Monday, October 11, 2010

PERKASA...Woodstock...7 Million unwanted youths?? Where is this heading?!?

I like how The Malaysian Insider twist things a bit with pictures. They usually do it with words and exaggerate matters a bit. Trust me when I say this happens as I have also been at the receiving end of it (not me personally, of course).

The most recent occurrence that I am happy to spot is the recent article entitled "Perkasa turns to ‘flower power’ for makeover"

First of all, bravo TMI for highlighting 'flower power' in the headline. People who have lived in the 70's (not me) or is fond of anything ranging from the Vietnam war to Jimmy Hendrix to President Nixon would note that 'flower power' refers to the hippie days.

You see, hippie is famously known for the youth movement in America back in the back-end of the 60's and early 70's as a counter resurgence to everything that is the US Government (at least that's my definition of it).

One of the most popular event that personifies this movement was Woodstock.

Now, here's what Perkasa's suggesting at the end of this year: "This year-end we are going to organize something like Woodstock for youths that are still undecided...". At least that's how they are quoted in TMI.

Now TMI probably didn't do much to their report in terms of actual reporting, but the headline and the picture...well, simply brilliant.

Perkasa has been known to be ultra-Malays and aren't too endearing to the more so-called "liberal thinking" youths of Malaysia (that's how they themselves would coin it). Pitting Woodstock and Perkasa is like pitting Caviar and Marshmallow. They just don't jive.

Now Perkasa might have a more simpler idea of Woodstock, i.e. youths grouping at one time and you know, getting to know Perkasa and listen to Faizal Tahir for 4 hours (or something). But TMI make it seem like it's actually Woodstock especially with the picture of "revelers kissing in the mud at Woodstock 2009".

But the idea of Perkasa organizing a Woodstock-like event is just too awry. It's just not Perkasa. In fact this idea is too liberal and just simply put, an idea Zaid Ibrahim would be proud of (given that they label him a liberal-Malay).

You know it's just an idea of indifferent consequences given that they target 7 million youths gathering for a 24-hours, music ladened event.

Hence the picture in TMI. Gives you a certain misconception of all that there is to know about Perkasa. But hey, they asked for it.

But get a kick out of this. They say they are targetting 7 million youths, the rempits, pregnant teens, extreme sport athletes, rockers and hip hoppers who are not wanted by either BN nor PR.

They actually generalized the whole youth community into this 6 category of people! Put the extreme sport athletes, rockers and hip hoppers into the same bracket as rempits (extreme sports?) and pregnant teens and!! basically say that 7 million youths are basically made of all these people!!!

Genius. Totally genius. Less said about it the better.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Whopper and Malaysia's Lack of Confidence

Malaysians lack confidence. This is not based on any formal observation, psychological or scientific research or coffee shop talk between friends. It is based on the goings-on around me that I come to this conclusion – which I will explain in a short while.

Is that our fault? Yes.

I came to this informal observation after helping myself to a Whopper burger yesterday (RM1, queued for an hour, worth it). I remember eating whopper burger in Saudi Arab a few years back, and it was enormous – managed to finish 1 burger and helping myself to leftovers of my mum’s and aunt’s. Yesterday, when I ate the burger at my office pantry, I received the common remark of “wow that’s a huge burger”. It was huge, but not as huge as the one I had in Saudi.

Why is it that our Whoppers aren’t as huge? Is it because we Malaysians don’t eat much? Is the Burger King franchise belittling our appetite? Maybe. Every time I watch the food channel or travel and living, I see Americans, Arabs and Europeans eating huge portions of food, unhealthy food, but food nonetheless.

This is very Malaysia (that everything is of little portion) because in Malaysia, no one thinks we can handle bigger plates.

This is not just the perception restaurants give us (Pizza, mcD, TGI-Chillis) but in most of everything around us as well. Government gives us countless amounts of subsidies – like Petrol (of course this is leveraged by the ridiculous duties on cars)

Malay also has the NEP which is by far the biggest stick anyone could give the helpless Malays to walk in this country of ours. Regardless of what you say, it is a lack of confidence that we’re given NEP.

Then there’s a whole load of needless regulations and laws. The lack of confidence by the government in the people’s ability to control themselves (after the racial riot 40 years ago when arguably the nation was in its infancy, and it seems we are still in that stage) results in the over-regulation on the press, free speech (even though enshrined in our constitution), writings (Hassan Sekodeng’s case is testament to this) and ceramahs as well as forums.

Proton needs the government to impose ridiculous tax on imported cars for it to survive. Why is that so? It is mainly because Proton themselves have no confidence in their car-making ability and feel they can’t compete with imported cars. I mean we buy more expensive Protons in Malaysia then let’s say those in UK or Dubai do. Why? If Proton can actually produce good quality cars, then the excessive tax is not needed and Malaysians can confidently drive Proton cars.

The confidence in talents within this country is also in tatters with the government’s dedicated efforts to bring Malaysian professionals abroad to do the job here. I don’t mind really if they can contribute, it is welcomed. But what about the millions that are already here? Can’t we contribute as much? Well I’ve raised that in my previous entry; need not dive into it any further.

Then of course, we’re not confident of our judiciary, police, graft-busters, taxi drivers, corporate leaders, media, city councils, maids and I could go on for days with this.

Hence, does Malaysians lack confidence? I’d say yes. But the reasons being we contribute as much to our lack of confidence by our lack of trust in ourselves. Therefore, we need to be a bit more liberated by trusting ourselves more.

Give us enormous Whopper burgers!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Why Woo When You Can Wow Me (on retaining talents)

PM is working hard to woo Malaysians back from across the horizon. Of course to do this, as with any other initiatives by the Malaysian government, there is a need to actually set up a whole corporation/body/task force/working committee/agency/club/coffee shop/mobile clinic/booth etc.

In this case it’s the Talent Corporation set to be up and running by next year. Their main objective is basically to woo professionals from abroad. The corporation would engage these lucky chaps who managed to secure a career (I’m guessing prosperous careers) in a foreign land, seeking them out and addressing their concerns. We will be begging them to return to this beloved country, that’s the gist of it.

All is well and good there. However, apart from sentimental values and nasi lemak, what other reasons could there be for them to consider returning here permanently?

I’m happy to be in Malaysia, to work in Malaysia and be a part of Malaysia. I see this country as having a lot of potential and I feel no real burden living in this country. Sure cars are ridiculously expensive and I’m stuck with a run-down Waja that has “v-tech” sticker which is impossible to peel out because the guy who owned it before was probably trying to convince himself that it is as good as driving a Camry, house prices makes me noxious and I can only dream of owning a house in the next 7 years (I’m playing Lego a lot more now), the public transport system is the government’s way of promoting fitness and health as opposed to travel convenience and salary prices have been rising dramatically slow for decades despite our rush to be a developed nation by 2020 - developed nation under-developed people.

Not to mention all the racism (a rising concern), politicking, red tape, corruption, half-open market, leadership crisis, the lack of good Nasi Lemak stalls (unlike 10 years ago) and the Ramadhan Bazaar losing its appeal after the 12th day of fasting month. Also, the illogical and yet accepted pricing of Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mee Goreng (fired noodle) and other Goreng-Goreng (fried-fried) food from breakfast to lunch/dinner - how can Nasi Goreng be worth RM1.50 during breakfast (pre-prepared) and RM3.50 after breakfast (add fried onion to the mix) and no one questioning the rationality?

In any case, I think the government is aiming wrongly in this case. Sure we want talents to come back to Malaysia especially if there are talents out there who might go on to be Jimmy Choo or that Saw movie creator guy who might do some good to our lackluster movie industry. But they have gone on to another country, they are getting higher salaries, they are living the dream perhaps even. Judging from comments in blogs, newspapers, online portals and forums, most of these leavers seem to be happy and not too many regret their decision.

If indeed we are able to woo them back, how many would want to come back? My next question is, what can these woo'ed boys do that those who are already here can’t potentially do? Why not aim to retain those who are still here, those in the university, those young entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors, academicians, etc.

Instead of promising high salaries for these woo'ed boys to come back, giving them benefits and discounts on stuff, give that to us. I’ve never considered moving abroad to work but I do realize that I’m not earning much here - considering my talent for looking busy whilst “at work”. I can’t afford a lot of things, definitely cannot live a life of luxury with my family, can only dream of traveling at the moment, but I’m happily working in Malaysia still.

I say, reward me, reward us.

I can understand those wanting to work abroad and become a resident of other countries. Look at our salary scale and compare them to our neighbor. In 2007, the average household income was only RM3,500 monthly (USD 965, i.e. USD 11,500 yearly) whilst in Singapore, the median household income in 2005 was USD30,000 yearly. I’m not really sure about the difference between “average” and “median” in economic-lingo, but since the numbers are hugely different (considering the year as well) it is disturbing anyway. (Median is the middle right and average is like the middle as well? If I’m wrong correct me please)

Then consider the fact that 45% of expats living in Singapore earns more than S$ 250,000 you would be blind to not see the gold that is raining on our neighbor.

In any case, many those who have left would probably not come back. But there are a lot more talents in this country that may or may not be considering other opportunities abroad. Fix the problems that are here (some already listed above), retain the talents you already have by giving them added benefits, the promise of brilliant career progression, fair and equal treatment and not screw up too much. Now that would be a better initiative.

Again my point is, reward me, reward us.

On that note, why must the government set up a whole corporation just so there could be professionals whose job is to beg other people to come home?

I say, you would be wasting your time. Leave that job to capable NGOs. There are plenty of NGOs who would be willing to do the job if you fund them the right amount. Then you can focus on other more pertinent issues like healthcare, education or Pak Ali’s English.