Monday, January 11, 2010

take five

One of the things I do at work is troubleshoot equipment failure.

In layman terms, what it means is that I lead a team like Dr. House does, only except of trying to figure out what is wrong with a person, I try to figure out what is wrong with a particular industrial equipment.

Sometimes, like yesterday, when we are banging our heads against a brick wall trying to figure out what is wrong with a machine, when all possibilities seem exhausted, I tell my guys to take five, stop banging our heads against the immovable brick wall, go back to the drawing board and define the problem.

Usually, we find that the problem cannot be solved because, more often than not, the problem wasn't well defined in the first place. How can you solve a problem when you were too distracted by the symptoms to even identify the problem in the first place?

Think about it.

The problem is not the arson. The problem isn't the government (although certainly the incompetence of certain people are not helping). The problem isn't the word in the first place.

The problem is the inability to understand the other person's culture, the reluctance to walk a mile in his shoes, and the downright refusal to accept that maybe, just maybe the other guy doesn't care that you think you are in the right because he thinks he is in the right too.

The younger Christians are saying that they have been using it forever and ever and the historical facts back it up. They can even quote passages in the Holy Book telling people why the term is technically correct. And they have the High Court saying they can. They are saying that you can't copyright a word. That is why, they say, they are correct and have every right to use the word.

The traditionalist Muslims can't understand why people would wanna upset this whole equilibrium thing that they had going. They can't understand why these people want to use a word that all their lives they have known to describe their God. "Isn't your God called something else? Why can't you use the other word for Him?" All their lives they were brought up thinking what they know is true, and now some people are telling them something else totally whacked up...NO WAY!! They feel suspicious that other fellas are taking what is theirs.

Do you see the problem here?

Everybody has been discussing who is in the right and who is in the wrong. And everybody thinks they are right. Personally, I don't care who is. Yes, you can argue you technicalities on both sides, and yes, you can win any argument you like. You can win your debates, win your court cases (or lose the subsequent appeal) but still the problem remains, both parties feel that they are in the right.

I mean, I am sure you face this in my aspects of your every day life. You present an argument in a sound and logical manner (or so you think) and your boss shoots it down. In matters such as this, more often than not, once people have ingrained in them that they are right, nothing is going to change their mind.

If I was saying this to a different audience, I would put this argument in a different manner for which they would understand my message. But because I know this blog is read primarily by young middle to upper class urbanites, most of whom support the usage of the word by the Christians, I will say this:

You cannot understand why these "uneducated" (quote unquote from many of my friends) people find it so hard to accept that you are correct, that they can't copyright a word, that you are backed by historical 'facts' - that is the same way they feel about you. The fact that you feel that anyone who disagrees with you is either uneducated, ignorant or worse, a fundamentalist

So, just for one second. Stop and think about putting yourself in the other guy's shoes.

What is the solution I propose?

Frankly, I have nothing concrete. We can promote discussions and education but it all takes time. Time that a lot of us fear that we do not have. There is a time bomb is ticking today. We need a quick fix solution while we work on the discussion and re-education which will take years, if not generations.

Again, I have no clear solutions. But I am presenting the real definition of the problem, in the HOPE that the people smarter than me, the people who were entrusted by the democratic system to make things right actually do come up with something.

And perhaps, if you realise the actual problem that we are facing, that you can take steps to correct it at your level - talking to more friends, convincing people to open up their minds and look at both sides of the coin.

At this point in time, even the simplest of things can help.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

don't ever lose hope

"Vincent, how lah? What's wrong with this country? Still got hope meh?"

"There's always hope. Don't ever, ever lose that."

Never mind about all that has been said about those acts of terrorism. Let's face it, anywhere else in the world, we would label the perpetrators terrorists. Loads of things can be said about them, but instead, let's focus on what is said about this whole issue.

Many of my friends, on Facebook, on blogs, discussing this issue - even on Malaysiakini and every online portal out there have been categorically dissing UMNO, BN, Najib and Hishamuddin. I don't deny that they could have handled it better. Heck, they should have handled it better, especially in the lead up to today's events.

But to pin the blame solely on UMNO is akin to saying that supporters and leaders of the Opposition party would have acted differently given the circumstances - is malicious at best, and worse - extremely delusional.

People all too eager to make this a political issue have to wake up and realise this is a community problem, a society issue that could have been resolved (granted, not easily) with proper discourse. To make it a political issue would be highly criminal - that is to say that if we were to swap governments tomorrow, this problem would go away automatically - that is wishful thinking that in the long run is more dangerous than the situation we are in today.

Joining a Facebook group called "AKU BENCI UMNO & BN" is equally criminal because it shows how narrow minded we are into thinking that this problem will solve itself in the next elections.

This has nothing to do with political affiliations - and to prove it, I challenge all of you reading this to a simple experiment. Open your Facebook account and count how many friends of other races you have. Then, if you are Malay - select 5 of your most Melayu friends (if you are Chinese, pick 5 of your most Cheena friends). You know, the ones who spent their entire lives in sekolah agama, then went to MRSM, then UiTM and is now working with a GLC. Similarly, a Chinese boy who went to Chung Hwa all his life, then went to UTAR and now works at his father's business. Count and see, how many friends of other races they have.

My record - one of my friends, Chinese bloke with 400 friends and NOT A SINGLE Malay or Indian friend. He went to a Chinese school all his life, then went to Singapore to study, then UK and is now working in a typically Chinese firm.

How can we tolerate (for the lack of a better word) and how can we understand other races if we don't know them? We can't blame people like my friend because this is how society moulded him to be. They had no opportunity to mix and to learn from other races and other cultures.

We, as relatively educated and supposedly more cultured citizen - it is our responsibility to show these people the beauty of diversity. Instead of pinning the blame on an easy scapegoat, we should wake up and work harder to promote our diversity.

This is an appeal to the rational citizens in my country.

Start with the man in the mirror.

Go out there, learn a new culture today.

We cannot lose hope. We must never lose hope.

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Monday, January 04, 2010


My mornings in the office usually start off with me arriving at the office, going through my mail and then preparing for the morning brief with my staff. In between all that, I somehow find the time to glance at The Star Online and read the top 10 headlines of the day.

Today, I was particularly busy and only managed to find time for that at around 4.30pm. So it was only around that time that I managed to read today's headlines about the government set to appeal the 'Allah' ruling.

I've always felt that in any argument, both parties are to blame. The Christians, I feel, are picking a fight. We all know that the Malay word for God is Tuhan. So unless Herald is printing Arabic versions of their newsletters, I can't quite understand what they are fighting for. And besides, if you ask any of those people who drive around with 'I LOVE JESUS' and 'WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?' car stickers, I wager my head that they would not willingly swap the word Jesus with Allah.

That said, we are supposed to be civilized people here, but I see that one of my friends has joined a Facebook group called MENENTANG PENGUNAAN NAMA ALLAH OLEH GOLONGAN BUKAN ISLAM and quite honestly the things being said in there are quite scary. You're worried about people getting confused? Isn't that why you have wise imams in the first place? Aren't you supposed to correct the misconceptions amongst your brothers? Your efforts should be channeled into worrying what you can do to help the confused rather than fight off other people.

So fellas, give and take, can?

That wasn't the main point of this post, but rather what lead to it. On my drive home, I kept thinking about this issue and how the world will change over the new decade.

I mean, it seemed like yesterday I watched Survivor: Pulau Tiga and remember thinking what an awesome concept this thing called "Reality TV" was. After 10 years, "Big Brother" and "My New BFF" and I reserve the right to retract my original opinion.

So, I was actually thinking what the world like would be in 10 or 20 years time. This gets a little convoluted, so try to keep up.

Consider the following facts:

Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world today. There are 1.5 billion Muslims in the world compared to the 2.2 billion Christians. By the middle of the new decade, there would be more Muslims than Christians. The growth is exponential, meaning that sooner rather than later, if nothing is done, Christianity would be relegated to a minority religion, with Hinduism accounting for the 2nd highest majority.

Now, being backed into a corner inevitably means people will fight back. Well, probably not like they did one millennium ago where the Crusaders went at each other's throats with an axe and sword (I certainly hope not!). The New Crusades would be fought politically - heck one might argue it has already begun. The most powerful man on Earth is called Barrack HUSSEIN Obama!

Therefore, if you have a kid, tell him to forget about studying Geology to look for the last drop of oil. Forget about studying farming to support the increasing world food demand. In my (not so) humble opinion, those two would be relegated to the #2 and #3 most sought after profession.

I reckon, in the next decade or so, the most in-demand job (and hence, the most lucrative) would be that of a Christian missionary, paid to spread the word of God.

But that's just me. And I have been known to be crazy...

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