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.)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A bit more on wills relating to Chinese

It used to be Chinese tradition to leave wealth only to sons and practically nothing to the daughters. Daughters, brought up according to this tradition, would not expect anything at all. Sons and daughters might be brought up with equal opportunities in terms of education and lifetime gifts, but when it comes to the crunch, especially where there is a will, reality sets in. Daughters educated in the West might find the discrimination most unfair and even abhoring.

The patriarch might write his will to bequeath his wealth among his sons only, with comparatively little sums or assets, if any, to his daughters. Without leaving a valid will, the law provides for equal share among sons and daughters, and this could be most disappointing to the sons who might be expecting more share for each of them if daughters were excluded.

Knowing this background to some traditional Chinese thinking, it is understandable why a grandson of the deceased went out of his way to pressure his aunt, the only daughter who was entitled to 2/9 of her father's estate (intestacy), to return her share to children of her two brothers. The bequest by law was like an enforced decision which was deemed not what it was intended by tradition. It could be due to the clamour for the return of her share which led to her husband's instruction that she gave up her share. Among other things which made her unhappy (besides having to listen to her husband without regard to her own wish), was the fact that the second son of her elder brother got the whole of his grandmother's 1/3 share of the original estate! Yet he got the cheek to insist that she transfer her 2/9 share back to the extended families.

By right, where tradition is in conflict with the law, the latter prevails. Tradition is unwritten family rules whereas the law is written and supposed to be clear and unambiguous. There is an even more unusual Chinese tradition (especially to other races) which provides for the eldest grandson to be entitled to a share equal to the sons! In Cantonese: 'cheong chi tik seen', which refers to the importance of the grandson in continuing the family name or lineage. So the best way to look at it is to presume that the testator would ensure all his wishes in relation to his wealth are provided for in his will, no matter how ridiculous it might seem to others. Where it is unusual, it will lead to future litigation against the validity of the will. When the person died before he could leave a valid will, it is only fair that the law takes its course, according to the Distribution Act, 1958 (as amended in 1997). In distribution of an estate, it is a perfect example of a zero-sum game where each participant's gain (or loss) is exactly balanced by the losses (or gains) of the other participants.

Meanwhile, at a small gathering of ex-classmates of MBS Sentul, I asked a lawyer about 8TV's Will Power. He said he is never interested in TV serials because generally what are portrayed do not reflect reality. So do legal matters.

I mentioned about the unusual provisions of the will of a very rich man in Will Power, particularly, the second part which provides for the release of sufficient funds to finance any viable business proposal so long as it met the approval of the Committee of Trustees, and the third part of the will which can only be revealed 3 years after death.

He said in reality, even trustees in banks providing such services would not get involved in such decision-making as considering the viability of a business proposal.

I also pointed out the scene where there were cardboard boxes (filling half an office room) which supposedly contain documents which the lawyers have to sift through to just list out the entire estate of the deceased. It was far fetched to me because despite his immense wealth in over 100 countries, surely most of his wealth are either properties (titles), shares in listed or unlisted companies all over the world (share certificates or in the form of CDS statements like in Malaysia), bank balances (statements). A man of such stature of wealth is likely to have a list for ease of reference and management, and has a trusted team in control. While on the subject of titles, a land subdivided with separate titles for development can have thousands of individual titles. But the point is that ownership is likely at the company level in the form of shares.

A recent episode which revealed the widow writing out a cheque for HK$100 million to the lawyer for services rendered (yet to be billed), over the years as a parting settlement, seems contradicting to the first part of the will which provides for only HK$300,000 per month each for the widow and her two sons, with the spendthrift younger son complaining that he could not survive on such an unrealistic sum. It seems odd that before the distribution of the estate, the widow must have at least a few hundred millions to be able to write out a cheque for such a big sum on the spot. She could have easily supported the spendthrift son with her own money.


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