My silence is better than a thousand answers, it keeps intact the honour of innumerable questions),” Singh said reciting the couplet, asserting this has been his “general attitude”.
About fifty years ago, the tiny island-state of Singapore was part and parcel of Malaysia, but has over the years emerged as a country with a per capita Gross Domestic Product of US$56,532 (RM175, 250) as of 2010, which measured by their purchasing power parity, has beaten Norway, the United States and Hong Kong to make Singaporeans the richest people on earth.
This “transformation” or “reformation” in Singapore from a squalid backwater compares in contrast with a 55-year mandate exclusively given to Barisan Nasional to develop Malaysia over a longer period with the nation nowhere being near to even be considered for developed status.
While BN backers might want to contend that it is easy to develop a tiny island compared to a larger nation than Malaysia, why not compare Singapore with an even larger nation like the United States?
This is where it is clearly evident that while graft-free Singapore has not only become the most prosperous in the world, but rates as having among the most successful and happiest people in the world, compared to across the Causeway in Malaysia, where it is riddled with massive corruption and cronyism.
Sharing the Singapore success story
Since this report first made its revelation in the Wall Street Journal, it has further been discovered that the number of centa-millionaires – people with more than US$100 mil (RM310 mil) – has grown 13% higher in Singapore than the global average which is at 6%.
The number of centa-millionaires is expected to grow by another 44% in Singapore by 2016, while in Malaysia, despite ambitious saber-rattling in the form of “Ketuanan Melayu” and slogan chanting of “Malaysia Boleh” and “Janji ditepati” by BN, the country is not even remotely within the range of Singapore’s economic growth and achievements.
Singapore’s richest people have a collective net worth of US$59.4 bil (RM184bil), up from US$54.4bil (RM168.8 bil) last year. It now has 16 billionaires compared to 13 the previous year.
In comparison, if Malaysian billionaires can be considered “paupers” to the Singaporean billionaires, how do you think the average, ordinary Malaysian compares?
Ten out of every 100,000 households on the island-state have now been classified as “ultra-high-net-worth” households, with each having more than US100 mil (RM310 mil) in private financial wealth.
In contrast, Malaysia has the unenviable and dubious distinction of having among the most number of bankruptcies and Non-Performing Loans in the region, with the number of credit card defaulters rising astronomically, and the number of cases of repossession of vehicles on the rise, as well as the number of home owners witnessing their properties going under the hammer or being auctioned off for failing to settle mortgages and loans increasing rapidly.
Why the big difference between Singapore and Malaysia?
Whatever happened? Both these countries were on par at one time and shared a common history before they parted ways. Both also almost share the same political history. While BN governed Malaysia exclusively, the People’s Action Party governed Singapore exclusively.
But look at the sharp, contrasting results all across the spectrum of life. Not just in terms of the financial figures, but just look how successful and relatively happy and well off Singaporeans have become and observe the resentment and unhappiness and discontent simmering in Malaysia.
The two peas in the pod, dispersed and separated, have sprouted conflicting results and it is really quite simple and easy to understand why, if Malaysians were to just care to take a good, hard look beyond all the facts and figures of BN to realize the hard, painful truth that this nation has been manipulated and plundered and looted by the powers-that-be for the personal consumption of BN politicians and their cronies.
By putting in place far-fetched policies like the New Economic Policy, instead of starting off on level ground by putting in place the practice of meritocracy and egalitarian values like Singapore did, Malaysia faltered badly and since then the country has suffered from rife corruption, abuse and misuse of power and authority.
Singapore’s judiciary is perhaps the benchmark for the rest of the legal fraternity across the world. While it has encountered its fair share of criticism, the judiciary in Singapore is far more professional and keeps to the norms of justice rather than what Malaysians witness in the antics of our courtrooms and the questionable judgments and decisions meted.
The basis of any sound society is as good as the enforcement of law and order in that country. This where Malaysia fails and becomes a basket case.
The law enforcement agencies at work in this country such as the judiciary, the Police Di Raja Malaysia and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency have all been coming under heavy criticism for their selective persecution of those who choose to beg to differ from the ways and means of BN’s governance.
Has BN overstayed its welcome?
Instead of admitting to grave flaws and weaknesses in BN’s system of governance, its leaders instead choose to retaliate against any criticism or acts of whistle-blowing against them in the hope that by silencing dissent and discord they will be able to carry on with their acts of abuses and misuse of power.
This has created a culture of fear and the oppression of the people in this country. In failing to become an open and transparent society, where those who endeavor and strive and engage with industry are duly rewarded for their efforts, a lop-sided and biased form of reward system has instead emerged to quell the practice of democracy and universal good values.
This is why the disparity exists between the nations of Singapore and Malaysia now. The two peas in the pod have fallen on different ground.
Ironically, it was the pea that fell on the Singapore ground that was fallow and the pea that fell on the Malaysian ground that was fertile.
But despite starting with a greater handicap and with absolutely no resources, Singaporeans were made to face up to the realities of their struggle for success by their first premier Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
The astute and shrewd Mr Lee worked up Singaporeans into a great frenzy and caused them to bend over backwards to ensure that they survive the ordeal of their estranged relationship with the mainland before propelling them forward and catapult them to the forefront.
Mr Goh Chok Tong and Mr Lee Hsien Loong followed through with the vision and mission of the elder statesman, Mr Lee Kuan Yew, to see through that Singaporeans don’t falter at this juncture but that they continue with the upward momentum of growth for their nation.
The ugly truth of BN leaders
This is where many Malaysians will now come to realize the ugly truth of BN leaders, that Malaysia faces a crisis of leadership. Leaders who are capable in this country, irrespective of race or religion, are side-stepped or overlooked in the political process of being chosen as leaders and the mantle seems to usually fall on those who are self-seeking and corrupt.
The pea that fell on the Malaysian ground though fertile has produced thorny, tacky issues for Malaysians to become terribly uncomfortable with despite having a far lesser handicap than the Singaporeans near fifty years ago.
Malaysians must from these lessons learn to choose leaders that are impartial, that are realistic and to endorse in the coming 13th GE from whatever leaders that are placed on offer those whom they believe that can really deliver the results that Malaysians dream of seeing in this country.
Only by playing and being true to the rules of the game of democracy can a country like Malaysia become as prosperous and well off as our neighbors. It is perhaps time to confess that Singaporeans have chosen a fairly good way to go about living their lives and Malaysians, if they are wise, will opt to emulate and follow in the footsteps of Singapore – not in every aspect but in many key areas including insisting on transparency, honesty, efficiency and meritocracy.
Malaysians should not wait till the last minute to change their way and system of governance. It is high time for change, and the winds of change have already begun to blow across the length and breadth of the nation.
Voters should choose wisely and choose well in the coming 13th GE as the future of not only Malaysians but the nation as well is at stake. Perhaps Malaysians should not just emulate Singapore but prove that they can do better than Singapore since the two nations share a common history.
But do they share a common destiny? It’s up to Malaysians now to prove themselves and be equal to the challenge thrown at them by Singapore.
“It has been my general practice not to respond to motivated criticism directed personally at me,” he added.Banks and provident funds gain at the expense of equities and small savings
Financial savings by households has hit a two decade low screams the headlines. And the reason for this is the rise in inflation rates says most news stories. But the scenario is not as simple as it seems.But the fall in savings was much skewed with instruments offering steady and safe returns making the maximum gains. After all foregoing savings is not an option in poor countries like Malaysiawhere almost most of the people work in the private sector with no definite pensions or social security.In fact, rather than curb savings high inflation seems to have forced them to pour in most of their savings into safer options like bank deposits which rose by double digits for the second consecutive year. So savings in bank deposits, which account for the bulk of household savings, even as household savings in bank deposits soared they kept away from bank loans. Overall, households seem to have junked risky and low return financial instruments in favour of stable and assured instruments. Though inflation has eaten into the absolute amount of money saved the returns offered b y the different instruments has certainly skewed the impact.ISo at each stage, I learnt something more about myself and I stored that. I said: ‘Oh, this is now a danger point.’
So all right, cut out fats, change diet, went to see a specialist in Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital.
He said: ‘Take statins.’ I said: ‘What’s that?’ He said: ‘(They) help to reduce your cholesterol.’
My doctors were concerned. They said: ‘You don’t need it. Your cholesterol levels are okay.’
Two years later, more medical evidence came out. So the doctors said: ‘Take statins.’
Had there been no angioplasty, had I not known that something was up and I cycled on, I might have gone at 74 like my mother.
So I missed that decline. So next deadline: my father’s fall at 87. I’m very careful now because sometimes when I turn around too fast, I feel as if I’m going to get off balance.
So my daughter, a neurologist, she took me to the NNI, there’s this nerve conduction test, put electrodes here and there.
The transmission of the messages between the feet and the brain has slowed down.
So all the exercise, everything, effort put in, I’m fit, I swim, I cycle.
But I can’t prevent this losing of conductivity of the nerves and this transmission. So just go slow.
So when I climb up the steps, I have no problem.
When I go down the steps, I need to be sure that I’ve got something I can hang on to, just in case.
So it’s a constant process of adjustment.
Worst thing – isolating oneself
But I think the most important single lesson I learnt in life was that if you isolate yourself, you’re done for.
The human being is a social animal – he needs stimuli, he needs to meet people, to catch up with the world.
I don’t much like travel but I travel very frequently despite the jetlag, because I get to meet people of great interest to me, who will help me in my work as Chairman of our GIC.
So I know, I’m on several boards of banks, international advisory boards of banks, of oil companies and so on.
And I meet them and I get to understand what’s happening in the world, what has changed since I was here one month ago, one year ago.
I go to India, I go to China.
And that stimuli brings me to the world of today. I’m not living in the world, when I was active, more active 20, 30 years ago. So I tell my wife.
She woke up late today. I said: ‘Never mind, you come along by 12 o’clock. I go first.’
If you sit back – because part of the ending part of the encyclopaedia which I read was very depressing – as you get old, you withdraw from everything and then all you will have is your bedroom and the photographs and the furniture that you know, and that’s your world.
So if you’ve got to go to hospital, the doctor advises you to bring some photographs so that you’ll know you’re not lost in a different world, that this is like your bedroom.
I’m determined that I will not, as long as I can, to be reduced, to have my horizons closed on me like that.
It is the stimuli, it is the constant interaction with people across the world that keeps me aware and alive to what’s going on and what we can do to adjust to this different world.
In other words, you must have an interest in life.
If you believe that at 55, you’re retiring, you’re going to read books, play golf and drink wine, then I think you’re done for.
So statistically they will show you that all the people who retire and lead sedentary lives, the pensioners die off very quickly.
So we now have a social problem with medical sciences, new procedures, new drugs, many more people are going to live long lives.. ….
If the mindset is that when I reach retirement age 62, I’m old, I can’t work anymore, I don’t have to work, I just sit back, now is the time I’ll enjoy life,
I think you’re making the biggest mistake of your life.
After one month, or after two months, even if you go traveling with nothing to do, with no purpose in life, you will just degrade, you’ll go to seed.
The human being needs a challenge, and my advice to every person in Singapore and elsewhere:
Keep yourself interested, have a challenge.
If you’re not interested in the world and the world is not interested in you, the biggest punishment a man can receive is total isolation in a dungeon, black and complete withdrawal of all stimuli, that’s real torture.
So when I read that people believe, Singaporeans say: ‘Oh, 62 I’m retiring.’ I say to them: ‘You really want to die quickly?’
If you want to see sunrise tomorrow or sunset, you must have a reason, you must have the stimuli to keep going..’
This would be a strange question to ask in the context of the ethnic conflict in Assam that is showing signs of accelerating what with the chief minister Tarun Gogoi declaring that Assam is on the tinderbox. But in fact the genesis of the problem lies in the question.
Over hundred years ago when India was still India and not India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, there was large scale migration of Bengali Muslims from East Bengal (which is now Bangladesh) into Assam. This was the result of deliberate policies of the government of British India which wanted to colonize Assam and exploit its natural resources and expand agriculture in an area where tribal communities – like Bodos, Koch Rajbongshis and others – lived. These tribal were outside the pale of society as it was then and were not seen to be part of the market economy. The Bengali peasant, on the other hand, had been exposed to the world of colonialism/capitalism in eastern Bengal. Thus they were game to be part of this strategy. So began the process of migration of Bengali Muslims into Assam impelled undoubtedly also by the increased pressure on land in East Bengal.readmorehttp://themalaybusinesstribune.blogspot.com/2012/08/prime-minister-datuk-seri-najib-razak.html