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.

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