Thursday, March 24, 2011

Water Management in Malaysia: Liberalizing Public Utilities (Part 2)

In this second and concluding part, we see Why the government harms sustainable usage of water and the harms of privatization.Read Part 1 first!

Second Issue

The second issue in this case is whether or not privatization can lead to an efficient allocation of a scarce resource, water.

It's true that 70% of the Earth is covered in water. 97% is saline water while only 3% is fresh-water. Desalination procedures for heavily concentrated saline water are very expensive. Hence water for consumption and daily usage is very limited.

It is predicted that in 50 years time, wars would rage on access to water. Water conflicts would emerge and be expedited if we do not start conserving water now. In New Zealand, the price of bottled water is more expensive than beer (No kidding).

Based on the premise that water is extremely limited, which party can conserve water better? I vouch for private corporations.

Private corporations would trade water on market price, based on the laws of supply and demand. Over the years with a larger population (demand) and limited water supply, price of water would go up. Price increases and tariff hikes are inevitable.

This is marvellous. Why?

With the rising costs of water, people would reduce their consumption of water. They would be more careful and look for more efficient ways to conserve water. Wash your cars once a month or maybe bath for 5 minutes. The best form of deterrence is the economic deterrence (your wallets).

This ensures that water can be conserved better and creates a buffer zone. This buffer would give us more time to research on cheaper methods of desalination, while water runs out.

What if water was controlled by the government? For starters, governments are political entities as compared to private entities which are apolitical.

Since governments are involved in politics, water management issues can be politicised. Governments are subject to populist pandering and the will of the public, or risk being voted out.

If it would score political points to subsidise water, they would do so. Water would be traded at a lower price via subsidies. The price of water would be distorted and an artificial price would be created.

This artificial price (lower than market price) would make water cheaper. This would drive consumers to use more water, unsustainably. This would harm efforts to conserve water as it is being used up quickly.

When water is being used up quickly (supply dwindles), naturally the price would go up drastically. But since the government is subsidizing water, the government would end up subsidising more, meaning pumping in more taxpayers in the long run.

I disagree with the Selangor Government's policy of subsidising water for the Selangor citizens (even while water is privately managed!). Though its intentions are good, the unintended consequences are harmful in the long-run.
As a conclusion, government control of water would lead to more wastage in the use of water.

Harms of Privatization, Where the Government Needs to Regulate

Though I advocate the privatization of water, I do not ignore that privatization has harms. The free market is harsh. Market considerations normally don't coincide with social considerations.

1. Under private control, water would be traded quite expensively. This would harm the lower income groups which is the lowest common denominator in society and requires protection. That is why, the government needs to subsidise water for these groups.

One of the problems in Malaysia is that welfare doesn't observe demographics. In Malaysia, welfare doesn't discriminate between the rich and the poor.

Oil subsidies are splashed for all income groups, ignoring the fact that poor people uses oil the least. (Another distortion created upon the free market)

In Selangor, water is subsidised for all households, ignoring the fact that the rich consumes more water in washing their luxury cars, having bubble baths etc.

This is a sad form of Lemon Socialism; socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor. Welfare policies need to be recalibrated to target the poor only. Water subsidies needs to be given to the hardcore poor.

This can be done by observing the amount of water used in households. If the usage is minimal, it can be assumed that the inhabitants are poor people.

2. Another problem, I think would be the tragedy of the commons. This happens when a certain common resource is exploited  unsustainably for the profits of a few until the resource is extinct.

Example, take a field of grass. Everyone can access it. Normally a few goats would eat there. Then one day, a farmer brings in a herd of cows to graze there. In 3 days, the place is barren, the grass unable to repopulate. It has been overused.

This haemorrhage usually happens in an unregulated market. The capitalistic greed of companies in making profits, the ultra-competitive attitude which each company has would lead to a Race to the Bottom.

It is feared that the same thing would happen to water resources. Though in certain instances, companies are smart enough to self-regulate, it is submitted that the government should regulate the use of resources to ensure that it is used sustainably.

What we need is to empower the people, the consumers. Water needs to be correctly priced. Take back our water from the clutches of politicians and cronies and put it into the hands able people. Water is precious to us all, let’s conserve it for our children. You decide.

Water Management in Malaysia: Liberalizing Public Utilities (Part 1)

Exploring the concept of privatization, and its impact on our water.

I love water. It's just beautiful. It has its own tasteless taste that is unique. It purifies, cleanses and is a valuable source of life. Everyone needs water and we use it on a daily basis. It is the most crucial thing that mankind needs.

In Malaysia (greatest country, not so great government), we are experiencing a seismic shift in terms of water management. There seems to be a high degree of animosity among the Malaysian public with regards to water being managed by private entities.

The campaign to nationalize water is spearheaded by the Selangor State Government (via the Air Untuk Rakyat Campaign) to nationalize SYABAS.

Governments face a choice: either to assume control of the monopoly of water or leave it to the vicissitudes of the invisible hand. This article would like to demonstrate the merits of the privatization of water.

The first problem would be how water is managed by private corporations in Malaysia under status quo. Not very good.

The privatization of water in Malaysia didn’t create much competition among the service providers. The concept of competition is to ensure no one would hold a monopoly of resources (which under the government, there is a monopoly).

Shady dealings to supply and treat water were given to politically connected firms. What the Federal Government dubbed “privatization” was merely a transfer of monopoly from the government to a private company (like SYABAS). So the monopoly remains and the element of competition is absent.

What we have is a form of pseudo-privatization or crony capitalism. Evidence of this can be seen in the form of the SYABAS' Executive Chairman earning RM500, 000 a month. I'm very angered by this.

The second problem would be about scarcity of resources and how scarce water is. Water is a very very very scarce resource. The World Bank estimates that demand for water will exceed supply by 40% by 2030, with up to half of the world's population would be experiencing some degree of water stress. Water security has therefore become an important component of sustainable development.

So how do we ensure an efficient allocation of resources? Can privatization benefit the public?

First Issue
Having established two premises, let's argue the case for privatization first. The aim of liberalizing the market is to get rid of monopolies by forcing producers to compete. Competition is good because it would force service providers to be on their toes and work as hard as they can for fear of losing out.

This would lower down tariffs, increase quality and productivity. In order to achieve this, there must be more than one service provider. We should have the choice of which service provider we want to buy from, not being ordered around by politicians who think they know best (they don't really).

This concept of consumerism thrives in a private sphere, not in a government controlled sphere. So instead of SYABAS, we need to have another one or two service providers.

Accountability thrives in the private sphere. Private corporations are more accountable to the consumers than governments to the rakyat. Why? First, is the profit motive. Simply put, if the private companies provide poor service, the people would choose another service provider.

Secondly, public complaints (or censure by the FREE media) would damage the image of the company. Companies wouldn’t want this (look at how much they spend on PR). So, they would try their best to ensure excellent quality of service. An excellent incentive! You can even sue them in the worst case scenarios.

What if the water is managed by the government? First, there would be a monopoly of resources by the state. The state has absolute control of water. Since the state is elected by the people, they are subject to populist pandering, which is harmful. I would explore this more in the second issue.

It is not the government's business to do business. One of the reasons why is because the government is inefficient at doing business.

There lacks a proper incentive scheme for public officials. Wages are constant and stagnant and since it is the public sector, funded by taxpayers. Complacency sets in because wages are not dependent on performance. Hence, productivity decreases.

I remember the days when we had lots of rationed (catu) water when the public sector was in control. Brown water was a common predicament.

I agree that the government is accountable directly to the people (ballot box). But this accountability is muddled 
when most voters aren't single issue voters. There are many issues put as premium before water management.

Thus, it is very hard to ensure direct accountability in terms of water management as compared to private entities, where it's very existent is harmed if it provides poor quality service. It can even end up bankrupt.

Assuaging Concerns
Q: But water is a human right so shouldn't it be controlled by the public?
A: I understand your concern that water is a human right. Private entity or government controlled, these two bodies are just a medium to distribute water to the public. The public are still in firm control of water even if it was managed by private entities. There are measures to prevent abuse ranging from boycotting that service provider to lawsuits, in the most atrocious of cases.

Q: Water is a common resource. It is the property of no one and the property of everyone, at the same time. Why must certain pockets of society make profit out of it?
A: On face value, I would agree that people shouldn't make profit out of public utilities. But when we analyse the role of water service providers, it's not just distributing water per se. It’s also treating water making it safe for consumption through sedimentation and desalination techniques. And the costs can be quite expensive.  So pay as you use lah.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Right to Be High

There are many conspiracy theories on why marijuana is banned. Some say Nixon banned marijuana because the Hippies, who were the ones protesting against the Vietnam War, used it and he needed a reason to lock them up. Others say that William Randolf Hearst and Lammont Dupont from the Du Pont Company who developed and patented fuel additives such as tetraethyl lead, as well as the manufacture of pulp paper were threatened by hemp (plant which creates marijuana) which was promised to eliminate much of the need for wood-pulp paper, thus threatening to drastically reduce the value of the vast timberlands still owned by Hearst. But a conservative politician would say, with a straight face, that it has harms, it’s a drug and it’s addictive etc. Really? It should be, right? Since most nations in the world makes it illegal (including Malaysia) except for Holland and a few other states.

I’m not a pothead. I neither smoke cigarettes nor drink alcohol. I also don’t gamble. I consider myself a teetotaller and try my best to lead a clean life. Whatever it is, I have a firm belief that Malaysia should legalize marijuana for all purposes, not only for medical purposes. Yes, legalize. No, not only decriminalize. There is a stark difference and I believe that the state should play an active role in the regulation of marijuana, not just decriminalizing it only. From growing the stuff, selling it to the public in controlled quantities, creating a register for users and taxing it. The whole shebang! It’s like cigarettes lah. Who knows? Maybe we can establish a multinational corporation which sells marijuana like BAT which sells cigarettes. Malaysia Boleh!

The objective of this article is twofold. First, is advocating the libertarian approach where people have the right to bodily autonomy and that choices must be empowered. Secondly, is the ancillary view on how to minimise the drug trade and cartels. I got the inspiration from the referendum in California which was supposed to make marijuana legal. It was defeated by a 7 point margin....delaying the inevitable if you ask me.

When a state makes something illegal, there must be harms attached to that substance. Harms are negative effects. A state coerces something when there are potential harms (seatbelts, preventive detention), excessive harms to one’s own body (suicide, narcotics) and when there are harms to others (murder, torture). And this view varies according to a nation’s belief on paternalism or liberalism.

Let’s talk about the harms of marijuana. Are there any? Well, I have never heard of a brother who died due to an overdose of marijuana! It’s different from narcotics like heroine or ecstasy as marijuana is from a plant instead of heroine and ecstasy which are chemically made. It doesn’t lead to lung cancer like cigarettes or liver sclerosis like alcohol. It is clinically proven to be addictive, but if the substance has no harms attached to it, what is wrong with the addiction? It makes you inactive and hungry but how can that sort of harm be put as premium over individual liberty? There are neither immediate/instant nor latent harms to the body/mind, unlike alcohol or cigarettes where there are instant (hangover, smoke, bad breath) and latent harms to an individual (like cancer). Please bear in mind that marijuana has been allowed for medical purposes, such as the stimulation of hunger in chemotherapy and AIDS patients, lowered intraocular eye pressure (shown to be effective for treating glaucoma), as well as gastrointestinal illness. Marijuana is therapeutic yo!

Having said that, let’s talk about the right to bodily autonomy. We need to have the freedom to choose our actions. We, as social animals require freedom for self-actualisation. Yes, the social contract prescribes that citizens cede rights to the state in exchange for protection and social order. But in the context of marijuana, what is there to protect? From getting high, which has no tangible harms? Rights are a means to an end. And if that end is the sensation of getting high, who are we to judge? People are entitled to their own pursuit of happiness and self-actualisation. Marijuana does not cause 3rd party harm. In fact, it falls within the bounds of the Harm Principle advocated by John Stuart Mill. Even if the act of smoking marijuana causes harm to one’s soul, if it does not harm another’s soul, why should we prohibit it? It’s not against morality to smoke marijuana! Even if it is, morality is subjective and cannot be imposed against individuals arbitrarily!

Marijuana is a vehicle where the actual contention is the role of government in the lives of her citizens. To what extent can a government intervene in the private lives of her citizens? In this context, the government should play a supervisory role in the lives of her citizen, not a tyrannical role. Supervision must be done by informing the rakyat on the choices that they shall make, the merits and demerits of that choice (Hence the term informed choice). This can be done via campaigns and education. Instead what we see today is the government being a tyrant and banning things without respecting the citizen’s choice, thinking it is more intelligent than us in deciding what is best for ourselves!

On choice, arguments have been made that if a person takes marijuana, he is addicted to the substance and thus his choice is an irrational one. On that premise, the government being the rational actor is able to make decisions for that poor soul. Think of addiction to narcotics and people who wants to commit suicide (very irrational). Let’s dissect this argument and rebut it, shall we? There are varying levels of addiction. There is the minor addiction which is not that bad and cravings are there periodically (physiological addiction). And there is the major addiction where a person has a compulsion to take that substance and do that act (psychological addiction). The former entails controlled addiction like smoking cigarettes and alcoholism (maybe sex). The latter is compulsive addiction where you simply can’t control yourselves! The thing is in your mind 24/7. Think narcotics like heroine or ecstasy and compulsive gamblers. You can’t stop! In this instance, marijuana has been proven to be under the former. The addiction can be controlled and has been controlled. The addiction yardstick is equivalent to that of cigarettes and alcohol. Since that is the case, the choice of taking marijuana is a rational one!

On the ancillary point on combating the drug trade, the most effective to combat it is through the tactical move of competing with the illegal drug pushers. Drug pushers thrive from selling all types of drugs, marijuana included. Once the government legalizes marijuana, drug pushers would be deprived of their regular marijuana taking customers. Why? Because customers would choose to go to the legal markets than the illegal ones for fear of punishment. Citizens would also be more comfortable in dealing with the government (I know this is bizarre) than with crooks and criminals. Marijuana would be taxed, but the prices would be able to be as competitive as the illegal ones. Why? Because the drug pushers charge higher prices due not only to a limited supply of drugs but also because of the high risks involved (So high, you might earn the gallows). So pricing is not a problem and the pushers would be out of business in no time.
It is also better to ensure that customers go to legal marijuana centres than black market ones. This is because the black market has all sorts of drugs. And the pusher would of course entice the customer to try other products. You know, try and error. Marketing strategy. Maybe some went to business schools. Well, of course, the customer would be tempted to try and as the saying goes, the rest is history!! As compared to legal marijuana centres which sell only marijuana, we can ensure that these people take only marijuana. It’s about harm minimization. Think of the alcohol Prohibition in USA. Alcohol was banned. People went to the black market, where the level of liquor was high as it was unregulated. And the people paid the price! Same goes in this case. We don’t want our people to get hooked in other dangerous narcotics.
In conclusion, I have stated the importance of choice, the role of the government which is to supervise and also how this proposal can combat the drug trade. I hope society can be convinced with this view and vote for liberty! I’d like to rant more but next time,k?!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What to do to those who wrongly stand up and speak up? (The justification for the absolution of free speech Part 2)

I was once a victim of hate speech. Bizarrely, this happened in the most unexpected of places. It happened in Auckland, New Zealand. Auckland is full of expatriates from Asian nations. Unfortunately, I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. While walking at Auckland’s Cental Business District (CBD), a fat Maori in a Porche playing loud rap music took a look at me and shouted ‘Fucking Asians’ out loud and sped off. Of course I was inflamed. I wasn’t an immigrant. And he just took a piss at my continent and implicitly, at my race. But it was his right. I could have said something bad about his puny continent or his indigenous race (many things) but I didn’t. I didn’t want to go down his level. As you can see, my reference to him is only ‘fat’ and ‘Maori’. And that’s not degrading!
Let me be clear. My stance on freedom of speech is not an anarchist’s view on liberty. It’s more of a classical libertarian’s view on speech. I find America’s take on it ideal. Quite ironic because I don’t study in America, I just read about it and dream of that American dream. I think things like hate speech, regulated defamation, insults and offensive speech ought to be permissible. What should be banned are acts such as “telling people to kill others”, which is already a conspiracy to murder. Or even, in the immortal words of Judge Oliver Wendell Holme Jr of the American Supreme Court in Schenk v United States “to shout fire in a crowded theatre”. These types of speeches are very dangerous as it present a clear and imminent danger. The Harm Principle must be observed. But what type of harm is permissible? Of course, tangible physical harm should be prohibited. But feelings??
But what about hate speech you say? Yes, there is some element of truth in that 'kerana mulut badan binasa' proverb. People would have their feelings hurt and angry at various hate speeches. But that’s it, right? The context that I’am talking about is a Malaysia post GE-12. We are presumed as a mature society, capable of intellectual rationalization. If we have KLCC and Sepang F1, why can’t we react to bigots in a cultured way? When a person, who, I assume is intellectually bankrupt forwards an idea that is bigot and with malicious intent, how must we, the moderates react? Do we react to extremists by extremism? In my opinion, the way we should react is to not go down their level. We must show that we are better than him/her. React in a peaceful way and correct his misguided views. These people just want attention. Don’t give them that and soon their ideas of bigotry would die out. We must counter bigotry with intelligence ideas to show that bigots are below our level. This would appeal of course appeal to the masses and would ‘wither thy bigot’.
What about defamation? Of course people are entitled to insult each other. The right to insult and offend is a right within the perimeters of freedom of speech. The question would then be, to what extent? If the defamatory statement causes say corporate losses, of course these types of speeches must be regulated. But if the expression is one of satire, why must people see each other in court? It’s just ridiculous. Look at satirical statements in USA in the form of the Onion. People know its fake and have a good laugh. In Malaysia, you can’t even make fun of state controlled corporations. Geez.  What about malicious defamation at bringing down a person’s character? Let him speak! It’ll look bad on him for being such a douche. But if people do believe him, we can correct those misconceptions!
Sedition you say? Why that’s a disease that could end the world! We surely need to scare our citizens into submission by muzzling their voices pre-emptively! Not quite. The fabrics and contextualization’s of modern contemporary society needs to be observed. As in my 1st Post, I have observed that the society that we have is one where it is a mature society where rationalization is put as premium. So we won’t act irrationally and riot at every instance. And even if we were to riot, it would be one which is peaceful since we have families to consider.
What about false information? These false information can be countered by the correct information. We just need a society which is active in voicing out their views and concerns, something which cannot happen in a climate of fear where though is oppressed.
Sensitivities will always be sensitive because the state brands these sensitivities as sensitivities by controls. As long as controls are instituted, sensitivities would remain. The idea of “rakyat belum sedia” will remain as “rakyat tak akan sedia”. The moment controls are lifted, there is no such thing as sensitivities in the long term as people would get used to speech. Remember, laws do not only reflect a culture, it has the ability to change culture. Change the mentality, mindset and views of the rakyat by liberalizing these draconian laws.
The only fear that I have with regards to freedom of speech is the concept of the tyranny of majority. In a democracy, where majoritarianism rules, the majority would of course have the most say. What if the majority is not as mature as I had assumed? What if they are bigots and disrespect the Harm Principle. This is bad as the minorities would have less airtime and their ability to air their views would be too little. Thus the majority could craft laws that are oppressive to minorities by influencing each other through a climate of fear created by bigots who are a minority in the majority. Evidence of this is the banning of the Burqa in Europe, rising Islamophobia attributed to the Far-Right nutjobs like Geert Wilders who scare the majority to oppress the minority. Scaring the Europeans that the immigrant muslims would overpopulate and impose Sharia in Europe. Utter nonsense and thus this needs to be remedied by controls as well.!
In conclusion, what have I told you? I told you how freedom of speech is inherently part of us. I told you how controls are bad. I told you how hate speech, can be countered. I observed the harms of the absolution of speech. My objective of writing this is to persuade. Persuade for a better Malaysia.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stand up, speak up (The justification on the absolution of free speech)

Ever since I was a little child, I was peppered with proverbs like 'kerana mulut, badan binasa' and 'mulut tu, kena insurance sikit' etc. My mouth was also peppered with countless of chillies as a result of my 'celupar' mulut. Hey, I was an active child...orally. But during my university years, I developed a firm conviction that the absolution of freedom of speech is the way to go, without any restrictions or boundaries.

I live in Malaysia, you see. And lately, we've been tortured with recriminations from our political leaders branding each other as 'racists'. Now, Malaysia has a black spot in her history in the form of a racial riot in 1969. Thus, a certain degree of delicacy must be maintained when it comes to race relations and of course branding each other as racists and making statements deemed racist. Some people would want action to be taken against those who are deemed racists or racialist, whatever. In my country, freedom of speech is stifled under the pretext of preserving the harmony and sensitivities of the communities in our country by using the Sedition Act and in certain cases, the Internal Security Act.

Why must free speech be absolute? Because it is something inherent in each and everyone of us. It is an inalienable right. Without it, we're nothing. The notion of communication, which shares ideas with your fellow man and forwards opinions, enriches knowledge between the communicator and communicated. The moment you stifle free speech, you create a climate of fear in society to exchange ideas. The volume of interaction is lost and mitigated within the community. When a government bans your thoughts, the government is essentially de-legitimising your thoughts. No intellectual discourse. Since the interpretation of what is seditious is interpreted by the authorities, how are we supposed to know if what we're writing and saying is seditious? What constitutes sedition is very wide and more importantly SUBJECTIVE. You cannot objectify something which is subjective. Its like retrospective laws. It oppresses minorities, in this case the dissenters (opposition), its like the idea of policing morality, but that’s another topic.....

So, why must the authorities arbitrarily say what a person says is seditious, when other people (in most instance, the majority) thinks it is perfectly normal? Reminds me of a certain cartoonist. Things that are of academic or satirical value are construed as dangerous and consequently banned because it threatens/criticizes the government in power. Yes, the opinion of one has the ability to sway the opinions of others. So, why not muzzle the dissenting one and only allow the government’s take on an issue? If there is only one stream of opinion available to listen, shouldn’t we all follow that ‘persuasive opinion’? If this logic applies, the rakyat would of course, be all pro-gov.
But not every rakyat is pro-gov. That’s because we’ve moved past the age where ‘the government is right’, and where propaganda plays a major part in shaping social mores. We question, we inquire, we’re educated, and we read. We see for ourselves the injustices and the wrongs that even multi-billion ringgit propaganda cannot rectify. We know our rights and consequently demand for more rights. In short, we have matured. Thus, we our quest for the liberalization of unlimited free speech for the self-actualization of the rakyat continues....

Next.....further further analysing why free speech must be absolute. Hate speech, defamation, false information! Wait for Part 2

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Power of Writing

I was stunned when I found out that the State of Israel (the one that we condemn everyday, but still do not legally recognize) produces 30,000 books annually compared to Egypt which produces only circa 300 despite the latter's population superiority (Future of Freedom, Fareed Zakaria). I wonder what is the rate of books per annum that Malaysia produces? It is proven that the moment Israel conducts a massacre or an atrocity, her citizens would quickly rally to her defence by writing more articles justifying her actions. When you read their writings, you are slowly desensitised and your angry feelings are placated to understand the predicament that they are in. Except for the few whose hatred towards Israel is entrenched, the desensitisation effect is felt globally.

As a citizen of Malaysia, I feel it is not only a moral obligation but also a civil obligation to write my thoughts about contemporary political issues that plague this nation. Political decisions, no matter if it is made by the benevolent, intelligent or the poor effects every individual in this nation. It is high time that I exercise my rights of freedom of expression (though limited) to full effect. As a citizen, its misguided to let the govern govern you without expressing how you want to be governed. The government is able to push you around however it wants if we do not speak out. In a democracy, the citizens need to be active to be the check and balance towards the government. We cannot rely on the judiciary, legislature nor (especially) the executive to protect our rights anymore! As the Nobel laureate Amartya Sen puts it:
 "The heart of a democracy beats only with the participation of all citizens in exercising their rights - first for inclusion in the political agenda issues of concern to them and second in the political process. Democracy becomes dysfunctional when the bureaucracy, the judiciary, the legislature, the private sector, the police and the military all use their power to enrich themselves and advance their own interests at the expense of civil society. Laws not withstanding, corruption undermines the rule of law."

The articles in my blog shall be short. I shall try my best to keep it precise, concise and succint. I understand that the attention span of many of us are very short. We absorb the message from videos and movies better than writing. Thus, if the issue that I'm going to write about consumes alot of the cyberspace, I shall compartmentalise it into numerous parts. Despite all that, I still believe that reading should be the primary hobby of all Malaysians. I must confess that I dont read alot. And that is a problem. As a Muslim, I was taught that the first verse that Allah revealed to Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) was Iqra (read). Such is the importance of reading and writing (how do you read if no one writes?). However, this culture which once permeated this society is fast eroding...

My conviction of the absolution of free speech is unshakeable (though the government thinks otherwise). This is because I believe society is rational and mature enough to rationalize controversial ideas an act in a civilized manner. For those who are irrational or extreme, there will always be moderate forces to critisize and correct those who are misguided. Thus, I welcome comments from anyone. The question would then be: Even though you disagree with what I'am saying, would you defend my right to say it? (even to the death?)

The numbers 900901 are part of the numbers in my identity card. The identity card in itself is a symbol of government intervention in our private lives. It makes you feel a prisoner within your own walls. In Rousseau's immortal words: "Man is born free. But everywhere man goes, he is in chains." I have read the Sedition Act, Universities and University Colleges Act and also the Printing Presses Act (just in case) to know what murky waters that I might have to wade in my endeavour to be a contributing citizen. I have a few radical ideas and I hope it can be presented without any barriers. This is the first article of many to coem. Wish me luck!

p/s: It's long enough that I have been sitting down idlying by. Things have happened to me. I think it's time that I happen to things.