Birds of a feather flock together

IN the eighties, there was a popular TV series named “Yes, Minister”. This was a British series, depicting the struggle of a politician (minister) and the ministry’s permanent secretary (like our Ketua Setia Usaha) . In the series , you can see how the civil servants manipulated their political master to achieve their aims. While the minister was more concerned about winning votes and being popular, the civil servant was more towards consolidating his own power and more concerned  about staff and budget.

This series was followed by another called Yes, Prime Minister, when the minister became the Prime Minster and the permanent secretary became the cabinet secretary (chief secretary).

This series shows that ultimately the political power rests with the civil service.

In the last post, many commentators mentioned about the perceived institutional bias. Individual bias exists everywhere, even among people of the same flock ( less likely than that of different flocks of course). This is because we are all different in our make up, upbringing , environmental influence as well as our thinking. So individual bias will occur no matter where we are. 

The bias will be more when it comes to people of different flocks. I use the word ‘flock’ and not colour, because even people of same colour may not be in the same flock, and people with different colours may be in the same flock. BUt by and large, colour is a very important consideration for flocking, because people of same colour tend to have same type of upbringing and hence same type of mindset.

The flock is the group that thinks alike. The police is a flock by itself. UMNO politicians are a flock by themselves. MCA people are a flock by themselves. Gerakan too, but in Gerakan there are still many who believe in the party ideology so within the party, there are many flocks. PAS is slowly but surely evolving into 2 seperate flocks, one of which may join UMNO to become a bigger flock.

Students from a certain institution , like Mara, would think alike and therefore constitute a flock.  Students from CHung Hwa, including those who are non-Chinese, would be a flock because they think alike.

Flocking can be good or bad. ICAC in Hong Kong is a flock by itself and has made a very good name for the whole flock. The whole Singapore is an giant flock of which they are many sub-flocks, and the giant flock has also made a name for itself. Triads are a flock by itself and they are of course bad..

Our civil service is a flock by itself. It is a very powerful flock. Sometimes more powerful than the political masters, like what was depicted in the British series. The flocking in civil service is made easier because almost all are from the same background and same colour. The flock forms a very strong culture. One of the most notable features of civil service is the presence of many ‘napoleons’ as mentioned by our former Prime Minister once.

The presence of these napoleons who tend to decide arbitrarily, not always following the guidelines, is one of the the reasons for the perceived institutional bias that many people talked about in my last post.

How to change this institutionalised flocking? Well there are a number of ways.

Firstly, open the civil service to more of different colours. As i have said, colour is not a necessity for flocking, unless the colour difference is very obvious. To add a drop of blue into a bucket of red would not make much different. You need to add at least 20% or more of volume of blue to the red to make a ‘significant’ difference.

So to make a change in the flock, you need to add at least 20% of different colour. That means opening up at least 20% or more for people of different colours to the same flock in order for the flock to experience some changes. But the problem is of course people of different colours do not want to join this civil service flock, so it is again a difficult process to persuade sufficient people of different colours to join. So we should set our KPI target of 20% colour difference in the flock, within a certain time span, and it is up to the KPI ministry to devise ways to attract this 20% to join.  .

Another way to change the flock is of course through long term education and reminder to the members of the same flock to change their mindsets … When sufficient number inside the same flock change their mindsets, the flock can then be changed. This is a slow and tedious process. 

A third way is to have an independent but powerful flock to supervise this present flock. Like the ICAC  and an independent judiciary of Hong Kong ( and like the IPCMC that was  advocated by our previous Royal Commission). This would put fear into the present flock, and slowly and surely, the habits of the flock will change. 

But how to have an truly independent flock to overlook into this present flock? The answer is to build up a new flock of people with integrity , maybe for a start, we need to borrow some from UK , USA etc to head this flock, and make this flock totally independent.

What  is needed to change the whole flock mentality is to implement all three together, and with that, we can slowly and surely see institutional bias be done away, and professionalism come back to the flock.

When the whole civil service changes to become an attractive flock, then more young people of ideals and passions may want to join and that would ensure that a good flock always stay being good.



35 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Richard Loh
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 12:47:48

    Very well said. Can I add that the present sets of old flocks need to be wiped out before we can really see a total new reliable and dependent kind of flocks emerging. Else we can just keep on writing, cursing, damning, dreaming and nothing will change.

    The old arrogant, corrupt and stubborn old flocks need to be exterminated before things will look good.


  2. clearwater
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 13:31:29

    The prerequisite to prevent unhealthy flocking in civil service institutions is to change the present BN-Umno government. The civil service and ruling government are currently like hand and glove, they are complicit partners in deluding the public. Without political change, the civil service will continue to lord it over the public instead of being paid civil servants to serve us, the long suffering taxpayers. I see absolutely no move towards reform of a bloated civil service by the present government . Why should they – it’s a reliable vote bank for them.


  3. Meng
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 13:35:36

    Richard is right. The tree has rot..rotten and the only way is to burn it down.

    Grow a new tree and care it well..will be a huge and beautiful tree providing plenty of shade for ppl to take shelter in.


  4. ahoo
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 14:01:06

    Until and unless bn bad policies are uprooted in Malaysia, we will continue to see the same and read the old adage that they will do as they like.

    Change must comes from top down and the will to do it must be by clear and fine example. Not just another written policy with some committe and some meeting here and there. The implementation must be across the board and non implementors must face the music irrespective of rank and file. Otherwise, it will just be another policy and business as usual.


  5. chanjoe
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 14:22:03

    I laughed when you mentioned that in Gerakan, there are still a flock who believes in the original ideology but…..?????

    So what happens Dr? Fight or change from within? I remember when KTK first joined Gerakan, his slogan was to “go into BN to change BN”. Well many who joined together with him was successful and won high govt positions but look at what happened?

    KTK now has to go back on his pledge that he will not accept any senator post to be a minister but where is he now?

    They are all still the same flock and if Gerakan cannot change Bn then they fell in step with BN. Some saw the chance to go for the change and opted out of Gerakan and joined PR as thats really the change which the people of Penang wanted.

    Dr, you can try you way and wait for your time and you can wait till the cows come homw and Gerakan will still be the same flock with your leaders having such shameful desires for positions.

    POlease coem into this real world and be part of the flock that the people wanted and not with the rotting flock where its very clear there is no cure for it. The same is with BN, UMNO will never change and look at how they use Utusan to try provoking the Malays to flock to them? They just cannot accept that Malays today are not so easily influenced and they will only meet with failure come GE13.


  6. Meng
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 15:41:38

    “”You need to add at least 20% or more of volume of blue to the red to make a ’significant’ difference.””

    If you add 100% of Blue into 100% of Red you will get a mixture of Orange ,Yellow and Green.

    Orange, those colourful ones ready to go and hardworking..successful in job and tasks are their theme. Responsible ones

    Yellow, those silly idiots weak in mind and thoughts and unwilling to take challenges for fear of loosing their position. Given a task but would not be responsible in what they do, often deflecting their mistakes.

    Green, the jealous green eyed..envy those hardworking Orange and often poke fires and false reporting to exalt themselves. Fighting for promotion, claiming the successes of the orange as theirs.

    20% is the correct answer. QED


  7. Meng
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 16:01:47

    Red wah.. paint the town red, red with anger and hatred. Kill someone it is red you see. The flag of comminist ..also red..real fierce. So red is the correct colour to identify the umno government …communist.

    Stir the red you get ISA, MACC, Police and the bad judiciary..

    Want to get business done.. no, controlled by the red communist umno government…state controlled of contracts, allocation through NEP to selected ones…etc , similar to a communist regime… but cannot called them that. It is 1 malaysia they said..equality for all but selective arrest and punishment. Red flock must be dominant and selective


  8. cakap boleh
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 16:48:51

    Its unlikely to reverse the flocking within the civil service as long as the dominant colour is resistant to change no matter what percentage of new colour is introduced……mindset, habits and character takes generations to change…..


  9. disgusted
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 17:18:50

    When the restructuring of the economic sectors had reached the point whereby Bumi and UMNOputras had significant control or even dominate the banking sector, there was dead silence. The noise continues in areas like distributive trade which they also want a significant share. But in the civil service sector there is no noise complaining that it is lopsided.

    It has come to a point whereby non-Bumis are not interested in joining due to discriminative promotions and policies. The color game should be over with a change in government. There is no other way. And if the alternative government fails to rectify, the 2-party system can speed the corrective measures so that there is no flocking together. An idealism? have to start somewhere.


  10. disgusted
    Aug 07, 2009 @ 21:52:34


    Another possible by election (Gelas state) on the way even as preparations going on for Permatang Pasir.

    This is record year and sure, PAS is facing the collective karma. Don’t worry, UMNO will have a bigger BANG next.
    It will go down in style.


  11. Atila
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 01:09:35

    Flock….malaysia too many flock groups.


  12. Atila
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 02:16:28

    Dear Disgusted,

    I agree with you.

    Even amongst the Malays, the UMNO will sieve and “tapis” to know if you are an UMNO pro-WHO, otherwise you get out from the system.

    In Malaysia, we can often hear, “dia ni geng TunM”, ” dia ni geng PakLah” , “dia ni orang Najib”… is FLOCK!!


  13. Meng
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 09:35:04

    “”A third way is to have an independent but powerful flock to supervise this present flock.””

    Well said but who is to supervise this independent flock. Knowing malaysian culture the independent flock may align to where the sweetness is.??

    We may have to set up a secret flock to supervise the independent flock…If again the secret flock tilts, we need a super secret flock …..

    If the laws are not amended to allow for a truely independent flock reporting directly to parliament, it will not work.

    Take for example the selection of judges, though a panel have been set up , the PM has the final say. Isn’t this nonsense. Why can’t the parliament debate on the selected ones and decides who and who. Similarly the selection of AG, IGP, Director of MACC, Chief Judge must be through an independent body and the PM should not have any say at all. If the idiot PM finalise the list we will be back to square one with cronies being selected.


  14. cilipadi
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 09:59:23


    I told you all before the dirty tainted pack of cards. “Flock” of feathers same same story. There is no other way to rid of these tainted “cards” or “feathers” but to vote for PR next bye-bye or general elections.

    Of course, moles of these “cards” are all over in PR to create troubles here and there, the latest is that Selangor PAS. Haha, no beer? What a joke. Maybe he drinks behind closed door.

    Basic is still basic, no short-cut for that. Go back to morality. MORALITY IS VERY VERY IMPORTANT.

    Drink beer doesn’t mean immoral, not drink beer doesn’t mean moral. Who cares? Only people with pea size “akal” or brain cares.

    Hassan drinks beer, dia drunk….hahahahahaaha


  15. cilipadi
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 10:04:10


    Hassan makan cili, Hassan rasa pedas

    Hassan drinks beer, Hassan rasa dizzy


  16. cilipadi
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 10:27:07

    My Malay friend, Zaid told me. He cannot understand his own Malays.

    Zaid told me, why associate Malay with Islam and make Muslim look bad?

    Zaid told me, non-Malays sees Malays, they see not only Muslim but Malay as well.

    You see bad Malay, you see bad Muslim. He told me, where got fair like that. He said, BIG BIG mistake to ties Islam with Malay, not fair.

    I think, Zaid got the point, I agree. Hahahahassan

    Malay makan cili, Muslim rasa pedas.


  17. Meng
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 10:29:14

    What about that Hassan Ali the donkey, which flock is he in. He has got his brain in his arse, for goodness sake think think with your brain not with your arse.

    It is the individual spiritual strength that counts. . If one has none of that no matter how much control measures you put in they will still drink.

    Does it mean that muslim are low in spiritual strength and cannot see beer. ???

    If a young girl strip naked infront of you, do you have to rape her. Your spiritual strength again will determine.!!!

    You cannot stop anyone from drinking beer nor can you stop the girls covered up top to bottom from being raped.

    Hassan Ali is a please don’t vote for him in the next election.

    By the way another PAS Adun in china for treatment..looks like another byelection after P Pasir.

    Are we in the period of PAS Adun dying one after another. He will miss his beer on earth.


  18. cilipadi
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 12:01:56


    Spiritual strength….I agree fully.

    These bad guys like to blame others for their sins. They can’t resist temptations.

    Umno is so rich. Money is the temptations to tempt PR bad cards or flock with no spiritual strength, think through assholes.


    siapa makan cili, asshole rasa pedas


  19. cilipadi
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 12:39:37

    Another thing, a mother knows whose baby she is carrying.

    The Wanita MCA lady specialises in fried meehoon so busybody….. until the whole flock of kitchen cabinet got involved.

    Another example of ‘flock’, bad stinking dirty card.

    Mee hoon lady makan cili, Wanita MCA rasa pedas


  20. Meng
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 14:07:19

    With the rubbish in PAS, sometimes I wonder if it is worth voting for them or not. They are picking up minor issues which can be sorted out.
    A fair minded ones would call up and visit Ronnie have a face to face discussion.

    Ronnie is right in saying that MSBA has no rights to seize those beers. MBSA and the Mayor also admitted it is not within their laws to do so.

    Ronnie Liu instructed MBSA to return the beer, which is a good move by a real solid politician.

    A precedence cannot be set where institution which are not empowered within the law to act but acted as if they are the law.

    Don’t you think Ronnie Liu has done a good job on check and balance. If he has kept quiet what would be the reprecussion…many more seizure..the ways of umno. The non malays also have their right.

    Sheeesh, now I am calling names.. you PAS are a flock donkeys or donkies. The chinese should give more thoughts seriously whether it is worth or not to vote for PAS.

    DAPs poliitician have time and again fought for the rights of all. One even went to jail fighting the case of a malay girl being raped. Tell me which politician in this country would do this.

    When petronas took the kampong land for their refinery who fought for them and in return were offered land and houses.

    Don’t underestimate the high caliber and competency of the DAPs politician. They will walk the talk… There is the fear in umno and as such has to make use of PAS to undermine DAPs politician.

    PAS are a bunch of idiotic flock who cannot see the workings of the umno cows.

    Perhaps it is much better for the chinese, in the coming byelection, to vote for the umno’s cow to teach the donkey PAS a lesson.


  21. Meng
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 14:30:13

    “””PAS is slowly but surely evolving into 2 seperate flocks, one of which may join UMNO to become a bigger flock.””

    I hope it does turn out this way causing a split and maybe a breakaway with the ulamas to unmo and the intellectual to Pakatan. The ulamas are a greedy lot willing to sell their soul to umno for ministers post..


  22. A true Malaysian
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 14:51:32

    I sokong penuh sama you olang, Meng.

    I said before, DAP is a true blue multiracial party, not Gerakan. All Malaysians with right frame of mind should give full supports to DAP first, PR second.

    Since PAS also in PR, we need to support it by virtue of that, as majority (I hope) of PAS members are like Nizar, Khalid Samad, that Cina Islam, Husam, Dr. Lo’ Lo’ and of course Nik Aziz. Certain people have strong characters that can resist temptations, and the persons that I quoted are such individual.

    It is best that people like Hassan join Umno, the sooner the better. They are just flock that irritates voters. Kick them out if PAS can.


  23. A true Malaysian
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 16:03:58

    This comment by Antares in Malaysiakini to an article by William Leong about this beer banning in Selangor is a must read one,

    by Antares – 4 hours ago

    “Bravo, William. Well articulated indeed. Sad to say, your level of reasoning and thinking is approximately 2 billion light years ahead of Hardcore Tempurungists like Hassan Ali whom RPK has named as an Umno mole and whose every action and hysterical utterance reveals him to be essentially an Umno instrument of divisiveness within Pakatan Rakyat. Sorry, I see little possibility of Hassan Ali’s redemption. Like his mentor Muhammad Muhammad Taib and his beloved ideological bedmate Khir Toyol, Hassan will ever only see reality through the Ketuanan Melayu filter. Don’t forget, Mahathir appointed Hassan Ali head of the Biro Tata Negara back in the 1980s. That’s as close as you can get to being a Nazi.”

    Atila, Muslim should practise what they individually believe, and should not impose on what they believe onto fellow Muslims or non-Muslim. Antares and the lady Dr. that I mentioned yesterday should be the role model for other Muslims, and to us, non-Muslims.


  24. A true Malaysian
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 18:26:42

    RPK has my utmost respect for saying,

    “I am opposed to the NEP in its present form — that is no secret. However, I do feel that a special poverty alleviation programme must replace it so that the have-nots and less fortunate can be assisted. But I don’t believe the Malays need special protection and handicaps to win the game. I, for one, resent it if someone says my success is attributed to the fact I happen to be born Malay. This is the same as saying if I was not born Malay I would be a failure.”

    RPK is in fact, a role model for all Malaysian. He is a true Malaysian.


  25. disgusted
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 20:16:37


    Everything done in moderation. Drinking beer but dont get drunk. It helps cool body and blood circulation.


  26. robertchai
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 21:07:05

    It happened in almost all the political or non political
    organization as long as they share the same aspirations and hopes. What happened in Malaysia is we badly need a balance of multi racial in the civil service. It is indeed sad to look at the education system in Malaysia where non Malays teachers are rare and scare especially in the national type school. What 1 Malaysia need is a multi racial, tolerance and not mere window dressing?


  27. anoynamous
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 22:02:26

    RPK the Great


  28. Meng
    Aug 08, 2009 @ 23:42:24

    A true Malaysian

    This donkey Hassan Ali is slowing showing his true self brought over from BTN. I was told he was one of the main idiot whose speeches hurt the non malays and even the fair minded malays do not like it.

    This donkey will never change and the chinese voters must ensure he will not get the support.


  29. anoynamous
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 01:05:44

    RPK the Great


  30. A true Malaysian
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 09:09:25


    I don’t know how BTN is functioning. What is their roles and so on. But, what I can gathered from reading through the blogs is that, if one is not of strong mind and character, he or she will be coming out from BTN as someone very different from he or her original self. Some sort like “indoctrinated” where certain values are embedded in one’s mind. Such values will cause he or she to resist whatever truth or reasoning that is logical or reasonable to us.

    These “indoctrinated” minds make them very rigid in their judgment on what is right and wrong, and this is very common amongst religions and beliefs. Sort of “brain washed”, and you are right, this donkey will never change. I will say many had been “indoctrinated” by this donkey, and there are many donkeys around …..dangerous.

    Wisdom is much needed to bring them back to the middle ground.


  31. BabaNyonya
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 09:25:41

    Dr Hsu,

    You’re talking about a well known psychological problem known as Groupthink which is defined as:

    “A mode of thinking that people engage in when they are part of a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action”

    Highly cohesive groups are much more likely to engage in groupthink, because their cohesiveness often correlates with unspoken understanding.

    A key feature that can lead to Groupthink is lack of diversity in worldview leading to a “monoculture of the mind”
    – loss of the “cognitive diversity” that comes from having team members whose educational and occupational backgrounds differ. The closer group members are in outlook, the less likely they are to raise questions that might break their cohesion.

    You can find many articles about this phenomenon on the internet.

    Groups afflicted by Groupthink can make disastrous decisions. America’s escalation of the Vietnam war and invasion of Iraq are examples.


  32. Meng
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 10:22:09

    True malaysian

    It is actually a disunity programme where all sort of racial stinking remarks are passed on the minorities and they have to endure it.

    BTN officers bring up question provoking racial sentiments of all races, for examples asking the malays are you happy if the special rights are removed. This same question is the posed to the minority…finally the minority is make to look small.
    .. and more more.

    But it is good for it is telling the minority the true picture of umno and these will be translated into votes.


  33. DG
    Aug 09, 2009 @ 21:50:58

    Dr Hsu, do you agree that this applies to the school system too ?


  34. Atila
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 01:54:28


    That Hassan made speech in my kampung years ago, in the mosque and he hurt many
    kampung people too. So, its not surprising
    what he is now…”tocang lagi naik”?

    He is a disgrace to Islam in Malaysia, hes seen
    now preaching Islam-Melayu.

    Do you know that UMNO at one time banned
    him from TV and public? Thats when he
    frogged to PAS.


  35. disgusted
    Aug 10, 2009 @ 17:29:48

    BTN is good for psychological terrorism and responsible for the racial polarisation and racism.

    I pray karma will wipe them out for good of humanity.


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