Monday, August 24, 2015


I was invited to deliver a talk on the property market recently, and during that talk, we had inter alia a brief look at the trend for the income of the population per capita in recent years. Although I have included that topic in my talk, I mentioned to the audience that I'm not a big fan of this sort of statistics. To me, taking the total income of the population, and then dividing that with the size of the population can give a general view, but not necessarily an accurate impression of what's really happening in reality. We may have say 100 people earning RM10,000 per annum, and just one person earning RM1,000,000 per annum. But when the average of those is calculated, we will arrive at RM19,801.98 per annum.

I suppose statistics can be a useful guide to formulate some national policies, but sometimes there is the tendency to dwell too much on the figures on paper while missing the mark by a mile in reality. That is why I'm not such a big fan of statistics. But even so if we're dealing with human lives.

I think in some cases, such as when talking about human lives lost in a plane crash; or space craft failures during the launch resulting in the loss of astronauts shouldn't be compared by statistics. Every single life is precious, and no amount of statistics, no matter how good they look on paper, can justify the severity of the loss of lives. I don't care if the statistics show that there is a very small percentage of lives lost from air travel, because even if that is true, the bottom line is that lives have been lost. 

When human lives are at stake, there is just no room for mistakes. But after all we are just  humans, and we can't escape from the curse of making mistakes no matter how careful we are. The only thing to do is to admit those mistakes and then find ways not to repeat them in future.

That is why I am a little disgusted when I read the article on the "very small" number of deaths in police custody cases, as explained by Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed. He said, "...we have to work on statistics."

One of these days, if ever Nur Jazlan is arrested on accusation of something that he did not commit, and then is beaten to the brink of death while in police custody, I bet no amount of statistics can convince him that he is just one of the "very small" number of cases of police brutality, as if his predicament is of no consequence. I dare say he would then be demanding for his right to be given the opportunity to defend himself in the court of law, instead of being subject to harsh treatment in prison.

That is always the problem with people, you see. It is too easy to say, for example, that being a gay is sinful unless if they are themselves born gays; that it is easy to say being obese is disgusting, unless if they are themselves obese and can't seem to lose weight no matter how hard they try to fight their cravings; that it is easy to say it's just 200 lives lost in police custody against 120,000 police personnel, unless if they themselves are those whose lives are at stake.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Financial Obligations

I read with interest the article in The Star on why PTPTN defaulters are not paying up. There are several reasons quoted in the said article, but two of them stand out from the rest:

"Everything is so pricey nowadays. To add to that, I am a parent and trying to provide a comfortable life for my child."

"I earn so little and my duty is to my daughter and parents first."

Looking at what's happening in Malaysia today, I'm convinced that those are not lame excuses; I dare say these people are working hard to make ends meet. Leaving aside those people who're jobless, I believe the majority of the working population in Malaysia are not earning well enough to satisfy most of their basic needs, let alone luxuries such as expensive cars or huge houses. I think what we have here is a question of priority.

I happen to know some people—even some of my family members—whom are apparently perpetually "tight up" when it comes to money, regardless of how much they're earning. When speaking to family members, I'm known for my favourite line:

"Kalau periuk nasi semakin besar, maka kerak nasi pun semakin besar juga!"

For those who don't know it yet, I consider myself very good in Malay—both written and spoken.

The Malay phrase above says that when the rice pot gets bigger, then the rice crust will also become bigger too, thus reflecting that when one earns more, his appetite tends to grow. Or his obligations will grow too.

I have on several occasions said to my brother that there is nothing wrong to spend on luxury items. By all means, buy an expensive car if you want to. Heck, buy a few if it makes you happy. Shower your children with modern digital gadgets, and let them live like their parents are rich folks. The only proviso is that just make sure you can really afford those luxuries. And of course if you can't afford all those, then don't spend! It's a very simple policy, really.

Don't owe money from other people when you're a little short, but then when you do get a windfall eventually, instead of paying up your debts, you spend to satisfy your other needs first. If it's your intention that the priority is to provide a comfortable life for your child first; or satisfy your other needs, or to your children, or to your parents first, instead of paying your debts, then bloody hell, don't go looking for PTPTN or friends to get a loan when you're in trouble. When you need help, you want the priority to be given that help. But when it's time to pay up, you don't give the priority that your creditors deserve. What the hell?! 

The money that should have been paid back to PTPTN could be used to help others in desperate need for a loan. If you're not paying your debts, that is like depriving others from getting help from PTPTN.

Don't blame others if they refuse to help you, because you don't deserve their help. The  next time you're in trouble and need help again, don't grumble if you are not given the priority for help. In other words, don't be an asshole!