From the Selangor Times Issue 10, 28-30 January 2011. Ask Lord Bobo is a weekly column by LoyarBurok where all your profound, abstruse, erudite, hermetic, recondite, sagacious, and other thesaurus-described queries are answered! You can download a pdf of the entire paper here.
This week, Ask Lord Bobo explains how to get rich in Malaysia, and ponders… motherhood?!
Wahai Lord Bobo, bila saya nak kaya? (Oh Lord Bobo, when will I be rich?) @dinazaman, via Twitter
We are blessed to be Malaysians in today’s society, for if one’s goal is to be rich, one need not be hardworking or smart. Sure, those attributes matter in a competitive economy but in Malaysia, one can find many creative ways to chase the almighty ringgit (almighty as in, compared to the peso, not the dollar). One might argue that kickbacks from lucrative government contracts from well-connected political parties could be the way to go. Or so we hear.
Oil palm ventures or large-scale development projects are an instant way to personal richness, if one goes through the right channels and kicks out thousands of indigenous peoples from their ancestral homelands. After all, they will understand, one absolutely needs a third luxury house in Canada to keep one’s stuff, or to throw a second extravagant wedding for one’s daughter (or yourself). Or so we hear.
If one desires not only wealth but also some infamy, one could always stand for election in a controversial seat, and wait to be bought off. Voters will understand, after all, you’re doing it for The People, and in order to help The People, you gotta have some cashflow. Or so we hear.
What, you say that you have “principles,” and “ideals”? And that you would rather not sacrifice these in the pursuit of wealth?
In that case, you’ll probably never be rich, unless you change your mindset on what it means to be rich. Look around you — do you have clean running water, a roof above your head, car, internet, clothing, food? If so, this puts you in the upper bracket of Malaysian society. To many indigenous or rural peoples waiting to be displaced in the name of “development,” or to the badly-paid and badly-treated migrant workers that we tend to exploit, you are rich.
The fact is, wealth will never be evenly distributed in any society which has rampant corruption. Income, and particularly “side income” is definitely not based on merit or hard work — it’s all about who you know. Of course, there are rare instances of people who have worked their way to being rich, but these are few and far between.
We are not trying to depress you, or shame you (actually, maybe just a little bit), but the reality is that most middle-class Malaysians tend not to realise what they already have, and are always lacking for something in materialistic terms.
Once we realise that what we need to truly live, are the very basics that we already have, we can go further improving our lives, and society. We can look beyond chasing a higher income, to chasing a more open democratic and caring society. This means having the courage to not only stand up for your rights, but for others, perhaps at the cost of losing your comfortable position.
Perhaps if we had the courage to do so, individually and collectively as a society, we would then be richer than our wildest dreams.
And oh, maybe skipping a Starbucks latte now and then, and putting that cash into your savings, property investments or other financial thingamajigs could also help. Or so we hear.
Dear Lord Bobo, how would you like it if your mother was like Amy Chua? Tiger Cub, via email
This is a tough question for Lord Bobo, who was famously kidnapped in infancy and put through a gulag.
Amy Chua obviously is the now-famous “Tiger Mother,” who is the subject of many forwarded emails lately. Chinese women seem to think that she somehow justifies their claim to be the best mothers in the world. What rubbish. That’s like saying that because Lee Chong Wei is one of the best badminton players in the world, all Malaysian Chinese men are good at badminton.
But hey, what’s not to like about Amy Chua? She’d be the perfect Mom for the boy who cried wolf, Hansel and Gretel who nibbled into an old lady’s house, Goldilocks who trespassed into a furry animal’s property and broke Baby Bear’s chair and ahhh… not forgetting those boys and girls in Gossip Girls (don’t you just wanna slap them?). These children obviously need more than just good old fashion spanking but tonnes of hardcore discipline.
Ah, but you see, homo sapiens are supposed to be complex higher beings with extremely sophisticated thought processes, and their behaviour still baffles even the most genius of all genius scientists every day!
Each individual is supposed to be unique and therefore a one-size-fits-all theory or method of anything that relates to humans is laughable and the thought that there is only one, guaranteed, right way of raising children is ludicrous.
All children need to have some form of discipline; some perhaps more than others but there is such a thing as child abuse disguised as discipline. Not allowing your child to pee on someone else is discipline. Not allowing your child to pee in between piano lessons is child abuse.
It is hard to judge mothers (or anyone for that matter) unless you are put into their shoes. We all carry our own baggage and tend to externalise our hopes, dreams, fears and disappointments onto those we have close relationships with, including our children. We can only summarise that mothers like Amy Chua did the best they could with what they had, and no child can ask for more.
If we have children or plan to have children, we ought to remember what it was like growing up, and be the parents we wished we had. We are sure that our parents had the same hopes when they had us, so fret not when we make the same mistakes as long as we are conscious enough to not repeat them. After all, a child needs more than food and opportunities, the child needs to feel loved, and be loved.
As for Amy Chua, for an American Ivy League graduate and professor, unfortunately she doesn’t seem too bright. She has oversimplified parenting and we all know that it is by far one of the hardest jobs in the world! If it works for one child, it doesn’t mean it will work for all children. Just because she’s Asian, it doesn’t mean all Asian mothers discipline their children the way she does. After some media backlash, she has backed down a bit, and claims that she isn’t saying that her way is the best way at all, and was just telling her story.
Whatever it is, surely the more relevant question should be who actually raised her children.
Let’s get real, it almost definitely wasn’t her — her job seems like one which requires full-time commitment. So instead of harping on about the Tiger Mother, perhaps someone should give a book deal to the Hispanic Nanny or Part-Time Babysitter instead.
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