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Where Are Mr. Smith and Watanabe San?

Posted by Simon Templar On Thursday, September 02, 2010

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, very nearby actually, funny accented white men and Watahisname San from Japan landed upon this not too far away land. They built factories, brought their machineries and got their material suppliers to set up the same at this new found land. The land… Malaysia.

The economy of Malaysia boomed as these foreigners tapped upon the domestic resources; one of the most important resources being that of the human capital.

Labour was cheap. Cheaper than in Japan or the United Kingdom or Germany or the United States. But cheap does not translate to slavery. It was cheap because the cost of living in Malaysia was cheaper than back home. But the employees were more often than not showered with employment benefits that made working for these foreigners attractive. And of course the foreigners had their ways of looking after the welfare of their employees and their families. Working for these foreigners were sort of a privilege to many. Excellent employer-employee relations were bonded. The Malaysian workforce reciprocated with consistency, loyalty and quality.

Everyone was happy.

That was the earlier years of this new born country called Malaysia. Times were tough and the rakyat understood the meaning of employment. You work, you get paid. You sit on your ass all day, you get the boot. I think this is what some people call “meritocracy”. I can’t confirm this definition because it is very alien to Malaysia today. I tried to google this word but apparently it has been censored by the powers that be.

Then just like all things good, it must come to an end. A whole lot of government bullshit came raining upon Malaysians. Some people need to work for their rice, while some others simply just had to extend their hands. Certain people extended their hands but were told to bugger off – certain preferential requirements not met.

And so, a new generation of Malaysians were created. Some of the population was brought up with the knowledge that they have to earn their dough. Certain others were given wheelchairs and crutches. Apparently, if you are destined, persevere and the man upstairs will feed you.

And then the education system was amended over and over again to make the stupid more stupid and clever closer to the stupid. Somewhat regressive, but stupid people usually don’t question too much. As such, another new generation of good-for-nothing was borne.

And here we are now living among this new generation.

Let us analyse them by separating them into the white and blue collars.

The white collars. Many employers say that this new generation is unemployable. Many educated school leavers (of all levels) are inadequately prepared for the working world. But is it their (lack of) skills? The government seems to think so. But no. I can tell you for one that the government has got it wrong. It is not their skills that we are worried about - that, the employers can train and impart upon them. It is the attitude. Where is the commitment to work? Where is the understanding of putting in effort to attain quality output? Hardwork is a scarcity. Maybe times have changed and granted, the style of work has evolved. But the output of quality and reliability should never be any lesser.

Let’s see how our blue collar jokers fare. Apparently, worse. Hmmm… let me clarify. Worse when compared to the private sector white collar. But public sector white collar vs blue collar, now that is a tough call. Seriously.

Blue collar. Where do we start? Actually we don’t have to. There is nothing to comment upon. There is no Malaysian on the blue collar category. You see, Malaysians cannot toil under the sun and neither can they be seen along the conveyor belt as it is boring. Better just lepak at coffee shops or earn some money from a motorcycle race or 2. Working is just too tough. And standing all day at the supermarket is so tiring. The feet hurt… badly.

And so, we have imported Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Myanmarese and Vietnamese earning their livings at our construction sites, factories, coffee shops, stalls… basically everywhere. Why? They are cheap but that is not necessarily the factor. Of more importance is that they are reliable. At least they turn up for work. They may not be skilled, but they can be taught. These people need money for their families back home. Some are so trusted that they are left to run stalls on their own.

So, if the Mat Sallehs and the Jepuns have to scratch their heads so hard with the unending labour issue in Malaysia to the extent they have to resort to paying work permits, levies and insurances to bring these foreign workers into Malaysia, give me a reason why they should not simply relocate their operations to Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, or Myanmar? After all, they are here for the abundance of labour in the very first place. And hence, the Mat Sallehs and Jappies do exactly what they should logically be doing; pack up and move.

We have lost our competitiveness. Our government has lost sight on what made us attractive in the 1st place. And we aren’t exactly very interesting taxes wise either. In fact, many a time, we are taking the foreigners for a ride when in comes to taxing the ass out of them.

I honestly cannot understand why the government cannot understand the negative Foreign Direct Investment position we are in now. Some say the government does but the ministers are ill advised. But whatever it is, all the government does is to come up with excuses to cover the issue. Face it - we have nothing to offer that benefits the foreigners. Believe it.

There is no point in introducing gimmicks to draw these investors, they are not stupid. You people at the government agencies are. Forget minor tax incentives. Forget expedient work permit approval for expatriates. These will not solve their ultimate operational headache – that we don’t have a good enough labour force for them.

Caveat: There are of course good employees of the new generation. What I am saying is that they are a little off the norm grid! No offense to these good guys – keep it up!


9 Response to "Where Are Mr. Smith and Watanabe San?"

  1. Anonymous Said, if we get rid of all these Indonesians, Bangladeshis, Myanmarese and Vietnamese i sense that we will have no jobless people...

    With the kind education system we have, students coming out of higher institution with degrees in scores of hundreds each year and imagine the number of universities available in our country...OMG!!!! wonder the government cannot have too many intelligent students..hehehe..

    Based on the your survey simon,...i agree with the 1st 1nd and happened in my office as well...


  2. Anonymous Said,

    1- Stop the influx of these foreign labours to M'sia.
    2 - Abolish UiTM . This so-called 'University' is a joke. A legalized degree mill. The 'products' are not marketable at all !
    3 - Scrap toll-booths. Why do we need labourers to man these booths 3 shifts a day and 7 days a week? Better replace them with machines or automated tag lanes. And replace them to cover the gap left by foreign labours. Imagine able men and women sitting at the booth 1 shift a day with fully air-conditioned doing nothing worthy nor contibute anything to the society . D@mn.


  3. Anonymous Said,

    There is a looming catastrophe in the making,even the Mr Sanchez or the Mr Antonioni, from countries with higher incomes per capita than Mr Watanabe´s, have problems with Malaysians

    The Muslim disaster and the new Kuala Kampung generation of spoon fed fundamentalist Muslims has destroyed Malaysia´s Human Capital.

    Malaysia will grow, but producing the same junk with the same levels of inefficiency, corruption, lack of human rights and mistreatment of useful or useless workers.

    In the meantime, Mr Watanabe, Sanchez, Antonioni, Smith or Klein are the perfect scapegoat, as looking down on foreigners and making their life impossible seems to be Malaysia´s new National sport.

    Inmigration is the way the Malaysian junk factory produces the same junk with the same enslavement and low productivity conditions, do not blame it on the foreigners.

    Malaysians have become arrogant, lazy and despondent. It has nothing to do with a properly organised Inmigration Policy to cater for the needs of the country. They do not have it, the Chinese and Malayu mafias make money bringing in human flesh at low cost, that is that. Putra Raya is filled with tens of corrupt cofeee money fed corrupt Malayu civil servants, it is part of the same senseless National System of Bumi Corruption


  4. Anonymous Said,

    Regarding your point on reverse FDI, didn't you hear what some of our politicians said;
    1. Malaysia has been so well developed that the foreign investors can't find any field to invest the money.
    2. The foreign investors are they themselves bankrupt, so they don't have the money to invest in Malaysia.
    As long as we have this type of 'leaders', watch out for the pit we all been led to.


  5. fong Said,

    "Racial polarisation in the country is not caused by the country's vernacular school system but more by the government political, education and economic discriminative policies." - an educationist said today.

    The prime minister and all the Umno ministers will never admit that polarisation arises more out of the race-based policies and privileges one race gets over another.

    Similarly, there are other areas of our daily lives where terminologies used have made us view certain practices as privileges rather than sacrifices. For instance, the bumi discount for houses.

    The total sale value to the developer is still the same. It is just that the non-malay buyer is likely to be required to pay for some of the discount given to the malays.

    But the longer the NEP policies continue and the greater the vehemence with which Umno politicians issue threats, terminologies will change and more people will talk about these practices or policies in words that may not sound as pleasing to the ears of the beneficiaries.

    Obviously, at that point we shall probably see a new round of discriminations and disagreements. Unfortunately, as long as only weak people take on leadership roles within Umno, threats will continue, NEP policies will be sustained and corruption will prevail.

    That unfortunately is the legacy we have as Malaysians.

    The basic building blocks of unity, whether you are uniting different ethnic groups in a country or trying to re-engineer a corporation of differing cultural values, are the same.

    The principal parties have to be treated as equals - nor special privileges no favours that would favour one group over another. Any privilege that is given should be given to all on the same basis - for example, special privilege given to the financially poor regardless of race or ethnic origin.

    It is only on this equitable footing that you can foster true nationalism and build lasting unity, since each component group will have the same stake in the nation and has equal likelihood in reaping the rewards or suffering the consequences.

    My recommendation to the government, not simply as a businessman but also based on pragmatism, is not to waste any more taxpayer ringgit on nationalism programmes until it has established the pre-conditions for its success.

    What is sad is that, after almost five decades of independence, we have been unable in Malaysia, to bring globally-vision leaders to the forefront - leaders who can see beyond racial boundaries to recognise the immense sociological and economic potential that can benefit all Malaysians.


  6. jodie Said,

    Is the language diversity in our educational system a stumbling block to so-called 'national unity'? Despite the insistence of this idea by the self-interested ruling elite, it is simply wrong.

    And the common use of English did not stop Americans from fighting Britons in the War of Independence. And let us not forget the American Civil War - both sides spoke English.

    And to the contrary, we see Europeans of different mother tongues coming together in a democratic manner to forge a united continent in the form of the multilingual European Union with common standards of human rights, governance and democracy.

    English-speaking people with different mother tongues are also now living peacefully in five different sovereign and independent countries namely the United States, Canada, Britain, Australia and New Zealand.

    It is time for the Malaysia ruling elite and their ideologues to stop spreading the voodoo of that language diversity hampers national unity.

    The root cause of national disunity is none other than the existence of race-based political parties like Umno, MIC and MCA, which perpetuate race-based affirmative action policies and which only benefit the upper class BN gangs and their sons, daughters and cronies.


  7. romsam Said,

    My school in the 50s and 60s when terms like bumis and non-bumis did not exist.

    Back then, there was a kind of kindred among school children then that does not exist today. We were racially different but we were all equal in every other way. Nobody was - special.

    Today when a non-malay student goes to school, he has already been told over and over again by his parents that, "You will have to do superlatively in order to get into a local university."

    The child comes back having done creditably well, and doesn't get the university course of his choice. But his malay classmate, with worse marks than him, gets more than he asked for.

    All these double standards and retrogressive policies were put in place by our selfish politicians whose aim, rather than uplifting the malays, was to perpetually stay in power for their own good.

    The end result is a new generation of Malaysians who are not united in the least.

    The first thing to be done towards a real Bangsa Malaysia is to pull down all divisions that categorise us along racial and religious lines.

    All, irrespective of race and religion, must be subjected to a truly merit-based system in every sphere of Malaysian life.

    All political parties that exploit any form of religion should be banned.


  8. aston Said,

    The issue of vernacular primary schools has little to do with national integration. The medium of instruction doesn't matter. The biggest issue of vernacular primary schools is simply that the quality clearly points to the failure of Umno-led BN government, the legitimacy of the very philosophies and policies particularly its hegemonistic malay agenda.

    If the vernacular primary schools are allowed to expand, clearly the percentage of malays in these Chinese primary schools would expand striking at the heart of the malay agenda. It would increase integration but not the malay agenda.

    There is no proof that different medium of instruction decrease national unity. What would decrease national integration would be if they thought different philosophy - and for example - religion based schools. Even military schools have been shown to breed disintegration of its students from the larger population.

    The idea of teaching Mandarin and Tamil to attract non-malays to national schools is a non-starter. Firstly, again the medium of instruction is a low low issue compared to the quality of education, secondly, there is already a severe shortage of Mandarin and Tamil teachers that national schools would never be able to do even a half-past-six job of it.

    Thirdly, so long as Islamization of national schools is not stopped in its tracks, non-malays would always avoid it, simply because learning is just harder in a marginalized uncomfortable environment.

    Vernacular schools are allowed to continue as it is simply because removing it would be perceived and rightly so, as eroding the citizen rights of non-malays, i.e. the very right of education - the only upward mobility tool the non-malays has. Non-malays second class citizenship will become third class with things like further Islamization of this country.

    The issue of vernacular schools is not about national integration, it is about hegemonistic malay agenda. The fact it is an issue points to heart of our national problem.


  9. kok Said,

    The truth is that the ability of education to bring people together is limited. On top of that, education - at least secular one - is about the pursuit of knowledge and truth, and hence whatever is taught in schools should be based on the reality and truth in order to unite the students.

    But when our society is already polarised by the law and other economic realities, and we tell our children otherwise in school, its likely that the unity lessons will never stick for long or even worse result in a backlash.

    What is more distressing is the fact that national education policy is only meant for the masses while our political leaders send their children overseas. Can we believe they have faith in our own educational facilities and that they are sincere in wanting the best for us?

    In Malaysia, unfairness is institutionalised. For example, it is alright for certain schools or universities like the Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara to bar non-malays.

    So it piques me to hear some blaming vernacular schools for racial tensions. Vernacular schools have never barred malays from enrolling into them unlike Mara educational institutions. If vernacular schools are to be blamed, so too must the Mara institutions.

    A minister responsible for higher education who can make such inflammatory statements confirms that the so-called meritocracy system of university entrance is a sham, since he is able to promise that the percentage for malay applicants will never fall below the previous quota percentage.

    Is he suggesting that we should rejoice over our poor education? Please do not confuse quality with quantity.

    I cannot help but think that the politicians have an ulterior motive. If so, please be honest and brave enough to admit it.

    With such narrow-minded people in charge, it is difficult to have confidence in any of their suggestions.

    When it came to choosing a career, I avoided public services for the fear of being excluded from promotions just like how I was excluded from matriculation etc. Many employers are also very racially defined.

    Now, as much as I miss hanging out with people of other races, I end up being with people of my own race.

    Looking back, I don't think our primary vernacular system is the cause of disunity. On the contrary, it enriches our Malaysia heritage. The real problems are with the uneven playing fields that split malays and non-malays from secondary school onwards.

    Another examples are the Chinese Indonesians. Most of them don't even speak their mother tongue, nor do they even carry Chinese names anymore, yet come any major political turmoil, they are targeted by the majority. Is this due to vernacular education?

    The government should be aware of the fact that the number of Chinese schools has not increased over the past 30 years despite the need for them due to increased demand from both Chinese and non-Chinese students.

    The diversity of education methods in the country is a national treasure and should be upheld. Unity will come from mutual respect and fair treatment for all - not necessarily from a uniform education.

    Whether they will take concrete steps to address the imbalance is another matter for, while I am optimistic about the people of Malaysia, I have very little faith in politicians.


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