comments to The Straits Times.

He added: “I think it is far better if no politician is allowed to interfere with commercial decisions which may not be good for the corporation.” (to quote malaysian insider).

On this count, I think  TDM is right. Casting aside his motives of saying these, I must say that he is very correct  and I for once agree with him that ‘it is not a good thing to appoint such a person”, bearing in mind that this Oil company belongs to all Malaysians.



A Bridge Too Far

Why a third bridge so far away?

third bridge

When second link is so under-utilised?

second link

This is where a bridge is urgently needed !

penang map

You cannot win a war with empty shells

In 2006, in a political meeting, I mentioned the importance of blogs and internet. The person in charge smiled and said that nobody read blogs but bloggers themselves. When I mentioned facebook, he looked at me like I was from Mars…( At that time, facebook had just been started — I was one of the earliest into facebook in 2006, when most people then were using friendster).

308 of course showed that the power of the net cannot be underestimated.

After 308, one of the reforms that most component parties adopted is to concentrate on internet. Most of these political parties have fortified their cyber departments, and invested money and personnel into these departments. As an example, in the component party Gerakan, the think tank Sedar is now fortified with many staff, many of them are ex-journalists, ready to fight the cyber war.

Is this what reform is about?

 To fight cyber wars and win opinions, you need soldiers but you also need to have real bullets. You cannot have empty shells (so called blank bullets), the inside of which contain no gun powder. You need real bullets with gun powder inside the bullets.

That is to say, to fight the internet war, you need to have ethics, moral , fairness, justice and good governance on your side.

Without that, you can have thousands of soldiers and still cannot win the cyber war. Without righteousness on your side, any attempt at fighting cyber war will be like fighting war without real bullets– only empty bullet shells.

If you are a crook and you are corrupted, no matter how much you mention in you website that your are clean and respectable, people will simply not buy your statement and people will simply not believe you.

Even if all the cyber troopers belonging to a party say that the  party  advocates  multiracialism and a fair and just society,  but the party itself is  supporting a bigger  party which is advocating race based discrimination and policy, no matter how colourful and beautiful is your website, nobody would believe and trust you.

You must walk the talk to be credible, and internet world is no different: you must walk the talk!

You can have the best tank in the world but without real bullets and shells, your tank will be a toothless tiger.

If you are advocating raced based policy, no matter how you pretend in the net that you are for all races, you are for ‘one this’ and ‘one that” you will not win the war.

The internet people are smart and they will not believe you.

That is the essence of fighting any war. If your cause is righteous, half the war is already won, since most people will fight the war for you, even those who do not know you personally. If your cause is unjust and corrupt, most people , even your own friends, will abandon you and will be reluctant to help you.

Recently in CHina, , a  waitress killed an important government official when the official tried to rape her. The whole internet community is up to support  her, as she is seen to be a heroine and because of that and public pressure, , she was acquitted.  Certain media attribute her release to the internet community’s support of her.( read the story here)

But the fact is that if she  is not the righteous one, she would not get the support of the internet community and she probably would have to be sentenced to death.

The internet community is supportive of her because she is in the right.

That is precisely what fighting an internet war is about. You need to be right to win public support , and no amount of rhetoric is going to help win the heart of the people.

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