Broken Glass Houses


In the last post, I made comment about the crazy gun, greed and celebrity culture that seems to be prevalent in the USA these days.  But the Lone Grey Squirrel remembers the adage, “People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.”  And so before you start throwing stones back, I readily admit that things are not so great over here either.

Recently in the news was a 21 year old Malaysian girl studying chemical engineering in Sydney, Australia.  The bank made a mistake and gave her bank account an unlimited overdraft facility and she proceeded to spend AUD 4.6 million (USD 3.3 million) on handbags, luxury items and rental of a luxury apartment – all in less than a year.  When authorities began to make inquiries, she tried to leave the country on an emergency travel document but was arrested at the airport.  When asked why she had spent so much and not reported the mistake to the bank, she replied that she had just assumed that her parents had given her the money to spend.

So many questions?  Whose fault is all this? The girl’s or the bank’s? Was she dishonest? Is she guilty of any crime? Or is she just naive?  Did she really believe that her parents would give her millions to spend?  And finally, how come the banks have never been kind enough to make such a mistake with my accounts?

Of course, she isn’t alone.  The Malaysian Prime Minister has also been in the spotlight with regards to USD 681 million that was paid into his personal bank account.  He too has an explanation……….it was a donation from an unnamed Saudi Prince.

The perception is that corruption and dishonesty has permeated the fabric of Malaysian society at every level from the man on the street to the engines of industry to the corridors of power.

Here are two funny tales that are circulating which help to explain how things are perceived to be done in Malaysia these days.

Story 1:- Shrewd Financial Management

A homeless man finds a 100 dollar bill  He goes to a 5 star hotel, gets a room for the night and orders room service.  The next day, the hotel demands payment of 800 dollars.

The man says all he has is the 100 dollar bill.  The hotel manager calls the police.

The police come and arrest him. While in the police car, the man offers the cops the 100 dollar bill.  The police immediately release him and ask where he would like to be dropped off.

Now, that is shrewd financial management

Story 2: National Service

Malaysia joins the space race and wants to send a man to Mars.  After a grueling training and selection process, the hopeful astronauts have been whittled down to just three candidates.

A high ranking government Minister in charge of the space program decides to meet the candidates before making a final decision on who will be selected. Each candidate was asked in turn, what would they like as a token of thanks from a grateful nation for carrying out this dangerous mission.

Candidate 1 told the minister that he was happy to serve the country but it was a risky mission and he has 3 wives and their families to feed.  He therefore asked that he be given 3 million dollars to make sure that his families were well taken care off in case he did not come back.  The Minister said he would consider the request.

Candidate 2 similarly asked for 1 million dollars.  He explained that he had one wife and that 1 million would make sure that his wife and family were well taken care off if he failed to come back.  The minister said he would consider the request.

Candidate 3 told the minister that he would need 5 million dollars.

Taken aback, the minister asked if the candidate had 5 wives?

Candidate 3 replied that he was not married.

“Why then do you need 5 million?” asked the minister.

Candidate 3 leaned over and whispered into the minister’s ear, “Give me 5 million……2 million I give to you, another 2 million I will keep and I know a fool who will actually go on the mission for just 1 million.”

Or in other words…….how government tenders work.

Savvy???

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7 thoughts on “Broken Glass Houses”

  1. The one story cracked me up because I work with someone who keeps a $100 bill in his wallet for “police emergencies.” Now I don’t know if he’s ever really flashed the Benjamin when he’s been pulled over or not, but that’s what he’s always said it’s for!

  2. To be perfectly honest about American culture and all of its violence, greed and theft on just about every level–*meh* it is a world wide society. In Scotland they can not get guns so they settle the score with knives–Some banks algorithm has a hic up and of course rather than go to the bank 75% of people regardless of residence are going on a spending or money hoarding spree.

    Although your Malay examples were funnier, in America you simply find out which politician is for sale at the moment and you then have instant access to power and whatever law you want written. Police–in Detroit, the questions are, where? What police? We have a police force? If there is a police force why do I have to own three handguns and 1 very accurate shotgun to protect my wife and self? (kill shots up to 50 feet–shotgun up to 75) I choose my weapons with care.

  3. evilsquirrel,
    Over here, many times people are pulled over for traffic violations and whether true or not (sometimes they are fabricated), the police is less inclined to write a ticket as to fish for what is euphemistically called here as “coffee money”. I have never paid any bribes. The few times I have been pulled over, I insisted on them to go through the paperwork of issuing me a fine and guess what……each time they decide to let me off with a warning.

  4. Mark,
    I agree that as a whole, the global society has become increasingly worse just about everywhere but there are some countries that are still resisting the decline better than others. I think Malaysia and the USA fare quite poorly. Malaysia declined very sharply in the last 25 years. Before that, corruption was less common and involved smaller amounts. Now it is prevalent and involves millions and billions. A survey of University students a few years ago, found almost 70% would accept bribes in the future. Sad.
    I am sorry that you need to rely on your guns to feel safe. I am glad that over here, we still have relative security without the widespread use of guns.

  5. Actually gentle Squirrel–it is not a matter of feeling safe but rather of following the current police chiefs advice. He said if residents in the worst areas of the city can legally arm up, train up, and stand up do so. His force is smaller than it was in the 1920’s.

    http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/aug/17/police-guns-detroit-crime-race-cost-issues

    Funny the picture accompanying the article is from the suburbs–no one in Detroit but the police actually open carries, not the legal CPL holders or the criminals. My postal code is one of the, if not the most deadly in the city and ranks nationally in the top 5. It’s a brutal experience living here but one does adapt.

    Our local and state politicians and even our top education administrators (14 right now from Ed.) have all at one time or another been under federal scrutiny or indictment. We are very familiar with the pay to play system, which has homeowners paying so the mega-wealthy can play with tax payer money. (look up Detroit Red Wings new arena and how much tax money is going to that private enterprise with absolutely no ROI for the city)

  6. Mark,
    I really cannot imagine living in the situation like you have in Detroit. The USA we often see in the world media is that of glitzy Hollywood or high rise splendor New York. I was once invited by the US govt to visit your country as part of a training program for civil society. Mostly they tried to show us the better parts of the cities we visited. However, in Kansas City, I did manage to leave the affluent centre and venture to the rougher immigrant neighborhoods and in Atlanta I ditched my watchers and met for myself some homeless veterans. But I have never experienced the level of crime and social decay that you describe in Detroit or anywhere else. I am sorry, Mark. I wish you better days for your city. I hope that things will change for the better.

  7. I doubt they will change in the non gentrified areas of the city, which is the vast majority of land, in my lifetime. Rome wasn’t built in a day but it certainly seems as if the bedroom neighborhoods were destroyed in one.

    Use Google Earth and take a look at Liberal, Manning, Coram in say the 15100 blocks depending on when the photos were stitched in you may actually get a glimpse of the reality of what a full abused city scape looks like. Then look at Woodward, 2nd, 3rd, East Jefferson and you’ll see the gentrified 10-15 sq miles of a total city that measures 140 sq mi.

    The media needs Detroit as it is for two reasons, one is to have a “comeback city scape” and the other is a place to show the ultimate in ruin porn. If America were all Hollywood–Trump and Clinton would never be front runners on political track.

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