Monday, May 15, 2006

Don't Envy The Chinese. Emulate Them.

If we were to read through the history of the Chinese in Southeast Asia, and Malaysia in particular, one fact that stands out is that they have been and are a successful people wherever they sank their roots.

Although not exactly 'liked' wherever they have settled, being largely a 'closed' community jealously guarding it's culture, language and connections, you cannot help but admire them for the way they 'invite' and create success sometimes from almost nothing or not apparent to others. This has at times caused ill feeling and even outright hostility towards them from the indigenous races. Malaysian Chinese are no exception to this.

Here in Malaysia there is always the constant mumbling and grumbling about the 'selfish' and 'greedy' Cina to whom many of our misfortunes can be attributed. The implication is that 'if only' these people weren't around we would have done well as they have 'deprived' us of our legitimate share. To compound the Cina's troubles they are also seen as arrogant bribe givers who are disloyal and unpatriotic.

In a way it is true that the Chinese do dominate much of the 'visible' business and trade that catch the common man's eye, but how did they do it? The answer is very simple - grit, determination and sheer hard work. They work '25' hours a day at the expense of their family, friends and their own personal comforts until they succeed. They network efficiently and apparently 'grease-palm' equally well. Their public relations when it comes to promoting their business is second to none.

One important quality on their side is financial discipline. If they make profits they plough it back into the business and never use venture capital for frivolous purposes like flashy cars and super elegant office suites. Although a smaller community than the majority Malays they drive the Malaysian economy and despite using every tax dodging trick in the book are also probably the biggest taxpayers. If Malaysia's economy is considered a success story then a great part of the credit goes to the Chinese.

In schools throughout the nation almost without exception all the best students are Chinese. This is a continuing trend year after year despite improvement being shown by the other races. The total preoccupation with 'straight As' that drives parents to push their children to perform is unbelievable. (Whether such a 'pressure cooker' environment will have long term detrimental psychological effects on the child is anyone's guess). The bottom line is that they succeed where the others falter, fail or fall by the wayside.

If the Chinese have succeeded its because they have worked for it and worked hard. There is no reason for the rest to be envious of them. Envy is not going make you a better or more successful person. (Do I sound like an apologist for the Chinese?)

Learn from them. There is no shame in asking and learning from someone who is more experienced and knowledgeable than you. I'm sure that many among them will gladly impart their wisdom. Of course as in all communities you will find the racists and chauvinists who won't teach you a thing. Ignore them but don't envy them.


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