Sunday September 16, 2012
49 years and counting
By ANDREW LO
I AM hopping mad.
I was deeply engrossed in writing this column on Friday afternoon. My topic was about Malaysia Day, an auspicious occasion for all Malaysians especially Sarawakians.
I was about to complete the final draft when...poof! All of a sudden, the computer screen went blank.
It was a power failure, and I lost my masterpiece.
Most writers would tell you that when this happens, it’s very hard to recreate the very same story. Somehow, you’re not able to recapture the essence, the spirit, the nuances, the feeling and the passion of the original.
Some might even say that the second attempt would be a fake, much like a violation of a copyright (which is another story for another day).
Power failures are getting more frequent. Our office at King’s Centre has been hit at least three times in recent months.
This is unacceptable. Previously power failure have been very rare, occurring not more than once in two years.
It has also been getting more widespread. The people in Miri have been complaining about frequent power failures recently.
And did I mention about how we have been suffering power failures at our retreat in Lundu on a weekly basis?
I’m no lawyer, but shouldn’t consumers be entitled to compensation for their losses incurred due to power failures?
It seems like consumers always get the wrong end of the deal.
For instance, some telecommunication providers, or telcos, now charge customers fees for sending itemised bills. And almost every day, most of us receive unsolicited text messages trying to sell us something.
If our mobile phone numbers are never published in any phone directory, then how do these people obtain them? Moreover, they seem to know quiet a lot of details about us. Our personal data seem to be accessible to anyone who has something to sell.
The banks are no better. This week alone, I received no less than six unsolicited calls from telemarketers promising free-for-life credit cards (the term “free” here does not mean that you don’t have to pay for whatever purchase you charge to the card).
How on earth do they access my banking details? Whatever happened to the Private Data Protection Act that was enacted in 2010?
Do these banks and telcos have the right to sell my data to other parties?
Doesn’t it become an invasion of my privacy to receive these unsolicited calls at odd hours?
Somehow the calls always seem to interrupt you at the most inconvenient of situations, including me writing my column.
The personal data of an individual should not be processed or accessed without the consent of that person.
And since it’s the property of that person, should he or she be entitled to the proceeds if these data are being sold to third parties? Do I, as a consumer, have a right to demand that a fee be paid to me for every unsolicited call?
Now, where is my original column? Oh yes, Malaysia Day.
The date Sept 16 marks the actual day when Malaysia was formed in 1963. The date Aug 31, on the other hand, is National Day.
It was only recently declared a public holiday, after Sarawakians and Sabahans made a strong call to the Federal Government to accord higher recognition to the date.
I must admit that I was not very enthusiastic about another holiday, from a productivity point of view.
The United States celebrates its Independence Day on July 4, but not all 50 states joined the Federation on that day back in 1776.
Malaysia is also a federation of states and as such, there will always be a tussle over Federal and state rights. Such a tussle is normal and it is up to us to find the right balance.
Indeed, Sarawakians have the usual grouse that our share of 5% oil royalty is too low. Politicians have been calling for a higher share.
It is always very easy to champion a popular move to gain political mileage.
To me, while any higher share is good, what is more important is that whatever share we get, we must put it to good use and in a transparent manner to benefit the people.
It will defeat the very purpose of getting a higher share if the funds are used to develop only certain parts of the state while other areas are left out, which quite often are those where the resources are actually located.
It is sad to see that more often than not, the people closest to areas rich in natural resources like timber, petroleum and hydropower benefit the least from the wealth created. This happens not only in Malaysia but also around the world.
And there is the issue of an anti-Sarawak website alleged to have been created by Peninsular Malaysians. We must not assume that it is the work of Peninsular Malaysians.
The culprits can be anyone, from anywhere. As usual, there have been loud protests and calls for the police to take action.
This is all well and good, but I think the best way to handle the situation is to just ignore these haters.
It is obviously the work of people with too much time on their hands and who aim to serve a certain agenda.
We must show that we can rise above these meaningless and unsubstantiated accusations.
In conclusion, let us celebrate our 49 years in Malaysia.
Happy Malaysia Day.