US Vice president Biden is in Beijing for an official visit.
Apart from meeting Top Chinese leaders, he has gone down to the ground by patronising a local restaurant for lunch with his new ambassador. . This is a famous shop for locals, but ordinary, not something fanciful.
Left: Five bowls of noodles with soybean paste;
Right: 10 steamed buns;
Smashed cucumber salad;
Mountain yam salad;
Potato threads with green pepper;
Total: 79 yuan (US$12.4)
Tip: 21 yuan
(fthe meal is for 5 persons)
I am not trying to glorify US or any western leader. Their systems have many flaws too. But one thing i admire is that most of the leaders know that they owe their positions to the people, and hence they normally act in less pretentious ways than many of leaders of the developing nations .
In the past few posts , I have been trying to point out the differences of how our top leaders and senior civil servants behave in public when they move around. Or how they react (instead of respond) when there are voices of dissent from the ground asking them to review certain policies. Our leaders have no qualms in showing their arrogance, lavishness or even ignorance in public.
Unlike those in the west, even if they may be arrogant or pretentious in their private lives, they rarely show that in public. Whether those public behaviour is genuine or just showmanship, you have to give it to them that they understand the basic tenet of democracy: that the people are the bosses. And there are less hierarchical hurdles when an ordinary person deals with government bureaucracy.
Just compare with our headline news the last few days.
A general accused those who came forward to admit committing election frauds as disloyal to him. A election commission chief labelled the demand for electoral reforms as putting a gun to his head. A minister even displayed such arrogance as to ask ‘who is Bersih” when the whole world has witnessed the Bersih rally being tear-gased and water-cannoned; when the whole KL town was shut down because of the police road block.
I have purposely mentioned the way the Ambassador of US to China travelled, as well as how Vice president Biden lunched, not by eating exotic dishes like sharkfins, abalones, birdnests and so on, but simple dishes that normal people like you and me would have consumed if we have the chance to visit Beijing.
Compared this to how our top leaders and their wives travel , stay and eat.
In US, all their leaders have to declare their income , down to the very cent. In Malaysia, leaders earning 30000 a month salary can afford a diamond ring worth tens of millions.
I think this has a lot to do with how we understand the true meaning of democracy, and how we view the positions that we have attained.
I rest my case here.