Time to cancel Wesak Holiday

Every year without failure there are cries about how holidays – about if they are given and on the scheduling of things around it.

The former was on display as a teacher commented on the inappropriateness of having a meeting for exam markers on the eve of Deepavalli. That it would inevitably force those celebrating to opt out, and therefore affect their career.

The real problem, why we can’t have a permanent solution is the Gregorian calendar – that we use it.

To be precise, the world uses it. Say it is the after-effect of colonialism or the realities of a globalised world, the fact is we use it.

And all the cultural calendars of Malaysia are not based on the Gregorian. So Deepavali, Chinese New Year and Gawai won’t fall on the same date annually. But the year is about the same length. The Arab calendar – which Muslim events are factored along – is shorter in totality than the western calendar.

So the problem is compounded that all our main holidays will always shift. The non-Muslim holidays moving back and forth within the same time frame, and Muslim holidays moving forward all the time.

Work versus culture

So our work year is Gregorian – we can’t help it since we are a trading nation responding to the dominant trends.

Most Malaysians are not Christians, but every year around Christmas to New Year’s, things will slow down. Global business takes a break, and my guess is most of the Islamic financial product dudes in Dubai would be on holiday too.

If things are tied together then the dominant culture will influence our other practical actions like, holidays and travel.

The scheduling

When I was in form five, the SPM exams – like they were the years before and the years after – were dead smack in the middle of Deepavalli.

So we either start our exams, do a two day break and we will be back for our next paper. The last few years have seen the ‘needs debate’ a delayed expression of what minorities want. Since the general election national leaders have become sensitive to the needs of minorities, nobody wants to be labelled ‘insensitive’.

The question would be, would Indian parents complain to the ‘A Levels’ board in Britain for having the exams in close proximity to Deepavalli?

Probably not, therefore the issue has a sharper contention, one we don’t articulate with clarity.

Since the race divide in the country is institutionalised, the debate would be why is one community made to suffer, while another does not.

The quick answer is, everyone in this country does suffer because of our cultural calendars contrast with the applied practical calendar.

However some might take umbrage at previous rescheduling exercises. In the late 1980s, Anwar Ibrahim pushed forward the school calendar, so that exams did not coincide with Raya. So for a few odd years school started in December. Now we are back to a January start.

The problem is about the universality of decisions.

When the British education board schedules exams to our disdain, we accept as we don’t suspect an agenda. We are equally not upset that exams are not placed too close to Christmas.

It is agenda that worries us.

Pragmatism in the solution

The pragmatic solution is to build our activities around a fixed Gregorian calendar, and make minor adjustments for the respective cultural events.

Right now, every calendar year is a complete re-write. The school calendar is testament to this. Semesters are not symmetrical, they are unearthed annually to fit cultural celebrations.

Just a month into school, the kids get a weeks holiday – Chinese New Year – and then a week is planned for Raya. It is almost like the planning begins by giving the politically required periods of leave and then apportioning the actual learning time.

It is all so whacky.

The semesters have to be symmetrical – as far as possible, and if some holidays are to be cut short because they don’t fit in, then so be it.

Malaysia has to learn that it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

You can’t use the Gregorian calendar and then cut and slash to fit all the holidays – week long holidays – because you produce a disjointed production.

“Malaysia – the badly edited film. Watch it if you hate yourself.”

The designated holidays

Most of the countries we compete against have fixed holidays. Britain for example you can know today when the holidays are in 2010.

We won’t know when our holidays are here, until months from them.

I mean we would know when is Chinese New Year, but we won’t know how many holidays will be designated, at work, in our schools or our universities.

We are a nation which politicises cultural holidays.

I agree with KL that there is no holiday for Thaipusam. If you are not Tamil and Hindu, the event holds little significance to you.

However businesses and government offices should allow their Tamils/Hindus to take their annual holiday for the holiday.

So must holidays like Nuzul Quran, sultan/yang dipertua holidays, Maal Hijrah and Wesak Day.

These are important dates for those who observe them, but they are non-events to those who don’t. Why suspend business and administration for them?

They can also be declared as special dates without a public holiday – showing our diversity and respect for cultures.

A public holiday must have public value. I can understand the two days off for Raya and Chinese New Year, and the day for Deepavalli, but other than that a lot of these holidays are just used up for reasons absolutely unrelated to the meaning and purpose of the holiday.

Plus some of the observations do not have to take place during the working hours. Wesak can be visit to the temple, and not all day long – and I like to be in the temple for Wesak.

Some carrots in the mix

This is not a stick without carrot approach.

Take the holidays away, but return them to employees as annual holidays. What public holidays you lose, you get back as annual leave.

What this will allow is for business, administration, schools and universities to move on with less interruption – throughout the year.

Malaysia has to prepare itself for serious competition, and after you are done laughing when expats joke about our never-ending holidays, remember that we are in global competition. The rules are not fashioned just for the benefit of Malaysia and its ad hoc think.

Principles and limitations

If there is principle not expediency nor populism in the scheduling of activities/exams, then most Malaysians will accept the dictum. The western calendar we have adopted will give in to reasonable exceptions, but will run its course with work/productivity/excellence as the driving point.

The absolute number of public holidays have to be reduced, because we are an anomaly to other countries. Time for us to buckle in.

Every year without failure there are cries about how holidays – about if they are given and on the scheduling of things around it.

The former was on display as a teacher commented on the inappropriateness of having a meeting for exam markers on the eve of Deepavalli. That it would inevitably force those celebrating to opt out, and therefore affect their career.

http://malaysiakini.com/letters/91748

The real problem, why we can’t have a permanent solution is the Gregorian calendar – that we use it.

To be precise, the world uses it. Say it is the after-effect of colonialism or the realities of a globalised world, the fact is we use it.

And all the cultural calendars of Malaysia are not based on the Gregorian. So Deepavali, Chinese New Year and Gawai won’t fall on the same date annually. But the year is about the same length. The Arab calendar – which Muslim events are factored along – is shorter in totality than the western calendar.

So the problem is compounded that all our main holidays will always shift. The non-Muslim holidays moving back and forth within the same time frame, and Muslim holidays moving forward all the time.

Work versus culture

So our work year is Gregorian – we can’t help it since we are a trading nation responding to the dominant trends.

Most Malaysians are not Christians, but every year around Christmas to New Year’s, things will slow down. Global business takes a break, and my guess is most of the Islamic financial product dudes in Dubai would be on holiday too.

If things are tied together then the dominant culture will influence our other practical actions like, holidays and travel.

The scheduling

When I was in form five, the SPM exams – like they were the years before and the years after – were dead smack in the middle of Deepavalli.

So we either start our exams, do a two day break and we will be back for our next paper. The last few years have seen the ‘needs debate’ a delayed expression of what minorities want. Since the general election national leaders have become sensitive to the needs of minorities, nobody wants to be labelled ‘insensitive’.

The question would be, would Indian parents complain to the ‘A Levels’ board in Britain for having the exams in close proximity to Deepavalli?

Probably not, therefore the issue has a sharper contention, one we don’t articulate with clarity.

Since the race divide in the country is institutionalised, the debate would be why is one community made to suffer, while another does not.

The quick answer is, everyone in this country does suffer because of our cultural calendars contrast with the applied practical calendar.

However some might take umbrage at previous rescheduling exercises. In the late 1980s, Anwar Ibrahim pushed forward the school calendar, so that exams did not coincide with Raya. So for a few odd years school started in December. Now we are back to a January start.

The problem is about the universality of decisions.

When the British education board schedules exams to our disdain, we accept as we don’t suspect an agenda. We are equally not upset that exams are not placed too close to Christmas.

It is agenda that worries us.

Pragmatism in the solution

The pragmatic solution is to build our activities around a fixed Gregorian calendar, and make minor adjustments for the respective cultural events.

Right now, every calendar year is a complete re-write. The school calendar is testament to this. Semesters are not symmetrical, they are unearthed annually to fit cultural celebrations.

Just a month into school, the kids get a weeks holiday – Chinese New Year – and then a week is planned for Raya. It is almost like the planning begins by giving the politically required periods of leave and then apportioning the actual learning time.

It is all so whacky.

The semesters have to be symmetrical – as far as possible, and if some holidays are to be cut short because they don’t fit in, then so be it.

Malaysia has to learn that it cannot have its cake and eat it too.

You can’t use the Gregorian calendar and then cut and slash to fit all the holidays – week long holidays – because you produce a disjointed production.

“Malaysia – the badly edited film. Watch it if you hate yourself.”

The designated holidays

Most of the countries we compete against have fixed holidays. Britain for example you can know today when the holidays are in 2010.

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/bankholidays.html

We won’t know when our holidays are here, until months from them.

I mean we would know when is Chinese New Year, but we won’t know how many holidays will be designated, at work, in our schools or our universities.

We are a nation which politicises cultural holidays.

I agree with KL that there is no holiday for Thaipusam. If you are not Tamil and Hindu, the event holds little significance to you.

However businesses and government offices should allow their Tamils/Hindus to take their annual holiday for the holiday.

So must holidays like Nuzul Quran, sultan/yang dipertua holidays, Maal Hijrah and Wesak Day.

These are important dates for those who observe them, but they are non-events to those who don’t. Why suspend business and administration for them?

A public holiday must have public value. I can understand the two days off for Raya and Chinese New Year, and the day for Deepavalli, but other than that a lot of these holidays are just used up for reasons absolutely unrelated to the meaning and purpose of the holiday.

Plus some of the observations do not have to take place during the working hours. Wesak can be visit to the temple, and not all day long – and I like to be in the temple for Wesak.

Some carrots in the mix

This is not a stick without carrot approach.

Take the holidays away, but return them to employees as annual holidays. What public holidays you lose, you get back as annual leave.

What this will allow is for business, administration, schools and universities to move on with less interruption – throughout the year.

Malaysia has to prepare itself for serious competition, and after you are done laughing when expats joke about our never-ending holidays, remember that we are in global competition. The rules are not fashioned just for the benefit of Malaysia and its ad hoc think.

Principles and limitations

If there is principle not expediency nor populism in the scheduling of activities/exams, then most Malaysians will accept the dictum. The western calendar we have adopted will give in to reasonable exceptions, but will run its course with work/productivity/excellence as the driving point.

The absolute number of public holidays have to be reduced, because we are an anomaly to other countries. Time for us to buckle in.

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