23 June 2008

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday June 18, 2008
You walk the talk first

The Government wants us to change our lifestyles to cope with inflation. It is easier said than done since most people were having it difficult even before the hikes. The Government must first set an example by doing things it should have done long ago.

WITH the recent hike in fuel prices and the Government’s exhortations for us to change our lifestyles in order to cope, may I provide here some suggestions for the Government and those who work for it to “share our burden”.

1. Stop having meetings, especially out at resorts, far enough away to be able to claim transport allowances. Have online meetings instead or teleconferences. Use Skype or chat.

2. No need to order special pens, bags, T-shirts, notepads and other goodies for those same meetings.

3. No need to order kuih for mid-morning or teatime meetings in government offices, or nasi briyani lunches for those meetings that happen to end just at lunchtime.

4. Cancel all trips for government servants to conferences overseas unless they return with full reports of what they did there, who they met and what they learnt and how they mean to apply what they learnt at home. Ask them to do presentations to colleagues who did not get to go, on the most interesting and important papers that they read.

5. Scrutinise invoices for contracts to make sure they are truly reflective of what those projects or supplies cost.

6. Stop elaborate launches for government programmes. In particular, stop the buying of souvenirs, special batik shirts, corsages, bouquets and caps.

7. Make all civil servants and politicians travel economy class. That means really travelling at the back of the plane and not buying full fare economy class tickets that allow them to be upgraded to Business Class.

8. Stop having the full complement of police escorts to cut down on petrol costs. If they need to be somewhere by a certain time, start earlier like the rest of us. Wouldn’t be a bad thing for them to also experience a traffic jam.

9. Once a week (or more), have ministers use public transport so they know what everyone else has to suffer. This might provide them with the incentive to improve them.

10. Once a week, let ministers go to a market to buy food for their families with instructions to not spend more than RM100.

11. Get ministers to carpool. They might get more work done just by being able to talk to each other to see what can be coordinated between their ministries. For instance, the Ministers of Health and Women could discuss what to do about women’s health issues in the car on the way to work. Maybe have a secretary to travel in the front seat to take down notes on what was discussed. By the time they get to their offices, things can get implemented.

12. Once a month, get civil servants to work with one disadvantaged group in order to be better able to appreciate their problems. It could be blind people one month, hearing disabled people the next, orang asli the following month and people living with HIV/AIDS after that.

We could start buddy systems which pair one civil servant with one disadvantaged person and at the end of it, ask each pair to make recommendations on how to make life better for each other. This might get rid of the problem of desk jockeys, people who never stray very far from their desks yet make policies for people they know nothing about.

13. Have PA systems that shout out the name of the officers who have to serve people at government offices so that people get the services they came for and don’t have to keep coming back just because the officer was out having coffee.

No counter should be left unmanned for more than five minutes before the officer is paged to go back to their stations. This should cut down waiting time for the public and save them transport costs in having to keep returning just to get one thing done.

14. Government officers who lose people’s files should be fined and have their names publicised for being careless and causing inconvenience to the public. Instead of making the public travel to their offices several times to deal with their problems, they should travel to go see their client and deal with it right there and then.

And every officer who goes out of the office should be given a reasonable time to get his work done after which he is expected back in office so he doesn't waste time doing something else.

15. And newspapers should save paper by reporting real news rather than non-news that they carry, particularly nonsensical utterances by politicians.

As they say, we need to do this all together in order to make a difference. So if the Government and politicians make these lifestyle changes, I will do my part and change mine.

11 June 2008

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday June 4, 2008
Looking beyond the white blouse

There are many different ways of thinking about the same thing, and if we insist that our way is best, we need to defend it with sound arguments.

I would nominate for “Small Mind of the Year” the announcement by a female student that our schoolgirls’ uniforms are too transparent, and therefore would lead to them being raped, have unwanted babies and all sorts of evil things.

I’m surprised they didn’t mention that these white blouses would also make them corrupt and power-hungry.

It’s nice that a student association is taking an interest in issues. But one would have thought it would complain about the general state of education in this country, rather than school uniforms.

In France, students are taking to the streets to protest against the poor quality of the education in the state schools.

It would be far more impressive if our students complained about the same. After all, they must wonder why they cannot get jobs after studying. Or do they blame it on the alleged state of undress of other people as well?

Perhaps complaining about the education system would reveal that this is why they have become so small-minded.

Instead of breeding big brains with the capacity to think issues out clearly and then hold their ground with solid arguments, we get grey matter that has been squeezed into tiny boxes by an education system that lauds small minds and thinks brains that think expansively are dangerous.

The easiest and cheapest counter-attack is however to use the “freedom of speech” argument, where hole-ridden proposals are recast as opinion, never mind how silly. But these are the same people who would never allow anyone with contrary opinions the same freedom to speak.

It’s an argument that took the Education Ministry rather too long to put down.

And nobody seems to have noticed that neither Minister nor Special Adviser on Women said anything either.

When there are statements like these, nobody should be so polite as to not simply say that it’s silly. Why should we be afraid of offending people who patently have not thought things through?

But we allow it for only one reason: they mentioned religion. Instantly this puts such dubious arguments out of bounds. I have heard people claim that drinking hot water is haram.

If someone proposes a ban on anyone drinking hot water because it is not allowed by a certain religion, do we simply let it pass?

Once upon a time, someone said that it was impossible to land on the moon. If someone still says that today, do we still treat it with reverence?

We see small-mindedness everywhere, with simplistic arguments and solutions to everything. Nobody seems to want to do the hard work of bolstering arguments with hard facts and evidence.

We seem to be proud of not using our brains, as if it’s an organ that is meant just for show. Never mind that in some people, once they open their mouth, the size of the brain becomes evident.

The assumption is often made that the smallness of mind is in direct proportion to the amount of education the person has. But we often see so-called educated people displaying the same narrowness of thinking.

Perhaps it is a factor on how much exposure someone has. I think we should take someone like those who say things like “clothes cause rape” and put them in forums where they have to defend their arguments.

If their arguments can actually stand up to the test, then they’re worth talking about. But how much should I bet that they won’t take up the offer?

I once witnessed the total shock someone with a dubious argument received when he was invited to defend his policies at an international forum overseas. He was so confident he was correct; it did not occur to him that there would be counter-arguments.

Left unable to defend himself, he started to blame others and the organisers for “setting him up”. This is what happens when one lives in an environment where small-mindedness is encouraged, where debate and discussion is discouraged.

If we truly want to develop, we need to teach our children that there is a big world out there; and to be part of that world, we need to learn how to think differently.

We need to realise that there are many different ways of thinking about the same thing, and if we insist that our way is best, we need to defend it with sound arguments, not retreat into the realm of opinion.

Even opinions must have a sound basis, not plucked from the air.