Human instinct is to judge other’s appearances, behaviours and actions. The first time we catch a glimpse on something, our eyes will scan the views that fall into the eyes visual field and at the same time the view is interpreted by the brain. The visual cortex in cerebrum will ‘visualize’ the object at the back of our head, so that we can determine the colour, 3D structure, a thorough visualization of the object we see. All these processes occur in a split second – without us realizing it. It doesn’t stop there, the object we visualize at the back of our head (read: brain) will be analyzed further by parts of our brain which control our cognition, planning of actions, and the brain box will also associate the ‘image’ with a certain suitable emotion.
Maybe using a human being as an example is too complicated. A fighting bull in the ring when shown a red cloth by a matador, will run steams out of it’s nostrils and then charge towards the matadors that will then graciously dodge the raging bull and cruelly torture the bull to death (I hate this part of bull fighting show). It shows that even a bull, when they see the red color (stimulus) of the cloth, they will go berserk and enraged. Red usually angers them. The bull’s eyes see red, it’s brain read it as red, and red is associated with anger, followed by the action – charge towards the matador. Like it or not – that’s how brain function. The only deciding difference between animal and human is, human have mind or ‘akal’ to guide the actions of a certain stimuli. What’s so special about akal? And why most of the time we don’t use it?
I observe closely and with full interest on reactions from friends, readers in this blog, political leaders, and also some opinions and views from the people back home in Malaysia regarding the decision made by the government to abruptly increase 40% of fuel price last Wednesday. First reaction and the most popular one is anger and dissatisfaction, the average reaction is to wait and see with slight worries and a little dissatisfaction, the other extreme of the spectrum is to support whole heartedly the decision made. Me myself falls into the average group, I want to give ample time for the government to impose the decision, and assess the impact of the action taken, though at the same time I do feel for my family members back home whose life will be much affected by this.
By reacting rather emotionally than rationally we are not allowing the brain to use it’s ability to assess the issue and process it accordingly. The process of carefully analyzing, thus pre planning of the actions is bypassed. An action that is driven by anger (emotion) is sometimes undermine our true capability of analytical thinking. There are more to offer if we step back and refrain from being pulled into making any judgments emotionally. Most of the time, great ideas come from a sound undisturbed mind. One of the great caliphs in history of Islam, was spat on his face by one enemy captured during war time while a punishment was to be executed. To the surprise of everyone, the caliph decided not to proceed since he was worried that his action is going to be driven by his anger of being spat on face rather than his true intention of fighting for God. It’s a poorly quoted story, but the main thing is the message behind it. How anger can drag a person away from it’s true intention and also affect his/her analytical capability.
Why do we have to remain rational and impartial about this issue. Firstly, the practice of ‘husnu zann’ – kind perception or the act of having a good faith in others actions is promoted widely in the teaching of Islam. We can’t always assume there are bad intentions behind such action since the action at first place put the need of the poor into account, and the only ‘bad’ thing is the new plan bring away the subsidy from the rich. So based on that intention, should we make a reason for not having good faith in the action? Of course, things worth more to be debated is whether the amount RM625 as rebate for car owners below 2000cc is appropriate, and should it be increased? One good thing about this new plan – if some of you couldn’t think of any – is Ananda Krishnan, Robert Kwok and Tan Sri Al-Bukhary will pay the max price to fill up the tanks of their Porsches, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins, while our Pak Haji at kampung will be given the rebate as a substitute to unspecific subsidy plan.
Secondly, as a company, Petronas reported that Malaysia will become a nett fuel importer by the year 2014 and the production cost has increased for more than 200%. Malaysians, while it’s true we should compare our fuel price with country which are nett exporters as well, but why not we compare ourself with among nett importer countries since 2014 is just 6 years from now, and we are literally running on our reserve tank now. Are we looking for a short term solution, which will satisfy most of us now, but in longer term Petronas will lose it’s ability to sustain and most importantly Petronas won’t be able to invest into other countries to ensure the company will become the major contributor of nation’s revenue. All of us like to see a quick solution, an action that will satisfy us now is most welcomed, but the children of the future will suffer due to our irresponsibility and our preference of putting our interest more than theirs. Who are they? They are our children and grandchildren.
Thirdly, the government has also pledged to use the projected RM14billion savings from this restructured subsidy plan will be used to ‘fuel’ food subsidies and other expenditure to curb the global increase in food price and other utilities tarrifs. That’s their plan, and we must give the government time to prove that they are doing the best they can do. People can have varieties of approaches in controlling the increase in global fuel price and food crisis, however in the end, one action plan is needed rather than many plans undertaken at the same time which can be hard to manage plus costly too. My view on this, it’s important to give the government enough time to make sure the implementations work according to plan.
I am surprised by a certain reaction when changing lifestyle is suggested by be it the government or other NGOs to minimize the impact of fuel price increase. The reactions given is as if they are not going to change their lifestyle since the government is spending lavishly at certain areas. Okay, I couldn’t agree more when some of the ministers who urge people to cut their spending, reduce number of fags (cigarettes), spend more time at home, and car pooling do nothing more than just saying it. In that sense, I share the same view with most of the critics, leadership by example. The government should show the rakyat a good example, they can cut down a certain amount of their allowances and make few other adjustments on their daily activities especially when they are using government’s facilities.
I’m sure you will not see this article as pro-government or anti-opposition, as explained before, I’m more interested in policies and the actions taken. You might have a brilliant ideas or plan, but if it’s not executed accordingly it will fail miserably. You can have a weak or not-so-brilliant plan, but you pledge your all in making it successful, what matter is the way the plan is executed and the amount of support that will be another determining factor in the success of any plan. I welcome any suggestions and discussions in the comment section.
I really hope that people don’t react emotionally on this issue. Most importantly, don’t let their anger being used by a certain group of people to ‘fuel’ their political mileage. While this issue is a national issue, we should be more concentrating on how to help reduce the expenditure on electiricity bills, water bills and others that we can control. I have stressed this in previous article and I would like to reiterate, a debate, campaign or road show to educate people on how to save energy, car pooling, ‘jimat cermat’ and most of all to explain how the future for the country will be with regards to the petrol reserve that is finishing in just 6 years time. I think the government will be more responsive with information gathered from a healthy discussions, and debates. I applauded some Malaysians who come out suggesting free interest loans for people who want to change to NGV fueled car, the call to review the amount of the rebate given, and the call for a more research in renewable energy. Demonstration is still and will always be my last option.