How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?
Corruption is so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

Walking the talk on frugality

'Frugal' means 'sparing or economical with regard to money or food; simple and plain and costing little'. Many of my Chinese friends mistook 'selfish' (lacking consideration for others; concerned mainly with one's personal profit or pleasure) for 'stingy' (unwilling to give or spend). Hokiens use the word 'kiam siap' to describe someone who is stingy. My Hakka wife who is not well versed in Hokien even mistook 'kiam siap' as 'hum sup' which is Cantonese for someone who is known for sexual harassment.

In a video on Tony Pua's dinner speech, Tony joked about his own name 'Kiam Wee' to emphasize the word 'Kiam' for his being stingy. He added jokingly, 'If you think Lim Guan Eng is 'kiam siap', Khalid Ibrahim is even more so', to highlight the fact that both of them (Penang Chief Minister and Selangor Menteri Besar respectively) are good at saving costs for the states under their watch.

Frugality is a virtue, especially now in our materialistic society. It is difficult to find people who are frugal (some would say they are a dying breed) and it is a bonus to us if our leaders happen to be frugal in their administrations.

As usual, we can find exceptions in families who have everything they can wish for. A recent article in The Star by Lee Wei Ling (none other than daughter of former PM of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew; sister of present PM, Lee Hsien Loong) reveals her incredibly frugal life.
At Oxley Road, we value the frugal life

"We had to turn off water taps completely. If my parents found a dripping tap, we would get a ticking off. And when we left a room, we had to switch off lights and air-conditioners.
My father’s frugality extends beyond lights and air-conditioners. When he travelled abroad, he would wash his own underwear, or my mother did so when she was alive. He would complain that the cost of laundry at five-star hotels was so high he could buy new underwear for the price of the laundry service..."  In terms of frugality, they would have put us ordinary folks to shame.
Marina Mahathir (daughter of ex-PM of Malaysia, Tun Dr. Mahathir) is known for her objective and balanced views in her writings. In fact, some people suggested that if she were to stand for election, even as an Independent, she could win easily. It could pose a problem if she were to stand in a Kedah constituency! In fact, to think of her as MB is not a bad idea, though politically unlikely.
In an article 'You walk the talk first', in her column, Musings in The Star, in response to an advice by BN leaders to change our life styles after a fuel price hike, she had the following instances for them to follow:

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...

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...

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...

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."

You walk the talk first

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Frugality with your own money but what about public or taxpayer's money? Marina's article hit the nail on the head. When it comes to spending money not earned by you, how can one be motivated to be frugal? Meetings held in Sipadan! So much food on the table during meetings that you don't have place to put your file. Staying in 6 star hotels abroad. Six meals a days for conferences, including 3 buffets and a supper.
If the government can pare down these excessive spending, they would save at least 20 % of the national budget.