New Straits Times - - Letters -

not be in the top 10.

Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries have been al­ways in the top 10 in the hap­pi­ness in­dex be­cause they of­fer equal­ity in terms of ed­u­ca­tion.

Ed­u­ca­tion is free in most Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries up to the doc­toral level.

For in­stance, stu­dents in Nor­way don’t pay tu­ition fees. How­ever, they pay a se­mes­ter fee of 300 to 600 kro­ner (RM155 to RM310).

Nor­way’s labour laws are gen­er­ous. It al­lows work­ers a min­i­mum of 21 paid va­ca­tion days a year and al­lows par­ents with young chil­dren to re­duce their work­ing hours when nec­es­sary.

Ma­ter­nity leave can ex­tend up to 43 weeks at full pay, or 53 weeks at re­duced pay. Part-time work among Nor­we­gian women is com­mon.

Work-life bal­ance is a main rea­son why Scan­di­na­vian coun­tries dom­i­nate the list.

Den­mark of­fers the short­est work­ing hours in the world. Many of­fices in Den­mark close be­fore 5pm and work­ing dur­ing week­ends or na­tional hol­i­days is un­com­mon. Meet­ings af­ter 4pm are rare, as many would pre­pare to go home and have din­ner with the fam­ily.

How­ever, Dan­ish work in­ten­sively but leave early, so ob­vi­ously, there is no time for leisure dur­ing work­ing hours.

They work an av­er­age of 33 hours a week and have five weeks of paid va­ca­tion each year.

Thus, if Malaysia wants to im­prove its rank­ing, it has to change the way it does things, such as, work­ers up­hold­ing hon­esty and in­tegrity in their work.

Work­ing hours are not the mea­sure­ment of hard work, but rather, their sin­cer­ity in com­plet­ing the task.

When tasks are com­pleted quickly and with ac­cu­racy, we can re­duce our work­ing hours too.

DR SITI SURIANI OTH­MAN, Ni­lai, Ne­gri Sem­bi­lan

Nor­way is the hap­pi­est coun­try in the world.

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