14 July 2008

Awakening ...

Let's get this out of the way - this ain't a book review. Got that clear ?

On my somewhat long flight to Manila today (it feels longer than the 3 hours and 40 minutes, maybe it's the turbulence), I finally finished the book "The World is Flat" by Thomas L Friedman. This well research, thoughtful book talks about globalization, which I find essential read for someone like me.

The book covers globalization, the enabling factors, the resulting impact to the world, and how individuals, companies, and nations can cope with, and use it to their advantage.

In it, I found the most profound statement. I quote:

I like the way a U.S. diplomat in China put it to me in the spring of 2004: " China right now in doing titillation, not privatization. Reform here is translucent - and sometimes it is quite titillating, because you can see the shapes moving behind the screen - but it is not transparent. [The government still just gives] the information [about the economy] to a few companies and designated interest groups." Why only translucent? I asked. He answered, "Because if you are fully transparent, what do you do with the feedback? They don't know how to deal with that question. They cannot deal [yet] with the results of transparency."

In a way, that sentence almost describes Malaysia, doesn't it?

Is there reform? Isn't there reform? We're not transparent. Our government isn't courageous enough to be transparent even when they know they should. Because they know they can't deal with it. That's why it's always translucent.

Just give them the rakyat some glimpses of reform, but make it translucent, and tell them it's transparent. They've never seen transparent anyways, how would they know ?

And if you tell them enough times, they'll believe you. That's how I think the Malaysian BN government used to think.

Well, in this age of the flat world, where Internet enables news to be created by anyone, we the rakyat can choose whom to listen to, and via what media. Which is why we switch off the TV, and boycott the newspapers. We turn to news sites we trust.

The book also mentioned one thing close to my heart - education. I always felt Malaysia can do better with more talent, and the right environment and governance, together with education, will lead us to higher planes of achievements.

Ireland turned around from being left behind in the 60s, to currently being the 2nd richest nation in EU (believe it - they are), in less than 1 generation through government reforms, and education excellence. I really think we can learn from Ireland - how they reversed brain drain, attracted real and lasting investments, and attracted top talents to Ireland.

Somehow ... today, I feel ... awake. I wonder why ?

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