Sunday, 19 September 2010

Power - Of Obsession and Datukship

It is interesting to read about power. I mean, who isn't intrigued by it? For instance, it appears that Malaysians, together with Slovakians are world Power Distance Index (PDI) champions as our society worship power (we are at 104 btw).

From home to office to everyday lives, wouldn't we want more power? Isn't it great if we can wake up to a nice breakfast served to us in our beds, our children don't cry or make a fuss but obediently do their homeworks and houseworks or order people around to clean up our streets, fill up the potholes and importantly, do our every whim and bound? You can go off and do whatever you want while others sweat, panic and worry how to meet your deadlines.

According to Mr Lim Teck Ghee in the same article:

The idea of a hierarchy is very strict in Malaysia. So whatever the boss says, goes.

Interesting indeed. Deep down, who wouldn't want power? In any society, power exist because of hierarchy. It is the order of things. You can't have everyone running around like headless chicken right? You need order and to do so, you need hierarchy. Power is implied yet very explicit when exercised.

The interesting bit is of course in relation to why other societies have low PDIs such as US (40), UK (35), France (68), Denmark (18), Japan (54) and Australia (36). It doesn't seem to be an Asian thing too considering our neighbours results - Thailand (64), Indonesia (78), Singapore (74), Hong Kong (68), China (80) and India (77). If you want to point out it is an Islam thing, well. the Arabian world only average at 80 while Pakistan (55) and Bangladesh (80).

You can read more about the index here.

To say it is mainly a developed democracy thing with everyone perceiving each other as equals as how Mr Lim postulated in the same article seems like an over-generalisation because countries like France and Japan rank not too far from Pakistan.


So we can't derive much from the index really. The only conclusion is Malaysians, compared to the rest, are power crazy. On the same note, I wonder is that why there are so many people who would chase after Datukship. I wonder too what special positions do Datuks have in our society today.

If a Datuk goes to a bank and apply for a loan (but it turns out his/her conduct of account is bad), I doubt the bank will approve the application. Even if his records is impeccible, he/she can't borrow whatever he she wants. The bank will still assess his/her credit strength together with his/her earning power and then make a decision.

Or do a Datuk, when he walks into a packed restaurant tell the restaurant manager, he/she is a Datuk, therefore he/she can get a table instantly while there is a long line of customers waiting to be seated? Maybe but not those restaurants I have been going.

Or by invoking a Datukship, will someone get a discount from buying stuff in Starhill or Bukit Bintang? If I am going to buy 10 Patek Phillipe watches with cash versus a Datuk who only say he wants to buy 1 with credit card, who do you think will get a better discount? Will a Datuk also get the same discount?

Even if a Datuk were to be chauffeured via North South Expressway, he/she pays the same rate as everyone else. Compared to a Datuk who shops in Isetan without Isetan membership card, my parking fee is waived for the first few hours in KLCC, Lot 10 and The Gardens whenever I spend above RM100 in a single receipt simply because I have Isetan membership.

I guess there are other intriguing things but I certainly don't see how useful it will be. Which is why I find MIC Youth chief call for a centralised database for false datuks and datuk sris quite useless to me.

Maybe it is useful for those who perceive a title signifies power but in today's society, isn't it more true that cash is king while the rest means nothing?

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