Monday, September 17, 2007

Belgium - Or lessons a 177 year old could teach us 50 year olds

Many Malaysians may not be familiar with Belgium, beyond as an origin of chocolates which are sold for a pretty penny at upscale malls.

What’s happening there now should be of great interest to us because the whole concept of Belgium as a nation is being called into question.

The 177 year old nation was created by merging a French and Flemish (Dutch) speaking peoples together to form a buffer between France and Germany.

Today, this artificial political union is breaking apart, as 100 days after national elections, the rival Dutch and French speaking politicians find themselves unable to agree on a coalition government.

Now, the more prosperous Flemish in the North are increasingly in favour of separation from what they deem the more slovenly and laid back French in the Southern region called Walloon. Historically, the French have been the ruling elite in Belgium and tended to view the Flemish as rather backward.

Sound familiar? Well, read this extract from the Guardian:

There is not a single national politician or leader (bar King Albert) or a single national political party that straddles the linguistic and cultural north-south divide between Flanders and the southern region of francophone Wallonia.

Doesn’t that ring true for our country as well? There is no single party that straddles the linguistic and cultural divide here. Instead, one political party dominates (and bullies) the nominal coalition government and that party in its own constitution stands for only one race.


Defining "Belgianness" is becoming a sorry national sport with loyalists struggling to come up with unifying factors or symbols that reinforce national identity apart from the underwhelming national football team or the royal family.

Go figure. From Bahasa Malaysia to our constant struggles to define unity and symbols of Malaysianness, have we ever succeeded in defining what is Malaysian?

At a comparatively younger 50 years old, are we then suggesting then that there is no hope for a Malaysian nation? Well… the answer is still 127 years away.

Technorati: Belgium, Malaysia

Friday, September 14, 2007

HK Disneyland struggling with low attendance; Does Johor still want Mickey??

With poor attendance figures and disappointing earnings results, HK Disneyland's current state of affairs must surely send out messages to our government to think 2 or 3 times about going overboard to attract mickey mouse to Johor.

Despite having a massive hinterland of over 84 million residents in Guangdong with a growing middle class, the theme park's operating income dropped in both the first and second quarters of this year.

What makes Malaysia and UEM in particular so sure that we can sustain a disney theme park in the south where although we do have the ASEAN hinterland, Johor cannot hope to match Hong Kong's superior accessibility. That's where the Singapore challenge comes in although our neighbours will have to work hard to find some decent space to host the likes of Space Mountain and Cinderella's castle.
technorati: Disneyland, Malaysia

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Government asks private sector to reveal racial composition of employees. But will it lead by example?

In the recent budget announcement, the PM made a call that as part of corporate social responsibility, publicly listed firms will have to start revealing the racial composition of their employee base.

This is obviously another blinkered policy aimed at cajoling the private sector to hire according to the racial composition of the country with no incentive for meritocracy.

If the UMNO government wants the private sector to do this, shouldn't they lead by example and publish government employment by racial composition? How about the GLCs like TM, Tenaga and Petronas? Shouldn't they start reserving at least 30% of their employment for non-bumiputras?

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