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The problem, according to Rafizi?

A minister is, by definition, an executive position, and as an executive, a minister must be a man of action.

Nehru Sathiamoorthy
4 minute read

Why does Rafizi Ramli keep telling us that we are the problem, every time we tell him of a problem?

When the entire country complains to Rafizi that we feel that our economy is in decline, Rafizi's solution is always simple.

Like Alexander before the Gordian knot, he will solve all our economic problems simply by saying that there is no problem with our economy at all. If we think there is a problem, it is because we are the problem. We are the problem because we are seeing things that are not there and making up problems that don't exist.

It is because of this sort of thing that in the past, I have accused Rafizi of being a priest in disguise, not a man of action.

If he were a man of action, when we tell him that we have a problem, he would have done something to fix our problem.

Because he is a priest, however, when we tell him of a problem, he just tells us that we are the problem and asks us to fix ourselves.

When I accuse Rafizi of being a priest, I don't necessarily mean that he is a religious person, but that he is an intellectual.

When I say that Rafizi is an intellectual, I don't mean that he is an intelligent person. What I mean is that he is a person who delights in dealing in ideas and concepts.

When you tell an intellectual a problem, they will quote this data or that data or this expert or that expert or this formula or that formula or this scripture or that scripture or this poll or that poll, just to arrive at the conclusion that they are right, you are wrong, if you don't think so it is because you are the problem, and the correct way to address the problem is by you changing yourself and not expecting them to do anything to change the situation.

Intellectuals without fail tend to believe that their job is to change you, not the circumstances of your life.

As priests, teachers or professors, intellectuals have a role in society to develop young people and to educate adults who have a lot of free time on their hands. When you are a child or a person with a lot of time on your hands, interacting with intellectuals is good because they will open your mind by making you think about all sorts of concepts and ideas and direct your efforts and attention towards improving yourself.

When you are an adult who has responsibilities and who is facing a difficult reality, however, an intellectual is as hopeless as the professor in the story of the professor and the boatman.

To the uninitiated, the story of the professor and the boatman goes like this:

One day, a professor decides to cross a river to reach his destination. He sees a boatman and asks him if he could cross the river. The boatman agrees and thus begins the journey of the professor across the river.

As they journey across the river, the professor asks the boatman, "My dear man, do you know about science and engineering?"

The boatman replies: "No, dear sir, I know nothing about the matter."

To this the professor exclaims: "Oh dear me, dear man. Science and engineering is important in today’s society. Without any knowledge of it, you will waste 25% of your life."

As they continue on their journey, the professor then says to the boatman, "Okay, then tell me this. Have you at least read about geography, climate and environment, which is necessary to understand the earth and its seasons?"

To this, the boatman again says that he does not know anything about it.

Hearing this, the professor clicks his tongue in pity. "My, my, my," the professor says, "now you have wasted 50% of your life. But let’s keep this aside. Just tell me, do you at least know anything about economics, how money works, and about banking, finance and such things?"

To this, the boatman again replies in the negative.

Hearing this, the professor vigorously shakes his head and says: "My dear man, I don’t know how else to say it to you, but I feel that you have wasted 75% of your life!"

Then, suddenly, the boatman sees something and asks the professor: "Sir, do you know how to swim?"

The professor laughs loudly and says: "No, my dear man, I never got the time to learn it, as I was busy studying the world, science, politics, philosophy and economics."

The boatman then tells the professor: "Oh no sir, we have a hole in the boat and the boat is going to sink."

Before he jumps into the river to save his own life, the boatman turns to say to the professor: "I am sorry to tell you this, sir, but I think you have wasted 100% of your life!"

A minister is, by definition, an executive position. Therefore, as an executive, a minister must be a man of action.

When people tell a man of action about a problem, they don't expect the minister to teach them about the nature of the problem – they expect that the minister will do something to solve the problem. 

If Rafizi really cannot be a man of action, then for heaven's sake, at least he should change portfolios and become the minister in charge of Parliament or national unity or religion. We don’t mind listening to whatever theories or ideas or concepts come out from these ministries, but the same cannot be said about the economy ministry.

In these pressing economic times, when everything on your plate – from rice to chicken and eggs – is either getting smaller or more expensive, we expect a lot of action from the economy ministry.

If Rafizi can’t bring himself to change portfolios, then at least he should just keep his mouth shut and stop annoying the people by telling us that we are the problem.

Had the professor in the story just kept his mouth shut and not irritated the boatman, who knows, maybe the boatman would have done something to save him from drowning.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.