Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Time flies.

It is Christmas again. new Year is just around the corner.

I like to take this opportunity to wish my freinds and readers “Merry Christmas and A happy new year”.

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Out of sync

The uproar against the Computing Professionals Bill is  just another symptom   of a disease that is plaguing the government. Since 2004, we have seen on numerous occasions the flipflopping of government policies. These are all symptoms of a government that is out of sync with the people.  A government that is out of sync with the time.

This year alone, we have seen the debacle of mishandling of Bersih 20. We have seen the tabling and subsequently amending the Bill for peaceful assembly. We have seen the proposed appointment of a Muslim as head of a renowned  catholic school. We are now seeing the probable withdrawal of the Computing Bill.  These are all symptoms of the same disease.

The  world is no more top down, like in the feudal era. Each individual can now become a reporter, writer and publisher as well as a video maker through posting on the net. As a result, every individual can now be potentially very influencial just by posting the right thing at the right moment.  The jobs of influencing people’s mindsets is no longer the sole monopoly of the state controlled main stream media. We have seen how through the use of facebook and internet,  mobilisation of the masses became successful in Egypt, and the Arab world.

Just this month, a commercial giant Coca Cola has to withdraw its new ‘white’ can from the market (read here and wsj), after people started to complain through the use of social media and the net  (who would associate white cans with coke?). If Coca Cola thinks that branding is their sole right, they got the shock of their life by the vehement protests against the white can in the net. So the management has to eat humble pie and withdraw the white can.  If public opinion can now be so powerful to humble a commercial giant, then no government can act unilaterally and shove unpopular policies down the throat of the people. This is no longer the era of the 80s or 90s, where dictatorial regimes could do almost anything they like to their people and no one would make even a soft  moan.

white can              red can

The advent of the internet has made this a flat world.  Everyone with a computer now is like having a whole library, printing press and movie factory at his service.  Unless  a country is totally shut off from the rest of the world, like North Korea, indoctrination can no longer work.  Rather it should  now be a case of cousultation and dialogue, whether actual or virtual.

It would serve any government well   to consult and seek opinion from the people about any new policies or laws that it is formulating. It would also serve any government well not to have too much of legislation and restrictions to stifle the innovative and free spirits of the people. It would also serve a government well not to abuse the trust given by the people.

As it is, our leaders are living in ivory towers and expensive ‘cow’dominium that have separated them from the masses, and they have time and again show their ignorance of the people’s aspirations and desire in this modern time. These include political leaders holding high offices, top civil servants and top enforcement officers.  The politicians who are supposed to be the masters and law makers are so busy cutting ribbons and attending publicity functions that they have hardly had time for browsing the net, and get feed back from the people. Whatever feedback they have is from their aides, the people surrounding them. But like eunuchs of the past, many of these aides have agenda of their own and many would not want to disclose bad news  to the masters. This is espeically so for those top leaders who only like to listen to good news about themselves, and get very angry nd upset whenever their aides are trying to tell the truth that is not pleasant to hear.

It would therefore be wise for the leaders to come down to the people’s levels and listen more to the ground. Listen to the voices asking for change; people are asking for real change , not cosmetic ones.

The world has moved so fast that many leaders are caught unprepared for the changes . They would do well to spend more time on the ground and in the net rather than attedning publicity functions.

After all, a government that is out of sync with the masses would just not last long.

Senseless deaths

I feel extremely sorry for the families of the 4 youngsters that died in a car accident in Johore recently, when the MPV they were in crashed into a ravine.

I also feel extremely sorry for the 17 year old youngster who drove the car and who survived the accident. I do not blame him, seeing how much he regretted and the grief he has displayed. I am sorry for him because this youngster would have to bear the burden of regret for these deaths for the rest of his life.

Whether it was his fault or somebody else (it was reported that some car cut into his lane just before the accident), it is no longer important, but we Malaysians  should learn something from these senseless deaths.

These youngsters were all going to be the ‘brains ‘ of the nation, and the deaths are not a loss to their families, but the whole nation as well.

From these senseless deaths can we learn anything?

Firstly, does passing the driving test mean that a person is qualified to drive? It would seem so, since under the law, anyone with a driving license can drive. But with just a few driving lessons and most of the lessons done on urban or town roads, is it sufficient to equip us to drive on unfamiliar road conditions? Long distance driving is very different; so much more anticipation and so much more care are needed in long distance driving that a good town driver may not be a good distance drivier.

Secondly, those with kids who have passed driving tests will all know about our system. A youngster approaches a driving school, and the first thing the driving instructor asks is whether you want to “pao”. If you want to ‘pao’, you pay a certain sum, and you are guaranteed to pass, one way or another, especially on road driving.  Even if you are a very lousy driver, but as long as you “pao”, they will also”pao’ you, and you will be given the license to kill drive. we all know that this has something to do with corruption, and corrupt officials are actually helping to churn out thousands of killer drivers every year. So much for the ‘blood money’ on their hands.

So knowing how the system functions, I had purposedly gone on long distance trips after each of my kids passed driving exam, and asked my kid to drive me, and gave him/her as much tips on long distance driving as I could while sitting next to him/her.  Children may not like it, but i think it is the adults’ duty to make sure that they are really able to handle a car well before letting them drive alone unsupervised especially on long distance driving.

In this case, I dont know whether the driver has ‘pao’ or not. But knowing that he has just passed his driving test, and knowing how our system function, why was he allowed to handle a big car like a 7 seater MPV(or SUV)? Why was he allowed to go on long distance driving? And why was he allowed to fetch 6 persons in the car on a long distance trip? Cars with full loads are typically  more difficult to manoevre, and a big car like a MPV  would require more skill in manoevring around corners or braking.

The system has to take some responsilibilty for this sort of accidents. Practically everyone knows about the ‘pao’ buisness. Everyone knows that corruption is involved. I am sure even the kids of the leaders have gone through the ‘pao’ system too. So the question to ask is that why after so many years, noting was done to curb it. .

The same system has been allowed to produce drivers that are half past six, drivers that do not obey road signs or rules , drivers that drive up against traffic in one way street and so on. Why wasn’t  anything  done? Giving reminders and presents on balik kampong trips during festive seasons are just gimmicks for publicity; i do not think it has any effect on curbing accidents and dangerous driving.

It is proper instruction and strict testing conditions that will help to produce better drivers. It is education and guidance that will produce more tolerant individuals who would be more patient and better drivers. Why nothing was done?

If nothing is done to overhaul the system, I am afraid that this will not be the last time we  see and read about these unnecesssary deaths.

Do not mistake infamy as being famous!

When I was young, we often heard stories from our elders about the heroes and the villians in history. My dad used to tell me that to be famous, we can either be very good or become very bad. When a person is very good (like good rulers) his deeds will be remmebered for thousands of years. Similarly, if a person is very bad a (tyrant for example), he will also be remembered for generations and generations.

The only difference is that it is very shameful to have a bad name. Shame is something we were taught to avoid. Shame and dignity cannot coexist. Only if a person can feel shame,  can he avoid committing sins . We have also read in history about people who had unintentionally committed error, and was so shameful that some even killed themselves.

So it is good to be well known for good deeds and good behaviour. It is also shameful to be well known for the wrong reason.

Some time back, we read about a monorail in a Malaysian city having glitches on the first day of opening, and subsequently, on many occasions, the same mono-rail has malfunctioned and stalled, causing inconvenience to passengers including many foreign tourists. I suspect some of these tourists, despite what was reported in the main stream media, must have privately cursed the system and our efficiency. It  has at least become a laughing stock locally in coffee shops and even chatrooms.

Yesterday, we have a top leader of that state saying that the glitches in fact made the monorail famous, and this has attracted many tourists to come to try. He also boasted that it was probably a Guinness record that there were so many glitches for the monorail in such a short time.

I do not know whether he said this as a joke-I think he must be joking– but if he is serious, then there is really something very wrong. It is worse than the ‘tidak apa’ attitude that malaysians are famed for. It would be like someone who wanted to be famous by becoming a very bad character. It would be like tyrant who becomes a tyrant so that his name can be remembered as the most famous tyrant. It would be like a robber who wanted to be remembered as the most vicious robbers of all time.

It would be something to show people that we have lost the feeling of shame!

Perhaps he said that to spite the people running the monorail. Perhaps he wanted it to be like the MB who handed out a broom to discredit someone.

But if a wrong can be so light-heartedly dismissed, and there is no shame at all to be perceived as the worst monorail (if what he said about the Guinness record is true) , then any wonder why some Malaysians have no qualm being medocre, and why in some of the sports , we have gone down so much in ranking?

Do not mistake infamy as being famous!

PM’s dilemma

Almost everyone I  meet these days is angry. They are angry not because of the traffic jams, which have become a part of our life and has already been factored in any activities that we undertake.

They are angry because of the cowgate affairs. They are angry because of the greed displayed.   And I do meet a lot of people from all levels   in the course of my work.

Just yesterday, a sales representatives from a GLC linked pharmaceuticals was asking me why things have become so bad, and why have our leaders become so greedy. He professed to be a former Bn supporter, and now he swears that he would not vote them again– another case of anything but Big Nanny . A small trader who was formerly a MakeCowAngry’s branch chairman has stopped become active and said that he would vote for change this time.

With the sentiments so against them because of this cow business, I doubt whether the cowgirl would last long. Even the Old Horse has asked her to leave. An FT strongman-minister  has already been slated to contest in her former area, but his chance of winning is not bright either.

But just asking the cowgirl to leave is not enough. There must be accountability . This is Rakyat’s money and the government must come clean on this and be transparent about the whole thing, which even the Auditor General has called a mess. Otherwise, it has to bear the consequence of losing more political support.

This has thrown the whole election thing into uncertainty. The most touted date , March 2012, may not see any election after all.

The danger  is  that the longer the government waits to call the next GE, the more scandals may be exposed. On top of that, economic outlook may not be as good as predicted. So the top leader is really facing a tough choice, a dilemma indeed.

One of the major parties in Sarawak is facing internal fight which has proved to be more vicious than fighting outside enemies. This has all along been the features in component parties, since in the past, whoever wins would have all the goodies waiting for him and his team. Often it is winners-take-all, so whenever there is party fight, it would be afight to the end–“‘political death’ that is.  In such fights, all tactics would be used, including manipulating branches, delegates , phanton members, back stabbing and character assasination. In the morning,  they may be good friends and calling each other “Sdra”, later in the day,  the knives would be out for each other’s throat, figuratively speaking.. Since these people are officially members of component parties, they have no qualm to use underhand tactics; as long as both sides are supporters of Big Brother, little action would be taken against them. It also suits the big Brother in normal times to have as vicious a fight as possible, since it would be easier to apply divide and rule tactic.

But when a GE is coming, such fight is taboo. That is why for most component parties, their party elections have been postponed just to avoid such divisive fight.

So the fight in Sarawak’s party comes in the wrong time, and even though this party is already half dead and command not much of support, other parties in the state would still be dependent on it to deliver some ethnic Chinese votes. With this party so split, the already diminshed Chinese votes would be even more elusive.

My guess is that with such scenario, Big Nanny may not call election in March, but rather in the second half of the year.

Are there 2 sets of criteria?

Malaysian Insider has this headline yesterday:  Let Umno leadership decide Cowgirl’ s  fate ( headline slightly modified by me ).

Shouldn’t this cowgirl and family’s fate be decided by our existing law? Shouldn’t there be a full and thorough investigation to decide whether any law is broken and if so, the law be applied to the person/persons?  I know the police is investigating, but given what is implied in that healine, can the police force really be impartial?

Is this a country ruled by law? If affirmative, are there 2 sets of criteria to apply the relevant law?

What also prompts me to ask, besides ‘cowgate’,  is that why is  certain retail shop chain (1Malaysia-shop) which were caught having wrong labellings not charged in court? is that not against existing law?  Is the law applied only to those without connections?

Wrong labelliong can mislead consumers and can be very serious if certain contents are at levels not accurately reflected in the labelling.

Any wonder why people in this country tend to break laws and rules..Just look at how cars are parked, and how traffic rules are broken.

What transformation?

When a school boy comes back with  persistent poor grades, what any parent must do is to find out what is wrong; whether the boy understands his lessons, whether he puts in enough time to study and learn the things taught, and whether there is anything wrong in his way of studying if enough time has been put in and still he gets persistent poor grade. Once a fault is detected, there must be will power to correct it, and then the grade will slowly but surely improve.

Only a very indulgent and bad parent would blame the marking system or the school instead of his own boy, if over the years, markings by different teachers come to the same results.

This is what is happening here (Read this report: Pemandu blames new measurement method for poorer score). We are further and further down in the Corruption Perception Index. We have put in GTP, ETP and what have you, but all these transformations do not seem to work; rather, corruption has perceived to become worse, whether it is according to this international index, or just by asking any Ah Pek in the street.

One glaring issue is that very few big fish are caught and charged. When the top gets away, those-near -to-the-top,  those-further-below-the-top, and those who are way-below-the-top would all try to get corrupted. Afterall, who does not want easy fast money?

When people can get away from taking a big government loan to do a certain project, but instead use part of the money for something else, it will send a signal that all it matters in this country is connection and  position. Others having similar position or connection would want to emulate.

The authority may say there is  nothing wrong, but ask the people in the street, they have already formed  their opinion based on common morality pratice . They  will probably shake their heads and sigh, as a sign of helplessness to tackle this type of abuse.

You can have the best brains and the best plans to transform, but they will not work as long as this culture remains. When the top beam is crooked, how to expect the lower beams to be straight, even if they want to? Transformation would not work unless it is from the very top to the very bottom…..

………………………………………

Just imagine that a company with many shareholders  gives you a loan to start a chicken farm, and instead you use the money to buy cars and house, and when the auditor of the company points this out to the company shareholders, and the shareholders wanted to know why, you scream in a public forum as if you are the one who is the aggrieved party, and you blame the company, the auditor and the shareholders for doing this to you, why is the logic, where is the moral, where is common courtesy?