RULES

When the very rules of English grammar and composition are broken, we should not expect good speakers and writers of the English language.

The study of grammar is the backbone of English teaching and learning. When the very backbone of English teaching and learning is missing, don’t expect anyone to speak and write English correctly, coherently and effectively.

The study of English grammar and composition should begin in Primary 1. After all the 10 or 11 years spent in learning grammar and composition in school, most students will be able to speak and write English well while in college or university.

When we know the rules of a game, we play to win.

When we know the rules of English grammar and composition, we speak and write English with confidence.

FAKE LEADERS

Have you ever wondered why some people are suited for certain occupations? It is as though they are meant to do those occupations.

Some people are good at what they do but some people just mess things up or they just pretend that they know what they are doing. There are many pretenders, who are unintelligent and who are real copycats, in the world today.

They copy the way of their predecessors or superiors who have contributed much to the respective professions. These copycats are in every vocation and they don’t possess much intelligence as well as common sense to solve issues related to their work quickly and successfully. Instead, they rely very much on others’ thinking to extricate themselves out of terrible blunders or they have many earlier role models to guide them. Nothing is theirs. Everything is borrowed from others. In short, they lack originality of thought.

Many copycats can be found in positions of leadership. For instance, some leaders of countries don’t possess much leadership qualities but they run countries. They are not even supposed to be leaders of countries, and yet somehow they managed to land the coveted posts of political leadership through trickery and deceit.

When they become leaders, they don’t introduce fresh and new thoughts pertaining to economic issues plaguing their respective countries. They don’t seem to be doing anything different from their predecessors. In fact, they are bankrupt of ideas.

As they don’t show anything new and refreshing for their citizens to emulate, these “leaders” become boring and stale. When these “leaders” open their mouths, it is only BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. There is nothing new, original and refreshing really. They just rant and rave.

In contrast, intelligent leaders are brimming with ideas or they work with intelligent and like-minded individuals as they are to contribute fresh insights concerning various challenges facing a country and its citizens. It all boils down to intelligence. Intelligence is quickness of understanding and it is not acquired through an education alone. Leaders with less intelligence just berate others for their glaring failures. Such leaders will never admit that they are wrong.

Have you also wondered why the leaders of some countries lack the oomph to lead? The answer is very simple. They are the “MADE LEADERS” who don’t possess any leadership qualities and skills at all. For that reason, they don’t make any impact on those who are led. These “made leaders” lack inspiration and they don’t inspire others to think and do differently. These “made leaders” lack the bearing and the commanding appearance of real leaders. These “made leaders” are copycats who copy the leadership qualities of real leaders. To sum it all up, these “made leaders” can never equal the true leaders who are born and not made in terms of intelligence and real leadership qualities.

From their mannerisms and actions, one can safely conclude that the fake leaders who are the “made leaders” have a very limited outlook on the real life experienced daily by the layman as they are totally indifferent to the plight of ordinary people. These fake leaders just float aimlessly in mid-air.

The fake leaders don’t understand what the ordinary citizens go through in their daily lives. The fake leaders live in ivory towers in moated castles away from the citizens who toil for their living in the villages and the cities day and night. From time to time, the fake leaders along with their “court jesters” will make their appearances to the masses and articulate soundly about their relevance to lead the ordinary people in times good and bad. But in their heart of hearts, the fake leaders, who are just play-acting, don’t give two hoots about their citizens’ well-being.

Where does that leave the ordinary citizens when such fake leaders helm their nations?

THE RESULTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

Dancing is a good form of recreation. In some cultures, dancing is a way to express joy when celebrating certain occasions.

Not everyone can imitate dancers and their capabilities. Nobody can masquerade as a dancer because his true dancing capabilities can be assessed by everyone immediately. The results are there for everyone to see and judge.

The majority of people in many other occupations, however, can masquerade their false capabilities in front of the layman. These false talents can pretend to be what they are not. It is just play-acting. They just play-act their designated roles in the respective vocations without raising suspicions in others. They are some of the incompetent doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, lecturers, engineers, politicians, etc. in our midst today. Their play-acting has brought them very far in the professions. They are the real masqueraders.

The masqueraders need to show results too. It is through the results of the efforts put in by people that determine their true worth.

For example, after 48 years of teaching and learning English using the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) Approach yielding nothing but FAILURES UPON FAILURES for the majority of Malaysians, don’t the results show clearly the failure of the CLT Approach practitioners, Malaysians and native speakers alike? That is nearly half-a-century. Do they need another half-a-century to improve the standard of English among Malaysians? How else would one describe the achievements of the CLT Approach practitioners, Malaysians as well as foreigners? A successful failure?

Let’s take another glaring example in another field for everyone to see and judge. When leaders of some countries don’t lead their citizens to better economic and financial prospects, don’t the results show clearly that these leaders have failed in their political leadership roles? Don’t the results matter? When the results in the economic field show that the citizens in one country are dying of hunger and malnourishment, shouldn’t the leader be blamed for leading that country to such a state? How else would one put it? Good and caring statesmanship? Tell it to the hungry and malnourished citizens of that country.

When a business entity keeps making losses for decades, thereby prompting financial bailouts by a government to keep that business afloat, don’t the results show clearly that the concern has been badly run for decades? How else would one put it? Profitable losses?

Do the majority of people work for free? Don’t they get paid for work done after a certain period of time? Aren’t the RESULTS of their efforts at the workplace in the form of wages or salaries?

One must open his eyes to observe REALITY through the RESULTS of an attempt achieved by an individual or a group of people.

The GOOD RESULTS show that they are the right people in the respective occupations.

The BAD RESULTS show that they are the wrong people in the respective occupations.

The RESULTS speak for themselves and they speak VOLUMES.

“THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER”

Fables sometimes contain morals suitable or applicable to real life. In these restless and shaky times, one often tries to make sense of what is happening by turning to reading as often as one can. It may serve as a tonic to find peace within oneself or it may allow him to stumble on words of wisdom or stories containing morals.

Here is one story from the Aesop’s Fables.

THE ASS AND HIS DRIVER

An Ass, being driven along a high road, suddenly started off and bolted to the brink of a deep precipice. While he was in the act of throwing himself over, his owner seized him by the tail, endeavouring to pull him back. When the Ass persisted in his effort, the man let him go and said, “Conquer, but conquer to your cost.”

Now imagine the “Ass” in the human form as a leader of an organisation or a country and also imagine the “Driver” as the staff of an organisation or the electorate of a country.

The staff of a company will be on edge when they know very well how recklessly the leader of their organisation steers their company through difficult business periods. As their livelihood is dependent on their jobs in the company, they are naturally anxious to see the company “float” in a shrinking business environment.

The same applies to the electorate of a country. As the greater good of a nation is dependent on its leadership, the electorate of that nation is naturally anxious to see the country “float” in economically-troubled times ahead. The anxiety expressed by the members who make up the electorate is not misplaced. Their fears are real and substantiated when they see the leader of their country lead it in a reckless and carefree abandon. It leaves the electorate and the leader on the edge of a precipice.

The citizens of that country are not in a position to hold the leader “by his tail” and demand him to turn back on the road of governing sensibly as his executive powers make him invincible. As such, the citizens can only let go and say this to the leader, “Conquer, but conquer to your cost.”

Dear reader, do you understand the moral of my story?

HONESTY AND SINCERITY IN WRITING

Why don’t you do something entirely different for yourself? Write an essay of 500 words about your strengths and weaknesses. Be brutally honest. Write as if your life depends on it. In this way, you will be able to discover the skeletons lurking in your closet.

Present that essay in a professional manner. You are learning to be systematic. Your written English must be very good. Watch your tenses, sentence structures, parallelism, etc. In many cases, a reader will be struck by a piece of writing by the way it is presented in a truthful manner.

Honesty and sincerity in writing make a world of difference. Honesty and sincerity in writing separate the civilised from the brute. Keep writing many times. Attain the level of perfection where your writing attracts the reader to the way you think and feel about certain issues.

OF SCHOLARS AND SCHOLARSHIPS

Who is a scholar? Can everyone be a scholar? Can everyone who has passed a competitive pre-university examination be deemed a scholar in its strictest sense?

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English defines a scholar as a “person who studies an academic subject deeply”. Can everyone who has passed a pre-university examination be called a scholar who is able to study an academic subject deeply in a university?

Many people believe so. They are the many misguided and misinformed people who believe so. Every parent wants the best for his child. There is no harm in that. But can every parent expect his child to be a scholar when that child doesn’t even exhibit an iota of scholarly bearing?

Sometimes, parents expect too much from their children. Some children may be better suited for vocational studies as they are not academically inclined.

By insisting their young to enrol for academic programmes in a public or a private university, some parents may be damaging their children’s ability to earn decent wages in the future. With the ever increasing number of unemployed graduates in many countries, parents should seriously question why this phenomenon exists.

In the current global economic uncertainty, parents will be foolish to spend money blindly on their children who are not fit to be scholars. Parents need to do some soul-searching if their children are really capable of becoming scholars who will one day graduate from universities to be gainfully-employed in the working world.

Instead of academic studies which will render the majority of the young unemployed and which will drain the finances, parents should help their children acquire SKILLS that will be of real help in earning a living for their young.

Governments may be well advised not to dish out scholarships to every Tom, Dick and Harry or Jill, Jane and Joan freely. It behoves a government to test the suitability of a candidate seeking a scholarship for further academic studies. Most of all, a government needs to send out a clear message that a candidate who has passed a competitive pre-university examination is not automatically entitled to a scholarship for further academic studies.

In addition, even those who are eligible for scholarships based on a certain set of criteria need to be tested further if they possess the right qualities of a scholar to pursue academic subjects deeply. Some of those right qualities are competence in English in all its four skills (if the candidate is pursuing tertiary studies delivered in the medium of instruction called English) and subtlety of thought. Testing these future scholars rigorously will enable a government to foresee to what extent its funds will yield at the end of their academic studies. Furthermore, the depth of knowledge acquired by a scholar during his academic studies in a university will propel him, his society and his country to greater heights in all aspects in the long run.

Funds for any endeavour don’t come easily these days. Therefore, a government must be wise to invest money in people who will fulfil the role of scholars in the truest sense.

THEY STILL DON’T SEE IT COMING

Things look rosy on the outside or they are portrayed to be rosy to the outside world. By portraying so, the inner rottenness can be concealed from the outside world.

Some governments run their economies in the same manner too. Only the top echelon in the policymaking bodies in these governments are privy to the actual workings of their economies. The information and the figures concerning the real state of their economies remain at the top.

If the information and the figures of an economy are really good, they can be revealed to the general public and the investors. The economy prospers.

If the information and the figures of an economy are really bad, they can be suppressed or tampered with so as not to create a panic among the general public and chase away the investors. The economy may experience turbulence or even collapse altogether.

What if the information and the figures about an economy keep getting worse by every quarter? No matter how good the members of the top policymaking body in a country try to suppress or tamper with the information and the figures, they will finally have to tell the truth to everyone as hiding that information can trigger something even worse for the economy later on. No matter how good a maestro is in his calling, he still has to admit his failings sometimes.

Governments have an obligation to tell the real truth about the performance of their economies. They cannot keep it under wraps for long. They have to say the truth as it is. If it means the introduction of austerity measures spanning all vocations in the land, massive cuts in operating expenditures and large-scale job cuts, so be it. If the economy needs to be trimmed to stay lean and mean for the long run, so be it.

Get the real picture?

“THE WORST IS OVER.” REALLY?

A new economic phrase has been bandied about by research houses in many economies, albeit subtly. Many of the experts in these research houses “expect the worst is over” for their countries’ bleak economic performance and future scenario. But the worst just keeps getting better.

Some countries are adopting an insular approach as they want to protect their respective currencies, their national interests and their borders against encroachments by refugees fleeing from other lands. Worst, some countries are tearing trade pacts meant to improve their citizens’ livelihood. All these happenings have an effect on the world’s economy.

Is the worst really over or is it just the beginning of the worst?

During these tumultuous times on the global economic front, a country may be forced to go it alone as policymakers from various developed countries will put their citizens’ benefits first and foremost at the expense of the benefits for people in the third-world economies.

Sentiments are powerful. They can make or break people.

Sentiments concerning a country’s economy among its population are even more powerful. They can make or break the country, economically and financially. In addition, negative sentiments about the economy, if they are allowed to fester for a period of time, can eventually break the will of a people, who are desperately making ends meet.

In order to maintain positive sentiments about the economy of a country, experts in the research houses, economists and policymakers constantly harangue its population on how good that economy is performing even though the country is drowning, economically. Hence, the phrase “expect the worst is over” is perennially played to minimise the level of panic and fear among citizens of any country.

Unfortunately, the citizens become more panic-stricken when they hear that “the worst is over” as the economic environment, internal and external, unfolding right before their eyes tells a different story. As a result, the citizens become jittery about the actual situation pertaining to their countries’ economic status because the global business environment keeps fluctuating without showing any signs of consistency. It is like sitting on a see-saw – swing up and down, swing up and down, swing up and down, etc.

Let’s hear what the experts in the research houses, the economists and the policymakers have to say then.

“The worst is here”?

GOD AND COUNTRY

A soldier’s first duty is to obey orders and he does it truthfully with all his heart, mind, soul and strength. A good and dutiful soldier never ever entertains the idea of betraying his country as it is tantamount to betraying his Creator. A group of good and dutiful soldiers will ultimately produce a fighting force to be reckoned with in any conflict or warzone.

Enter the politician. Politicians have their own plans to serve their interests most of the time. As they have “access to facts” which the layman is not privy to, politicians can wage wars or create conflicts in distant lands just to fulfil their interests.

These interests may be good or bad for the citizens of the country. If they are good, that is fine. If they are bad, they can take a terrible toll on the soldiers fighting in the warzones as the families of these soldiers will suffer too back home.

Is there a price that good and obedient soldiers pay for the rhetoric of wily politicians with interests?

God and Country. This phrase can whip up a lot of emotions among the population of a country. Many loyal soldiers have laid down their precious lives for this phrase.

WHERE IS GOD IN A CHAOTIC WORLD?

Men, women and children from different persuasions are being killed for nothing lately. This situation does not bode well for the world at large.

People really need to ask serious questions about their religious beliefs. Are their religious beliefs a hindrance in the present-day world? How far have their religious beliefs enabled them to bring peace to others living in poor countries and in war-ravaged countries? Can the prayers of the religious people from various faiths soothe the pain and suffering of innocent souls desperately searching for lasting peace?

In all this chaos and mayhem, where is God? Why doesn’t He prevent terrorist attacks and wars from taking place? Why doesn’t He alert the faithful of impending dangers beforehand? Since the faithful are constantly praising God in all His majesty, why can’t they sense negative events coming their way? Isn’t it the duty of God to warn and protect His flock?

These days, people are dying needlessly. We really need to ask ourselves this question: Where is God in this chaotic world of ours? Is He just a spectator to these chaotic events?

Does God even exist?