Monday, May 20, 2013

Unity Or The Power Of One

One should not be surprised when one realised that there is such a thing as a third-rate mind and, of course, it is wonderful to observe how a third-rate mind works.

We have a eminent person or rather a person assuming a prominent position formerly and now thinks that he is of such a stature to pronounce on the way forward for the nation in a particular direction in a manner that is healthy and enlightening.

But we have been dismayed.

He quoted the Constitution saying that this is the official national entity - say, the hibiscus which incidentally is supposed to be our national flower, and that some pacific island love song which became popular in a neighbouring country is now the tune of our national anthem - then the interpretation, according to this individual, is that, for the sake of national unity, all houses should be planting only the hibiscus and playing only this pacific island love song.

All languages are vernacular and the only official one that I know is the official language of the world is called esperanto which is an artificially invented one, and which nobody likes.

To pick out one and say is the official language is fine - but it does not say it is the only one. We have this problem with the idea of the one religion, and the world has not stopped fighting over which one is the only one yet.

If we really want to foster unity, we should be talking about tolerance - the ability to accept the many and see all of them as one, as of the one, as of the spectrum of the original one.

Unity is about belonging, about feeling being at home or at one together with one another.

The feeling of unity over food is the variety we all share and we do not really care about the origin of the original recipe. Each of us will have our own dietary requirements, and there is really nothing wrong about being choosy over food. As one man's meat is another man's poison, there is freedom of choice, and freedom to put whatever we wish or wish not into our own mouth and our soul and our being.

Unity is not the power of one. That the characteristics of one group should predominate the whole is not unity. We have already seen how vehemently the group has defended the use of its language by "others" which is supposedly not in accord with how the language has been used in the way they imagine they have been using that language. It is therefore incredulous that there is this simultaneous justification that the language should be further abused whose mother tongue it is not supposed to be.

It is this incongruity in our thinking in many of the major aspects of our national life that is creating this Great National Dissatisfaction that is demanding that the whole situation should now really change for the better.

While the ordinary people are happily living together to the extent of centuries of social intercourse, intermarriages, and free exchange of ideas and fun, it is policy that is trying to steer the ship onto a course that is not in sync with the national undercurrent.

Man (and woman) will die but the nation shall live and become what it naturally is. In the meantime, let us be happy victims, with a voice.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Reincarnation & How Are We Suppose To Live

Many people wanted change so much in the last election, in fact, more than half of us, and when that did not happen and when we have to live with the same regime, or a reincarnation of it, how are we suppose to live then.

It is quite true that variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes, that when we are bored, we want change, any change, for change is thought to be better than the same old stuff, so we thought in our moment of deep emotion and rage, that we do not really care whether it is really for the better. We even rally for change even when change does not happen when we want it. That rally is the resolution of that emotion that was wiped up in the beginning by the harbingers of change and, after the rally, we can expect that emotion to die down.

But things are not over. While we have seen the resolution of the emotion of those who have been most vocable, shouting from the outside, the emotion of the those who have been tight-lipped are not yet over. We can feel the fear and evil in the air, of those who smile and wobble their heads and utter snide remarks, as if to say, "We'll see." The daggers are out and murder is at hand.

But that is all high drama, which we all ordinary beings can only watch and stand clear so that when giants fall, we are not crush under.So, appeasement has failed to work, so some will argue and therefore there is no more need for that. There is no need to be nice, as we have so proven in the past/ The best way forward is to be Machiavellian, as we have done before, ignore them for it is dangerous to engage with people we do not understand, or who do not understand or are not sympathetic to us. In fact, we fear them, as they fear us.

So, how are we suppose to live, we poor souls caught in these dreary bodies that need feeding three times a day in other countries but five times in ours. Those of us who are youthful and energetic have expended our energies by flying here and there and putting little pieces of paper into transparent perspex boxes (so would say to no avail), while those of us who are older and frail who probably think that our days are better spent tapping our fingers onto plastic pieces to transmit electrical impulses to ether in the hope that things will somehow connect.

But, thoughts, good thoughts and bad thoughts, once conjured become alive and kept alive by those of similar frequencies, so the signals run to and fro along different wires that do not seem to connect with others. So wires running at cross purposes, creating a chaos that is orderly and perplexing at the same time. If we follow the impulses, we see them running all over the place. But if we should take a snapshot of things, we will find that things appear to suspend in space in frozen animation, as we wonder how the world such complexity can be when we are merely being naughty in the seemingly little things we do in private.

In this heavily connected universe, we find delight in our thoughts coming back to us when they are pleasant thoughts, and disgust when they are bad. What we can say of others, they can say of us; and vice verse. What others do, we follow; and what we do, others will imitate.

So, the world that we live in is nothing but the total consequence of all that have happened before, and how we respond to those things will react a new chain of actions and reactions. Because we are so tiny and things happen so slow that we think that things take time. But when we fast forward the tape, we find things happening in an instant, all things collapsing into a moment and into a point and we achieve unity and become one with one, or One.

If then the present is a consequence of the past, and if things should be unpleasant, or that we are adverse to what is coming to us, the best thing is to stop aggravating things with non-actions, pretend to be an invisible observer and take everything as they come. Only after we have observed what sort of things are coming to us can we, if we want, try to do something to mitigate the situation, and in the current moral world of duality that we know it today, when in reality there could be none, we can only mitigate bad with good.

In reality, we know how good when mixed with bad will not create neutrality but that the good will be contaminated by the bad. The only way that goodness can be restored in the real world is to remove the bad, so that the rest in their natural self will stay good, unspoilt.

It is at the most fundamental that the concept of good and bad makes sense. It is only with trust and human decency can we built a society that is wholly good, and when an attempt is made to bent society out of its natural shape that we get discord and a society where everybody is unhappy.

In the end, happiness is the natural way. Let the durian stinks like a durian, but taste just as delicious and not pretend to be a rambutan. Let everybody be ourselves, but let our leaders be trustworthy and decent. Then we all know how to live, without worrying too much about it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Election & Emotion: What Gives

I was reluctant to comment on the election result immediately. 1. Knee-jerk reactions tend to be the same. 2. Too emotional to be clear. 3. Would be repeating the same old things; tautological. 4. Most likely going to be wrong re venting.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, and after some discussions, there may be some clarity.

Those who think there is going to be a change are obviously disappointed. It takes a lot of force to dislodge an incumbent. I think the results are good, losing the two-thirds. It may be a two-step process, or this may be a dead-end.

Structural issues drive the results. The structure of the constituencies gives undue weight to the rural voters. But, the critical structural issue is the demography of the voters. We are seeing the consequences of the old economic policy of 1970. It ruins the bureaucracy. And one man single-handedly destroys the judiciary, the finance ministry and the private sector. Most of all, we are seeing new voters who have been baptised by the old economic policy - those who have not benefited from it are angry and are coming back with vengeance and those who have benefited from it are now educated and can think for themselves.

The economic problems are serious and requires urgent answers. I don't think one person can solve it. We need to reconstruct our institutions. For a start, give money to the department of statistics so that they can do a proper job of tracking where the economy is. Second, the PM should relinquish the FM post. Third, stop printing money and let the ringgit rise to its proper value. Fourth, manage the asset inflation.

Whoever comes in must solve problems like these. Being honest is good, but not enough.

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Best Government

What is the best government for Malaysia?

I thought we had probably the best model when we started out but somehow it was stolen in transit.

So we went explicitly racial with distribution at the expense of growth until the economy went into a grinding halt.

Then came the FDIs and the stockmarket and the privatisation and the mega projects, funded at the end of the day by Petronas.

Some wise guy declared, "At least, we made a few billionaires even if the policy has failed." Failed?

The strategy is to spend our way out of the problem. There is nothing wrong with government debt - only that the debt should be to enhance innovation and productivity gain. None of these happened. We are spending good money to get very poorly made stuff. Hence, our inability to get out of the middle-income trap. Nobody is working except the voters from the other third world.

The policy is bad. But the horses have bolted.

So, the best government is a new government. It has proven not to be so easy. It's a structural issue, as it has been pointed out. So, we are stuck in a very awkward position.

There are some of us who wished for want we want. There are some of us who accept the reality. We should try, but we should also accept that good things take time to happen. We have been here enough, we should know.

What kind of government do we want? Each seller promises an answer to a problem, but none the same answer to the same problem. We are in the political market.

The economy is going through a very hard time. Many businesses will suffer. We are still peddling the same old commodity model of the seventies. We haven't really taken off, except for property prices and food prices and everything else that we cannot afford.

What about the election? It deserves one phrase: it's over.

The Best Camera

What is the best camera?

This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer properly. The same goes for the hi-fi system but I am now on the camera.

I started with the M7 TTL and a 28mm f/2.5, a 50mm f/1.4 and a 75mm f/2.0 and lost all of them on transit back from Hawaii. Don't do bargain airfares that require transit in home airport anymore.

The digital age brought Pentax K7 and then K5 with its range of cute prime lenses (31, 43, 77 mm). Smaller than most, but not an everyday camera.

After all, the best camera in the world is the one in your pocket (my phone is not a camera).

Got a Leica 35mm f/25 (cheapest) and fixed it to a Ricoh GXR (cheap). Used them on my daughter's graduation. Good; used.

Fujifilm tries to be a digital Leica. Bought the X100 when the price fell with the launch of X-Pro. Nice pictures. Slightly bulky.

The Sony RX1 which is full frame (full circle for those using film) is too expensive. Bought Fujifilm X20 is still too big for the pocket but more carry-able. The Canon S110 or the Sony RX100 could be more pocketable, but the X20 plays better.

So much for trying to take some very ordinary pictures once in a while. Mostly black and white, spot meter. The Leica M Monochrom looks fantastic but it costs nearly as much as my car.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

If You Should Vote

If you should vote, please vote as you please
That is your right
Fear not what others think, it's none of their business
It's supposed to be a secret ballot
Others may try to persuade you
But let you not be swayed beyond your conscience
The election is to take tally
What each of us think
And add all up and see what is the balance
It is crude, but it is crucial
Not one yet know the outcome
Some what to maintain the status quo
Others want change
Even if it is 51 to 49
The 51 will win
while the 49 may howl
If you are a party man, you lose
For your right is to change
And keeps everyone on their toes.