Category Archives: Wisdom

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.

Year of Rat

Helped my dad to clean and tidy the house this morning. It is Chinese New Year tomorrow. I think it is a tradition to clean the house, wear new clothes to welcome the new year. While we were tidying and storing stuff into what used to be a dog hut, my dad found a rat hiding in a paper box which is carrying a fire extinguisher. Dad then used a large plastic bag, wrapped the whole box in it, waited for the rat to emerge from the box and then killed it using a wooden stick. Actually not quite, my dad has to also step on it once to finally finish it off. I feel bad, although I did suggest my dad to let the rat go. In fact I’m the one to pass my dad the wooden stick when I was asked to find one! Guess my dad still has too much authority over me.I remember saying to myself that “Ratatouille” is one of the best animation movies around after watching it on my flight back to Malaysia. And I think Disney movies are great, which I haven’t really appreciated until now, as they have the magical power to make people, especially kids, love and appreciate animals, due to the animations that make animals look so cute and adorable. However here I am ended up helping my dad killed one of these little animals. Shame on me.To make matter worse, I found out later on in the afternoon that it’s the year of Rat this coming year. What a bizarre experience, to have killed a rat on the eve of year of Rat. Damn, I really don’t like what that has just happened today!

Thoughts about my travel business

I’m really pleased to receive the positive feedbacks on the website for my small travel business venture to Malaysia. They mean a lot to me, as I have spent just so much time on the website. I don’t claim to have created the website from scratch, but it is so much work to get the website to look the way I want. It is such a relief to know that these effort has not gone wasted.I think the content for the website is quite important. I remember when I initially showed to some people their remarks were just so so only. After working on the content, it seems that people are now starting to appreciate the business we are working on. I guess the passion and confidence in my own business does help too. And I genuinely believe that tourism is the best way forward for Borneo if we want to keep the rainforest and the biodiversity there. You probably have no idea that there are many people out there who want to turn these forest into oil palm plantation for biodiesel. In fact one of my close friends has some land in Sabah that has just been turned into an oil palm plantation recently! It was an act my friend is not particularly proud of, even though the land he bought used to be secondary forest, rather than primary. Bio-fuel cannot be a direct replacement of natural fuel source. People really should conciously cut down energy wastage. There’s no excuse for not doing that and people should be ridiculed for being ignorant. People need to start realising the consequences of their actions.Circumstances change from time to time. What was acceptable years ago is now frowned upon. Seems a bit strange sometimes but nothing new. Guess we just need to keep updating ourselves so that what we now know as mistakes are not repeated again.

The American way of romance

This is really interesting (you probably need to zoom in to be able to see the text). Looks like the American beauty really do have this kind of mentality when it comes to finding men for dating or for marriage. I always thought it’s just over-exaggeration. Incredible. Unfortunately beauties, in whoever’s eyes, really always do have the advantage when it comes to pulling men, as the outer shell is what men see first, and which is what men are almost instinctively attracted to. So men are said to be shallow because of that, what about these beauties?:)

Jamie’s Fowl Dinners

Despite Jamie Oliver’s effort in promoting better quality school lunch in Britain, I still don’t think I like his TV programmes, or perhaps more precisely his image or his personality. It’s a strange one, as I seldom dislike someone. “Jamie’s Fowl Dinners” seems to be yet another of his “stunt”, this time to raise consumers awareness on the eggs or chickens they buy from supermarkets. To be fair, the programme is quite informational. It shows the poor conditions the chickens have to endure throughout their life, particularly those that are caged. You can almost see the chickens are happier if they are free-range. But what strikes me is his effort to try and tell the audience of the poor fate of the chickens, where they are ultimately slaughtered, chopped into separate parts for selling, with their carcasses compressed for sausages etc, yet he’s not willing to stop eating these poor chickens. I find his action rather contradictory, don’t you think? What a poor message to send out to the audience. W pointed out that he’s done something similar before as well, telling people, in the capacity as a Sainsbury spokesperson, that farmed salmon is healthy yet not serving them in his own restaurant. Hypocrite?

Right effort

Something quite extraordinary happened when we were trying to get pass the immigration at the Geneva airport yesterday. A woman, seeing that there was such a long queue, decided to just conveniently slot in to the queue, right infront of us, pretending that nothing had happened! I “politely” told her off by telling her that the queue was behind. She then gave us excuses like her driver was waiting outside and she “can’t” queue behind. What a woman, trying to be posh yet not really, as we later found out that she has no driver actually and had to catch a cab :)I wonder what’s the best way to handle this kind of situation. I think we spoke loud enough that a lot of the people behind the queue were aware of what this woman was doing. Yet the woman has the balls, or lack of them, to stand her ground, as if she has the right to cut queue, believing that it wouldn’t make much difference to us. To be honest, it really did not make a difference, as we still ended up leaving the airport earlier that she did. At one point I was thinking of humiliating her infront of the immigration officer, to teach her a lesson, but W pleaded that we better leave her alone. And seeing that nobody else behind seemed to worry too much either I started questioning myself whether I have over-reacted. I couldn’t quite tell if it was the sense of injustice or that I wanted to get one over her or maybe something else that prompted me to react the way I had. Anyway I hope we have done enough to remind her in future that she should be embarrassed when she cuts queue again.

American beauty and muslim women

This article about comparing British and American women and asking why British women don’t spend the time, money and effort on their upkeep like American women do has caused such an uproar in the UK that the author has written a follow up to respond to the criticisms. I guess the author has half expected the controversy that comes with his article. But I’m sure he must be fascinated by the attention given to his article, and maybe even himself.So there are these rather “hard-core” American women who will dedicate a lot of money, time and effort to make themselves look gorgeous all the time, and throughout their lifetime. Some may even go the extra length to undergo cosmetic surgery, take botox injection, you name it. Some say that they do this for themselves. But I’m not so sure for those “hard-core” beauties. Let’s face it, if men do not pay them much attention regardless of how good or sexy they look, do you think they will be motivated to spend all that money, time and effort to keep up with their look? I don’t think so.On the contrary, there are these muslim women who cover up themselves, even the face, except the eyes, believing that by doing so people, especially men, will treat them as a person, rather than a sex object, and not be distracted by their features, body etc. Which is also a valid point, particularly for married women. But for women who are single and are looking for love, it’s probably going to be a bit tricky. Match making comes to mind, but personally I’m still not very receptive to such idea.Anyway, to be honest, I certainly don’t mind women looking good (why would I?:)). But I guess what is more important is to look after yourself. Afterall, our look can’t last forever. If you are unhappy about say the weight you put on, do something about it. Don’t get vindictive when people talk about fat, lazy people (not necessarily in a bad way)!

Is the grass always greener elsewhere?

Today I received an email from my ex-secretary who is still working at the same place. She asked if it would be easy to get a job in the UK whether legally or illegally as long as it pays well. My immediate thought was I could not respond to her email using work email address as it would be hugely inappropriate.What concerns me most is not that she is willing to take up a job through illegal means but that she would sacrifice her time with her family and travel to a completely strange country to earn more money, and she is a mother of two or three children. Is it worth it? I remember my dad was abroad working for six months when I was very young. I remember missing him so much. We were very poor and had to go to a public phone booth to call him may be once a fortnight just to talk for five minutes. It was such a sad experience that I will never forget it in my life. Unless there is absolutely no other choice, I think parents should never leave their children to go abroad for money reasons. What you make out of your earnings is entirely your choice. The most important thing is to be happy and no amount of money can substitute happy times with family.

China years: How many are you living?

My eldest brother recently sent me this article, “China years: How many are you living”. It gives you a sense of how quickly China is changing, compared to other parts of the world. Take for example, a year in China is equivalent to 3.1 years in the UK. “Tempted? Give up your sleepy French coastal town” is what the author says at the end of the article…Well, don’t think we are the slightest bit tempted:W: I think most people would be able to deal with tangible changes. It’s the cultural and social issues that normally cause problems. But if it was me, I wouldn’t give up my sleepy French coastal town chateau for a high rise flat in Shanghai, that’s for sure! It will always be French Chateau, anytime! Or even a French cottage, that’ll still beat a mansion in Shanghai.Me: What’s so special about experiencing this kind of change?! Everything is changing all the time anyway. If it’s just for the sake of experience then maybe. I’ve seen Kuala Lumpur changed quite quickly too. Was I blown away by what happened? Not really. So will I pack up and move to China, just because China is changing at phenomenal pace? Not in a million years. Changes at this rate if not properly managed will only bring hardship to a lot of people living there. And the effect can be long lasting. Let’s hope that this is not the case.

New bird visiting our garden

Mouse on the bird feeder

Recently our backyard is frequented by this new bird called Dunnock. Dunnock is supposed to be a very shy bird, but strangely this one moves around our backyard in our presence as if we weren’t around. It’s definitely not as fearful as the Robin that lives around, which will easily fly away as soon as it is certain that we are watching it. It’s such a joy to be able to observe the bird closely. But the price we pay is that the lawn we are trying to grow may end up very patchy as it’s been eating a lot of the grass seeds we planted!