A Positive Role Mode

By Pakac Luteb

Politics often stinks like a pile of poo. The thirst for power often brings out the worst in people.

In Malaysia the pile of poo is so deep it requires a submarine to reach the bottom.

RPK recently described how corruption injures society at all levels.

On the point of costs, as RPK (and another blogger, I don’t remember the name, sorry) pointed out that salaries in Malaysia have increased less than expenses, especially motorcars and houses, over the years;
thus making Malaysians poorer than they were 30 years ago.

Someone wrote the government helps the rakyat to own cars, by allowing for long loan periods.

That “help” is actually further exploitation, because of the interest on the loan, the nett amount the car buyer pays becomes so much higher. By the time the loan is finished the car is so old and decrepit nobody wants to buy it. Far better if salaries were higher and car loan could be paid in 2 or 3 years.

A decent minimum wage would help the rakyat and the government too. With more income there would be more income tax revenue.

Malaysians have noticed (and visiting Mat Sallehs have noticed and told me) of the lack of quality of buildings, roads, services of electricians, plumbers, car mechanics, etc. Corruption certainly plays a role in that.

Contracts awarded by bribes, not competency.

In buildings, concrete with too much sand and not enough cement, crooked uneven stairs, lack of safety railings… Crooked uneven roads, improperly made curves in roads, misleading signs, misleading or improperly placed traffic lights, sometimes a superabundance of traffic lights making the junction look like a pesta… Each traffic light is more commission in somebody’s pocket….

Ever wonder why tradespeople are so incompetent?

A vocational school where the required hands-on project intended to make students THINK and LEARN is available for a price…

Projects built but not maintained is another example.

The budget for building is much more than the budget for maintaining and the corrupt are really wanting the short term large payment in their pocket, not long term small payments…

Your car suffers from the uneven bumpy road. Your tyres, shock absorbers and wheel alignment are all having problems long before they should. Can you find a competent honest mechanic and a fair price for spare parts? Unlikely. Your car maintenance costs are high. You may decide to not maintain your car properly, contributing to road accidents. Same with commercial vehicles.

Even notice a bus repeatedly bounce and sway after a bump? The shock absorbers are rosak. That is not merely uncomfortable for the passengers, it can be deadly. Shock absorbers (and wheel alignment) ensure the tyres remain in proper contact with the road. That contact is needed for braking and steering the vehicle.

How many express buses have ended up in ravines or crashed into railings and the driver said they lost control? If the shock absorbers are rosak surely the driver cannot control the vehicle during sudden braking or abrupt steering!

Students (and Professors too, some of whom hold fake degrees, ugh!) plagiarise in universities. They copy the work of others rather than have to think about the subject. They graduate half-baked, incompetent but in positions of responsibility where they can harm society. Even the professions of Engineering, Medicine and Law suffer from such half-baked incompetent graduates.

Bribe. Plagiarise. Don’t think, except maybe how to cheat to get money. That is the sad state of affairs in Malaysia.

The lack of thinking is very common, thanks in part to an incompetent education system driven by government officers who don’t think. Most Malaysians at some time in their life will receive an official letter from some branch of government. Often that letter will close with “Saya yang Menurut Perintah” (I Obey Orders). That means thinking is officially disliked, just obey orders. But are the order givers competent or know enough of the particulars of the case?

Even a child can understand the problem resulting if a drain cover or manhole cover is not raised when another layer of pavement is added to repave a road. The cover becomes below the level of the road. It’s a hazard to
vehicles. Vehicles swerve to avoid the holes or lose control or are damaged in the hole. Accidents happen.

But children are not repaving roads. It’s half-baked “I Obey Orders” unthinking people that repave roads.

Motorcyclists suffer a lot from this problem. Their bike may enter a hole or swerve around it, then they are struck by a vehicle. Some motorcyclists literally end up in pieces scattered along the road, due to the high traffic speed and dense traffic.

If the road surface were lowered during repaving (remove old pavement, then only put new pavement) or the covers raised during repaving, lives could be saved. Some countries recycle the pavement, remove it, mix
with bits of old tyres, then repave. Money and materials are saved.

But corrupt people would receive less money when there is recycling, so Malaysia has to tackle corruption before recycling can really take hold. Thus corruption is indirectly hurting the environment, in addition to the direct hurts from illegal logging, the Bakun dam, open burning, etc.

Isn’t it obvious that the bars of drain covers should be at right angle to the traffic direction, not parallel to it, to avoid catching tyres of motorbikes and bicycles? So why are the bars parallel to the traffic flow? Could it be that designers and installers of the covers don’t think?

How many of you have seen a road widened in BolehLand but a lamp-post remained in its previous position, so now it is in the middle of a traffic lane or the road shoulder lane? Obviously somebody, perhaps more than
one person, was not thinking.

Is corruption or money or greed and laziness the root of all evils?

Money is said to be the root of all evils. But money is merely a system for exchange. Without money we would have to barter trade. You may want to sell your car but would you accept 10,000 chickens for it? You’d prefer
RM50,000, isn’t it? Corruption is thus the bigger problem. From where does corruption come? Are we born corrupt?

We are not born corrupt, but we are born greedy and lazy. Any creature, humans included, will chose the path of the least effort for the most gain.

Humans can learn to substitute social rules and laws for instincts. People must be taught those rules and laws from a young age so they become habit. Those rules and laws can include what is considered fair and just in business. Corruption will be reduced. Some people will cheat, but not many. Look at other societies, such as Japan, for examples of social rules.

Fortunately, people have an innate sense of fair play programmed into their DNA. Psychologists have tested people, including small children and also various social animals such as chimpanzees, monkeys and dogs. That innate sense of fair play can be the foundation we build on to achieve an ethical society. Repeated teaching of social rules and laws can make fair play seem preferable to cheating.

I try to teach my children about fair play, advising them when they or others engage in unethical behaviours. For example, if my child cheats in sports and “wins” I tell them that they (my child) are not better than the other athlete, as their “win” was not based on athletic prowess but on cunning.

I advise my child they can be better than the other athlete if they try hard enough to compete, improve themselves, don’t sabotage others.

I help my child to see that if they are honest in how they compete they won’t be merely a winner, they will be a winner who is also better than they were before they made the effort to improve themselves.

To recap the last point: People need to be taught to not always be lazy, taught not to always take the easy path.

They have to be taught that achievement takes effort and that achievement gives emotional satisfaction. Achievement can also bring a higher salary and professional recognition.

The sense of fair play in our DNA must be allowed to express itself, aided by social rules and laws.

I believe if we follow the above principles we can have a prosperous and just society that makes our lives enjoyable and serves as a positive role model for the rest of the world.