YOURSAY | ‘The hunger to succeed for a better life is an inherent basic need.’

Yoursay: ‘All M’sians, not only the Chinese, work hard’


Why do the Chinese work so hard?

David Dass: This article has sparked a great discussion. Any suggestion of genetic disposition to hard work and business enterprise is nonsense.

The truth is that all Malaysians worked hard. But some worked for others in occupations that did not take them very far. They either picked up little skills and knowledge or were not business-minded.

The Chinese were business-minded. Not all of them though. Many Chinese are in fixed-income occupations.

In the US, one gets the impression that all Americans are business-minded. As some have observed, the Japanese have done well. As have the British and the Germans.

In India, some communities are more entrepreneurial than others. In Africa, for a long time, the Europeans and the Indians dominated business activity. As did the Chinese in Southeast Asia.

But we see the changes now as indigenous populations become better educated and are enabled by government programmes.

Corruption is the biggest obstacle to hard-working and talented people getting into business. Corrupt systems breed intermediaries, fixers and peddlers of influence who suck the profits out of otherwise profitable ventures. In so doing, they discourage enterprise.

School curricula should teach business management from an early age. And successful businesses should provide internships.

There is no mystery to business enterprise. It is a product of knowledge, hard work and a preparedness to go it alone, and to take risks for greater income.

There is no question. The Chinese work hard. As do the South Koreans and Japanese and Vietnamese. Other races work hard too.

There is no evidence of genetic traits but there is every evidence of cultural predispositions. We can see it in Gujeratis, Parsees and Sindhis. There is nothing mysterious about this. All can be the same. Just work hard.

Ferdtan: Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok may be right when it comes to business decisions but he is wrong when he said that Chinese worked hard because of genetics and culture.

He also called the overseas Chinese “the most amazing economic ants on earth”. True in a sense, but are they the only ones?

Look at the US, a new nation of over 200 years which at present is more powerful than China. The Germans and Japanese, whose countries were totally destroyed in World War II, are also the world powers. Why?

Yes, we can accept culture; China has long generations of civilisation spanning many thousands of years.

The successes of ethnic groups in countries are due to a variety of reasons and conditions. One, the hunger to succeed for a better life, which is an inherent basic need; two, the respective governments in countries must provide peace, stability and good and clean administrations that are conducive to business, and many more.

In conclusion, no DNA can dictate how a person, much less his or her race, will become; it is the circumstances and situations which include many variables that make a person.

Existential Turd: I do not subscribe to the idea that Chinese have the hardworking gene or Malays have the lazy gene.

However, the historical, cultural, and religious influences on the ethnic character are quite apparent. The Chinese that migrated out of China were poor peasants. Their choice was to work hard to survive or face death.

Over time, this trait was passed from generation to generation. Also, those who actually took the chance to migrate must have a little bit of can-do spirit. They succeeded more because they failed more.

Shibboleth: A Chinese boy who grew up in a sundry shop in Kota Serang Semut once told me that during school days, his parents would tell him to “‘eat fast fast”, “take your bath fast fast” and “do your homework fast fast”. Then finally “go to sleep fast fast”.

During the holidays, he had to work as a sales assistant in the shop persuading customers to buy things (that’s when he learned about promotion and marketing) and practised mental arithmetic by accepting cash from and giving the change back to the customers.

The “cash register” was the Milo can hanging from the ceiling with a counter-weight to pull it back to ceiling height after use. He didn’t have the opportunity to enter university because of the quota system.

Today this same Chinese boy owns three factories and pays millions in taxes to the Inland Revenue Board and Customs. Hard work is a great equaliser.

Spinnot: Asian Indian Americans have the highest median income of Asian Americans, higher than that of the Chinese/Japanese/Korean Americans.

Most of the Indian Americans are recent arrivals (there were only around 12,000 Asian Indians living in America in 1960), highly educated, and many work in highly-paid science, technology and engineering fields. Indians were the top recipients of high-skilled H-1B temporary visas in 2016.

The Chinese and other Asian Americans work in more diverse fields, many in not so highly-paid jobs, This does not disprove the Chinese (or Japanese/Korean) people are hardworking.

The fact that the economies of the US, UK, Europe, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are not dominated by Chinese people also does not disprove Chinese (or Japanese/Korean) people are hardworking.

America does have huge trade deficits with China, Japan and South Korea, caused mainly by inadequate savings in the US.

Headhunter: Like Kuok said, the Chinese are like ants. Has anyone ever seen a lazy ant? It’s survival instinct and desire to have a comfortable future for themselves and their children.

Nothing wrong with that if one puts in an honest day’s work to achieve it.

OMG!: Kuok is a fortunate man. He moved easily with Chinese, Malaysian and Singaporean leaders and developed connections that, together with his ability to get things done, he parlayed into a great fortune.

Near the end of his life, he talks about the greatness of Chinese and downplays the help that Malaysian leaders gave him willingly without which he could never be the Sugar King of Malaysia.

Compare him with another billionaire, William. William says: “The vast majority of my wealth, over 95 percent, goes to my foundation, which will spend all that money within 20 years after neither my wife and I are around anymore.”

So, is it about some new-found faith, all this giving? “It doesn’t relate to any particular religion; it’s about human dignity and equality,” he says. “The golden rule that all lives have equal value and we should treat people as we would like to be treated.”

William’s Foundation has brought polio down from 400,000 children annually to only 1,000 yearly. After polio is conquered, he’s going after malaria and measles, with the resources freed up.

William has also sold the idea of giving away wealth to big causes to his friends. Warren Buffet donated US$17 billion. Of course, “William” is Bill Gates who has given away more than US$28 billion of his wealth so far.

Gates says, “Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. Its utility is entirely in building an organisation and getting the resources out to the poorest in the world.”

Now if Kuok were to consider gifting 95 percent of his wealth to the poorest, neediest people on the planet, regardless whether they were Chinese, or to some humanitarian project, he just might be transformed into a truly enlightened human being.

Fair Play: It is not what you say, but how others perceive it. After all, for most people, perception is reality. The reality is that China has a population of some 1.2 billion out of 7 billion people on Earth.

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