Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Indifference.

An attempt to blog when the server was down was just as futile as wanting to serve one's guests with his signature tea, only to find that he has run out of tea leaves after the water has been boiled and the tea cups and saucers have been set.

Nevertheless, the Lord has been evermore gracious.

In my previous entry, I did say something about listening to the voices around us. Perhaps, it is difficult to discern between noise generated by KL traffic or desperate cries for help by a needy society. All the more it is, when we allow ourselves to be continuously distracted by our own daily survival issues. "How much would I be able to claim from the company if I were to work until 11pm every night for one month?" "Should I take up the job offer which gives me a higher pay, even if I do not like the job at all? "No time, no time- I have to finish this report by tonight, or I would be fired".

Such daily struggles are very evident in our lives, and yes, we ought to weight our priorities carefully through sound decision-making skills, which could only be implemented with a sufficient effort of consideration. However, we too, ought to be careful not to put our material priorities above our idealistic perspective on Life, which is ultimately to lead a life for what has been set by God as "Good".

Having an idealistic perspective on Life in this context does not in any manner, mean how we should constantly think of ways to enrich our own lives, but rather, how there is a consistent need to uphold righteousness, justice and benevolence in the society.

The danger of falling into numbness and indifference towards the troubled world is that, it is a prelude and a catalyst to the crumbling away of virtues and the standard of Morality.

Take this-

The Orang Asli community, an indigenous group of people living in Malaysian jungles face exploitations of all kinds- being robbed of their resources from their homes, having wages so miserable that they can't help living in dissipated conditions, being left behind without the opportunities to read and write that they rightfully deserve.
The Government may have forsaken them, but do we act as if it is perfectly alright that these people continue to be the shadows of the country, never to be bothered and seen; while the Petronas Twin Towers continue to bask in the glory as the symbol of development of the Malaysian nation?

A Minister of the Prime Minister's Department stated 'unofficially' at the Dewan Rakyat that the Malay and the Indonesian language translation of the Bible is banned and anybody in possession of those Bibles may be prosecuted. "Only Islam can be preached to the Malay community". In other words, our Malay friends are being denied the very fundamental of human rights- freedom of religion. To echo Farish M. Noor's words, "Do we see this as a mere Malay problem, or a problem that affects Malaysians as a whole?" Our indifference lies in the narrow-mindedness of our perception that this is a Malay problem, and therefore we can wash our hands clean from it. It is time that we see the latter as our response.

University of Malaya, being ranked 89th in the world; yet again, is being questioned on the authenticity of its placement among the top 100 universities in the world, when the issue of transparency bobbed due to the leniency of the authorities towards acts of tampering into examination papers, without proper investigations and procedural regulations to handle the matter tactfully. It is even speculated that a political influence had a game of cards in this issue.
How can a university preserve its legacy as a learning institution for the academically elite, so long as it is dependent on the funds of those who try to exude tyrannical influence by disguising it under a political banner; and claiming it to be "in the name of education?"

The nail to the coffin was perhaps not that we feel anger, disappointment or even pessimistic towards such fallacies existing in our country but that we feel nothing. We should be appalled by indifference, just as much as we should be appalled by injustice and unrighteousness.

Let not our synapses be bogged by our indifference in today's troubles, by merely seeing our daily problems as THE problem.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Mercy me.

I can't help but to feel injustice over this.

A famed auditing firm is so happily caught up with its habitual exploitation of its employees, that it seemed rather strange that the Labours' Union would have the 'capacity' to keep quiet about it.

Employees in the particular auditing firm toil (a better word to describe the nature of work being done in there) from 8 am to 5.30 pm (what is written in the employment contract) and overtime from 5.30pm to 9pm, on a day when the one can expect a blue moon; and from 5.30pm to 12am on any other day; only to have the full vicious circle repeat itself on the next day- 5 days a week (again, as written in the employment contract) when in actual fact; most of the employees work, even on Sundays. All these for an overtime of RM10 per day and RM14 for meal allowances for the day. I gather the employees would have to think twice about having anything that is more expensive than iced Chinese tea and RM2.50 rice for lunch.

Did I mention that new staff are not compensated for overtime claims even if they spend the night in the office?

Unless one is a higher-ranked employee in the office- managers or seniors of 2 years; no staff is given a personal desk to do his/her work in the office. Instead, there is a small working area, supposedly to cram almost all ump-ty auditors and their paper files, laptops and tonnes of boxes of papers. Booby traps of wires, plugs, papers lie everywhere- one has to watch his/ her step, you wouldn't want to walk into a cable and pull the whole laptop down, purportedly to carry priceless accounting information of XYZ Sdn. Bhd. ( I would not however, think that the information by itself is priceless, rather the blood and sweat that a poor auditor has spent countless nights extracting those information with his/ her blood-shot eyes)

A poor auditor has to travel to the client's office during the day, to places even as far as Seremban and extract whatever is supposedly useful for reporting. Travelling expenses are not automatically compensated to employees- it is on a rotation basis, whereby one can only claim for the expenses made when it is one's turn to claim. All other daily trips to the client's office are at one's own expense.

It is of that firm's culture to look busy and act busy even after office hours, so that one can be perceived as a diligent worker. It is advisable for an employee to sit around in the office for at least an hour before sneaking out quietly out of it. One who has better sense would not want to break this unwritten law. Walls have eyes and ears in the office...

All that jazz and more- bullies in the office, incompetent team members whom one has to clean up their work after them, supervisors who just have the energy to shout at everyone in the office, oppression by seniors, parking rates at RM5 per day; it does make me wonder how anyone could have such high tolerance and endurance for such a career line.

If all these could be measured with monetery terms; without a doubt; auditors would be millionaires. Sadly, all these auditors can do is to toil away like slaves of Egypt, while they wait for liberation in the form of their relatively meagre salaries. I am too afraid to even think of any alternative motivation that would drive them to press on, other than the longing for a personal desk in the office- a symbol of their identity in their workplace.

Meanwhile, it is back to the cramped working area and the blood-shot eyes which just can't be treated anymore, and going to the office day by day living in semi-existence with each other.

May God has mercy on them all.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Sola Scriptura!

It must have been an awestruck feeling to have been struck by lightning and waking up with the enlightenment that it is "In Scriptures alone!".

“It seemed to me as if I had been born again and as if I had entered paradise through newly opened doors. All at once the Bible began to speak in quite a different way to me…. The very phrase “the righteousness of God,’ which I had hated before, was the one that now I loved the best of all. That is how that passage of Paul’s became for me the gateway to paradise.”- Martin Luther.

If God were to strike me with lightning only to resurrect me with the feeling of being born again for the love of Scriptures, I would put in the words of a friend in context- "let me die, let me die!" (and to be born again, born again!)

A series of lectures on Christology by Dr Ng Kam Weng, which started this afternoon opened my eyes to a more detail study of Scriptures. What is most interesting is how the authenticity of the Scriptures, namely the Gospel can be defended even in its own historicity of its penmanship.

The details are just overwhelming. I am still trying to grasp the ethereal essence of studying the Scriptures in this manner. Nevertheless, it was an afternoon of both being shaken and woken up. For instance, how the act of copy-and paste of certain parts from the Gospel according to Mark can be reconciled to the divine inspiration that was bestowed upon Matthew to write the Gospel as well. Perhaps, our perspective of divine inspiration in the writing of the Word of God has been somewhat a stereotyped one before this.

Dr Ng Kam Weng said nonchalantly," Eternal truth should be invulnerable to the changing flux of history." Hence, we ought to have courage to put the Scriptures to grippling tests.

And be assured to grapple the fruits of the grippling tests as well.


The 95 theses

Perhaps, in a similar way how Martin Luther have when he nailed the 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Church.

'Disclaimer' for this entry- Was attempting to write about Catholicsm, amid a finite-viewed one in light of the the grim condition in the Vatican City, but my fingers ran away with the words "Sola Scriptura".

Perhaps it was just meant to be, meant to be.