Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Did you know that banks have outsourced the clearance of cheques? What this means is that some third party will be verifying your name, signature, account number and not your bank. If there is any discrepancy in the particulars, the cheque will be returned to the bank and the cheque returned to you. Did your banks inform you of this change?

Previously,, all cheques were verified by your own bank. Since it your bank, the officers that know you will call you up for verification if there is any minor doubt. In other words, there is personal service because of the rapport you have with your bank. But with the outsourcing, this rapport is useless. The value of the personal relationship is lost. More impersonal now.

With the grand idea of merging banks into a few large banks, the citizens now have to deal with a much smaller oligopoly. Effectively, this means, you have no choice. So called "economic considerations" over ride the convenience for the citizens. Things like this makes me really wonder what our political leaders have been doing? Are they serving the rakyat or the "business interest"

DO you know what other changes that have occurred with the banking circle.


Please sign the IYEP2 DECLARATION and forward to others.

The IYEP2 DECLARATION was adopted by the participants of the recently concluded Inter-civilizational Youth Engagement Program 2008 (IYEP2) entitled ‘Green vs. Greed: Youths Reflect on the Environmental Challenge’, held in De Palma Hotel, Kuala Selangor from 16-20 November 2008.

The youth who attended the 5 day workshop call upon the youth of the world, youth organizations and the general public to endorse the declaration by adding their names to the IYEP2 DECLARATION and emailing it back to


IYEP2 committee.

Monday, November 24, 2008


I had a very interesting dinner at the Le Meridian Hotel. The food was nice, the ambiance relaxing and the company was excellent. I was invited because one of the person reads this blog and liked the idea of "Rapera". The topic was: the production of real Malaysian movies.

I was in the company of two very wealthy persons (producers), a film making experts, a young clever man specializing in mass communication and a script writer. They all had a mission and I could really feel the mission oozing out the whole dinner. They are planning to make "Malaysian movies" covering issues like the Indian who came to Malaysia and made it his home, the Chinese who came to Malaysia and made it his home, the real co-existence between the different races as it is..complete with betrayal from persons of one's own ethnic origin. There is even one planned to cover the indigenous people of East Malaysia. The objective is to show the reality of living together in this multi-cultural Malaysia.

I understand that 2 scripts have already been written and the first film is likely to see the theaters in May next year. I was briefed on the story of the film and I found it amazingly touching. I think it will be a hit even though their objective seems to be nation building rather than profit.

I simply love people with money, power and talent who use it for the betterment of humankind. And I thank God that the private sector is taking up nation building seriously. This shows that people are having less trust in politicians to do the job. More and more Raperas are coming forth.

May God make such people more wealthy, powerful and talented.

Can't wait for May 2009.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


This may dent your ego a lot but let’s face the facts – you are just an ordinary citizen. Being ordinary, you do not really count except when it is time to vote. Even at election time, you are nothing but still as ordinary as ordinary can be. Why? Well, lets look at the facts.

If you do not belong to any political party, you are probably clueless as to who the candidates are. You don’t know their background and whether they had contributed to the country at all. In any case, you did not even nominate them but their party chief did. Most probably, you will just go and vote the party that you are most familiar with.

Who put those people up for election? Not you!

If you are a party person, then it depends. You may vote a candidate based on what the personal returns are to you. Maybe a few bucks or just the dubious circumstance of being associated to the YB while he can suck your breath out of your life for his survival. And all the while, you will be falsely secure with the knowledge that the YB’s hand is always there for you to kiss. Ummmwaah! You are happy being an ordinary hand kisser.

After elections, you do not count at all. What can you do anyway? You cannot even rectify the poor conditions of the school that your child goes to. Do you have any say at all as to what is taught in the schools? Has anyone consulted you whether your child should study maths and science in English or B.M.?

Like everything else that affects you, your views are not only unimportant, they are irrelevant. It is the GOMEN that decides everything for you. And if you are a Muslim, you have added benefit – in all matters that relate to religion, the authorities will decide for you. YOU ARE SO ORDINARY. FACE IT.

AT the best, you and your friends can get together over teh tarik to complain and grumble all you want. You can share with each other that you have better ideas. The bottom line …the GOMEN goes on as usual, doing exactly what they deem fit. You can do nothing about it because you are simply ORDINARY and powerless.

And since you are so ordinary, you do not deserve the best. Hence, if the ordinary-you live in an ordinary neighborhood, you should not complain over many things. If there is power failure, you shouldn’t complain. If the crime rate is high, you shouldn’t complain. If the road opposite your house gets dug again and again and dust flies into your home, you should not complain. In fact you simply do not have the right to complain over anything. Even if you do, you are so ordinary that your complain will not get attended to. In which case, you can call for a meeting with your friends for a teh tarik to indulge in a “lepas steam” session!

Ask you yourself –
If you are not ordinary, how many issues confronting your lives have you raised with the relevant authorities?

If you are not ordinary, how many ministers or state secretaries have you met to discuss and give ideas on what you think is the right way of doing things?

If you are not ordinary, how many official complaints have you made? And when the complaints do not move, how much effort have you taken to mobilize it?

If you are not ordinary, how many times and in which forum have you spoken up against injustices that you see?

If you are not ordinary, how groupings have you formed, for example, to tackle the garbage problem in your neighborhood?

If you are not ordinary, what extraordinary thing have you done as a responsible father, a responsible neighbor, as a responsible citizen etc?

You see, you have imbued the mentality of ordinariness in you mindset, you breathe the air of ordinariness in your daily life and you inherited an ordinary culture from your parents which you will now pass on to your children.

Thus, you will live and die as an ordinary person as determined by the few elitists whose hand you kiss and under whose feet you grovel. You cannot complain, for you have given up your God given dignity as a human being. Helplessly you shall live and helplessly you shall die as you have chosen for yourself.

Let’s just face it, ok?

Friday, November 21, 2008


Do you not get tired when you have to put on a plastic face of respect when you meet some people? Consider this hypothetical scenario:

Let us say you have to attend a meeting at the Ministry. There is the Chief secretary (KSU) chairing the meeting, next the ministry’s legal adviser, then you have a few high ranking officials sitting in as well, looking sleepy and clueless. (do you notice these high ranking officials have a certain similar voice and demeanor as if they all went to the same drama classes?)

The KSU starts off with his usual ‘bismillah” because all those present happen to be Muslims. I have always found it weird why this very same people do not mention “in the name of God” when non-Muslims are present. Is it because God is averse to non-Muslims? Also, it is equally weird that he does not say “in the name of God” for every single step he takes since he is so mindful of God! Maybe he does. And why must he say it aloud….concerned that God cannot hear him?

Maybe, it is all a show for the audience, …….. had he really taken all his decisions in the name of God, this very meeting would have been irrelevant! Unless he plainly suffers oxygen deficiency syndrome to his brains in which case you wonder why he is sitting where he is sitting. And the Rakyat would have saved some money too.

But I have always found this behavior fascinating. Malay politicians and civil servants love to rattle praises about God in public before they start off their verbal diarrhea or unwanted advice. Some of them are so long, your patience is tested. Kenapa tak baca puji-pujian awal-awal sebelum mula mesyuarat? It is almost a must-do-ritual. Even though the Quran that they are supposed to read says “call and praise your Lord in silence and humility”, they insist on doing it publicly and loudly. You really wonder why.

Being a Muslim, I take anyone who says "Bismillah" seriously. He better walk his talk for Allah detests hypocrites.

Back to the meeting room. You wonder whether they have read the 12 page report you have sent them some 2 months back. They are asking the very questions you have already written down so plainly even a primary school kid will understand. And Lord… have to keep referring to this man as Datuk and the way his subordinates call him “Datuk” really can empty your stomach though your mouth. You keep excusing yourself to the toilet.

While the “meeting” is going on, you wonder what the names of the officials are because none of them have been introduced to you. Mahathir’s name tag policy seems to be long gone. This is the message that they are the “Gomen” and need not come down to the Rakyat’s level by introducing themselves. Ethics and common sense need not necessarily follow those who utter God’s name.

Anyway, after going through the motion of what should have been a productive meeting, the meeting ends with a “Kita tunggu lah, keputusan mesyuarat ini”. In the meantime, he does not care in the slightest that many of your worker’s families are suffering. He has his family to go back to. And you wait and wait.

Many times I wonder what religion these people belong to. Surely people of God must be compassionate, caring, emphatic and diligent? They should be responsible and work for the salaries that the taxpayers pay them – otherwise it is theft.

I promise in name of Allah, God willing of course, with the strength and guidance which I hope He provides, these people will be brought to justice for taking God’s Way in vain. God’s Way, as I understand is, among other things, the way of Justice, fair play, honesty accountability and dedication to your work.

Retirement and resignation is no escape from culpability.

Since we lack radical political leadership and political will to reform the civil service, the burden must fall on the shoulders of Raperas.

REST IN PEACE AH MAH - 19 Nov 1919 to 19 Nov 2008

by Jahaberdeen

I never knew her real name. I first met her in 1993 or 1994 in KL when she came to stay with her one of her sons, Mr Lee Chong San. I used to visit the house regularly then and stay the weekends there because Mr Lee’s daughter and I studied at the same university in Leeds and became good friends. That’s when I got to know the lady first hand. She was from Penang. She was a wonderfully kind lady. I recall admiring her for her spirit of life. She will wake up early in the morning and go for walks. She always had some advice for me. I then discovered that she was the mother of one Mr Lee Chong Hai

Mr Lee Chong Hai was my primary school teacher when I was in standard five in Westland’s school, Penang. He was very popular with the students and we used to call him the “science master”. He started the science garden and I was put in charge of three rabbits which lived in the garden. I was thrilled at the responsibility. I can say that all my friends loved the man. He also had a unique motorbike which was the talk of the school. What a small world!

Mr Lee Chong San, her other son is another man I have tremendous respect and love for. I have never come across someone very successful like him and yet completely unassuming, humble and with a very big heart.

I have met her other son, Mr Lee Chong Jin, an equally friendly person.

Ah Mah returned to her maker peacefully on her 89th birthday on 19th November 2008 in her sleep. Only today I discovered that her name is Madam Goh Chui Ean.

Ah Mah, the fact that your sons have such big hearts surely reflects on you as a wonderful soul that once walked on this earth. You have been wonderfully kind to me and my only regret is that I have not made time to spend time with you in the past 4 years. It is families like Ah Mah’s that convinces me that people can transcend racial religious lines and wholeheartedly embrace each other as human beings. I thank God for having the privilege of knowing you.

Ah Mah, may your soul rest in peace!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How To Lose Elections 101

In one of Syed Akbar Ali’s articles in outsyed the box, he mentioned the above phrase. I think that is a good topic to think about!

1. Let the civil servants play havoc with the voter’s lives
2. Let the civil servants continue to behave high and mighty
3. Let the corruption in the civil service continue and upset the voters
4. Let it continue to be difficult to obtain basic business licenses, etc
5. Continue with the charade of being kissed on the hand,
6. Stoke up racial and religious issues
7. Make childish and silly press statements;
8. Continue making “fiery” speeches that are nothing more than entertaining;
9. Continue with the poor behaviour in Parliament – voters can youtube it!
10. Dont come up with good policies;
11. Continue with the laws which voters consider oppressive;
12. Let elected leaders behave like hereditary kings;
13. Continue not helping the low income group while the elitists are taking away all the nation’s wealth in the name of big projects
14. Continue making it difficult for the voters to meet their elected parliamentarians or assemblymen
15. Keep charging “tool gate” fees to meet elected leaders;

Monday, November 17, 2008


Based on my observation since the beginning of this year, I find that the politicians in our country are suffering from a major credibility problem. The perception of the general public appears to be negative. They simply do not trust the politicians.

The mental quality of the politicians, their integrity and their dedication to their responsibilities have also been bought into question. On the point of mental quality, the following points are often sited:-

1) quality of answers given to the press;
2) the content of their press statements or their speeches. In this age, many feel insulted by politicians who keep dishing out puerile, unwanted advice. The public see this giving of puerile advice as a cover-up for the inability to deliver or a reflection of their lack of intellectual maturity;
3) the issues that are often raised by some for political purposes are seen as out-dated and offensive because the hidden agenda is transparent.

On the point of integrity, the following points are often pointed out:-

1) the fact that some politicians have become millionaires while in service have given rise to the perception that they are corrupt. Hence the conclusion that politicians are thieves and without integrity.
2) The perceived lack of or refusal to be accountable to the voters and the public;
3) The perceived occurrence of the rampancy of government contracts being awarded to relatives of the politicians while the general Rakyat find difficulty even to obtain a business licence;
4) The perceived and sometimes proven over-inflated budget of government projects – people wonder if this is due to major incompetence or corruption.
5) The unfulfilled promises;
6) The irresponsible act of often playing the racial or the religious card;

I have also heard people speak of being tired to being treated to what is supposed to be fiery speeches. They liken this to “shouting” or “jual ubat di Chow Kit” or “kelas debat sekolah”. I have also heard of people complaining that they are tired of the speaker trying to portray how “Islamic” he is by bombarding the audience with a long barrage of Arabic sentences before and during the speech. They see this as childish pranks which insults the audiences’ intelligence.

Clearly, this credibility issue is across the board – covering PKR, UMNO, PAS, DAP, MCA, MIC, etc.

What is your view?

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interview with Mukhriz Mahathir

Syed Akbar Ali, the author of the latest hot book "Things in Common" has done an interesting interview with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir at his blog

The interview helps to us to understand Mukhriz's stand on many issues.

Tan Siew Sin's Speech on Chinese Education and Citizenship

Quite an interesting read on Siew Sin's take on Chinese citizenship and Education at Dr Mahathir's blog

Tan Siew Sin was then the Finance Minister of Malaysia

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Politicians and racism

Politics has been said to be the art of the impossible. There are also quite a number of sayings in politics often quoted by politicians themselves which is revealing about their true nature .

Examples: “In politics, there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends” – which may mean that there is no true friendship but only marriage of convenience or a relationship based on needs. If is this so between them, can you really expect them to have the People’s welfare in their hearts? I think not. They are responsible only if it means they will not be able to hold political office if they are otherwise. They are not naturally responsible.

If the People (Cat) are not watching, the politicians (mice) will run amuck doing what they want – accumulating more wealth, power, influence and self importance. Let RAPERAs never forget this.

Obviously our country is blessed with citizens of various ethnic origins – Kadazans, Ibans, Orang Asli, Javanese, Minangkabaus, Mendalings, Malay, Bugis, Indian, Portugese, Chinese, and so on.

If you look deeply and closely at the Malays, for instance, you will find associations of Bugis, Javanese, Achenese, etc. In itself, there is nothing wrong.

If you look deeply and closely at the Chinese, for instance, you will find associations of Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, Teow chiu, etc. In itself, there is nothing wrong.

If you look deeply and closely at the Indians, for instance, you will find associations of Malayalam, Singhalese, Telegu, Tamilians, etc. In itself, there is nothing wrong.

If you look deeply and closely at East Malaysia, for instance, you will find associations of Ibans, Kadazans, Dayaks, Bidayuhs etc. In itself, there is nothing wrong.

Then you have the Malay, Indian and Chinese associations.

It is nothing wrong if it is merely a result of human characteristic to associate with one’s “origin” and with people with familiar and similar cultural traits. That may be a start in the lesson of human interaction.

It becomes wrong if it means disassociation from others; distrust of others, “us against them”, “political tool”, “vested interest tool”, “purely economic tool”, “superiority complex” and such.

It is wrong because such an attitude degrades us all as human beings, as creations of the Creator.

It also means that instead of celebrating the Creators’ creativity; you are mocking His infinite wisdom in creating diversity. You are rejecting the signs of His existence. Allah says in the Quran:

"O Men, We created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may KNOW one another (NOT THAT YOU MAY DESPISE EACH OTHER)." (Quran 49:13)

"And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Verily, in that are indeed signs for men of sound knowledge." (Quran 30:22)

As correctly pointed out in the Quran, those with knowledge will not subscribe to the parochial or racist mentality. The simply cannot. Only the ignorant ones or the ones with a vested interest or the rejecter of Faith can.

Racism or parochialism does not mean the that Tamil cannot speak up on behalf of another Tamilian or a Javanese on behalf of another Javanese or a Malay on behalf of another Malay or a Chinese on behalf of another Chinese. It is only when any one of them speak of their own rights/interests to the deliberate exclusion of others that it becomes not right.

Helping people from your own ethnic origin by itself is not racism. Refusing to help others when you can is.

There are in my view, Malay, Chinese and Indian, etc politicians who play the racial card. While in private they have the best of friends from other races but in public, they position themselves as the sole champion of their race and denounce other races as a threat.

These are racists. Such politicians are shameless creatures. Cannibalistic. Hypocrites. Dangerous.

Racism does not reveal its true self most of the time clearly. It hides under the garb of politics, science even, religion, tradition and culture, economics, etc. In fact it is a parasite that will thrive on anything that allows it to live.

Politicians uphold the principle of pragmatism strongly. This is their first value. Hence they will shamelessly manipulate the racist sentiments lurking in society for their own political gain.

If we want to obliterate racism, we have to first clean our own hearts. We have to train our minds and educate ourselves on what being human beings mean. The sooner this happens then, the sooner the politicians will stop their shameless act.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

BookIntro8: OBAMA: The Postmodern COUP.

Only a fool will not want to examine all three (not two) sides of a coin simply because one side makes him happy. Now that Obama has indeed won as expected many (and I thought it was another conspiracy theory!) years ago, let me introduce you this book. This book was published early this year. It argues that there are good reasons to believe that Obama was identified and recruited by Zbigniew Brzezinski at Columbia University between 1981 and 1983 at a time when Obama was studying politics with a specialty in international relations and a thesis topic involving Soviet nuclear disarmament. Even in the run-up to the presidency elections, while Obama freely admitted using illegal narcotics but has been extraordinarily secretive about his years in Columbia University in particular regarding his course, activities, professors or friends. Why?

The author writes that Brzezinski is the principal guru of the entire Obama campaign while also his foreign policy adviser, together with the involvement of his children, Mark Brzezinski (foreign policy), Matthew Brzezinski (supposedly investigative journalist), Ian Brzezinski(dep. assistant secretary of defence for Eastern Europe) and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC.

The book also argues that if Obama was not available, the elitist bankers would have had to invent him. Obama apparently call for the bombing of Iran and Pakistan in 2004. Again in July 2007, he called for the bombing of Pakistan, writes the author. Obama's leading economic guru is Professor Austan Goolsbee, a member of the infamous Skull and Bones secret society, which brought the Bush elder to power.

The startling revelation is that Obama has never before won office in a contested election. When he ran for Illinios State Senate, pricey election lawyers helped him eliminate all his opponents by throwing them off the ballot. Once incumbent, his later re-election was mere formality.
The author gives further evidence and situations to show that Obama is a Manchurian candidate owned wholly by the Ford-Trilateral-Coucil on Foreign relations bankers' consortium. He is considered to be most thoroughgoing puppet candidate than Jimmy Carter because of his more lengthy indoctrination.

The appointment of Rahm Emanuel certainly show that Obama intends to get tough. This appointment also seems to support what has been written and forecasted about Obama long ago. If there is any truth in the book, then the Obama presidency will certainly be a new modern fascism being born - and looking at the frenzy, the hope, the media spread, the most expensive campaign and .... black Obama rising "suddenly" within white Democratic Party does give rise to questions.

Is the author hallucinating or is there truth? He says Obama will be compelled to be the puppet. Read the book and reach your own conclusions. ..and until then, as jln pakai tuncai a commentator) says "hold on the celebrations"!

Friday, November 7, 2008

When lawyers are muted, Justice fades.

[Malaysian Bar:1858] Press Release : Cease Harassment of Advocates Performing their Duties

Malaysian Bar Council

Press Release

Cease Harassment of Advocates Performing their Duties

The independence of the Bar is critical to the Rule of Law. This means that lawyers must be free to act for their clients without fear or favour. Unfortunately, over the course of the last several months, this independence has been threatened each time the police have called in lawyers for questioning on matters relating to the execution of their professional duties.

We are perturbed that the police served a Section 111 notice on lawyer N. Surendran in relation to statements he allegedly made to the magistrate in court in the course of proceedings. N. Surendran was questioned today by the police pursuant to a police report made against him for the alleged statements. We are seriously concerned, as no offence appears to have been committed and the police were unable to enlighten him as to what offence they are investigating.

We therefore view the police questioning as an act of pure harassment and intimidation that encroaches upon the ability of an advocate and solicitor, who is an officer of the court, to perform his duties effectively and to the best of his ability.

This harassment must stop if we are indeed committed to the principle of access to justice and to the Rule of Law. It is internationally recognised that lawyers perform a vital function when they act for their clients in the pursuit of justice. It is also internationally recognised that they must be permitted to carry out these functions freely.

This principle, which protects all citizens, must be understood and respected by the authorities.

Dato' Ambiga Sreenevasan


Malaysian Bar

6 November 2008


Whatever happens tomorrow or the day after,America has shown the world today that its democracy can transcend ethnic lines and that it is indeed a land of opportunity and hope for those who strive. WELL DONE AMERICA.

You have also shamed many countries who speak volumes on morality and yet fail to recognize humanity. Hopefully this shame will remind them, that even for them, there is hope for change. God is ever merciful.

I, too always had and have hopes for my country.

President Barack Obama, I wish you all best in your task as the President of the most powerful country in the world. I pray that you will be a catalyst for a better world.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Who is a RAPERA and what can HE/SHE do?

I have been asked this question many times. It is a word that I coined up with the help of an Indonesian linguist. It is an acronym of a Malay sentence. I was supposed to explain it in a book which was supposed to be published before the March elections..but never completed the book. One day, god willing.

Basically, the term is used to distinguish from the normal citizens who are legally citizens but practically takers without giving anything back to society. The follow the Shepard without thinking. They just want to be "safe" or opinionated or live in the comfort zone.

RAPERAS are different. They are Saviour Citizens. They may belong to any political party but their interests is the Truth and the Nation. They take an active part in their own way in moulding citizenry. One RAPERA may take an active interest in the environment, while another in garbage disposal, another in education, another in the study of public fund allocation, another in the civil service and the list goes on. Each makes a study, a movement, a thought.

Collectively, RAPERAS make a positive impact in the betterment of society.

They are more potent and effective than any politicians because they have no vested interests.

Of course, there are already many RAPERAS around, the unsung heroes without the lime light but we are reaping the benefits of their quiet struggle. But we want to encourage more citizens to take up that one step from being just a citizen to being a saviour citizen or a RAPERA. To do this, we must encourage thinking and self correction first. We too must learn to see things beyond our noses.

I hope one day, RAPERAS will keep the "gates in check, so that the padi is never eaten by the gates".



Monday, November 3, 2008

UMNO Elections Update

In the run-up to the Youth chief post, Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo now has 56 nominations placing him in the second place after Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir with 71 nominations. Khairy Jamaludin, once considered the "favourite" is now in third place with 50 nominations. There are 50 more divisions to meet up to 9th November and it may still be early to tell how the numbers may go.

For the UMNO, presidency, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has won the UMNO presidency unopposed by amassing 140 nominations yesterday. Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is leading the nominations for the deputy post (78) with Datuk Seri Ali Rustam behind him (32). Ali Rustam needs 7 more nominations to qualify. Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib has 29 nominations now. In theory, with 50 more divisions left to meet, it may be a three-cornered fight.

You may also follow the scorecard at The Malaysian Insider here.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Towards a Culture of Mediocrity

We have heard the political leaders deliver volumes of speeches on “nation building”. Often times, we were ‘compelled’ to read unwanted advise from a politician holding some key government positions on the front page of a newspaper. I say unwanted because some of the ‘advise” given is not only mundane but equally puerile. I used to wonder whether the advice-giver knows that he is actually insulting our intelligence or probably he himself is lacking in grey matter. What shocks me is the audacity of being “courageous” in making public statements of such puerile nature. Where is the shame?

Then I realized, it is our Malaysian culture. In our culture it is polite to pretend to listen to what he is saying. It is also polite to report his puerile views on the front page because of his position. It does not matter that what he said is complete rubbish and affronts any reasonable person’s mind. The concept of “patronising”, “condescending” and “being talked down to” is alien to Malaysian culture. Can you find equivalent BM words for these concepts? Let me know if there is.

Because it appears that in our Malaysian culture, we accept being patronized, condescended and talked down to, we allow mediocre statements by political leaders to be published on front pages. This becomes a standard to be followed by the younger, unsuspecting minds. As this continues, we move towards a culture of mediocrity.

Then there is the psychological trap of those in power – any power, from civil service to political office. Over the past 10 years, I somehow end up having to meet high-ranking civil servants for meetings and to bring various problems to their attention (after those who came to seek my help have exhausted all avenues at the lower levels). Of course I have met some very decent, efficient, helpful and humble ones. But there are others who love the "upacara of mesyuarat". It is absolutely tiresome because I can see feudalism at work and very little real work! Somehow, I think this automatic granting of awards to these civil servants must stop as it does make their head grow bigger than their brains. Mediocrity. It is also unfair to the excellent ones in the civil service whom I know personally.

And of course one of my favorite topic – education. I personally feel that despite the technological advances of the 21st century, our educational standards are declining. I recall when I was in secondary school in Penang Free School, we started very early discussing topics which today are considered “heavy” by the same age group. My recent visit to that same school’s library gave me a shock – many quality books of general interest are missing! I had a chance to discuss with some of the form 6 students – they sounded like form 3 of my time. Why? Is it the teachers? Is the politics of education? Or is the Bahasa Malaysia language? We have to address these issues and not sweep it under the carpet with feeble excuses.

When was the last time any study on the quality of education in our country done and made public and discussed? My feeling is that even our educational standards are beginning to conform with the culture of mediocrity. I hope this is not a reflection of the kind of political leaders we have. EDUCATION CANNOT BE POLITICISED!

We often hear lamentations about the lack of good reading habits in the country. However, if you look at the book stores and the magazine stands, you will find plenty of reading material. Take a look at our newspapers. There is a whole cut-out section for “entertainment”. The magazine shops stock up much of what may described as trash material, including a lot of superstitious writings masquerading as “religion”. Do we know what books are being banned by whom and why? We need to consider the maturity and intellectual level of those who are given the task of vetting which books should be banned. Once again, a society that fears to allow the society members to think is cultivating a culture of mediocrity.

Someone told me that she sees mediocrity everywhere, the by-product of the education system of the past two decades. When I asked her, everywhere? She said, at every segment of the society.

One example of mediocre thinking is when a person is given a position, where the position comes with the power of decision making and she thinks that she is personally powerful. In other words, inability of the mind to distinguish between official responsibility and personal power. I find that quite a number of these mediocre minds unable to manage authority. Legal authority is also confused with feudalism.

Sometimes I wonder…is there a deliberate attempt to ensure that our society “excels” in the culture of mediocrity? What do you think?