Thursday, December 27, 2018


Whenever I'm in the mood to lecture some of the young folks, I've always told them the story of competing in a foot race against other people. Immediately after the start gun, everybody starts running, and as the race progresses, you realise that your rivals are gradually leaving you farther and farther behind. What would you do? 

There are three possible reactions. The first is the simplest, i.e. just give up and stop running immediately. The only possible outcome of this choice is a certain defeat, period. The second choice is to just run at the same speed till the end. If the rivals are also maintaining their respective speeds, chances are they will continue increasing their lead over you until they cross the finish line. The third option is to try to run faster, somehow, in the hope that you can catch up with the competition, and who knows, maybe even overtake them. It's the hardest choice to make because it usually involves a lot of efforts. But even if in the end you can't win the race, maybe you won't be the last to cross the finish line. There is a chance that you might be able to overtake at least some of the runners.

And that is essentially what happens in life. All of us are actually in a race against each other on a daily basis, and in most cases, whether or not one can finish in pole position will depend on which of those three choices above that one opts for. We see the same thing in school, in the job market; in practically everything we do.

However, there is actually another possible choice to make, and that is to try to beat up the opponents' legs so that when their legs are injured, they won't be able to run so fast. It will then be easier to beat them in the race! It's not what one might call an honorable way of winning. But some people are not honorable anyway. If they can win, it doesn't really matter to them how they achieve it; winning is winning to them.

Therefore if a coconut farmer discovers that his customers are no longer buying from him—that they are buying from other people instead at a cheaper price—the immediate reaction is not to find ways to increase production efficiency to compete at the new prices; rather, find ways how to stop the competition from competing by urging the government to "look into the matter and put a halt to imported coconuts to safeguard the local coconut industry."

Winning a race against injured or crippled opponents, or winning a business venture due to monopoly power served by the government on a silver platter, is not really winning. This sort of success is only a success for as long as the protection is there. It's almost like buying a lottery ticket knowing the winning numbers before they are revealed.

If you want real victory, then fight a real fight. Real victory is much sweeter and satisfying.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Soap Opera

This will be one of my shortest posts in this blog, just to share on the quality of politicians that we have in Sabah, their values and life principles, and who-knows-what they are really fighting for.

02 December 2018 [The Star]:

"Sabah Umno is still very much intact and united"...

"Our social and community services, as well as activities are being carried out as usual in many divisions in Sabah"

—Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, amid a local media report that the party leaders and members were going to dump the party.

And then less than a fortnight later...

13 December 2018 [The Star]:

"We are leaving Umno with a heavy heart but a clear conscience. We believe that breaking free of past political baggage is the correct decision to allow for political renewal and betterment of Sabah"

—Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor, in justifying why he and friends are abandoning ship.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Handouts Culture

My sister was once married to a man of Pakistani-Bajau descendants. He wasn't a very bright chap—he spent several months taking driving lessons until the tutor gave up on him. Apparently, the task of having to focus on the steering wheel while his feet had to deal with the 3 pedals on the floor, as well as the shifting of the gear with his other hand, was too overwhelming to him. I suppose it was just a hopeless case of multi-tasking.

My ex-brother-in-law came from a very poor family and used to live in the then Sembulan Water Village—the area has since been reclaimed and redeveloped with modern buildings. He is a devout Muslim, and as a teenager I looked up to him. He attempted the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia exams five times before finally passing it. Talk about determination! Such a hard-working man, and he was the role model to his younger siblings. He was, and still is, an extraordinary man, and I see him as a rare species of the Bumiputeras.

As is the case with most Bumiputera families, he had many siblings, and almost all of them were living under the same roof. Unfortunately, most of his siblings did not have the same mindset as him. They dropped out of school at an early age, and then got into trouble with the law. Some of them were jobless most of the time and spent their days hanging around doing nothing, just waiting to be fed. It didn't really matter that my brother-in-law was earning a decent income, because in his family there were more parasites than hosts. The net result is that the parasites would always overwhelm the hosts. The productive members of the family would always be broke, no matter how much they're earning.

Such is the "handouts culture" in his family—the non-productive members would expect to be fed by the productive members. In fact, it's almost like a birth right to them that other people should be feeding them forever. It's quite sad, if not mind-boggling, to see the life of my brother-in-law.

But what's happening in his family is actually a reflection of Malaysians in general. A sizeable number of Malaysians expect handouts too. They expect the government to give subsidies for a whole range of goods including food items, fuel, education and medicare. They applied for, and then secured education loans to pursue tertiary education. But when the time came to pay the loans, they demanded that those loans be cancelled for nothing. And even if they're willing to pay the loans, they'd expect some discounts from the original amount; and for the monthly installments to be as little as possible. Never mind who's going to pay for all these eventually; that's none of their concern. All they know is that they get either FREE or SUBSIDIZED goods and services, because they see these as an automatic right as Malaysian citizens.

I had one of those little conversations with my daughter recently. I told her that when she's already an adult it's entirely up to her to spend on the things she likes. But please make sure that she can afford those things, whatever they are. Mom and dad won't be around forever, so don't make it a habit to expect handouts from us. We will try our best to give her proper education. But beyond that, she's practically on her own. Please, for heaven's sake, don't be one of those people out there, perpetually demanding FREE or SUBSIDIZED goodies from the government. If the government is giving, then accept it with gratitude. If not, then earn the money on her own. And if she's still unable to earn well after putting in the efforts, then don't grumble. Keep trying. That's life. Get over it.