Tuesday, October 29, 2013

GST and a Robin Hood/Sheriff of Nottingham Government

After much vacillation and hesitation, the government finally fixed a date for the implementation of the GST. And, it had to be April Fools Day in 2015.

Be that as it may, I see the GST as a necessary move. It is inevitable. I'll tell why it is inevitable.

Our country has a lot of cheap labour. Most of us fail, refuse or ignore the necessity to acquire higher value skills. So, the average working citizen does not pay any tax.

Why many Malaysians fail, refuse or ignore the need to acquire higher value skills should be the subject matter of serious study (pun intended).

Is it race? Is it culture? Is it the social environment? Is it religion? Is it the hot tropical weather? Is it the abundance of food?

Or, is it plain indolence (which emphasises our slothlike approach to pretty much everything)?

Why aren't every young Malaysians scrambling to get a better and higher education so as to go higher up the value chain?

Why has the education system spat out and churned out only low-skilled citizens who love to complain and do no work of any value?

And so, here we are.

We have a bunch of politicians in government who are handing out freebies like there is no tomorrow. These guys need to collect more tax money so that they can give out more money (and, keep a lot too).

It does sound like the Malaysian government has acquired a Robin Hood complexion, does it not? 

At the same time, it does seem like the Malaysian government maintains its Sheriff of Nottingham demeanour of collecting tax, does it not?

This is political and leadership schizophrenia.

Yes, this posting meanders like the Klang River. In so doing, it mimics the political and governance landscape.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Things that matter

Life would be so much simpler if there wasn't so much obsession with spiritual matters.

I come from a polytheistic background. I found that from this milieu there is an earnest desire to harmonise. 

Growing up, things were always peachy with my siblings. We could play and banter to no end.

Then, like a bolt out of the blue, my siblings started to embrace monotheism.

That was my childhood's end.

They started to become preachy. They began to invoke the name of their one god for almost anything. It was annoying. It was boring. It ... broke the bond.

I became testy whenever they invoked the name of their god for the most inane things. I became irritable when they started to weave their new-found beliefs into things that I liked.

It became suffocating to be with my siblings. 

And, so....we drifted apart.

Monotheists seem to crave for market share.

Polytheists just want some peace and quiet to enjoy the bounties that Nature has endowed.

So, you can imagine how excitable my monotheistic siblings have become in recent years.

And, all this while, polytheistic me just enjoy burning the incense and lighting the lamp to honour the various deities and my ancestors without any rancour or fuss.

In most polytheistic cultures, one's belief is highly personal.

There is no imposition on others to comply.

If only the monotheists can just sheath their swords of righteousness and just embrace their beliefs privately.

The world would be tranquil, serene and serendipitous.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Civility is not a sign of weakness

I have been self-indulgent in pursuing my work and personal matters. These past months of have been a serendipitous in the main with the odd spikes of exigencies which require urgent attention. By and large I have been in cruise mode. I have been and, still am, in a happy mode.

I read a piece of fiction in my college years where the author had a narrative about the necessity of maintaining a degree of tension, some measure of tautness in one's emotional outlook on things, in order to produce excellent work, be it in the arts or any vocation. In short, one needs a degree of unhappiness to keep up the good work!

That has always struck me as being a bleak assessment of things; don't you think?

But, it is, sadly, true.

There have been a widely held perspective that Nobel Prizes awarded in the sciences have tended been in honour of work done by the recipients when they were below 35 years of age. 

This demographic perspective is consistent with my own experience.

Was it not Confucius who said, thus-

“The Master says: At 15, I set my heart on learning. At 30 I know where I stand (my character has been formed). At 40, I have no more doubts, at 50, I know the will of Heaven, at 60 my ears are attuned (i.e. my moral sense is well-developed), at 70, I follow my heart’s desire without crossing the line (without breaking moral principles).” 

So, if I may hazard an observation, it would be that if one experiences a measure of happiness and contentment, one's creative tension is commensurately reduced; a happy and contented person has less desire to push the envelope, so to speak.

Is this a bad thing?

I think not.

My recent experience in engaging people everywhere, while at work, while shopping, while anywhere, has proven that my happier persona has percolated and transferred some degree of happiness to people I have contact with.

Is this a bad thing?

I think not.

The salutary effect of my present emotional state is that when I skim read all the things relating to recent Malaysian political matters I do not experience any strong emotions. I just see all the goings on as a sick game of politics.

My hope is that the players and their sycophantic followers know that it is what it is, a mere game.

My concern is that the game may be taken too seriously with dire consequences.

I leave you with one of my favourite phrases from JFK's Inaugural Address on January 20, 1961-

Civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof.