Radio talk on a fair and equal society

Two weeks ago, I was  the guest for a internet radio interview. The radio station is none other than durian fm, started by Jamal, the Chinese speaking DJ who was asked to quit last year from a political-party-owned radio station.

The interview was in English, and the moderator was my friend Khoo Kay Peng. The session lasted 2 hours, over which many topics were discussed.

I said that there is a universal value accepted by all and which is enshrined in Article 1 of the Human Rights Declaration:  that all men are born equal.

I said that it is also a universal value for people to help the poor, and not the rich. You donate to charity, not to millionaires.

I also said that within every ethnic group, there is the clever and mighty and there is the poor and downtrodden. the clever and mighty will do well without any help, but the poor and downtrodden will need cructches for them to stand up.

Take  a nation which has 3 races, let’s name them A, B, and C.  Let’s  say that in A, 50% are poor and needs help. In B, 20 % are poor and needs help, in C 30%.

All these people need what we call affirmative action to stand up and get out of poverty.

I am all for affirmative action, but i feel that this should be given according to social strata and not to be identified with race.

If we have a policy favouring A more than B or C, it is human nature that B and C would not feel happy. If we have a policy favouring B , A and C would not be happy. If we have a policy favouring C, then again A and B would not be happy. This is because if affirmative action is race-based,  even the rich within the preferred group would get help, whereas the poor in the non-preferred group would not get any help, and this perceived biase would lead to discontent.

There will be non-stop squabblings and all the energy will be wasted on this, instead of concentrating on nation building and economic development. There are many examples of these in the world, the worse would be the Rwanda case where actual genocide was carried out.

If affirmative action is carried out according to social strata , like in some of the Socialist democratic nations of Europe, the 50% of poor A, the 20% of poor B and the 30% of poor C will all get help. All the poor will be given help to enable them to compete on a more level fields against the better endowed and richer counterparts. The races would not have any more squabblings because help is now given not according to colour but instead it is given based on needs.

That is what the ideology of a fair and equal society is about.

There is no such case of  ” better be ruled over than walked over”, as alleged by a racist group, since this form of socially based action is only to help the poor, which is a universally accepted value.

…………………………………………

In the radio talk, I also mentioned about the printing of the holy books by various religions.

The logic is actually very simple. In Japan, holy scriptures of various religions are printed in Japanese, in Korea Korean.   Buddhist scripts in China are printed in Chinese, even though it was originally in Sanskrit.Bibles in China is also printed in CHinese.

The reason is simple. The medium of instruction in Japan is Japanese, in China Chinese, in Korea Korean.  In Indonesia, all holy books are printed in Indonesian, because it is the medium of instruction there.

So if the medium of instruction in Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia, then there is really nothing wrong for any holy books to be printed in Bahasa, since in the spirits of Article 11 of the Constitution, people have a right to practice their own religions and that means their holy books need to be in a language that they understand.

 

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Beijing-Shanghai bullet train and our MRT

China is building a bullet train connection between 2 of its most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, a distance of 1318 km (with 24 stations as shown).

Station on track
0.000 Beijing South
Stop on track
59.500 Langfang
Junction from left Station on transverse track
Tianjin West
Stop on track
131.400 Tianjin South
Stop on track
219.270 Cangzhou West
Stop on track
327.980 Dezhou East
Bridge over water
Jinan Yellow River Bridge
Station on track
419.445 Jinan West
Stop on track
462.730 Taishan West
Stop on track
533.165 Qufu East
Stop on track
589.175 Tengzhou East
Stop on track
625.280 Zaozhuang West
Station on track
688.700 Xuzhou East
Stop on track
756.220 Suzhou East
Stop on track
844.380 Bengbu South
Small non-passenger station on track
Dingyuan
Stop on track
959.390 Chuzhou South
Bridge over water
Dashengguan Yangtze River Bridge
Station on track
1018.600 Nanjing South
Stop on track
1083.713 Zhenjiang West
Stop on track
1111.850 Danyang North
Stop on track
1144.760 Changzhou North
Stop on track
1201.160 Wuxi East
Stop on track
1227.970 Suzhou North
Stop on track
1259.320 Kunshan South
Station on track
1302.890 Shanghai Hongqiao

 

 

The construction started in April 2008. According to Wikipedia (click here), “there are 244 bridges along the line. The 164-km long Danyang–Kunshan Grand Bridge is the longest bridge in the world.,[8] the 114-km long viaduct bridge between Langfang and Qingxian is the second longest in the world, and the viaduct between Beijing’s Fourth Ring Road and Langfang is the fifth longest. The line also includes 22 tunnels, totaling 16.1 km. 1,268 km of the length is ballastless.”

The first test run was held in February this year, and full test run March..The speed during test runs was above 350km/hour, and the highest recorded was 486.1 kph.

Total cost , according to http://www.china.org.com (click here) is US$33.6 Billion, equivalent to RM103 Billion, or RM78 million per kilometer, inclusive of land, tunnels, longest bridges, and tracks that can withstand BULLET TRAINS! , not to mention the technology and electronic behind such system. (Ballastless track is supposedly the most advanced system and most costly, meant for very high speed train)

According to the Star (click here), our planned MRTof 150km is going to cost RM50 billion or roughly RM333 million per kilometer. Mind you, this is just for a MRT, and not a bullet train which requires highest form of technology.

I met a Singaporean friend in government service, and he too told me that the cost is way too high even by Singapore standard, and he suggested that perhaps for that cost, the whole track could have been underground.

I am all for a MRT to improve the traffic, but not at an exorbitant cost. Government needs to be more transparent to the Rakyat how the cost is so high.

 

Ballastless track is the most advanced and costly rail system for very high speed train service



An important choice

Malaysians in Sarawak State will be making a very important choice in the coming month.

The fixed deposit is now up for grab. Whether Bn or the opposition will be allowed to manage the fixed deposit will depend on how the people cast their votes.

From all indications, BN is going to win the state again, but it will probably lose many seats and its 2/3 majority. The 33% of Chinese votes were as good as gone, given the prevailing Chinese sentiments. On top of that, the bible issue would probably cost BN many votes, but it can still depend on the more rural areas where most of the long house  and tribal chiefs will probably be supporting BN. Another reason was the past practice of gerrymandering which has given rural seats more weight-age than the urban ones.

Losing the 2/3 majority will have a significant impact as a GE  will probably be called later this year. It will probably help to revive the sagging fortunes of the opposition, for one thing.

In the unlikely event that BN loses the State, then a GE will probably be postponed and we can see more politicking in Malaysia– politicking that hits below the belt, politicking that hits at the front and back.. etc etc etc.

One of the main issues is  White Hair himself–Chinese Sarawakians call him “Bek Mou” . He has overstayed and there are so many stories even among BN people about him…

One of the things the Top leader is trying to do is to persuade him to retire before the Next Big One. He is perceived to be the problem, like Samy of MIC.

After Samy retired, there is a significant swing of Indian voters back to the fold of BN. So the logic for BN strategists is to persuade whoever seen to be the burden to retire…And of course there will be trade off– if you retire, i will not prosecute you , and maybe make you an ambassador with minister rank.

So whether Bek Mou gets to be booted out will depend on how his coalition does in this state election. If he wins big, which is a very unlikely event, he may get to stay for a few more years; but if he does not do well, he will probably be given a Samy treatment.. Either way, he would probably not be treated like how the former Selangor MB  was treated, even though that MB was like a dwarf when compared to Bek Mou in terms of you-know-what  ( the Chinese has a saying: when  drawing a figure, you don’t have to draw the intestines).

Sheer arrogance

There is a saying that “when the roof leaks, comes the horrendous rain the whole night”. I am sure all of you know what it means– when a situation is already bad enough, more bad things are happening.

This is indeed what has happened in Japan. First there is the big quake, then the tsunami, then the  nuclear crisis which the French (experts in nuclear facilities) classifies as level 6, just a level below Chernobyl, the worst nuclear disaster the world has seen. We have now the threat of certain coastal areas in Japan which may be flooded during the high tides expected tomorrow with the super-Moon at its nearest distance from Earth since 1993. then there is the extreme cold climate and blizzards. How how unfortunate, and my heart is with the Japanese people…

Out of this grim picture, we have seen the heroic acts of the workers at the Fukushima plant. The 50 or so workers (one report listed it at 150 rotating in shifts) know that it is now a suicidal mission to work close to the failities and yet they have no qualm going in after withdrawing very briefly. radiation exposure can cause instant death, but even if they can avoid that by using some forms of protective gears, the long term effect is almost certain… cancers of the various kinds..

I salute these unnamed heroes.

Then I saw another picture of Japanese lining up to receive food and water. It was so orderly, no asking for more, just quietly taking what was given to them  and nodding in thanks. In many other countries, people will be rushing and pushing each other to get to the front of the queue.

There is also a report from wikileak that some experts had actually warned the Japanese government that a nuclear facility would not be able to withstand a quake above a magnitude of 7.0 and it was unsafe to build such plants in Japan and yet the government still thought it safe and went ahead. This is typical of government s everywhere.

This actually raise a very significant point for countries planning to have nuclear reactor to generate electricity. Nothing man-made will be safe forever. No matter how many safety features you can put into, there is always the unknown factor, Mother Nature and human error.

China has announced that it is suspending all future nuclear plants pending a review. I thought that is prudent and what a responsible government should do.

In Malaysia, our 2nd in command has said that we are going ahead with our nuclear facility. The reason being that we have the experts and we have no Earthquake.

Can our expertise be better than the Japanese, or the American or the Russians? We have the Chernobyl incident, the Three Miles island incident which were not caused by natural disaster. In both cases, human error played an important  part, even though Chernobyl had also certain design faults.

Malaysia is a small country. If we have a nuclear reactor in West Malaysia and an accident happens, the radiation is going to affect the whole peninsular.  Prolonged exposure to long term low level radiation is still harmful and raises the risk of developing a cancer many many times.  Radiation fallout will affect land and rivers, and thus our food chain will be affected. Mind you, this effects are not just temporary but long term. The worst thing about radiation is that it is something you cannot see or feel.

I have mentioned in my last post that it will be unfair to the people if the government insists on going ahead. The least it can do is to suspend and review the project.

It is really sheer arrogance and political insensitivity to insist on proceeding with the project when the Japanese crisis has not even been contained.

2 fumbling acts

I am used to Malaysian high officials’ fumbling acts (my definition of official is anyone associated with the Big Brother), but I am shocked by 2 incidents after the recent Japanese Quake cum tsunami.

While the whole world is now worried about the safety of nuclear plants, after an explosion in one and a possible meltdown in 2 other, I thought it would be wise for anyone, even those eager to see a nuclear plant in Malaysia, to think twice. Or at least wait till further development to see whether the Japanese can contain the nuclear problemsand how serious this would turn out to be before commenting.

But our minister in charge of our planned nuclear plant has immediately announced that Malaysia would continue with our planned project, without even wanting to wait out  further development in Japan. I thought this is really unfair  to the people of Malaysia. Not only that, this is also politically unwise to announced this when the whole world is worried about possible nuclear fallouts. I thought a more sensible approach would be to suspend and review any nuclear project that is being planned. We should also take another look at the planned rare earth factory in Pahang.. No planning by man is foolproof. Mother nature has shown it clearly in this case. A country as advanced as Japan is facing potential nucelar meltdown, and we really do not know how bad is the situation, or whether the government there is really transparent in its disclosure..

Perhaps we should all ask this gentleman minister to build  a house and stay next to the nuclear plant that he said will be carried on.  I am sure he wold have second thought then. I can this fumbling act number one.

Then not to be outdone, a cartoonist drew a cartoon in one of our mainstream media, showing ultraman running away from a tsunami wave. This is really insensitive to the sufferings suffered by the Japanese people. What does he want to prove? To laugh at Japan at an hour when the whole world is offering condolence and trying to help to alleviate sufferings? This sort of disaster killed many innocent people and created suffferings for hundreds of thousands of people. Thousands of homes are destroyed. Millions are without water and electricity. And here, this person tried to rub salt into the wound.. If this is not fumbling, I do not know what to call it. By his action, he not only disgraces himself but  whole Malaysia , since this has already become headline news in CNN ireport.

ALthough the management of the paper has apologised, Malaysians must learn to be more humane, and more compassionate. This is what happens when life is too easy and people do not take things seriously enough.

 

 

Fury of Mother Earth

Earlier saw a news flash from Kyodo news agency that 88000 people are missing. Hope that most of these are just stranded people and can be found and reunited with their loved ones. But as the Japanese quake cum tsunami unfolds, the death toll is going to rise above what is reported.  My condolence to the Japanese people, especially those affected by this natural disaster.

This quake is reportedly few hundred times more powerful than the Acheh quake on Boxer’s Day 2004. But fortunately, Japanese people are much  better prepared and hence the final death toll should be much lower. Some scientists estimated that the force unleashed by the quake is equivalent to 11000 atomic bombs.

What is most worrying is there may be a nuclear leak which will cause immediate and long term effects on humans, animals  and plants if not contained well. I have always been very wary of nuclear plants because no matter how careful we can be, if something goes wrong, like in this case, nuclear leaks can be very harmful and toxic. It is in this regards that we should not allow rare earth plants to operate in Malaysia, like what was planned  near Kuantan. Most countries are wary of setting up Rare Earth plants, and Australia itself does not want to have such a plant in their own country; are we Malaysians so poor that we have to become a ‘rubbish dump’ of a developed country?

I will post some photos taken from the net: (courtesy from Atlantic)

Fury

Destruction

Aftermath

Sadness

Shock

Hope

lesson from a fracture

When a doctor treats a leg fracture, he would first adjust the alignment of the fractured bone and then put a plaster cast around the leg to keep the bone in position. For the patient, he would not be able to bear weight, meaning that he can not put his weight on his fractured leg, otherwise the alignment would be affected and the fracture will not heal.

In order to help him to move, he would be given a pair of crutches to put under his armpits and together with his healthy leg, he would be able to move around like the figure below.

(courtesy of kansasbob.com)

The fracture will heal, if there is no complication, in about 12 weeks.

One effect of using the crutches and resting the fractured leg will be that the muscles of that leg would become weaker and weaker as time goes on. This is a process we call atrophy, and this comes as a result of not using the muscles of that leg to support our weight.

So after the fracture heals, the patient must undergo a period called rehabilitation, whereby, the healed leg wold be subjected to certain physio exercises. The more often this is done, the faster the patient would regain his strength of the leg muscles in about 4 to 6 weeks time, in most cases.

There are a few lessons to learn from this treatment:

1. Anything left unused will be atrophic, and become weaker. A person who seldom does calculation will not be as fast as a person who always do calculation. A badminton player who does not train for a long time would not be as good as when he plays everyday. A runner who has not run for a long period would not have the same stamina and speed as before.

2. Use of crutches is only for those who need it. It would be insane for someone who is perfectly healthy to use crutches to support his weight. It would make his muscles weaker as well as slow him down, because the use of crutches is  actually very cumbersome.

It should only be used by those who need it: those with fractures and those handicapped person with deformed and weak limbs.

In life, we should not expect everything to come easy for us. In order to succeed , we need to horn our skills. A Sushi chef’s knife needs frequent grinding to keep it in tip top condition is order to cut thin slices of tuna, salmon etc. A police officer needs frequent shooting practices for him to be remain as sharpshooter.

Using this analogy, perhaps we should rethink our strategy to help the weak. we should re-strategise our approach towards affirmative policies.

In every ethnic group, there are weak and poor people, who are not as good as those who are more fortunate to have better environment or better home background. This group  needs help and help must be given to them in order for them to keep up and not be left far behind.

But apart from this group of weak and poor, those who are born with able-body and sound mind should be encouraged to use them in order not to become weak, in order for them to become even stronger.

So by giving crutches to the able bodied is actually denying these people a chance to learn to walk properly and become competent and efficient.  The world is fast changing, and the more competent and efficient, the better we will be able to meet the challenges of globalisation as a nation.

We donate to help the needy; not to the rich and mighty.

By re-developing a policy that helps those needy ones based on social strata, the weak and poor in every group and race wold get the help they need,  while more fortunate ones would be given a chance to improve their skills and that will ensure that no one race would become an atrophic one, just like those weak muscles of a resting fractured leg.

 

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