the mudpond

It's good to let things breathe in your imagination because often your initial response to it is not the best thought-through response. I savour little glimpses of life. Mine and those of people who turn me sideways and around. Friend or stranger. Even a child. (the world looks different from down there) Sometimes an author, photographer, artist. I let things saturate and incubate here. Hopefully, deeper meanings can percolate up and flower.

Location: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A stray cat.


Eyeballing A Stranger

Part three of a six-part series in a Worldview Meme.

What goes through your mind when you meet the eyes of someone you don't know? How do you act/react?

How I react to strangers depends on who they are: 1) the 'powerful' - mostly adults 2) everybody else.

But first, there are 'actually-powerful' and 'perceived-powerful' people - folks higher up in the line of authority and social hierarchy than I. They both have the potential to make my life miserable; they can cause me untold hardship and pain if they have a reason or mind to. At a mere whim or fancy, they can lift me up or kill my joy.

What goes through my mind and how I react to them are two different things.

I really have to apply a truth-grid mindset to balance the negative, baggage-related, therapy-needing emotional conditioning with positive, freedom-related, value-constructing, and authenticity-producing emotions, flowing from my beautiful and joyous worldview.

Heh! Just invoking a pathetic oppressed-trampled-victim mindset there :P

And then, there are 'projected' powerful people. The peacock-n-turkey types - perpetually puffed up in their own self and imagined importance.

What goes through my mind is, most times, exactly how I react to them. Depending on my mood and the prevailing circumstances this can range from amusement to annoyance, benevolence :) to humouring or disdain to contempt...

Haughty? Well, possibly... :)

And for everyone else, my default emotional response is a feeling of solidarity, of semi-belonging, of companionship. I am 'safe' with kids, I am not 'distant' to a poor person, I am a 'fellow and friend' of a misunderstood teenager, I am a co-griever with a bereaved and broken-hearted parent or spouse. This is the default, pre-cognitive response I STRIVE FOR.

The same, I suspect, is true of the majority of people I know: the meek or fierce, alike.

That said, what goes through my mind when I meet strangers (or preferably, before we meet), I have an algorithm that I try to uniformly apply … a very simple 'script':

If (stranger = powerful): Convert2regular-like-me (powerful stranger), returning Stranger-with-needs-and-pains-like-me;
For All Strangers-with-needs-and-pains-like-me: Do Add.Some.Value.2.them

This algorithm, of course, is a biblical worldview item -- God made us all alike in the basic aspects of human-heart experience. It is only unrelieved pain and unmet needs and betrayed trust that cause us to develop into 'arrogants' and 'elites' and 'calloused, powerful monarchs'…

And that, my dear reader, is the/my peacock-n-turkey version of Her Royal Highness, The Empress Baggie's very spontaneous and unpretensious way of eyeballing a stranger:

The Queen looks at those folks right smack in their eyes and smiles. Most often the smile is returned. It's so pleasant and rewarding.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hokey dokey, percolator you be "haughty" and I'll be "arrogant". Uh, where be(is) Lucia, ah? LOL.


12:54 PM  
Blogger Empress Baggie said...

Dear Percolator:

Her Majesty did not realize she was being used as an example in a discussion. This is quite interesting. You wrote:

And that, my dear reader, is the/my peacock-n-turkey version of Her Royal Highness, The Empress Baggie's very spontaneous and unpretensious way of eyeballing a stranger:

The Queen looks at those folks right smack in their eyes and smiles. Most often the smile is returned. It's so pleasant and rewarding.

Now, that makes The Empress feel very special ... unless there's some sort of hidden meaning, which she hopes there isn't ...

Enjoyed your blog.

Very truly yours,

4:03 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

I have my tiny moments too ;)

6:15 PM  
Blogger percolator said...

Oh no, no hidden meanings in association with the quality your comment, specifically. This post is purely an expression of self-mockery. I am indeed honored to be permitted a glimpse of Your Majesty's worldview. If anything, it reminds me how, often and needlessly, my own worldview is needlessly complex. For, after all, we are indeed, "all alike in the basic aspects of human-heart experience.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous vokoyo said...

First of all, are we (the non-malays, that is) really to believe that the government will abolish or tone down the New Economic Policy in the near future? We must be realistic, if you have the right to buy a property at a discount and have scholarships for your children, would you let go of these rights?

With Chinese population dwindling in Malaysia, what needs to be done depends on the Chinese themselves.

There is nothing wrong with the brain drain. In fact, we should encourage our children to move to Singapore, Taiwan, China etc. if we disagree with Malaysian government policies that are based on race and religion.

When it comes to the matter of the dwindling number of Chinese Malaysians, we should talk about quality, not quantity.

We should resolve why the Chinese-Malaysian population is reducing. Official figures have more than one million Chinese Malaysians emigrating over the past 25 years. Why did they emigrate? I am sure the government knows.

Straight A students can't get scholarships or university places. Nothing new, it is been that way for the past 35 years. Nowadays, even enlightened malay Malaysians are speaking up on this injustice. The MCA and Gerakan? Busy making money from private colleges.

What is so great about having TAR College or Utar which took more than 35 years of begging? Why should it be so difficult to set up an independent university when we have scores of public ones?

While we push young talented people away, other countries notably Singapore, the US and Australia welcome them with open arms.

Is it logical that we drive away our young talented ones and then invite retired Mat Sallehs to live here and exploit our low-cost of living?

Singapore's success in particular owes much to these ex-Malaysians or their descendants including Hon Sui Sen, Goh Keng Swee, Goh Chok Tong, just to name a few.

About 30 percent of top management in both Singapore's government and corporate sector are ex-Malaysians. We export them so that Singapore can compete with, and then whack us.

Korea and Taiwan, both way behind us in the 70s and 80s are now way ahead. Thailand is breathing down our necks.

Sadly, there is just no integrity in the nation's leadership.

5:58 PM  
Anonymous best said...

Way to go!

Let's celebrate the human spirit that strives against the odds!

Persistence definitely bears fruits! And certainly they are sustainable and cherish-able!

Universal truths!

One got to be prepared to look for challenges, in any areas of your interest, beyond the shores of Malaysia.

Malaysia's economy is very small and unsophisticated.

Australia's economy is bigger than all of the South East Asia countries combined. Imagine USA and Europe!

6:27 AM  
Anonymous coolooc said...

For those who are already in oversea and live comfortably. There is no reason for you to come back to Malaysia. Life in Malaysia is getting tougher each day.

Frankly, as a Chinese, I don't see there is any future for our next generation.

Another dangerous mentor that people always use is JFK "Don't ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country".

Is sound nice, but isn't how German Nazi and Japan militarism started the world war using the same mentor? Under the great "ask what you can do for the country".

Patriotism? Yes, I understand how you feel. Your love for the country was spoilt by the political party. Since non-malays will always be a second-class citizen, so you are probably the same in any other countries, if not better.

You get cannibalised by your own countrymen, intellectually and professionally.

As someone else advised, be a Global citizen.

Patriotism does not need you to be in Malaysia to work your due. Let no one pointed at you and say you are a traitor if your true intention is to generate good deeds for Malaysia wherever you are.

Save your time about coming back to Malaysia. Nothing will change in Malaysia. At least not even in this lifetime. Racism will still be here to stay, and also everything else.

I think there is such an entrenched discrimination against the Chinese and Indians in Malaysia, that it will take probably a whole generation to undo the damage.

This is happening in whole spectrum of the Malaysian government, civil service, state governments and universities. Just look at percentage of malays in all these government bodies - 98%……….

A whole generation of malays has been brought up to think that it's their inherited right to own Malaysia. The other races are damned.

I think the malays especially those in power, are scared right now that if they will to compete openly with other races, they will surely be the loser. You will see very strong resistance to hire other races even the most qualified.

The malays are never brought up to compete on even ground. This is fault of previous PM and now the present PM has to tread a balance ground to ensure the malays are not cast away as well as to make Malaysia competitive worldwide.

In US I never met a malay immigrant, although there are thousands of Malaysian Chinese and Indian immigrants. Why? Malays in Malaysia have an easier life where they are literately prince of the land.

We have infrastructure good enough to be considered first world or better. Look at the Cyberjaya, Petronas Twin Towers, Putrajaya?

Gleaming high-rise buildings but also in every city, dirty toilets abound, litter clogging up the drains, public telephones damaged, plus unreliable rubbish collection and disposal. We just treat public facilities badly, not caring about others.

Being an urban dweller myself, I am constantly disheartened by the poor public infrastructure and upkeep in our capital city.

Faulty pedestrian traffic signals, illogical positioning of bus stops, poor public cleanliness, poor quality sidewalks (which are paved using slippery tiles), un-integrated and poorly managed public transportation system, the list goes on.

Your children can't even walk safely along the Kuala Lumpur streets, as they might be bags snatched, kidnapped, murdered, raped, or robbed, as they do not know the jungle laws of Malaysia. The police won't help much as they now have a big pile of corruption cases running after them.

You owe nothing to Malaysia, you pay your due, so live on.

So, my last advice. Don't come back unless you are really suffering in oversea.

I'm sorry this sounds very racist but I think we have to be honest in discussion.

6:28 AM  
Anonymous run away from malaysia said...

Folks, please tell me how do you best manage a country, whereby - the majority community who rule, can't competitive on equal footing with other countrymen, and fear to end up as working for very competitive - the other minority.

(Australia /Singapore/ USA etc, don't have these scenario, as the community who call the shot is also the majority community.)

But, building a world-class university in a third-world nation is unheard of, with the exception of large nations of China/India.

Simply, a third world Malaysia software does not nurture a first class world-class university.

Our government complains of brain drain, but do we actually do something to lure all these professionals back?

It is sad to see that we have the greatest minds around the world. One would be proud to see that we have great Malaysian minds in almost every field, for example in dentistry, medicine, physics etc and yet where did they end up?

They ended up in the developed world, helping the developed countries to become better day-by-day.

It would be more logical to try to attract these great minds back from other countries than to continue employing health professionals from foreign countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan that would not be dedicated in their work in the end, because of the poor system here.

Will this country ever change? Unfortunately, I doubt it.

We have a daughter who is currently studying overseas. My wife and I have been trying to tell her to stay there and get a PR and not come back.

Malaysia will always be here. It is a nice place to holiday - you want to live a compromised life you can return to work. But you want to be yourself then go wherever you please. We all wish you well.

Believe me, the government too wishes that you don't come back to quell the Chinese professional numbers. So they remain obliged to make your life miserable. All this talk about brain drain……….come on, you doesn't really buy the government's feigned attempt to show concern, do you!

So, be wise, stay outside. Come back to get yourself rejuvenated with Malaysian food, and culture, as often as you can and stick your fingers up to the government too.

But just remember if you are not prepared to compromise principles……….just stay out!

Even though the white man's land is not wholly a bed of roses, we know we will be treated more fairly and the system is much more transparent than what we have here.

It is a heavy heart that we have to make this decision for our daughter but deep down inside, we know it is better for her and her next generation. We are already near the final lap of our careers and life, and the political situation here has little impact on us.

Our children have a whole new horizon ahead of them. It is their future……….do they have one here?

Just be practical. One anesthetist told me, your perception will change when you have kids and a wife to worry about.

2:59 AM  
Anonymous oversee said...

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3:04 AM  
Anonymous vovo said...

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12:40 PM  
Anonymous Humans said...

Humans have always migrated throughout history - 'in search of better lives'. It is in our blood. Animals also do it. Some prefer to settle, others move on at whatever odds. The Chinese race is a good example of enthusiastic migrants. The Scots yet another.

Take the example of my own extended family. My father, who came from a poor family, emigrated together with his late father and late elder brother from Guangdong to Ipoh in 1923. The price they paid was separation from my late grandmother for a couple of years.

When reunited, the family expanded to a total of 10 children. Within one generation, eight of these children were able to go to university in Malaya (Singapore) and the UK. Three of these were Queen's scholars and another, a Colombo Plan scholar. This was during the time of the British, with free and fair competition prevailing.

Within another generation, my family were all dispersed around the world. Today, we have family in the US, UK, the Middle East and Australia. There are only two families left in Bolehland (Malaysia) from the previous generation - and they are retired.

In this generation, we have 13 doctors - all but one specialists - with one the holder of personal chair in a UK university. I am sure all of us can attribute our various successes to being at the right place at the right time and also by being diligent, open minded and persistent.

The argument has nothing to do with patriotism or race. We all love Malaysia as a country but we objected to the form and type of governance and the society it created during various times.

This spurred our migration and our decision to work and live away from the land we were born in. Some of us have even maintained our Malaysian citizenship in hope that things will change and we may be able to return.

Nonetheless, we are thankful that we have not been hindered in our move across borders. We are also thankful that holding a Malaysian passport today will facilitate movement between many countries compared to say, 20 years ago.

In short, our leaving was our silent, peaceful protest. It will of course fall on deaf ears because the existing muhibah ruling class will only be interested in furthering their own wealth and well-being and not those of the rakyat. Fortunately for some of us, we could vote with our feet. So let it be.

We take a larger global view and see that we contribute to the world, not directly Bolehland. My question is: Have you considered that those who do not migrate are the ones who are truly enslaved?

And to the present government I ask: How do you think you could lure people like us back? (Hint: Better money would not work - as we get less where we all are.)

7:18 AM  
Anonymous noneedname said...

Well, here is one for you if you think that economic grounds is the only reason for many to migrate.

I will be leaving this country within the next one year.

If you must know, currently I am earning a five figure salary, living in a luxury condo in the heart of KL, own another landed property in Bangsar and have two kids who are three and five respectively. I also have a maid, who for a mere RM400 a month, helps my wife to look after the home and kids.

Yes, I will be migrating to the land of the white-man soon. And guess what, I don't even have a job to go to yet in this white-man's land. But you know something? It doesn't matter to me as I know that with my skills, I can get a job there if I look in the right places.

They do not ask me if I am Muslim or a bumiputera before giving me a job. All they look at is my CV which speaks for itself. And I don't need to be connected to a "Dato".

I wouldn't even mind taking up a lower level job as long as I can look after my family and at the same time give my kids the option of a better and fairer future. There is no guarantee that my kids will become doctors or scientists. But merely knowing that they have a fair option is more then enough for my family to decide to take this giant step to uproot.

My lifestyle in this white-man's land will definitely be different. But just as I had strived for 10 years in Malaysia to create my wealth from nothing at all, what is there to stop me from doing it all over again? In fact with the same effort, I should be much better off.

To put it bluntly, I am prepared to take the risk of emigration at the age of 38 with my family 'on tow'. The question arises - why should a person in my capacity want to leave when I have all that a person can wish for?

One should stop looking with malice at people like me who make a choice to migrate for the betterment of our family's future. He might want to do a proper study on how much Malaysia stands to lose from skilled people leaving this country simply because they have had enough of it.

Please crawl out of your tempurung and look around at the amount of money that is being wasted in this country to make the well-connected bumis rich. They have nothing to complain about as the government is prepared to give you anything even when in many cases you might not deserve it.

If you want to talk about fairness, then look at the titles that have been given to bumis who had not done much at all. The round-the-world sailor who had to be assisted by the Royal Malaysian Air Force with an expenditure of about a million ringgit and the swimmer whose feat is not accredited by organisations monitoring English Channel crossings.

What about the first Malaysians to make it up Mount Everest, where are their 'Dato' titles? Perhaps a title for the medical student who recently crossed the English channel in almost half the time of the former 'hero'?

I know of bumi students in Universiti Malaya. I know them well. You see, I didn't get the chance to do a proper science course locally and had to struggle to fund my overseas education by begging and borrowing.

You might also want to find out the real reason why the 128 students were not given medical seats in local universities even though they had very high scores. Are you saying that these students are inferior to the matriculation students?

Do you know the pains of studying in order to score excellent results in the STPM? Please, feel free to furnish me facts so that poor souls like me would be convinced that the policies of this country are just and fair.

If you have ever heard of the simple saying, "Give a man a fish, he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime," you will realise that many non-bumis have learned how to fish but the government is still handing out fishes to the bumis. One day the fish will run out.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous emigrate said...

There are push and pull factors involved. An emigrant is both trying to escape something and advance towards another thing at the same time.

For instance, a scientist who cannot flourish in his own country will want to go somewhere where his expertise is appreciated. Perhaps he finds the anti-intellectualism in his milieu too stifling (unfortunately, this is very true in Malaysia), or the government of the day too partial when it comes to resource allocation.

You see, the major problem with a not insignificant number of Malaysians is that there is a lot of false pride around. This is a vestige of Mahathirianism. Small achievements are overblown so as to build up national pride. It is Malaysia Boleh this and Malaysia Boleh that.

Anyway, I say cheer the emigrants on. Let people do what they want with their lives - they should not be beholden to the country. Do not blame their lack of patriotism for not staying - patriotism is poor persuasion.

7:23 AM  

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