Relish sweet dreams, be mindful of nightmares

One of the famous moral stories that I can remember since I was a child is about George Washington, the first President of the United States. Many of us would have heard of how he admitted to his deed of chopping his father’s cherry tree. The famous sentence “I can’t tell a lie, I did it with my hatchet” serves as a moral guide of honesty to many until today.

Even when we grew up to be adults, many self-improvement trainings, lessons, articles, and books has kept on reminding us to admit to our mistakes and correct from it. Everyone would agree that it is one of the basics for a successful life.

Last week, the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has proudly announced in a press statement that the Pakatan Government has managed to developed Penang’s economy from the bottom up to become the best in terms of GDP per capita.

To understand a state’s economic performance, we must first understand the definition of the measurement that is being used to determine it.

In this case, we need to understand two simple terms: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and also GDP per capita, which is being used by the Chief Minister to determine the economic performance of Penang.

I may not be an economist, but I have read basic economy in one of the lessons in the university.

GDP in simple terms represents the value of all goods and services produced by all people and companies within a country or state. Therefore, it is the best way to determine a country or a state’s economic activity.

GDP per capita is an approximation of the value of goods and services produced per person within a country or state. It is usually used to measure a country’s standard of living.

While facts and figures given by the CM is accurate; after all facts are facts; however it is an inaccurate way to use GDP per capita to measure Penang’s economic performance.

From the way the economic performance issues has been raised, could it be that the DAP continues to strive for political gains by trying to confuse the people with half-truth?

Penangites are definitely feeling proud with the fact that the state has performed in GDP per capita. But if we tend to keep on furnishing ourselves with only positive information without reviewing what we lack of; Penang will continue to be in the spot of dreaming only. We must be proud of what we have achieved, but at the same time Penang must know its weaknesses and to overcome it.

Penang has been losing the edge in terms of GDP comparing with other states in the nation. Penang used to score a higher GDP compared to the national average; but for the past five years we are performing lesser.

The state government must acknowledge the fact that the state GDP is dropping and must therefore boost the economy with feasible plans for the state. If we continue to focus too much on positive facts, we will tend to ignore the necessary change that we need to improve.

Penangites must be supplied with both positive and negative information regarding the state’s situation. We must be proud to celebrate our achievements; but we must also be ready to face challenges that will be encountered.

Freedom of information isn’t only about releasing information when the public requested for it; but information should be disseminated necessarily to make the public be aware of what is happening around them.

The challenges in Penang’s industrial sector this year might worsen the economy. We have seen the closure, layoffs or relocation of factory operations that will cause hundreds or thousands to be unemployed. We have already heard of news about several multinational corporations making some changes in their Penang’s operations namely Seagate, Western Digital, Rubicon Technology and TS Solartech.

Why couldn’t the state government’s leadership simply acknowledge the poor economic performance and begin to draft strategic plans to move things forward?

Sweet dreams may be sweet and lovely, everyone just loves it; but we must always be ready to face and challenge the nightmares as well.

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 21st October 2016.

珍惜美梦,注意噩梦

我小时候就熟悉的著名道德训诫,是美国第一任总统乔治华盛顿, 向他父亲承认砍倒樱桃树的故事。故事中的名句:“我不能说谎, 是我用斧头砍了树”直到今天仍是诚实的典范。

即使我们已长大成人,许多自我提升的培训课程、 文章和书籍也一样在提醒我们,必须承认自己的错误, 并且尽快纠正过来。每个人都会同意,“知错能改,善莫大焉”, 将为成功的生活打下良好的基础。

上个星期,槟州首席部长林冠英在文告中自豪地宣布, 民联执政槟州后, 成功把槟城从全国最低的人均州内生产总值增长扭转乾坤, 成为人均州内生产总值增长的全国冠军。

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Small issues matter too

Tun Musa Hitam, our former Deputy Prime Minister published a biography, “Frankly Speaking” which tells about his life in politics and serving the people. It has been an inspiring and interesting book to learn about governance, politics, serving the people as well as about knowing more about the history of our country.

One of the lessons that politicians should learn from the former Deputy Prime Minister is to put his priority to serve the people and get things done above politics. Despite being the second most powerful man in the Government, the decisions and actions that he has taken in office shows that he doesn’t politicise issues and forsaking the needs of the people.

Few good cases on how Tun Musa has handled was during the inflation, sugar crisis and consumer protection issues when he was the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry. He has also played an important role in dealing with the Baling demonstrations due to the low rubber prices which affects the rubber industry. There are also many other incidences which proves his good political leadership in his biography which I think should be read by many.

While I believe that it is difficult to avoid politicking in the current political arena, I think that we have the options to prioritize on which is more important. I believe that matters that affect the needs and necessities of the people must not be ignored for the sake of populist agenda.

Last Sunday, 11 of Gerakan’s Residents Representative Committee (Jawatankuasa Perwakilan Penduduk or JPP) have made uproar in the news when they called for press conferences at the same time and same day, but different places.

Various issues were raised ranging from cleanliness to public infrastructure problems. Clogged drains, garbage all over public parks, missing ditch covers, bird’s droppings and many more.

It could be only be a small matter if each of the issue is raised alone. It is because each issue mostly affects the nearby residents only; comparing to bigger issues like petrol prices that affects generally all Malaysians.

As in the issues that we have raised in the press conferences, it is obvious that there are many local issues throughout the whole Penang including the island and mainland which is unresolved and probably ignored.

It shows that the slogan “Cleaner, Greener Penang” stays just a slogan and merely a political rhetoric.

We know that bigger issues are important; for instance, corruption, economy, social issues. These issues are matters that couldn’t be solved within a day or a month. It could probably take years to fix it. As the issues could be on-going for a long term, it could be easily politicised by certain politicians to make the current government look weak as the matter cannot be fixed.

Coming back to the local problems that the JPP has raised; those issues were matters that could have been solved in one day. And why weren’t the matters taken care of? Why was it ignored and left a problem for such a long time?

Why these politicians keep on talking about big issues only? Is it because it garners more attention and it is easier to manipulate? It is due to the populist agenda?

Cases of corruption may have affected us as a country in terms of reputation and economy; but clogged drains in front of our home may have risked our lives through the breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.

If such small issues still cannot be handled by these politicians, why do we trust them to help us fight for bigger issues?

As a quote I read in the internet before, “Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

This article has been published in Mandarin in Kwong Wah Yit Poh dated 7th October 2016.

小问题也很重要

我国前副首相敦慕沙希旦出版了传记《坦白说》,叙述他为人民服务的政治生涯。这是一本鼓舞人心的有趣传记,欲了解国家治理、政治、服务群众,以及更多我国历史的读者们不容错过。

今天的政治人物应该向这位前副首相学习,包括以服务人民为优先事项的精神,以及超越政治一心办好事情。尽管曾任我国政府的第二把交椅,但他办公室的决策和行动显示他没有把课题政治化,也不忽略人民的需求。

敦慕沙处理得不错的几个事件,是在他担任贸易与工业部副部长之际,解决的通货膨胀、糖类危机和保护消费者课题。在橡胶工业因橡胶价格低落而发生华玲示威时,他也扮演了重要的谈判角色,我相信很多人都在他的传记中,看出他优秀的政治领导能力。

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