Thursday 26 November 2020

This is the country that Covid 19 built

The nursery rhyme 'The house that Jack built' was one of the Nursery Rhymes I learned during my colonial education.   (You can read the complete rhyme here:  This is the house that Jack built)

It begins with these lines.

This is the house that Jack built.

This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built.

This is the rat, 

That ate the malt,

That lay in the house that Jack built.

It's a long rhyme with a bouncy repetitive beat that we kids loved to recite.   But this short bit is enough - for in those few lines it sums up the state of Malaysia.

We have too many rats (and it's not just because this is the Year of the Rat) that ravish and gorge on the bags and bags of 'Malt'  ( resources, opportunities, wealth) that Malaysia has to offer.

Ever since 1789, this nation has  operated and thrived on the basis of the SAS motto of  'Who dares, wins'.  Of course most would connect this to the ethos that to be a winner you have to be enterprising and courageous.

And this subscribes very much to the Judaeo-Christian philosophy/culture, as reflected in this 18th Century tract.

Figure 1

It's such crooked thinking to suggest that it requires little perseverance or exertion of labour to achieve the barest necessities of life. In the case of Malaysia, say that to the faces of the fishermen and rice farmers, the market and pasar tani stallholders, the hawkers and warung keepers, the FELDA pioneers, the road-sweepers, the Grab and Panda delivery service riders, the taxi drivers and bus drivers in the urban centres.  That 'luxuries' and their 'consumption' will inspire men to be more industrious is even more ridiculous - for what this actually does is to enable the 'persevering and industrious' to make big profits and then create indebtedness among the 'savage and uncivilized hordes' and the 'indolent and dissipated'.  And the Malays have been tarnished again and again by some of our brethren (and others) with that word 'indolent'.  

Well, what hope is there for an indolent Malay to become an entrepreneur owning 26 factories or so?

As always it's back to basics, back to the hard, raw data.

It looks like even the Hokkiens, on losing 'official support'  were 'hard-pressed to compete with the Portuguese' and had to play second fiddle.

Is there actually a dividing line between the huasheng and the huaqiao?  

The above came from :

Yesterday, I was appalled to learn this.

First we had the spike from Sabah, thanks to our bog-standard quality of politics, politicians and democracy in Malaysia.  Now we have contributors from our own home-grown bog-standard (?) entrepreneurs, the kind that J R McCulloch   (see Figure1 ) was rooting for in constructing a civilized and productive society.

Who and what is Top Glove?  But first, a song about an ant and rubber tree plants, a silly old ram and a billion kilowatt dam. Nothing's too daunting if you want to be Top Dog in any field of power and wealth.

                                         That's the spirit for entrepreneurs par excellence!

As for Top Glove, here's just a little window on its makeup.

From Wikipedia


Yesterday, we ventured out for our usual Wednesday morning walk around the little lake at Sri Rampai followed by tosay at our favourite Mamak restaurant located within a shoplot of motor workshops and motor accessories shops.  On our way along Jalan Jelatek, I  saw a young lass ( I think she deserves the word 'lass', unlike our "Kota Kinabalu lass" -  5 November posting)  minding a little stall selling nasi lemak Gombak.  Jalan Jelatek is a busy, messy, gloomy, horrible road, which looks  like a scene from a dark Gothic movie. The massive construction of the 6-lane elevated highway is a ghastly scar on what was once a dual carriageway separated by a line of trees on the divider. 

Note the elevation of the flyover, about the height of 4 to 5 floors, and its proximity to the condominium on the right.

In all the years since 2007 when we were  driving along Jalan Jelatek, we have never, ever seen a single stall operating along this stretch.  It's such an unlikely place because of the heavy and fast traffic, because of the hideous flyover that blocks the sunlight.  You would not  expect any driver to stop to buy whatever you're selling.  But this child ( in the eyes of a 76 years-old AsH) was there, a solitary, forlorn and hopeful young woman.  In the midst of this cruel pandemic, she was trying her best to earn a little living for herself and her family.      

At 7.30 a.m., the traffic was all travelling on the far lanes, so few cars went past this lass and her stall.    Had she set up next to the busy lane, which was lined with bollards, few people would have been able to stop even if they wanted to    On the side she had sited her stall, there was room to operate - but there was virtually no traffic....and so almost no customers.      

We salute her, her immense courage and spirit.

This morning, we drove along that same stretch .....

A Kuala Lumpur road in the midst of rapacious 'development'.

There she sits, Putri Peniaga Melayu, surrounded by all the paraphernalia constructed by and which enriched the likes of Mr Koon Yew Yin and his entrepreneur-soul-mates.

I recall the words of Koon Yew Yin when he 'fretted' over what the hell is wrong with the Malays! And he was quite clever to quote the words of a Malay who does not wince at condemning his fellow Malays.  For Mr Koon, this is seperti bulan jatuh di riba!  This is indeed how the  Malays can be used to screw their fellow - Malays.  Aaaah si Luncai!!

One day, maybe, that young girl or her anak or cucu will be able to be more successful than Koon and his tong pao.  Maybe one day they will pick up the tactics and  tips from the writings and experience of the taukeh himself.

Or maybe Mr Koon would say "Oh yes. And pigs can fly".

However, my Putri Peniaga does not need to be a  Flying Pig.  She has to seek a life that is more meaningful than money can buy even as .....

Hasrat laksana tasik berlian,

Tidakkan hangus walau dibakar.

Tetap kuduga dalam lautan,

Biar terputus kail sejengkal.

We bought several packets of nasi lemak and karipap for our breakfast and our neighbours'.

As we left, I asked her to awas and jaga diri baik baik as this is not a safe place for a young girl to be on her own.  I hope she will be able to move to a more secure location.  As it is, the streets near us are already chocka-block full with stallholders desperately trying to make a living.  A year ago there were maybe ten; now there are at least fifty.   We get different groups of hopeful entrepreneurs during the early morning, midday and evening slots.  Furthermore some of our well-heeled middle class Malay neighbours are irritated because one of them has a problem getting her Mercedes through the clutter of customers at the stalls.  The other exclamed, "I thought this is an elite area!". 

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