RTM1, RTM2 and Malaysia

I’ve known this German guy through project collaboration for about a year. But only yesterday did I get to know that he has worked in Malaysia for two and a half years back in 2002, at Angkasapuri, to train Malaysians on broadcast related work. What I found even more interesting is that he also knew about the recent election results. Impressive, through The Star online. And he has fond memories about working in Malaysia, and life in general, including his three kids. This is good to know, even though expats normally get very good remuneration working overseas.What he saw was a stable, prosperous country with a lot of natural resources and do not suffer from natural disasters. To a certain extent we have to be thankful to whoever who has made Malaysia the country we now have. When compared to other Southeast Asia countries, which he has the priviledge of visiting, Malaysia is definitely right up there. So from an “outsiders” point of view, he was baffled by the election results, and couldn’t quite grasp what the ruling government has done wrong. But what he did see was the attitude of the people working for RTM1 and RTM2. He was surprised to see how poor the quality of the programmes produced by these state-owned organisations. Whether they lack incentives or lack imaginations I don’t know, but they are not news anymore in Malaysia. Everybody knows they are poorly run, and nobody watches these channels. Well, not strictly, I know my dad still tunes in to watch the Mandarin news programme every evening. My German friend also saw people sleeping in the office 🙂 What a shame. I have a friend who used to work as a consultant for government projects, and I think he still has plenty of stories to share. Anyway I look at BBC programmes and I can see many passionate people who enjoy their work, and they keep producing world-class quality programmes. BBC is non-commercial too, so why the huge difference.When asked whether my German friend will consider living in Malaysia again, the answer is he certainly wouldn’t rule that option out. But hopefully by then he will see an even better country.

Work life balance

A lot has been said about work life balance in recent years in the UK. It is certainly a very welcoming movement for some. Although a huge supporter myself, I wonder if this is everybody’s cup of tea. Some people simply seem to enjoy work, especially those who are single and find it boring to be home early in the evening only to end up watching tv at night.I did use to enjoy work before I was married. I worked long hours although not totally unreasonable and when there was not much work, I seemed to find my life rather empty and boring. But all has changed. I have since picked up many hobbies and past times that I cherish every minute when I am not working. I still do enjoy work, but only to the extent that it is not bringing too much stress to my life.Life seems so much more complete when you are not putting your life in your career. You have more time to think and reflect upon yourself. In my case, it has certainly been very beneficial. I start to care more about others and my patience improves. When I see some of my colleagues working ridiculously long hours, I wonder if they realise what they are missing out in life. It is not just one day or a week and every minute adds up to any resentment in the future. I like the latin phrase “carpe diem”, seize the day. It keeps me on my toe to live my day to the fullest.

Pride and prejudice

Thus passed the long Easter weekend. It would have been a very fruitless weekend by my usual standards because I have not done much outdoor exercise or any sightseeing at all. However, all was not lost. I spent a good few hours watching the BBC pride and prejudice series and another good few hours reading the book.Before I knew it, it was time to get depressed over the fact that I have to go to work soon. I am not keen on the idea of reading a book twice no matter how much I appreciate it. I had this thinking that if I know the plot, there is not much joy in spending another good few hours reading what you already know. The same goes to films. But I made some exceptions, only very occasionally. It was the second time that I read pride and prejudice although I have been telling everyone how much I love the book. To my amazement, I find that it had been more enjoyable than my first reading. I know the plot and some of the lines, but this time, I was looking out for more subtle things. I didn’t know that I was capable of reading with so much enthusiasm on a second reading. I absolutely adore the story and I am sure most female readers will not contest its likeability. Like most females, I wonder if a real life Mr Darcy exists. I am not a sceptic, but I do think that most men with power, wealth, and good looks are not always the best husbands. Most of the time, they may lack integrity or honesty. In fact, it may even be a universal truth. But I always believe that fairy tales happen in real life but just don’t happen to everyone. For those hopeful females out there, including some of my friends, I hope that they will find their own Mr Darcy but if they don’t, there is no need to be disappointed, because it may only happen to one in a million and you are just part of the majority.

Easter holiday

Woohoo, it’s Easter long weekend. It’s been difficult to concentrate at work today. Longing to go home. And I’ve just received my first colour laser printer. Hell it’s heavy, 17.0kg including the packaging. Yet to test it out, but I’m full of hope (please don’t disappoint me!). Weather over the next few days is not looking good according to the BBC weather forecast. Was hoping to do some gardening, now that Spring is fast approaching. The Daffodils I planted last winter are blossoming! But my little garden does need some much needed make-over after months of inactivities from us. You know, Winter is very cold, and not many things grow 🙂 Was also thinking of buying some mealworms, to hopefully tame the Robin that visits our window bird feeder everyday.

Blue Tit

Caught this Blue Tit on camera busy eating sunflower hearts on our window bird feeder last week. The yellow lump on the far side is the Daffodils flower :)BTW, have a fabulous Easter weekend everyone!

On efficiency of government services

The article on “A storm in a songkok” reminded me of a discussion with my English friend about the efficiency of government services, and whether it is really such a good idea to have a very efficient government. From the point of view of the consumers of the services, it is all very good as it saves them time, and quite often time means money, particularly for those services which are business related. However for most countries, the government is also a big employer. For a developing country like Malaysia, there are still many poor people who can barely make ends meet. Naturally people tend to look to the government for help, in the form of benefits, subsidies, employment, government projects etc. A good government will strive to bring people out of poverty, and reduce the wealth gap between the rich and the poor, as happiness of the unenlighted is often relative.Okay let us focus on wealth distribution in the form of employments provided by the government. If the government departments becomes very efficient, normally it means that less jobs will be required to provide the same services. Imagine that a lot of work can now be done using a computerised system, which is very common nowadays. So the point is there is also a good side to having a not-too-efficient government. At least for Malaysia, where there are still many poor people. So to hear that there is a possibility that the federal government might reduce funding to state governments that have fallen to the opposition coalition, which had happened before to Kelantan and Terengganu, is concerning. I know it is a cheap shot by the ruling government to try and regain these states by such means, but you can never under estimate how low these people can go. The state government may have no choice but to reduce the operational cost should this really happens, and show that states run by the opposition coalition are very efficient, but it is important that the opposition coalition make sure that they work very hard to get as much funding from the federal government first. On how we can squeeze money from the crooks I haven’t a clue. Perhaps by shouting very loud in the parliament? 🙂 And make more people aware of the importance of the funding? But whatever we think can help we should definitely try.

Democracy, is it too late for Malaysians?

It was a defining moment for most Malaysians last weekend. Even though 10,000 miles away, I was equally excited over the General Election and wouldn’t mind confining myself in front of C’s laptop refreshing the website every other minute to check out on the results of the election.I was a little sceptical at first over the outcome of the election. When C said that there will be more votes for the opposition this time round, I dismissed by saying that the ruling coalition will get no less than 65% majority in the Parliament. How wrong was I and for a rare occassion, I don’t mind being wrong. I am so proud of my fellow Malaysians that my eyes were almost filled with tears.The election committee had done everything in their power, whether legal or illegal to ensure that the ruling coalition always gets an upper hand when it comes to the General Election. The constituencies were drawn in such a way that the ruling coalition always get more seats in the Parliament. For a contrast, there are only about 6,000 voters in Putrajaya (which is a fairly newly created constituency ‘for the ruling coalition’) and Seputeh which is an opposition stronghold has a whopping 70,000 voters (estimates). How they draw the lines, I can never discern, but how Malaysians had put up with such blatant abuse of power, was more mysterious.The government had done everything in their power to suppress the media, be it tv, newspapers or radio. We could only hear of any negative news against the government if you know of any insider who had first hand knowledge. I had the opportunity to hear a first hand account from an ISA detainee who, for miraculous reasons, was not broken down having spent two years in ISA detention. I also had the privilege of attending several seminars about human rights abuse in Malaysia.I wished I could have done more for the people. I wished there was something that I could play a part in. But it was difficult not to feel that everything was too late and what could a small number of people did. But this General Election has shown that all is but too late. I would be more than surprised if the opposition had not won more than 50% of the votes of Malaysians in this General Election. If it wasn’t for the unjustifiable division of constituencies that favour the ruling coalition, we might well see a new government in 50 years of independence. This is only real democracy.I hope that the opposition will grab this chance and shine as I don’t know if they would have to wait another 50 years to have the second chance. Although not being able to form the federal government, they have done very well to secure 5 states to form the state governments.Although most people seem to think that the current PM is to take responsibility for the upset in this General Election and the current state of affairs in Malaysia. I still however think that he is a much better PM than Dr M. It is hardly convincing that his son is one of the 50 richest men in Malaysia and some of his cronies are the most successful businessmen in Malaysia with no lack of billionaires amongst them. At the same time, I am still unconvinced that Najib can ever be a PM given the extremely racist remark he made in 1987 during the Lalang Operation. But as we all know, with money comes power when it comes to Malaysian politics. I should only pray that more and more Malaysians will raise their awareness on such fundamental issues and take them to heart. It concerns their very own welfare and their home soil.

Opposition parties captured 5 states in Malaysia

This is monumental. The oppositions managed to capture even Perak from the ruling party Barisan Nasional (BN), on top of Penang, Kelantan, Kedah, and Selangor! It was close, 30 vs 29 seats to the Opposition coalition. As for Selangor, it’s almost like a landslide victory. This is major. You only need to look at the majority votes won by some of the opposition candidates. This election truly marks a new dawn for the political landscape of Malaysia. Every Malaysians should rejoice about this, for a stronger oppositon coalition is going to benefit all Malaysians (maybe less so monetary-wise for some crooks from BN). Let’s face it, even the Malays realise that the government is doing a bad job, and voted against the ruling party. And some of them even urge Chinese and Indians to vote for Democratic Action Party (DAP), a chinese-led opposition party. This is remarkable, don’t you think, although this is how it should be all along, all races in Malaysia living harmoniously. Often it is the ruling party and the national media, controlled by the ruling party, that are trying to paint a picture of potential racial divide to the people. Many people are no fool anymore. Look at the election results.This is just the beginning of a new Malaysia. All these could come to nothing if we do not make use of this opportunity given by the citizens of Malaysia. First of all, as promised by the politicians, we need to make sure that basic problems faced by the citizens are tackled – crime, inflation, among others. Corruptions are more deep rooted problem. It will take some time, but it can be done when there is a transparent government, a civil society, and an unshackled and independent media. So let’s make sure that we all are working towards this “ideals” given the opportunity!

DAP’s rally at SS2

Looking at the crowds, the support given to Ms Fong Po Kuan, and the speech given by her, slowly and clearly in Cantonese and English to reach all audience, I got a bit emotional. Malaysia really need someone like her, and we Malaysians should be thankful for having such a passionate fellow Malaysian who is willing to get her sleeves up and do the dirty work for the citizens.Election is today, Malaysia time…

Fong Po Kuan

It’s going to be the general election in Malaysia next week, 8th March 2008. This I believe is going to be a close election, I explained to my colleague. But not close in the sense that there is going to be a formidable opposition coalition that can win the election from the incumbent Barisan Nasional (BN), which my Zimbabwean colleague initially thought. What Malaysians can realistically ask for is just to stop BN from taking more than two-thirds majority of the seats in parliament, which will hopefully put more pressure on BN and stop them from getting ill-advised motions passed without contest. This I believe is an achievable feat in this coming election, as there really are a lot of resentments coming from all races in Malaysia, including the Malays. But at the end of the day it’s going to depend on the voters.So to hear that Fong Po Kuan decides to quit contesting in the coming election after the Prime Minister announced the date of the general election three weeks ago was really a major disappointment for me, to say the least. The disappoinment comes not just from the fact that it will be a major blow to the opposition party. But it is the lost of another bright talent who had dedicated years of her life fighting for what must have been seen as a lost cause by many people. It does stirred me into thinking that there is probably really no hope to all these, and there will only be sad ends to those who put themselves forward to fight for a better country. I was truly disturbed. But the saga (Po Kuan decided to contest again at Batu Gajah last week after careful consideration, fortunately!) reveals that my heart is still with Malaysia, although I now reside in the UK. Malaysians still mean a lot to me, and Malaysia can certainly be a much better country, if the political scene can be a bit more, or perhaps a lot more, healthy.I know voters are wiser than before. But let’s hope that they make the right decision, especially this election, which I think will be monumental to the future of Malaysia.