Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Free Offers and MyKads: The Debate Continues

Written by johnleemk on 12:30:16 pm Mar 12, 2007.

After my previous response to her earlier comment, helen writes again:

Firstly, I do not think a promise predicated on rewarding people for something they are legally bound to do is exactly wrong. Yes, I did say I was indignant I felt penalized for changing MyKad too early, but, the issue is, I am not against the prize itself, but merely at the indication the prize was going to be given to the latecomers only.

For the very same reason, I am all for companies which give out bonuses to their employees for the work they are paid with salary to do anyway. There are of course companies who don't pay out bonuses, but then, we cannot cry foul because certain companies chose to pay 'extras' to their workers. Yes, companies are not legally binded to pay out bonuses (if it's not stated in the employment contract)but it is the company's decision and management approach, therefore it is hard for us to judge right or wrong. (Having said that, I got to concede the effectiveness of their chosen approach is a different matter.) Very much like Singapore's hardball tactics vs our soft soft approach.

John, you wrote: the new minister was the one who cancelled the offer, which had been made by his predecessor. I would analogise this to a new government being elected. Should this government be held responsible for the promises of its predecessors?

With regards to the above, I really beg to differ and i personally would say Yes. The promise is not an individual/personal promise by the ex-minister. I believe the promise is submitted and approved by the whole line of authority in the governing body. Therefore, theoretically, it is a decision agreed by the Government as a whole. They changed man, yes, but we still have the same Government who had agreed initially with the prize still very much in office.

I respect your opinion that the government should not be afraid to admit its mistakes in rewardng people for fulfilling their legal duties. IMHO, the mistake pointed by your goodself would be the government's soft approach in implementing and enforcing the country policies via material motivation. (as opposed with Singapore)

Companies change their business strategy when they find it ineffective. The same goes for the government. If they no longer favour or find the 'soft'/motivational approach effective, change by all means. But going back on their promises do not look like the right direction to take. IMHO. :-)

Well, I suppose we really must agree to disagree, then. I am just very uneasy with the idea of rewarding people for doing what they should be rightfully doing as citizens anyway.

The issue of companies is a different matter, because they are not spending my tax money. If they would like to make gratuitous promises of their own to their employees in order to encourage better performance at work, they are welcome to. But I do not think my taxes should be used to encourage people to perform a duty they are bound to perform anyway as citizens of the country.

Considering how opaque our government's decision-making processes are, it's difficult to say who approved what, but I do not think that the ill-founded decision to give out prizes was approved by the Cabinet as a whole; otherwise, the Cabinet as a whole would have revoked the idea.

Instead, it seems the idea was concocted by the former minister, and in turn was rejected by his successor. If the policy had been agreed upon by the whole Cabinet, it would be a different story, but policy changes are to be expected when a new Minister is appointed.

The soft approach, as you note, is indeed a major problem with our government. It never has the spine to enforce the laws of the land, and prefers to chide people gently, stringing them along with sweet nothings like the promise of a new car if they simply do their duty as a citizen.

I don't approve of the government going back on its promises in general. However, if the original promise was based on an ill-founded premise, I think the correct decision would be to revoke the promise.

If the government goes back on well-founded promises in other areas, then by all means, let us hentam it as hard as possible. But if the government finally has the balls to correct the wrong approach in a particular area, I do not think it is right to criticise it — not for this issue, anyway.

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