Loyal Followers

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gong Xi Fa Cai



To all my Chinese friends, here’s to wishing you Happy New Year. May the dragon bring all of us happiness, good health, prosperity and lots of Bruce Lee’s fists and kicks in all our pursuit. Enjoy but be safe!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Totalitarian/absolutist economy

The establishment, nourishment, protection and subsequent embellishment by any government of entities (corporate or otherwise) with monopolistic businesses and/or preferential treatment signal the rise of what I would term as totalitarian economy.

A totalitarian economy operates and behaves in manners not unlike a totalitarian or absolutist State. By its very nature, it feeds off compulsion and force, disallows and even destroys competition and gives no option nor choice to the consumers. It is beyond scrutiny as it is not answerable to any entity, let alone the very consumers which it aims to supply.

As  a result of the totalitarian and absolutist approach, this economy owes little, if at all, affinity to the concepts of fairness and justness.

It is like a black hole. It swallows everything which is in its way. It then grows bigger. And bigger.

The only difference is that, unlike the real black holes, a totalitarian economy  only grows bigger within the confines of the parameters defined by its own creators. Throw this economy into an unchartered territory, the real capitalist would just laugh its head off. With a mere snap of the capitalist’s finger, this totalitarian economy would be history.

That is not surprising. As a result of the constant nourishment, protection and forced embellishment of this economics absolutism/totalitarianism, such economy knows not how to compete. Its supernova-like explosive birth and subsequent growth deprives it of the ability to learn and to grow organically. This totally underdeveloped creature – underdeveloped in the sense that it is bereft of the elements which would ensure its vibrancy and survival in unchartered territories – has no defence mechanism nor the ability to adapt to changes within its surrounding, preferring to coil within the comfort of its mother’s lap.

A totalitarian/absolutist state compels its citizenry to submission by usages of physical force. It gives no option. Submit or be subjugated. Or even be incarcerated. And sometimes even killed.

A totalitarian/absolutist economy is not much less forceful or vicious. It gives consumers no choice nor option. You buy our cars. If not you have to pay substantially more for cars which are not ours. You use our supply. At our rates. If not, you would not have any other supply at all. Period.

Like a totalitarian state, totalitarian economy ensures great pains will befall its citizenry for any non-compliance or non-submission.

In this neo-totalitarianism, the consumers have no choice but to submit. If you do not buy our cars, you would  be financially incarcerated by the finance companies for the duration of the hire-purchase agreements which you enter into to purchase other cars. You would be subjected to financial tortures inflicted upon yourself in the form of duties and taxes.

A totalitarian/absolutist state would not care a hoot about her people’s welfare. It exists for one purpose, namely, to ensure its own survival and continuity, at any price. It does not care about the price to be paid because really, the price is not paid by itself but by the people it subjugates.

The same with a totalitarian/absolutist economy. It really does not care about the welfare of the consumers. Thus the power window will break down in 2 weeks. The service centres should be called torture centres. These so called “service centres” is an insult to the word “service”. They are manned by inefficient, arrogant, un-smiling and sometimes even rude robots in human skins and hair. Ask them a question, these creatures would frown. Ask another and they would sulk. Ask a third one and they spit in your drinks.

And it will continue to churn out mediocre after mediocre products based on “joint-collaborations”. Which is just another way to describe the proverbial (a new-age proverb) “cut and paste” job. It cuts out the original maker’s  emblem and paste its own emblem, for example.

A totalitarian state is beyond criticism. Because really, it does not care much about what people say about it. It doesn’t care because it controls the machinations of the state. It wields untold powers.

The same goes with a totalitarian economy. Thus a monopoly business can make hundreds of millions of losses and be compensated by its benevolent benefactors. It will then seek to make profits not by ensuring efficiency and addressing weaknesses but by increasing the price of its product, the supply of which it monopolises.

A totalitarian/absolutist economy grows up like a spoilt brat. It gets what it wants. Always. And when it doesn’t, it sulks and throws temper tantrums. The constant nourishment and absolute pampering takes away from it the ability to adapt to changes; to compete on a level playing field and to position itself in a strategic defence line if ever it is attacked by outside forces.

In addition, a totalitarian/absolutist economy is always told by its benefactors that it is the most beautiful; the best and the greatest. It thus grows with this “superiority complex”, believing itself to be among the giants. When exposed to  - or even the threat of exposing it to -competition, it wilts like a virgin nymph high on Ecstasy at the feet of a sweet talker. 

If and when all the ladders and props are taken away, a totalitarian economy would fall like a house of cards. 

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Malaysians – a gossipholic society?

The Italian poet and novelist, Cesare Pavese, widely considered as among the major authors of the 20th century in Italy, left a brief note before his suicide.

The last sentence in that brief note says, “don’t gossip too much.”

Malaysians, and I must say, especially the Malays, are obviously not taking that advice to heart.

It is simply amazing that nowadays Malaysians are so caught up by the need to know what somebody else – especially celebrities - is doing. We have become a nation full of kepohs!

The advent of information technologies in the 21st century and of course the near free availability of connectivity in our country currently have contrived to elevate gossiping to something of a national obsession. Day in and day out all of us, to a certain extent, partake in acts of gossiping, be it political, social or even economics in nature.

However, what is really irksome is the proliferation of blatant breaches of privacy by way of the publications of, more often than not, photographs of some celebrities on the internet. This is often followed by unsolicited and gratuitous form of self righteous comments about the photographs and the celebrities in question. Ultimately, there will also be the usual self-righteous advice such as “kembalilah ke jalan Allah” aimed  at the celebrities in question.

Yesterday I read about a certain young lady singer whose pictures in a wet long t-shirt were splashed (no pun intended) all over the internet world. Those pictures were apparently taken during a private pool party. I also saw a picture of another lady actress wearing a bare-back dinner gown making its round on the internet.

Needless to say, both set of pictures drew the usual “you-are-a-bad-Muslim-gal-kembalilah-ke-jalan-Allah” kind of comments from the moral nazis.

Today I visited a news portal and the major “news” on that portal today is about a Malaysian top student who is now studying abroad – who inevitably must be of the female gender (this kind of things actually only happen to the female sex. The males are quite obviously less interesting and significantly of no gossiping value) – who posted some pictures of herself on her fb page.

Apparently, before she went abroad, she used to wear the tudung. Her current picture shows her having blonde hair and wearing laced up legging.

Almost instantaneously, the closet mullahs began attacking her on her fb page with the usual “kembalilah ke jalan Allah” advice. She has since, apparently, deleted her fb page as a consequence.

Which begs the question, first and foremost, why are we so kepoh about whatever others wear or do? The next question, why are we not only so kepoh, but are so quick to judge other people simply by what they wear? I mean, we don’t even know these people and yet we are so quick to draw a moralistic line, compare that line to that of ours and impose ours on hers.

What makes us believe that a girl in tights or bikinis or a wet t-shirt is of lower moralistic value than those who wear the tudungs, hijabs or baju kurung?

Which brings all of us to the next frightening conclusion and that is, to the contemporary society, externalities are more important than the internals. It is like our whole moral compass is dictated by what we can see in three dimensions and that’s it. Nothing else matters.

And so if a girl wears a tudung or a baju kurung, she is quite obviously better, moral wise, than a girl wearing a plunging neck-line t-shirt. Little do we know the plunging neck-line girl works 2 hours a day as a volunteer worker at a day care center as opposed to the girl in baju kurung who don’t even think to help anybody in this world.

Umberto Eco, in his speech, “The Loss of Privacy” (published in “Turning Back the Clock”: Harvill Secker, 2007) noted, with accuracy if I may add, that “the first thing that the globalisation of communication through the internet threatened was the notion of boundaries.”

He then cleverly pointed out that the globalisation of communication as such shows two aspects of ourselves which were hitherto not quite as obvious. Firstly, there reside in  everyone of us, what I would call, a “flasher” tendency, ie, the need to be seen. Secondly, there is also correspondingly, a need to see, which I would call the “voyeuristic” tendency.

He might be right on both counts.

Facebook, for example, serves to prove that most of us, if not all, feel the need to constantly exhibit ourselves to the world by uploading our own pictures or “updating” our status profile, no matter how inane they are or might be. Eco himself referred to a website where a person felt the need to post pictures of his own colon notwithstanding the sheer insignificance of such pictures.

Thus we would have pictures of ourselves eating nasi lemak on our fb pages. Or a profile status which reads “I am now at MARA building, KL.”

Correspondingly, there is also a desire to be a kepoh voyeur, ie to know what others are doing or to pry on others. How else do we explain the popularity of the so-called reality tv shows which portray the live of an entire family 24 hours a day? Most of us, it appears, are closet voyeurs!

But of course, in Malaysia, as in any other things, we have to take it a step further.

After blithely exposing ourselves on the internet with our pictures, thereby satisfying our primordial flasher tendency, we would go on prying on others, thereby satisfying our voyeur instinct. Most people in other societies would stop there.

No. We, Malaysians will not stop there. We than have to satisfy our yet-to-be-scientifically-or-philosophically-explained “Mullahistic tendency”.

We would then judge the person in the pictures which we have – morally and rightfully, to our mind, pried upon – and offer her (inevitably it is a “her”) our advice, which we consider, is our God given right and in fact is the one and only right thing to do.

“Kembalilah ke jalan Allah.”

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A gift to the world?

Let’s forget, for the moment,  about Raja Petra, Harris Ibrahim, the police and FRU as well as the cows for a while.

It’s the new year. And with a new year, I think we are entitled to at least one new hope. Or one dream. Why not? After all, when hopes and dreams fade and vanish does death begin, I think.

Let’s talk about the environment, for a change.

About global warming. The melting of the ice caps. The greenhouse effects. The complete reliance on fossil fuel by the whole world. The consumption of fossil energy which results in the production of carbon which in turn eats up the ozone layer. Which then makes the world warmer and even hotter. Which then makes all of us turn on our air-conditioners even more. Which means we consume even more energy. The power plants then burn even more fossil fuel to produce energy. Which means they produce more carbons which in turn eats up the ozone making the world even hotter. And the heat melts the ice caps. Making the sea level grow higher. And it goes on and on and on in an endless cycle.

What will be of our children and their children?

What are we doing about this?

Personally, I must admit I have not done much about this issue really. Apart from trying not to use plastic bags when I shop or making sure the lights and air-conditioners are switched off if they are not of any use to anybody. For the future, I plan to buy a hybrid car for the family.

That’s about it!

I did try though to sell an idea to someone within the corridors of power about 2-3 years ago. But the guy yawned after 15 minutes. Okay, perhaps I was not good at selling the idea. Hence the reaction.

To my mind, why do we continue to build mega industrial, commercial and recreational parks? Can’t we, as a nation, do something different? I was thinking of an Environmental Park or a Green Technology Park. Call it whatever you like, but the idea is simple.

We take a huge swath of land – which we seem to have in abundance - somewhere. We turn that area into a park which only use alternative power/energy. Let that park be absolutely and independently sustained by powers generated from the wind, the sunlight, the water and whatever natural means that are within our possession.

Well, actually, we cannot exactly say that we possess those natural means. I mean how can we say that we possess the sunlight or the wind. But we can always claim to have the ability to exploit them if we have the knowledge and technology to harness those natural resources and turn them into power or energy.

So, let’s imagine this huge area of land. We build all the infrastructures which are necessary for all those people and corporations with the knowledge and technology to come here to try to exploit those natural resources to produce energy. We create an environment which is conducive for these people to do research, to experiment and to produce. We invite all of them to come here.

The locals can also join in. We do not lack knowledge. Our people have the expertise and specialist knowledge in all sorts of scientific areas. Our people have even managed to trace the Malay genome, for example (not that I know what genome is!). Bring them back here and let them research. And allow them to flourish in our own country.

So, let’s all of us imagine. This huge area of land is full of people, locals and internationals, doing research on alternative power and energy. Good, efficient and clean power and energy. It is for the good of the country. And the world at large.

And within that particular land area, people live in homes powered by these alternative energy and power. People drive vehicles using those alternative energy. People exchange ideas about these technologies, conduct forums and seminars about them – in halls and buildings powered by alternative energies – and sell them to the world.

I believe that will be a world’s first because really I don’t think any country in the world has ever done that. Even if there are, I don’t think they have done that at such a scale and at such level of governmental supports. We love to create world records, don’t we? We have the 1st astronaut who makes teh tarik in space. We have the tallest twin towers in the world. The biggest ketupat in the world. The longest shortest fattest thinnest roundest squarest whatever in the world. Why not the 1st Green City in the world?

I think we have enough of non-organic steel and brick jungles in Malaysia. We have Putrajaya. Which is nice but which does nothing for the future (except to those people who happened to own lands in that area before they were purchased by Putrajaya Holdings). Then we have the Iskandar Regional Development area in Johor. Soon we will have another 3000 acres of bricks and steel city somewhere in Sungai Buloh. Penang is also trying to have whatever city. Proton has its own city. And God knows what else. There may be compelling economics and socio-political reasons for all these cities. And they may be built for completely altruistic reason(s) too.

However, why not a Green City? Why don’t we do that? There are equally compelling economics and socio-political reasons for it to be built and developed I am sure. I mean, we could spend 250 million bucks on cows. Can’t we spend 250 million bucks or even substantially more for the future of our own children, our country and the world at large?

Let’s continue our hope and dream for the future.

Imagine this. Just imagine this. As far fetched as it may sound, why don’t we just let our mind to go on a journey.

In our journey, we have a technology available at our doorstep which could multiply a unit of diesel or fuel – even jet fuel – just by adding a unit of water to that fuel.

Yes. You read it right. Take a unit of diesel for example. Let’s say a litre of diesel. Add a litre of water to it. Pump that mixture through this gadget. And the result is 2 litres of diesel. Not only that. The two litres of diesel produced by this technology would have higher calorific value than the original diesel. It will also have a staggering 95% less sulphur than the original diesel. In addition, the final product will also have a higher cetane index than the original.

Most importantly, the final product will post 0.03 unit of carbon residue as compared to 0.3 unit from the original.

And all it takes to double the volume of diesel as well as achieve all these added benefits is just one similar unit of water. Just plain old clean water and nothing else.

Impossible isn’t it?

I mean, it is laughable. How can a unit of fuel be doubled up – not to mention with all the added benefits - by the addition of a similar unit of water?

However, we would forever be stuck with conventionality if we do not allow our mind to open and journey to the lands of impossibility. Who would, after all, have thought that today we could connect with a person in Los Angeles as of now with negligible cost? Did we even dream of e-mails, blogs, news portals, facebook, twitter, you-tube, flickr etc and the endless and almost limitless possibilities of the cyber-world 15 years ago?

What if I say as of now – as of writing this article – there is a technology available to do just that? And one of the senior management of the company having this technology is a Malaysian?

What if I say that the results of the lab tests of the final product confirm what I had just stated above? And the tester is none other than SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd?

And here’s the lab report.

What if I say that on 20th December 2011, a full physical demonstration of this technology had been successfully done in Port Klang? The advertorial in respect of this event can be read here.

I shudder to think that our media – mainstream and or otherwise – have completely failed to report this ground-breaking event. The fact that an advertorial had to be taken to publicise this event speaks volume of the hopeless state of newspapers and news-reporting agencies  that we have to live with in Malaysia.

So, let’s us imagine. And in our imaginary journey, we could double up the volume of fuel just by adding water to it. And the final fuel burns better and more efficiently. And produces substantially less carbon too.

What will then happen to this world? What will the future hold? What will happen to the Middle-East; to the fat Arab Sheikhs; to the arm pedlars and war mongers; to the bankrupt politicians who have nothing to offer but only misplaced sense of patriotism and nationalism; to the Protons of the world; to Air-Asia and MAS of the world; to Gardenia bread; to RPK, Harris Ibrahim, Anwar Ibrahim, Putrajaya, Dr Mahathir, Kencana Petroleum, Petronas and all of us, the rest of the fossil fuel hungry maniacs of the world.

Would or wouldn’t  this be a gift to the world?