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Sakmongkol ak 47

Thursday 18 September 2008

The Boiling Frog

the boiling frog remains comfortable

The boiling frog story. A companion to the Yes Prime Minister Story.

Since we are at the moment obsessed with frogs, Sakmongkol thinks a story about frogs is befitting.

One Shell executive who left and made a name for himself is the management thinker, Charles Handy. He has written many management books which are readable. One of his books, The Age of Unreason has this story about the boiled frog.

The boiling frog story states that a frog can be boiled alive if the water is heated slowly enough — it is said that if a frog is placed in boiling water, it will jump out, but if it is placed in cold water that is slowly heated, it will never jump out.

This story however should be treated figuratively. Its upshot being that people must be aware of gradual changes lest they suffer unfortunate losses. Incremental changes make people get used to it which makes subsequent small changes palatable. Whereas a sudden jolt will make people rebel.

Tun Mahathir has applied this boiling from allegory quite well. For example, he has been able to achieve the targeted petroleum revenue by implementing incremental price increases over an extended period. Whereas Pak lah and Dato Najib decided to do a big shot in the arm, and people rebelled.

The story can be further illustrated as follows. A tribe of South American Indians had learned how to boil their frogs, of which they had an abundant supply. The chef would pop a king-sized Frog into a pot of water, which was then heated up on the traditional tribal barbecue. For reasons to do with a frog’s physiology, the frog just got more and more comfortable as the water warmed up. Eventually the hapless creature was, well, I can’t put it less cruelly, boiled.

Now hear this. Who’s the frog? Dato Najib may very well be lulled into a sense of comfort by being feted with seemingly palatable incremental changes. Until its too late.


Anonymous,  18 September 2008 at 12:08  

Not Najib-ler.
Us, the rakyat-ler.

Ariff Sabri 18 September 2008 at 12:13  

haha. you sudah suka sama Najib ya. tapi maybe u r right- we the rakyat got screwed up.

Small Talk 18 September 2008 at 12:15  

There's a Malay version to the boiling frog story since Melayu tak makan katak...

The story goes..."Itu jarum sudah masuk...ubat sudah masuk juga aya!"

(Pretend that u r Samy Velloo when reading the above)

Anonymous,  18 September 2008 at 23:12  


Najib has lost weight + looks better. But Rosmah just looms in the background. She is hugely unpopular compared to Siti Hasmah. And this is not from blogs but some KL ppl.

I can't keep up with Najib's lalang-ness + decipher his UMNOspeak.

Lucky got bloggers like you. ;)

Anonymous,  18 September 2008 at 23:36  

Hi Ariff,

Thanks for your comment.

Somehow I saw your post different from jed and others who merely see Malaysian guy-on-the-street as the frog.

If I may, Najib, like most Malaysians, develop this apathy to our worsening situation believing he will have a different end, because he is somehow apart - an elite.

The result, of course, is he will be overtaken by events ('boiled' to use the allegory). And vanquished.

So, the frog symbolises not just Malaysian society who are apathetic, but also all Minister-hopefuls (society's elite), who in their ways, are indifferent to our lack of progress - including Najib, PM-in-waiting.

Anyway, that's how I saw the post. Just my thoughts.

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