Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Distinguished Gentleman

Once there was a British historian and politician T.B. Macaulay wrote a letter to his constituents, he clarifies the roles and responsibilities of an elected representative of the people. The people elect their representatives and entrust to them the complex task of government. 

Theorists believe that part of the duty of a representative was not simply to communicate the wishes of the electorate but also to use their own judgement in the exercise of their powers, even if their views are not reflective of those of a majority of voters.

Some people believe that in a representative democracy, it would be ideal for the elected officials to be highly educated people who understand the needs of the people and can come up with solutions to complicated social and governmental problems. 

In many cases, however, representatives are often based on shared beliefs and opinions with certain segments of the populace, regardless of those representatives' education, knowledge or ability to solve problems. This is seen by some people as a weakness of representative democracy, in that the representatives might serve their own needs and preferences over those of the people. 

But is this really how we want our democracy to work? Surely we want our parliamentary decision-making to be able to stand up to critical scrutiny, to be rational, to be moral, to be supported by evidence and to be in accordance with some principles that can be defended. 

We should remind our elected representatives of the job we are paying them to do: to make reasoned and principled decisions on our behalf, in the best interests of the nation. We should require them to focus on this serious undertaking and to exercise their own best judgment and conscience. 

Note: Diary "Yang Berkhidmat" not "Yang Berhormat" 

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Campaign

As to day, hundreds of parliamentary candidates have submitted nomination papers in their respective constituencies, marking the start of a two-week campaign. 

Both sides seem to campaign on the premise that voting for the other side means a dubious future. But what I would really like to know is how voting for any side would lead to a bright future. In fact I’d like them to sketch out that bright future for us all, one where we would really be united, working towards some common goals. I’d like to be able to have some hope instead of all the doom and gloom that voting for the ‘wrong’ side will inevitably bring us. 

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the manifestos are shiny brochures that highlight the benefits while conveniently ignoring the pitfalls, but it is exasperating that two sides agree so much to the point that they chose not to address the same issues. It means making a choice based purely on the manifestos a difficult one. In short, both parties seem to want to implement the same policies, it’s just that one says they’re already doing a good job, and the other one disagrees.

After all, if there is so little difference between the manifestos, then at least you should make sure that the people who get in know what they’re doing, either as an implementer, or as a check and balance to ensure quality.

While those two parties campaigning, it's reminded me of a Malay film titled "Dua Kali Lima". The film centered on two competing sewing shop to promote their companies. Competition between Kulup Kecil and Kulup Besar . Respectively lower prices, provide discounts, until finally 'free' (this is just to create humor). The end benefit is that the customer.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Looking Through the Glass

“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”- Steve Jobs
We look in the mirror all the time but yet after looking in the mirror for five minutes we're still left wondering, 'Am I attractive or not?' And still have no clue. And it's not the case that we all assume that we're beautiful, right?"

Who are you? No, it’s not a trick question and I am not asking for your name. I am also not asking for your résumé, marital status, or life history. Those things may be a reflection of who you are, but my question goes a little deeper than that.

I’m asking how well you actually know yourself as a person. In other words, who are you underneath all the trappings and titles? What do you see when you look at your very core? Who is that inner person walking around in your body, doing your job, and managing your life? How would you describe your true self?

Self-knowledge is practically impossible to attain, we're all biased creatures, especially when it comes to the face in the mirror. But you can achieve greater objectivity and insight by tuning into a few tested principles––and relying on the feedback of others.
People know their inner thoughts and emotions, but most people lack the ability to judge whether they possess desirable and undesirable characteristics. When it comes to traits like intelligence, goodness and attractiveness, others may know us much better than we know ourselves. That doesn't mean our friends are experts on us -- we often overestimate how much people can tell about our inner thoughts and emotions. For example, you may be scared to death on a first date, but you probably have the ability to mask most of your nervous energy. But when it comes to an objective point of view on how you present yourself, then your closest friends may be the authorities.  

To be yourself, and be at peace with yourself, you must truly know yourself. Getting in touch with your true self is not usually as straightforward as we might like. The reason for this is because the real you likes to play hide and seek with your conscious mind. Our ego has a way of disguising our true self, so it requires some effort to unveil it.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?

A popular TV quiz show posed this question in its title: “Are You Smarter Than a 5th-Grader?”

It was a simple idea, as most successful ideas are: An adult plays the game, which offers a cash prize of one million. During the show, a group of 5th-grade students is on stage to rescue the adult if he or she is stumped by a toughie. The questions are drawn from school textbooks. As the winnings mount, of course, the questions get harder. If the adult fails to complete the challenge or decides to quit rather than lose money, he or she has to admit, on TV, “I’m not smarter than a 5th grader.”
While this task may seem like a walk in the park, many contestants have lost the chance to win one million dollars -- or even a fraction thereof -- for failing to answer basic elementary level questions, surprising not only the contestants themselves and viewers but the 5th grader student.

I'm constantly amazed at how many people are definitely not smarter than a fifth grader. Speaking for myself, I'm definitely smarter than a fourth grader, but never having seen anyone actually win the contest, I can't say for sure that I'm smarter than a fifth grader.

Now, I’d be the first to tell you that I’m terrible at math, but even I can see something’s wrong here. I have forgotten somethings I learned years ago! So test yourself and see how many of these questions you can get right. 

A survey by learning firm Pearson has found that only 5 per cent of 2,000 volunteers correctly answered ten questions which tested maths typically taught to junior school pupils which covered fractions, angles, area and percentages. Nearly four in ten – 39 per cent – were unable to answer a simple question about fractions aimed at eight-year-old. Nearly three-quarters–73 per cent – were stumped by a calculation question for 11- and 12-year-old.

The reason adults can embarrass themselves in these quiz shows has less to do with their schooling than the fact that most have not used 5th-grade facts in many years.

Note: I've been reminded I'm not smart.