Sunday, February 20, 2005

To Tolerate the Intolerant

It is all around us. You can see it in the streets, while driving, walking, in the air, even in the water, anywhere there are humans I guess… What is it you may ask? Pollution? Well, that is one of the symptoms... but I am ranting about inconsiderate and intolerant behaviour.

We can see inconsiderate behaviour when the flipping cell-phone rings during a movie, or when people rush into the trains before others have had a chance to get off and don’t get me started on drivers on our roads! I guess these the more “blatant” ones but how about the less “obvious” ones?

How about drinking and driving? I think it shows fairly blatant disregard for the safety and lives of others even if the driver should reach home safely. How about using more plastic bags than you really need to when you go shopping? That’s being inconsiderate about the environment which affects everyone. I guess the question that arises then is where do we draw the line? Is the fact that I am typing this stuff on my laptop in the middle of the night simply to satisfy my urge to speak out a case of inconsiderate behaviour since I am using up electricity and energy? Hmmm… lets move on.

The examples above are errors (if you can call it that) of commission. How about errors of omission? How about not helping when someone is clearly in need? How about the able-bodied person ignoring a standing, less able-bodied person on a train or bus?

I actually think that by doing nothing about the inconsiderate people around us, we are actually allow it to multiply and grow to a menace that will affect us in some way in future. If only we could all work together and support one another so that we do not tolerate the intolerant. For example, if people knew that 95% of a cinema audience would have the guts to approach an inconsiderate cell phone chatter box, I am sure we will see the last of their kind.

Ah… for a place called utopia…

Sunday, February 13, 2005

HR – Pro-Business or Pro-Labour

Many people think that you can be both pro business and pro labour. Indeed, as employees, we would like to think that if companies take care of employees, the business will thrive “naturally”. I for one seriously doubt it!

Caring for employees is one thing. But if we do it to the extent that it begins to border on “spoiling” them, then it is a step too far. The question is of course, when does caring become spoiling. If I knew where the sweet spot was, I would be a billionaire…

Have a look at countries around the region where labour legislation strongly favours employees and compare them with the situation in Singapore. We need not look far as Malaysia and Indonesia are example of countries with highly pro-labour legislation. Any business owner would want the freedom to manage his business the way he sees fit. If that means the removal of human resources that do not adequately “fit”, so be it. But just you try doing that in either Malaysia or Indonesia. You’d be hauled to a labour tribunal before you could say “compensation…”. In fact, it would not be so bad if all they ask you to do is compensate, but what you are sometimes forced to do is re-instate! Not only do you have to eat humble pie, the pie will be gratefully served to you by the previously dismissed employee!

Although it is far easier to “clean house” in Singapore, this kind of environment also makes it easy for employers who do not plan ahead and are poor managers of their human resources. And there are many out there. Such an environment does not sufficiently penalise such poor people managers who give all other “socially conscious” employers a bad name! On the part of employees, it breeds a lack of loyalty. Since job security is non-existent, employees do not feel much attachment for their employer and will move on at a drop of a hat (generally speaking of course).

So am I in favour of a pro-business or a pro-labour environment. Well, I am certainly pro-business. I believe that being pro-business creates a far better investment climate which will in turn create more jobs. What about the errant employers and the poor people managers who will sprout under such a regime? Well, for one, there will always be bad apples but I believe that in the internet era of easy information and fast communication, the market will “move” fast enough to sufficiently reduce their number as people shy away from wanting to be employed by such employers.

For Singapore, I hope I am right for all our sakes.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Is there such a thing as too much love?

I am sure many of us are familiar with the Japanese culture where, individuals during a greeting or when saying farewell, have a kind of bowing competition where those involved try to out-do and “out-bow” one another in their quest to be polite. Yes, it may be simplistic but it helps to illustrate my point that there may be such a thing as too much of a good thing and by extension, such a thing as “too much” love.

If the above example is quirky and has not quite hit the point, how about the parent who “loves” the child so much so that the kid is spoilt rotten and protected from the trials and tribulations of “real life” so that the kid will supposedly lead a “good” life. Is it love when the result is that the child is then ill-equipped to handle the real world once his (or her) parents pass on and he has to fend for himself? That’s actually cruel.

How about when the parents “loves” the child so much that they dictate what profession they should move into “for their own good” when the child has inclinations in other areas that the parents may not know much about. Worse still if the inclination is towards in an area that is not considered “commercially viable”. The child then goes into a profession dictated by his parents but always feeling a little out of place. When the child matures to the point that he realizes that he may have chosen a profession not quite in line with his “aptitude” the kid is too far gone and it would require a drastic effort to change horses in mid-stream. Is that love? Again, I think it is cruel.

How about when a parent and child care so much for one another that they try to cater to each other’s needs and try to second guess their every move so that they each try to save one another from potential worry. What’s wrong with that you ask? Well, what if both parties detest being fussed over but they both fuss over one another because of this “love”? The result? They drift apart because they can’t stand the fuss! The irony of it all!

I am aware that my argument above focuses on the parental kind of love and the kid has not got the gumption to stand up for himself… but that is not my point. My questions remains, is there such a thing as too much love? I am not sure, but what I am sure about is that what the parents feel for the child in the above examples is not love. (If that is what it is, I want nothing to do with it.) To me love is certainly not selfish and if these parents were to engage in some introspection, they would realise that their approach to child rearing is utterly selfish and is designed to free them from worry rather than in the best interests of their children.

Having children is supposed to be as a result of an act of love… but that is another rant for another day.