Wong Liang Zan

Wong Liang Zan

© 2020

Deliberate Constraints

Two weeks ago, we removed the television in the house. The television, one of the staple appliance in every family where planners assumed that it was present in every house. It was the center of the living room. My children was spending too much time on the television for their parent’s liking. It has been 2 weeks. In the past during meal times, I see two zombies with eyes transfixed on the television; now they play with each other. Does having more things, means we lead a better quality of life?

My current employer is a bootstrapped company. It has never seen copious amounts of money. Therefore every decision was made with sustainability in mind. Rule number 1: Don’t lose money. Without money, the company was forced to do things differently.

To give the reader some context, one of the things we do is [last mile delivery](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Last_mile_(transportation). We used to own a fleet of vehicles and hired full time drivers. Surely that must work because that was what everyone did - We thought. It didn’t. Owning a vehicle and having full time drivers on payroll was expensive. We didn’t have the money. We never had enough capacity to cater for the high season, and had vehicles idling during low season. We were forced to switch to the crowd sourced model. If we had the money, we would have bought more vehicles. We often wonder, was having no money the thing that saved us?

Brunei, a small country, but blessed with plentiful oil resources. There is no income tax, free education and cushy jobs awaiting in the government. Hard work is optional. When oil prices began to tumble, Brunei’s GDP contracted. Her oil resources are estimated to last for another 24 years. More than half of her economy is linked to oil. When the oil tap dries, I wonder what would happen. Not far away from Brunei, lies another small country, cursed with no natural resources. When they went independent, even they themselves thought they couldn’t make it. Having no resources made them do things differently. I’m sure Brunei must have thought: was the oil a blessing or a curse?