Feb 12, 2009

Audacious Rescue Plan

I read from the newspapers that electricity charges have come down and the credit card companies are also reducing interest rates and late penalty charges. Even the NPE toll collection at PJS2 is going to be abolished on Valentine's Day. Looks like they agree partially with some of my proposals a few days ago but i am afraid the steps taken are not sufficient. Just this morning i had a man waking me from my sleep, begging me to settle a matter for him as he needed the money as his creditors were after his car and his house. This is very strange behaviour from a plaintiff. He said that while he was talking to me on the phone, he was on his knees holding my legs and begging. He said that i was his God now. I felt sorry for him as he sounded like a man in dire straits.. he swallowed all his pride to plead for assistance. I had to talk to my client who is the defendant and persuaded him to reach a settlement matter on an urgent basis - 'must settle by today basis'- and we managed to settle the matter in a win-win situation - RM5000 to be paid by my client to him today. The matter had to be settled even though i am confined in my home because of sickness. I can foresee more depressing scenarios than the one i faced in the morning in the coming months. And i really fear for the ordinary people. Is there a rescue plan?

Acts 4:32 of the Bible says:- "The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that their belongings were their own but they all shared with one another everything they had...There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, and turn it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed according to the needs of the people'.

If there is a rescue plan for the global economic crises facing Malaysia (or even the world today), the above must be it. All we need is a government or should i say, leaders, with the conviction, compassion and courage to implement it, like the apostles did. We are one people of Malaysia. We should forget all our petty differences - enough or politicking and by elections - forgive, then come together with one mind and heart as we face a colossal common enemy- the global economic crisis. The government should not act as if the enemy does not exist or underestimate it's threat. A clerk of a lawyer friend of mine in Pandan Indah was robbed yesterday and is in the hospital now. My dad was robbed of his bicycle the other day. I get emails from friends everyday telling me about all kinds of crime being committed these days. Crime rates will rise when people get desparate and lose their minds. Families will also break up. There will be compounded anxiety, insecurity, intolerance and anger.

Any citizen or leader who does not agree to the above rescue plan should be labelled a traitor to the people and be treated as an outcast of society- an enemy of the state. There should be one goal - to ensure that no citizen in this country is in need during this calamitous times. The government should come out with large funds, just like what the Americans are doing, the rich and powerful should in a spirit of goodwill, sell surpluss assets, the ordinary and mediocre should contribute a percentage of their income, the poor can also contribute whatever they can - for all can contribute something according to their means and ability- and the funds and services accumulated and put into the rescue package fund to be distributed responsibly according to the needs of the people. The goverment, banks, finance companies, utilities company, credit card companies, employers who have provided the 'umbrellas' for the people should act like i have proposed to provide an atmosphere of compassion, caring and bonding. When it is raining the people need the umbrella more. The umbrella should not be taken away during a heavy downpour. 'Breathing space' should be given. Peace of mind infused into all. What the country needs now more than anything else is compassion and loving kindness. With these qualities, we can overcome any crisis. The crisis is here and it poses questions:- how united are we as a nation after 51 years of independence? How compassionate are we as a nation? How courageous, how strong, how steadfast are we as a people? We have many different faiths and creeds in this country but do we practice what we preach? Do we just prefer to listen to sermons rather than act? How deeply entrenched are our moral/ethical values? Enough of anything that divides, More of anything that unites. And nothing unites better than Love, Selflessness, Sacrifice. I do not think that any country has ever implemented the above rescue plan on a national level in all history. I audaciously hope that we can. I know we can if we just have the right leaders and government.

27 years ago during the 1982 World Cup, we desparately wanted to watch the football matches live but the TV stations did not enough money to pay for the live telecasts. How poor we were then..Then someone came up with a simple plan- to raise funds via the Malay Mail so that we could watch live football matches. Malaysians from all over the country donated towards that fund and we ended up i think watching most of the matches live. That was an unprecendented, astounding success and i don't think we ever missed any live World Cup football match after that. It just shows how unity and solidarity can bring success and happiness to all involved in the process. Something greater is needed of all Malaysians now. We keep on saying - Malaysia Boleh. Yes I believe we can but let it be for the true, the right, the good and the lovely things in life. Let us have the courage to implement the audacious rescue plan and make history.

Feb 11, 2009

The question of a dying king

Following the theme of the movie, the Last Holiday, i read that a similar drama took place during the time of the Buddha. As the story goes one day the King of the Devas was very unhappy as he had only 7 days to live. So he went to the Buddha to ask how to overcome his unhappiness. He asked "All living beings always want to get happiness but there are not free from danger and suffering. Why is that?" And the Buddha replied "They do not get happiness because they bear envy and selfishness in their minds'. And the King asked "What is the cause of envy and selfishness?' And the Buddha replied "Envy and selfishness are caused by love and hatred. If they have no love or hatred they will not fall into the error of envy and selfishness. Love and hatred are in turn dependent on craving. And craving depends on discursive thinking about sense objects".

In the movie the Last Holiday, Georgia Byrd gave up envy and selfishness. It was easy to do as she was dying anyway - she had only 3 weeks to live. She had only loving kindness, compassion, sympathy and joy to share. Amazing truths are revealed when we just let go. When she did let go, she discovered happiness.

The Buddha mentions the words 'depend' and 'dependent'. It brings to mind his teachings on dependent origination. It is worthwhile learning this teaching by heart as it clears the way for liberation from the self when practiced diligently. It is no easy task though unless maybe when we are dying..

Briefly, it goes like this:- Ignorance causes karma formations/habits which causes consciousness which causes mind, body, matter which causes the 6 senses which causes contact which causes feeling which causes craving which causes clinging/attachment which causes becoming which causes birth which causes decay, sorrow, pain and death. If we go backwards, each is dependent on the other condition and we end up with ignorance- the root of all evil and suffering in the world. Birth does not have to mean physical birth but it encompasses all kinds of birth- thoughts, feelings, emotions within us. A mindful awareness of this process in our lives daily will reveal a self evident truth- that all things change, that there is no self- that selflessness, egolessness is the way to lasting happiness and peace in the world. Every school in the country should ensure that every student learn this teaching on dependent originiation. This will deal with the problem of ignorance -THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL AND SUFFERING- which education is supposed to eradicate anyway. The aim is to produce citizens who are selfless, egoless, high moral standing, for only such citizens can bring real change, benefit, success and happiness to the country. But is our present Education Minister, sultans or King even aware or realise the importance of dependent origination?

Bad for democracy

The nine members of the Judicial appointments commission (JAC) were made known today. There are 8 judges (presently serving or retired) and a former attorney general- all government servants. The JAC is to be entrusted with the selection of qualified persons as judges. The Government says the JAC is its commitment to increase public confidence in the judiciary. I do not think the present make up of the JAC will increase public confidence in the judiciary because they consists of the usual suspects. It would have inspired more confidence if a retired respected member from the opposition party, a respected member of the Bar, a respected religious leader (from the Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem or Sikh faiths etc) , a respected NGO leader, and a respected lay person be included in the JAC as well. As it is presently constituted, i can't help feel that it will be pro government and that is always bad for democracy.

Last Holiday

I watched a Queen Latifah movie on cinemax today. It was "Last Holiday", a movie about a woman, Georgia Byrd who is diagnosed with an illness which leaves her just about 3 weeks to live. She decides to quit her job, withdraws all her savings and goes for a European vacation. She checks into the luxurious Grandhotel Pupp in the Czech Republic and begins to live life to the fulllest.
Two scenes in the movie provide food for thought. First when she is diagnosed with the fatal disease and was so depressed, she says to herself:- "You wait and you wait for something big to happen and then you find out you are going to die..' Then after she had the time of her life during her vacation, when she's alone in her presidential suite staring at the mirror, she said to her image in the mirror:- "Next time we will laugh more, we' ll love more, we won't just be so afraid.."
The moral of the story is to live life one day at a time. To live it as if there is no tomorrow. To throw caution to the wind. To give up all our prejudices and negativity. To make every moment count. To stop being so afraid about trying new things. To stop worrying and start living. Life is meant to be an adventure. Enjoy it. Things will take care of itself, luck will favor you when you live life to the fullest. It reminds me of Jim Carrey's "Yes Man". Say "YES". Be a Yes man not a No man.
A touching and feel good movie. First class acting by Queen Latifah. The music is good and the sceneries beautiful. The Czech republic should be my next holiday destination.

Feb 10, 2009

Economic crisis

President Barack Obama talks about a US813 billion dollar rescue package for the US economy. He is not sure it will be enough to resolve the present economic crisis described as unprecedented by Donald Trump recently. If the US economy collapses, then there will be a domino effect all over the world and this country will be no exception.
The ordinary citizen in this country is now worried and anxious about how to pay the mortgage, the car loans, the uitlities bills, the grocery bills, the credit card bills, the medical bills etc. etc. The system has made slaves of us all. There is negative energy in the atmosphere. We earn to pay our debts. One generation has also incurred another generation's debt. There is this never ending story of paying debts both at the national and personal level. And repayment of those debts are made more burdensome during this economic crisis. This is the time for the government to act. However that does not seem to be the case. What i see is a government more interested in staying in power and spending more time on elections. There are still those in government who say that this country will not be affected badly and we have the economic fundamentals to survive the crisis. Perhaps it's time to stop concentrating on politics and start tackling the looming crisis. The government should extend its hand to the opposition- declare a peace moratorium of one year- and sit down and work together. To share power to fight this crisis. Egos should be put aside and selfless sacrifice is needed from every citizen, from the Prime Minister in his Putrajaya palace to the beggar on the street.
I think that we should not underestimate the force of the present economic crisis. I propose that the government stop being complacent about the threat of the crisis and stop worrying about staying in power. It has the responsibility to act with a sense of urgency to mitigate the present economic phenomenon so that the citizens can have peace of mind. With peace of mind, we can tackle any problem.
The government can start with uniting the people with policies of moratoriums of 1 year or more - waiving income tax for one year, waiving assssments for one year, directing that banks and finance companies suspend all legal actions for debt recovery for one year, reduce electricity bills, direct banks to give out loans and credits to citizens at low interest rates, waive all taxes on foreign investment, aid should be given to companies to reduce retrenchment and special bodies set up to care for the unemployed and find jobs for them. An emergency fund should be set up for those who are poor or needful and steps taken to cut down on red tape and corruption at all levels of society. Incompetence should be rooted out from all government departments. Government and financial support should be given readilly to any body or corporation that shows will and ability to fight this war. Natural resources should be managed well by responsible people. There should be only one purpose - to unite all peoples - to enrich thy neighbor rather than to beggar thy neighbor. To enrich all. To give peace of mind to all and to strenghen all materially as well as spiritually. The super rich should be taxed heavilly and the taxes can be used to implement policies that distribute wealth among the peoples.
The goal is to tackle this crisis head on and bring on the bandwagon all the peoples, the best and as well the mediocre, irregardless of race and creed- for all can contribute in some way to enrich the country. We are facing a war and we need all the human resources we can acquire. We need to unite. Time is of the essence. If those in power do not act wisely and speedily, this country is doomed and there will be untold suffering on the sovereign people.