Sunday, 17 August 2008

Citizen Of The World?

I've always fancied myself as a dictator of sorts.

But if the truth be told, I'm a goddamn socialist-democrat hybrid - if one could possible co-exist as such. :)

I started this blog partly to express my own views on the political situation in Malaysia.

After spending years of being frightened and intimidated by the ISA threat, I eventually threw in the towel and ended the silence.

Somehow, I figured that having my own blog meant I was in control - I could write whatever I wanted and pull rank by reminding any dissenting commenters about the ownership of this blog.

But if you're an intelligent person, you would realise (as I eventually did - I'm slow; I must've been a UiTM student in my past life) that the I-preach-you-listen concept is no fun at all, much less mind-stimulating.

Realisation dawned one morning before work - which is when I usually check my mail and read some blogs - that I had a wide range of comments on my blog over various issues.

Some agreed with my take, and some disagreed - though they were put in such a polite way so that they didn't appear as dissenting views. ;-)

But in spite of my wannabe-dictator-ish ways, I must admit that I think my commenters have some very valid and intriguing points, which I humbly reproduce.

Walla gives us an insightful perspective on being a citizen of Malaysia (or any country, for that matter):

It remains to say many of the future generations of this country will have to make our own paradigm shift in the way we think about our existence in this world. To be able to improve each generation, one may have to resign oneself to be permanent nomads, forever floating from one country to another. Maybe by then the third wave of globalization will turn this world around so that what is a 'country' disappears in the melt of cross-border 'markets'. Ohmae's invisible continent? Who knows?

Let us take some comfort. Is it really that important to be a citizen of a country? The third wave speaks about sovereign funds behaving like transnational entities with their own boards acting like 'governments' in all but name. In such a context, loyalty of the individual shifts more from country to company. Ask someone working for a multinational firm, and that's exactly what has happened. So many of the waking hours are spent tussling with global business issues that lining up to pay taxes or collect a form to get a rebate seems minor by comparison. And if your government politely shoos you out of the district clinic so that it will have one patient less to wait another five months for a free set of dentures, the whole notion of nationality and belonging become something almost trite compared to the imperative of surviving and saving for a future generation by personal resilience alone.

I hadn't actually heard of Kenichi Ohmae or his books, The End of the Nation State and The Borderless World prior to reading this. Something to check out, indeed.

Globalisation has ensured that we are competing on a whole new level altogether. I work in Cyberjaya and that place alone is enough to remind me constantly that we are no longer restricted by national borders.

But really, is it all that important to be a citizen of a country?

I think if you were to ask the majority of Malaysians, especially the non-bumiputras, their answer would be no. Which is why there still exists a substantial number of Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, in spite of all the racism received in the hands of government.

The question is, does everyone want to constantly uproot and move on to a new place?

Between you and me, I find that I feel more patriotic after long trips abroad. The desire to see familiar surroundings, faces and routines are inherent within me.

It's a great feeling to drive on Malaysian roads (even during peak-hour traffic, for the first few weeks of returning home), go for breakfast at the nearby stalls, and speak Malay. People give me sideways glances when I say that last bit. :)

I guess I still hold on to the concept of nationality and belonging.

I want to have tears in my eyes at international events like the Olympics when one of ours has bagged a gold. When they play the national anthem and fly the jalur gemilang.

But that's just me.


Rox said...

I'm going to watch Chong Wei and I hope he wins the gold medal!

mekyam said...

I'd love to watch our Chong Wei too, if I can figure out how.

Bleeping yank tele only shows events where they stand a medal chance. Merde!

[Hi Crankshaft! First comment, I think.]

Anonymous said...

absolute power corrupts ke ke :P

rox said...

mekyam. I left it to doc to figure it out. :) He has this satellite thingy.

We fought for the zapper but he willingly gave in after their Lilliput nation won 2 gold medals today. You can imagine the smile on his face!

crankster. Damn! Only a silver this time! 2012 and I'll be there to yell at our Malaysians!

Crankshaft said...

Hi mekyam! :)

Rox. Damn. I hate it when Scandinavians win anything. They're so far up the north pole, you'd think they'd only know how to avoid polar bears, not win medals.

Good to know you'll be back in 2012!! :)

Patricia said...

Malaysia is all I know. And all I am comfortable with. I have been abroad, and even spent a month in a small town in Canada last year: frolicking in the snow for xmas, even! Had a wonderful time.

But I was SO happy to come home. I even loved the smell of it!

For me it is not the place or the politics. I don't give a shit about that. I love it here cos I like everything about it: the people, the food, the language(s), the rain, the sun ... and did I mention the food? ;) Hahahah!

Lovely post, Crankshaft. Tell me, you're turning into an old softie, are you?



GobloKing said...

Zeig Heil!
sorry crank dear but methinks you flatter ain't much of a dictator at all!

If you (like me) are not getting offensive comments/feedback in our blogs - then maybe it's because we are not radical, antagonistic/ thot provoking / outspoken enough like say...RPK?

Hmmm...Good or bad?

Olympics? Although am DYING to follow it, I m doing my silent protest - so you can imagine how difficult it is to try to IGNORE any programming to do with it!

so now am i suffering more than the tibetans? NOT!

from a fellow bimdic*
*bimbo dictator

walla said...

Actually Ohmae had something to do with Cyberjaya.

Mahathir was so taken up with his thoughts that he invited him and his team at McKinsey to JV with TMB on a project here. That project was to blueprint the MSC.

Both have since left their respective stages, leaving behind a legacy here, a legacy there, for succeeding generations.

It is therefore instructive to think how entire generations reap from a few men. Whether what is reaped endures as a boon or a bane is of course entirely another matter. But if done with sharp foresight and equal hindsight from the very beginning, and carried through with consistency and ingenuity by those to whom the baton is passed, tides against can be turned into propulsive forces forward.

Unfortunately the only consistent record we have shown is the seeming inability to close all our circuits that will light those bulbs of real achievement at a national level. This is something worthy of deeper debate, perhaps some soul-searching. Maybe it has to do with our policies, education and people motivation programs, or lack thereof. Maybe it's organizational, maybe it's perception. Or, maybe it's just everyone concluding in the negative. But given the present situation that permeates us, it is something we must first get out of in order to get into something else, a different tack or track, a different way of thinking about and doing things.

We say we have developed somewhat, united somewhere, and progressed in some gallops. But, really? You can't export to import values and then say we are a trillion dollar economy. And also are the doubts because when we say we have, we have really been comparing us now with us before only because to compare us before to others now would only show that we have not fully appreciated the gravity of our not having the one thing that must always be in the back of the mind - the real definitions of world-class standards? If someone wants to do really well in something, he must have a star to hitch onto. Where are ours today? More like evil-trailing meteors about to hit earth, aren't they?

If we look at our political leaders, how many of them really are confident of themselves that they know what the real standards of achievement are to which all the resources and motivation must be directed so that all the nuts and bolts operate smoothly to rise to the occasion? None, one reckons.

Last night, as one burnt the track to rush back in order to catch the match, there was another tolled-highway jam near the seremban exit. But there was no accident - just a toll operator board flashing an arrow for cars to keep off the side road. What the hell for, one wonders? That was the cause of the jam, and the burning of another thousand gallons of fuel for nothing. Of course when you came back with nerves as much out of position as our poor chap and fall onto the chair to turn on the set, you conclude within the first ten seconds of the first match that the game was already over. The star in the eyes was missing. The opponent was so confident that he smashed with the other hand limp. Save energy.

We are good at starting but we don't have the finish.

Now, the real problem was not the tolled jam or the result which is still commendable considering we had come to a whiskers. It was the damn stretch from melaka town to go to the simpang empat toll gate. You see, you have to pass by the small stretch of shoplots by the side of the main road. The place is called Cheng. Where's Ho? Cityhall had built some puny brick huts for the hawkers. People in the know costed each at twelve thousand. The price paid by taxpayers was twenty seven thousand each. And to rub injury, you can't do much with those huts, save put in a stove for the hawker, so where are his customers to sit?

AND SO we have Ohmae->Mahathir->Twin Towers, MSC, Cyberjaya->Umno Main->Umno cityhall's ->Cheng hawkers->one hundred-fifty-K masuk-dompet.

Meanwhile the long-suffering rakyat look at the sky for a star and say their usual tongue-rolling prayers in thanks that it was indeed a great day they didn't think about putting there a few of those million-ringgit hightech cubicles, you know, those that were given much fanfare by DBKL, launched by one socalled PM-iW, so many forgettable months ago. Are those things now on ebay too?

And why the F is silver 300K only when gold can be 1000K?

Nuts and bolts.

That's why today i am reading Precision Motion Control: Design and Implementation (2nd Edition, Springer Germany). The authors? Three NUS lecturers. Painful now, maybe all three of them are ex-Malaysians. As you hit page 185 of the 286 page thing, you search futilely for a dSPACE error compensating mechanism that can be applied to reduce the effect of warbles outcome of the well-stroked policies of this country. It's all in vain.

So maybe one should next try "The 500 Year Delta" (Watts Wacker and Jim Taylor). Crankshaft may possibly be even more delighted with this obscure but mind-bending piece of wax. Hopefully hard-bound copies can still be found for a sinful song at one of those annual warehouse book sales in PJ. Or if you happen by the world's biggest secondhand bookshop (in NY), ten bucks for a mint-new copy. This is the sort of globalization one should have more.

What did the Indian doctor at PgGH say when the checkup for uni came up many decades ago? He proffered only one piece of advice: 'mental flowering', that's what one should aim for, he said with conviction. Mercifully, he said 'flowering'.

So, what next to talk about under this topic? Savings and assets. The engineer was lucky. He had a steady job and foresaw the property market would rise. Because his job didn't pay much, his savings were just meager buffer. But he had one asset that led to another. The asset he had was a friend who was willing to stand as guarantor for him to take a one hundred percent bank loan for the shoplot he was eyeing whose rent out he then parlayed to pay the servicing of the loan, quid pro quo. If the market had nosedived, he would have been in trouble (force-sold and not foresaw) because his buffer was thin. Lucky it went up and stayed steady long enough for him to buy and sell for a good sum. That has increased his saving:asset ratio which then paid for his children's education (it all comes down to that). How many are out there whose ability to survive such times as we are finding ourselves right now are able to also do so from simple monorisked strategies like this? If you get a card company (or duralex ;P) to do a survey tomorrow, the scientific conclusion at the end of the multibindered report will say: invest in the loanshark market 'cos all savings gone, man. Without savings as buffer, or a samaritan guarantor, how to reproduce those mono-risked strategies for asset accumulation? Abridgement life insurance?

So we started with Ohmae, and ends with insurance. Or have we?

As one gets older, hankering for old familiarites grows. Unstoppable forces have become immovable objects. Yes, there is an invisible link to one's birth soil. Despite what the general policy wants to drum into your head that you don't really belong and despite what they unremittingly do to remind you every now and then to your utmost vein-bursting chagrin, yes there is an invisible bond somewhere. But just as the old ones want the new ones to prosper in every facet of mental and other flowering in their lives on the principle that the young didn't choose to come into this world because it was the old who had produced them, so too the young when it is their turn to be old to think not otherwise for their young. Isn't it tragic that this country can bile up some much angst? We don't deserve this. We deserve better.

Foresighted, force-sold, now smash to the forecourt and end the game better.

i am walla (or so i thought ;P)

good morning, crankshaft.

Crankshaft said...


Tell me, you're turning into an old softie, are you?

Sad but true. :)


sorry crank dear but methinks you flatter ain't much of a dictator at all!

You're right. Isn't that horrible? :)

Sieg Heil, baby!

Crankshaft said...

Walla, Ohmae's vision did work with Cyberjaya then. But it served more to bring in the foreigners.

Meanwhile, our local labour force has been sidelined, unable to compete.