Another case of unpretentiousness

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.

His menu:

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.


17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Haris Abdul Rahman
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 12:38:33

    As usual, point very well made Sir!


  2. Richard Loh
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 12:48:23

    They are used to this lifestyle for decades and as long as they are still alive and in control nothing can get in their way, they are just thick face and shameless.

    For better or for worse what I deem necessary is a total change of guard but I am afraid that at our age we may not see it unless a miracle happens at the 13th GE

    With many older generation kampung folks not knowing or not willing to acknowledge the sad affairs happening in this nation, we just have to wait for the right time when a total new generation takes over. What we can do is to part what we know and understanding to our children, relatives and friends and they will decide their own future.


  3. Dr Hsu
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 13:27:10

    AT least in your state, Penang, things are changing and looking brighter.

    Overall, it is still a uphill battle for change. As my vote is only 1/15 of others, you can see even if opposition wins all the urban and suburban seats, the rural weightage will still give Bn a victory.
    After Bersih, the chances are brighter and it is now almost 50-50% but the advantage is still with the incumbents.


  4. Anonymous
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 13:35:19

    All senior Civil Servants and politicians in both governemnt and oposition must declare their assets to an Independent Arbitration Tribunal and should be made public. The voters will then decide in the General Elections.


  5. klm
    Aug 20, 2011 @ 19:42:54

    Have you heard the story of a former head of a Malaysian agency. He always travelled with 4 pretty girls who carried his briefcase and papers to meetings.


  6. A true Malaysian
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 00:06:10

    Is the word ‘pretentious’ derived from the word ‘pretend’? If yes, then I was right in my previous comment that there are many ‘great pretenders’ in there, in line with the ‘frustration’ blurted out here. (I can feel that in your writing here, Dr. Hsu).

    In fact, not only we see pretentious behaviour out there, even here in this forum, there are pretenders. My points on Thai of Chinese ethnic are true facts, yet the one who used to rant scrambled to cover their ‘pretentious’ behaviour. Perhaps my points hit right at their nerves.

    Just see how long these souls can pretend as if they can be ‘pretentious’ forever. One thing is for sure, empty cans sound the loudest noisy irritatating sound.


  7. monsterball
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 01:59:25

    Dr.Hsu said…Compare this t to how our top leaders and wives travel, stay and eat”
    And he is so right.
    Nothing about pretenders in his blog.
    What pretenders?


  8. monsterball
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 02:21:23

    In my own ways…I have proven t be a die hard supporter of PR.
    My comments at Lim Kit Siang and Anwar’s blogs speaks for itself.
    I even dare to go to Rockybu’s blog face BN guys and argue with them.
    One should stop instigating and do more commenting.
    Instigating gets you no where.
    My only problem is..I speak as I feel and sees it with no diplomacy.
    And Dr.Shu speaks the truths…as a responsible Malaysian..which attracts me to his blog.


  9. monsterball
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 02:32:31

    US Vice President maybe smiling…how nice and cheap food is in Beijing.
    But you can be sure…he is wondering how can US do the same thing..say in the suburbs..rural areas.
    In the city…like New York…Los Angeles…a plate of fried rice cost US25…and you must always leave some tips.
    It’s customary.
    Don’t d go back for another meal…the waitress will be sarcastic and rude.


  10. monsterball
    Aug 21, 2011 @ 04:21:07

    It is “unpretentiousness”…..real….no pretending!!
    And Doc’s message is straight forward… voom power..hitting hard at the government thieves and robbers who steal and show off with no shame.


  11. Phua Kai Lit
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 09:59:30

    Dear Dr Hsu

    When I attended a conference of the NZ Public Health Assoc a few years ago,
    I was struck by the fact that the then PM of New Zealand (Helen Clark), arrived with only one bodyguard and that she was seated in an ordinary chair at the front of the conference hall and that she poured her own drink during the talk.

    But perhaps the PM of NZ needs at least two bodyguards in these more turbulent times today ?? 🙂


  12. Li Li Fa
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 11:48:24

    The US economy is a big and encompassing one. But it is now in turbulent times and needs to exercise tremendous efforts to manage its borrowings and wealth.

    Being unpretentious at the current moment in an austerity drive and simplicity of daily spending on food and other items among US diplomats and officials is perhaps a stand taken by the current government. Have they, i mean the US, been unpretentious before the turbulent times compared to what they are experiencing now? Perhaps they need to show their creditors that they are austere, self-regulating and doing what appears to be right in the eyes of the public as a whole. Are they doing it out of political exigencies?

    If their economy is strong, vibrant and debt-free, will they be as unpretentious as they are today?

    For a good example of simplicity and unpretentiousness, let us look down south to our neighbour and we can find that the former PM Lee lives in aject simplicity in a simple house with austere furniture and amenities, since time immemorial.


  13. A true Malaysian
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 13:12:29

    ‘They’ like to show-off. How to be ‘unpretentious’?

    The late Lim Goh Tong is filthy rich, yet ‘unpretentious’. He did not show-off he was rich, like many Cina Peks sitting down with one leg up sipping kopi-o at kopitiam.

    Compare Cina Peks and ‘they’…..being simple, hard working, humble. ‘They’? With expensive handbags, jewelery, private jet, pretender, bikin tak serupa cakap, like to boast, Who command ‘respect’?

    What for showing-off? Frustration is what we get looking at these people.

    I rest my case.


  14. monsterball
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 16:45:39

    If we focus our argument like Prof.Phua and Li Li Fa on the subject and give their arguments based on the post….how nice to read and be enlightened.
    Very little are known about Helen Clark but from what we read and understand,,.she is well respected and love by her people genuinely.
    Body guards are compulsory to PMs…and to understand that from two.she reduced that to one…doing her part to save money for people and country…mush to be admired.
    For more than 20 years…money power have shifted slowly by united agreement not to depend on US $ only….and by US government fighting hard to see Americans have the best at the lowest price possible.
    You can feel America shifted it’s policy as world policemen to world best love and trusted people by the brand of Clinton’s politics…as compare to Nixon.
    If America wishes to make life difficult for China and Japan …they have the means and power to do that…keeping all countries moving backward or stay put..not advancements…and prepare for WW3….through provocations and double standards applied.
    But now….America wants the world to move forward…and so we are.
    What bothers me mos right the weak US$.
    One must never forget…it is still the one single most powerful money depended by the whole world to do trade and move around.
    And right now….the weak US $ is making alot of Asian manufacturers suffer..for most export to USA and committed to certain prices…paid only by US$.
    Nothing much to talk about our UMNO B government.
    While everyone to planning ..wasting no to weather off possible turbulence times…Najib is planning how to put Anwar in jail…right now….Sodomy2 court case on today.
    Simple put…our country is being mismanaged by crooks.. far too long and do we have the will to throw it out and change?
    I say vast majority Malaysians are saying yes…but the phantoms votes revealed are bothering Malaysians.
    I think…this time….they will not sit still like after 12th GE.
    i think blood will flow…after 13th GE…if Anwar is in jail…and PR looses.
    It will be civil war…if Najib wants it.


  15. monsterball
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 17:34:57

    Gandhi’s last words to the British…..something like this….”When 120 millions do not listen and obey….the few thousand British in India…it is wise for you to walk away and just go”
    And it will be that kopi tiam fellas marching along with the rich .. the poor..the well educated and the less educate ones… free Malaysia.
    Trace back..French Revolution…The fall of the Roman Empire….fall of dictators in Argentina…Philippines..Indonesia…and many more…all sacrificed by true citizens that shouts and yell for freedom and not talk talk talk…twisting and instigating like sickening toads.
    Do not mix this up with WW1 and WW2…even where back when…in China.
    Wars are political motivated. Not all loosers are wrong..but after a war…loosers and victors bury the hatchet and move on rebuilding their battered countries.


  16. monsterball
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 17:36:48

    Sorry..I mean 520 million..not 120 million at that time..when Gandhi spoke to the British warlords.


  17. monsterball
    Aug 22, 2011 @ 17:56:55

    Prof.Phua and Li Li Fa simply said…time marches on.
    Mentalities and attitude for the better with caring and sharing sincere politicians.governing countries.
    But in Malaysia…..Dr.Shu have said it….they have said it.
    Why is Malaysia full of race and religion politics….full of corruptions…full of double standards?
    Because it is such a rich country…the evil doers can keep on fooling Malaysians and ordinary Malaysians do it under the ripped off by the these crooks who are smart enough to throw back crumbs while the keep all the bread.for the family.
    That’s one way to look at things.
    Another way…is some Malaysians are so smart to earn a living by twisting and trying like snakes.. with no shame.
    Malaysians are greedy for money….because Mahathir chooses to worship the devil and use money to tempt…buy and control.
    Malaysians are getting smarter….braver united as one…right now.
    That makes Najib having sleepless nights….planning what to do next…to stay in power.
    These crooks are no gentlemen. They talk and act like one…but they are no gentlemen.
    They are never wrong…never cheat…lie..twist nor apply double standards.
    You hope it stays as it is….for personal benefits….you are very selfish and full of shit yourself.


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