Friday, January 18, 2013

Listen Fruitfully and Speak Soundly

Assalamualaikum, This is a post written by a guest writer, in fact, he's not even a 94's, just to give us some new experience. Enjoy this awesome post!

By : Wan Mohamed Afie, 20

Salam and good day readers,

Before I begin, I would like to clearly state that I am neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. My humble opinions and thoughts put forth onwards are based on my shallow grasps in Economics.

I’m sure the “Listen!” issue is no news to you.
Firstly, I would like to say that the way the girl was answered was rather distasteful.
We can only hope that in the future, we will not do the same to anyone.

Moving on, when we talk about economic policies (keeping aside political and personal needs), there are no rights and wrongs in a debate. Every statement issued by either side is normative; an opinion. A fruitful debate is not a debate where one side is able to successfully ridicule or humiliate the other. A fruitful debate is a debate where both sides are able to put forth their points clearly without offending the other side.

We as the youths of Malaysia ought to act more intelligently. While I do not support the humiliation of the young girl, the young girl, who is no doubt very intelligent, ought to know the risks and consequences of questioning and asking so openly and directly in a public university open forum. An open forum is where a citizen is allowed to protest. However, the fact that it is publicly done, the citizen protesting ought to be more careful; careful not in the sense of being supressed, but inciting unnecessary anger from the moderators and audience alike.

The moderators would undoubtedly feel threatened if you stand at the microphone and hammer on intensely. Always remember your intentions of speaking; if you mean to ask for a change, undoubtedly your plea has been heard when you speak your first few sentences. If you intended to spread awareness, no doubt the audience have understood what your issue is; the smart ones will go home and start doing some research. In this specific case, however, the citizen spoke of an economic policy. Economics is hard to understand, and most youth who criticize economic policies, sadly, have almost little to no understanding whatsoever of economics. When the citizen went deeper and started talking more economically, the audiences start to forget that what the citizen has said are just merely her opinions and start accepting those as hard, cold facts of unfairness.

In other words, the moderator suppressed the citizen from giving her opinion, while at the same time the citizen suppressed the audiences from their freedom of thoughts by delving deeper into a topic that very few understand. It is human nature to just nod at things you don’t understand and say that person is right. I am not saying that the moderator did the right thing, or that the citizen put forth her points wrongly.

To clearly demonstrate this effect of thought-suppressing, allow me to put forth an opinion (not mine) on free public education. Every government expenditure ought to be funded by government revenues which often come from taxes. To provide free education to the public would mean that the government either have to tax more from the people or to reallocate resources from other budgets to provide the free education such as reducing subsidies for petrol, medicine and others. Would you like to be taxed more? A government cannot just simply print money to fund its expenditures. As an economist too, when deciding for a policy, you ought to decide whether it is worth it or not. For example, you give free education to the people, but when you do so, won’t you have to provide for more facilities and more wages for more staff in the education sector? Will the country be able to supply the labour and resources? These are the dilemmas of policy makers and leaders in a country.

Now, I am sure by reading the past paragraph, a number of readers suddenly change their mind about free education. Next, I shall put forth the other side of argument to free education.

Welfare economics has several objectives. One of the main objectives is to achieve equity and equality in a nation. By providing free education, you give equal chances to everyone to pursue education. Based on the Robin Hood principle of taxing, you are taking the extra wealth from the rich and giving to the more needy by giving free education. Hence, it is important to provide free education to the people so that the disparity of income in a nation closes. By not providing free education, the government fails to be fair to the citizens.

Now, again, the same readers who were swayed to one side find themselves at crossroads. It is human nature to change their minds so easily and be fickle minded.

The danger of speaking publicly is that when you give your opinions in matters that very few people understand, you tend to incite unhappiness in those who do not understand clearly. For example, when a person complains of high taxes, others nearby automatically start to feel angry, though they themselves do not understand the reason why the person complains of high taxes, or the reason the government decided to levy high taxes unto the people.

Ultimately, my points are summarized as following:

1) Malaysian youths ought to be well versed in economics if they intend to discuss, criticize and be taken seriously when they put forth economic points.

2) Malaysian youths ought to act intelligently and be patient and understanding. In Malay, we would say, “Jangan jadi orang yang cepat melatah”

3) In the midst of achieving our goals, we sometimes forget our original cause.

4) There are no rights and wrongs. People ought to learn to accept opinions and reply with courtesy.

5) We can learn much by observing the mistakes done by both the moderator and the citizen.

6) Every person always opts for the best option. Even a serial killer would choose the plan that can ensure him getting away. As a leader, one would always choose the best combination of policies that tailors to one’s vision and mission.

7) Malaysian youths ought to move away from “fascism”.  What is meant here is that the youths ought to be more open to a rival’s opinion. For example, a government ought to support an opposition’s idea if it is sound and fruitful. Likewise, the opposition should not oppose a government’s effort if it is good and beneficial to the public.

There is much to say, but I don't want to make a long post. Yes, I do give points on both sides and that's what I expect of Malaysian youths. When they claim that they are oppressed  they blame falsely. They are the ones oppressing themselves by not gaining more knowledge and not being open.

Lastly, I would like to say thank you to the authors of the blog for asking for my two cents regarding this matter. It is an honour to be given the opportunity to be a small part in this huge effort in changing the future of Malaysia.

Salam and wishing you a great day ahead.

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