Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Smiths - Heaven knows I'm a miserable now.

♪ Am diggin' 80s music video. They look really entertaining. ♫ ♪

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Honda Brio presentation video.

Launched last year in India Motorshow as Honda's new small concept, the Brio is now ready to roll in Thailand. Soon Malaysian shores?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Painting the city with wi-fi lights.

I am utterly amazed by these guys. They're geniuses! Brilliant!

Immaterials: Light painting WiFi from Timo on Vimeo.

I've got my own light painting too (done, with much pain though), watch.



Moon painting, Kofu, circa 2005

I wanted to it to spell iwannaeatporkchoptonight but that was just too much trouble :P

Sunday, March 27, 2011

This is the good life ;)

Absolute favourite song at the mo'. It's got such a happy tune. Life's short. Make it good :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I think I found the sweet spot :)

This was an epiphany to me. But I wasn't sure if I was seeing the right thing or was it another imaginary friend playing tricks in my mind. But now I'm convinced. Digital connectivity, will one day be what electricity and water to us. Water sustains our life. Electricity sustains a sound economy. Digital connectivity sustains a sound mind.

As I tweeted minutes ago. Social media will save TV. And digital reality will come together as a brand new value. No more 'and' or 'or'.

Now that we know where's the sweet spot. How do we hit it.

Copyright ok? ;)

What's in a meet-up?

I was really inspired by the recent SXSW festival in Austin. It was an annual gathering of music, film and digital enthusiasts. It was a glorious conglomeration of geeks. It was an intimate sharing of their latest projects, ideas and inspirations. It was what 'meet-ups' should be about.

Sigh. I was at the last Digital Wednesday organised by the MDA. I wish it was more of the above, and less on the extremely-exhausted topic of 'why marketers should go into social media'. I was in one of those meetings a year ago, and I listened to experts talked about the birth of social media. Fast forward a year, and I'm still listening to the same people but this time, questioning the death of social media, which very cheekily (though not unexpected), their answer was a unanimous NO. Social media is NOT dying. Ahem. I felt a little cheated.

But I have to admit, it was a good place to poach and be poached. A lot of sweet young things and a lot of old-hands, all looking for prospects. I wish I was a little hotter in the job market and a little more prominent in this glamorous industry. Then perhaps, I wouldn't have wasted my 50 bucks and got hitched instead. With a new job, I mean. Or otherwise. Either way, I would have still gained some kind of return of investment.

Anyway, I'm still hopeful for one day... we'll have a real platform for people to share and collaborate openly instead of a few minutes of beating around the bush followed by multiple rounds of drinks. Don't get me wrong, the drinks are important. But like how we've always propagated to clients. Owned media is important. Only one thing more important - Content.

Still, some just can't pay attention. Tsk tsk tsk.

Monday, March 21, 2011

One idea at one a time.

Last week, we talked about the possibility of people opening up their own homes as shelter. And today, it's already happening. Couchsurfers are giving out their 'couches' as a shelter of relief to Japan's earthquake victims till things get better. I'm on it, are you?

Okay, one down, next?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Creative Sunday.

I know someone who will go crazy over these blocks ;)




Tada! Happy Sunday everyone :)

Overwhelming love.

It's been an amazing week. As Japan continues to struggle, you see love pouring in from all over the world to support them. Never have I seen a country loved so much by everyone! I cannot recall when was the last time, a country had gotten so much of this international limelight. Not by media alone, but by social media and more importantly, by user-generated content. We witness Facebook pages, groups, events, Twitter channels, blogsites, websites, popped up overnight, all exclaiming their support to Japan, encouraging them to not give up while relief aids continued to pour in. Amazing. That brings me to one question... there was Katrina, there was Haiti, there was Christchurch, but... why does Japan seem to be getting so much limelight? So much, personal connection than the rest of the world who went through a similar fate?

I think this is the result of decades of humility and selflessness of the Japanese culture. The people were the brand itself. Those who are cheering for the land of far east, must have at some point shared an experience with Japan. People were moved by their spirit as reported by CNN on how unbelievably calm and orderly the locals are. People were inspired by them to be better people. The Japanese speak of a spirit called 'Kizuna' which really means Hope and Unity. You know, I think many countries which need that more than Japan. The Japanese has always been proud of their motherland. Can we claim that too one day? Maybe we don't need 1Malaysia. Maybe what we need, is a bit of 'Kizuna' too.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Can advertising help Japan? Yes, we can!

Well, since we're always talking about ideation in our line of work, then I think this shouldn't be excluded. So, we're thinking of innovative solutions on how to help Japan to get back at her feet, while her people are so wonderfully, heartwarmingly, calmly and respectfully trying to help one another to hold the fort.

According to the news, Japan needs blood donors, money for aid, food, water and electricity. These are common needs which normally arise during natural disasters but they have a more serious situation looming, which is nuclear radiation.

So while the world is raising funds for aid and relief and countries are sending in their expert teams, maybe... just maybe we can help them by different ideas and solutions? Here are some that were kind of brewing:

1) Their economy is in a disastrous state. The government is pumping in money to sustain it and calling Japanese all over the world to send money back to the country. What if, we from all over the world can send 'investment loans' to Japan? Maybe the country will return the loan in 5 years, 10 years, or whatever stipulated years without interest? If 1 million people provide $100 and 500,000 people invest $1000 and 100,000 gives $10,000, we would have a total of $1.6m already.

2) This may sound very utopian, but if every family can take in another who has been a victim of the earthquake disaster for a short period of time instead of leaving the homeless in the shelter, this will give the government enough time to concentrate on recovery and rebuilding. In no time, Japan will be as good as new. I suppose, this works best within the country.

3) Stretching the idea from number two. Due to the radiation situation, what if the people around the world can loan a home to the Japanese until things are calmer and warmer? Especially for the elderly, pregnant women and children?

4) One of Japan's key economic pillars is tourism, what if we explore the possibility of 'voluntourism' instead? Normally, voluntourism is popular in third world countries but not somewhere like Japan, but this could be a good time over the course of a year for people from all over the world to not just visit the country, but experience her spirit in the face of such moment. People could help to rebuild the country by volunteering their time, money, resources and most importantly, encouragement. The Japanese thrives on the 'gambatte' spirit :)

5) Japan has always been good at building brands. And their brands have always been extremely nationalistic. Which is why, many corporations like Toyota, not only compete with its native competition, but also the likes of other brands, more so by nationality, namely Korean, Chinese, etc. What if these other national brands can put aside their nationalism and competitiveness for the sake of humanity, instead focus on donation to the Japanese people?

6) This must be a miracle, but what if we don't stop buying Japanese brands? But pledge our brand loyalty for the next two years as part of our 'economic donation' to help them back to speed?

7) A candlelight vigil in every country. People queue in silence with candles for minutes and even hours, till they reach the end of the line, where they get to send a video message to the people in Japan. The vigil itself allows others to experience the need for calmness and discipline in time of crisis. And for once, we're hoping that news channels will broadcast this to the Japanese instead of the other way round allowing the people to tune in to a specified channel 24/7 and watch hundreds, thousands, if not millions of people queuing with them, sharing messages that will lift any discouraged spirit.

Well so far, we only have seven ideas. Some definitely jolt you a little but before, before, before you switch into auto mode and say 'no, that's not possible', please, please, please consider thinking outside the line for once. You need innovative ways to help a country that already has a longstanding innovative culture.

While all these ideas were bubbling in the cauldron, I had a 'lightbulb' question. For every disaster that strikes somewhere, there is of course, a standard set of dire problems that need immediate attention. But almost, always, there is always an additional problem (or two, or three) that are entirely unique to the country due to its political, economical, technological, social, environmental, and even geographical nature. But the global solution to these problems are always the same. Fundraising. Yes, money is important and that we have already established before. But what else? Haiti after the disaster, sent the country back 20 years ago (or maybe more) but Japan who is a fairly prosperous country, will lose maybe 5 years of its future. I'm not implying that money aid is not important to them. But economic stability seems to me, weighs more in the long run. While we tackle immediate visible issues, how do we put in place a strategic plan to tackle mid to long term, invisible ones? Yes, the question is, what else?

We always tell our clients, every one of their problems need a tailor-made solution. Likewise, likewise, how can we as a global community, put our heads together to tailor-make a solution for Japan, simply because like a good friend of mine had put it, "We are all citizens of Earth". How can we get our neighbour back on her feet quickly?

And because Cat is Japanese. I am responsible for reassuring him that his hometown is in good hands.

What's with a plastic bag?

So we've been told again and again to stop using plastic bags when shopping, instead we should carry our own personal eco or canvas bag to carry our goods. Reducing the usage of plastic bags is a quick fix to our problem. But more important than educating the public to reduce usage is to find out what they are using it for. The obvious is to hold shopping goods, but what about the other usage?

In Malaysia, it is not uncommon for homes to re-use plastic shopping bags as rubbish bags, to be disposed daily. I think the more important step is to find an innovative solution to help homes to dispose rubbish that either does not need plastic bags or using biodegradable bags. Once we can replace the re-usage of plastic bags in such way, I believe we can reduce the need for it drastically. No? Hmm.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Stuck in between two loves.

For the past few days, I've been glued to the TV and the internet. I found myself extremely agitated with the oncoming news coverage of Japan. First was the quake, then the tsunami, then the fires, then the explosions at the nuclear plants, then the radiation leaks, then the blackouts (in winter!)... I was distressed because I have friends and family (close, foster and distant) in Japan. I found myself considerably more stressed than when natural disaster happened elsewhere. And admittedly, even more than when our country's East Coast was flooded.

I started texting and emailing everyone I know, searching for them via Facebook, hoping that everyone is okay. Well, thank God everyone is okay. But how can you be in the face of such destroying force? They must be shocked, worried and scared. Not knowing what will happen for the next few days. Then I tweeted, there wasn't a time that I wanted to go back to Japan as badly as now. Because I just want to be there.

I thought about my spiritual family - I had the closest walk with God when I was in Kofu because Suzy was my spiritual mom. Then I thought about my foster parents, Mutsumi and Hideo who took me in so warmly when I was sort of left homeless for about two years. Then I thought about Future, the school I was teaching in and all the kids I taught and my 'bootcamp' boss, Ishikawa-san. Then I thought about the umpteenth time I've been in Dentsu and everyone whom I have met, the ones who really taught me the spirit of not giving up and the ones who gave me so much opportunities to pursue outside my boundaries. Then I thought about my sister-in-law's family who took me in like one of their own while I was living in Hokkaido. Then I thought about my old apartment by the river, and the serenity of nature surrounding it. Then I realized that I am really deeply disturbed by this sad news and I wish I could go 'home'.

My friends never stop to take a jest out of me, saying that I am sometimes more Japanese than Malaysian, although my perpetual answer has always been: Aku anak Malaysia. I love my country but I can't help not missing Japan. But sometimes, sadly... I feel that I resonate with the Japanese values more, sometimes even feeling more at home in Japan. Is that wrong?

Sometimes I get the Japanese but for the life of me, cannot understand why Malaysians can be so cynical, giving up without even trying. Sometimes I too have the never-say-no spirit, this unquenchable optimism to attempt solutions and sometimes Malaysians tell me not to be silly because things will never change, but all they do is complain, at home, at work, everywhere about how everything is not working for them or could be better. Especially on how Malaysia can never be one.

Sometimes, like now, I feel torn. Sometimes I share what I feel and when I do, others think I've betrayed my citizenship so I have stopped sharing. But now? You know what? I couldn't careless about what they think. My heart is with Japan and the ordeal she is going through now. I wish I could do something to ease her pain.

The story below shows a true reflection of a selfless spirit. Really makes us think. When disaster strikes, everyone's for themselves (and you'll be surprised that in Malaysia, even when disaster DIDN'T strike, everyone's STILL for themselves). But not the Japanese. Always service first and even more so in its darkest moment. She taught me many things when I was with her. Her lessons are priceless. Her spirit is unbreakable.

***
Story from here (scroll down for simple translation).

看日本人如何面对灾难(值得全世界的人学习!)--- 加图了!本帖最后由 ~樱子~ 于 2011-3-12 05:50 PM 编辑

‎* 现在全东京电话都不能用,只有网络。所有人这时候都在走路回家,电车瘫痪。日本人只担心没食物。店长还很敬业的开店,怕大家没食物吃。只有超市关门,货物都倒了,无法营业。

** 几百人在广场避震完毕,整个过程,无一人抽烟。服务员在跑,拿来一切毯子,热水,饼干。所有男人帮助女人,跑回大楼为女人拿东西 ,接来电线放收音机。几个小时后,人散,地上没有一片垃圾。

** 地震後,日本三得利公司宣布所有販售機將免費供應飲料!日本的711和全家全部免费提供食品和饮水!渴了,自动贩卖机免费;饿了,便利店免费;累了,大超市开放避难;寂寞了,公众电话免费;听不懂日语,电视台中文喊话教怎么避难。這就是國家形象,日本雖然受災,日本人卻給世人上了一課。

* 一日本网友说:说句心里话,虽然我在日本,但其实庆幸是发生在日本,不然死伤人数肯定很恐怖,我相信全世界只有日本才可以把死伤降到最低!



看看某些中国人对此事的看法:

可恶的是这一群人:
http://club.autohome.com.cn/bbs/thread-a-100010-9777683-1.html
人家日本发生这么严重的事情,一些中国人竟然在庆祝
imxiaomii 发表于 2011-3-12 10:10


***
Translation from Babel Fish. Not perfect, but you get the meaning:

Now the entire Tokyo telephone cannot use, only then network. All people at this time is walking goes home, cable car paralysis. The Japanese only worried that does not have food. Shopkeeper also very professional opening a shop, feared that everybody does not have food to eat. Only the supermarket closes, the cargo but actually, has been unable to do business.

** several hundred people shocked proof in the square finish, the entire process, did not have one person to smoke. The service person is running, brings all blankets, the hot water, the biscuit. All men help the woman, runs back the building to take the thing for the woman, meets the electric wire to put the radio. Several hours later, the human disperses, a ground not piece of trash.

** after earthquake, Japan three profit the company to announce all sales machine the free serve drink! Japan 711 and entire family free provides food and the potable water completely! Thirsty, trades automatically machine free; Hungry, convenience store free; Tired, the big supermarket opening seeks asylum; Lonely, public telephone free; Can'tunderstand Japanese, how the television station Chinese frontline propaganda teaches to seek asylum. This is the national image, Japan, although hits by disaster, the Japanese actually gave on the common people a class.

* a Japanese net friend said: Spoke the sentence at heart words, although I in Japan, but rejoiced is actually occurs in Japan, otherwise the casualties are very definitely terrorist, I believe the world only then Japan only then to be possible to fall lowly to the casualty!

***

True I was born in Malaysia, and this is and always will be my tanahair, tanah tumpah darahku. Somehow along the way, I guess I was inspired by and picked up some other values from another place. They say Asian values are the same no matter where you are. Asian family values that is. But not national values. And most unfortunately, our national values are vague. I guess I was longing for a place where people would unite in both dark and good times. People who thought about the bigger picture, the collective good rather than their individual selves. People who saw further than their auto-gates.

Don't get me wrong, I've met some really racist Japanese too who for some strange imbecilic reason still perceive Malaysia to be under Japanese occupation. I'm the first one to crawl over the boardroom table and show him my definition of Japanese occupation. My level-headed colleagues would be the ones holding me back to avoid a catastrophic ending. Well, I guess you can never get rid of all the bad apples. But the trick is, not to generalize.

Malaysians, who are with me? Can you hear me? Are you out there? Am I the only one? If our country was distressed, would you stand with her?

Dear Japan, from us with love.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Japanese automakers halted production.


TOKYO: Japanese automakers halted production at assembly plants in areas hit by Friday's 8.9-magnitude earthquake. One Honda worker died after being crushed by a collapsing wall.

More than 30 other people were injured when walls and parts of a ceiling crumbled at a Honda Motor Co. research facility in northeastern Tochigi prefecture, the company said.

Production at two Honda plants was halted, but resumed shortly afterward at one, it said.

017652177.jpg
Waves of tsumanis sweeping ashore along Iwanuma in northern Japan on Friday. - AP
Toyota Motor Corp., the world's biggest automaker, shut down two auto assembly plants, in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures.

There were no immediate reports of injuries among its workers, spokesman Monika Saito said. Parts makers were also shut down, she said.

Nissan Motor Co. halted production at five of its plants in northeastern Japan and in the Yokohama area near Tokyo. It said two workers were slightly injured at its Tochigi plant and its technical centre in Kanagawa prefecture, near Tokyo.

The quake, the biggest in magnitude in modern Japanese history, left hundreds of people dead or missing, and triggered a tsunami that swept over towns, farms and an airport.
-AP

Global warming triggers earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes.

2009 and 2010, we were living in the green year. Every decent corporation is in the run to vie for an eco image in consumers' mind. For economic gain or for environmental gain, it didn't matter. Some companies speak louder than others. Some resorted to greenwashing just to be in the bandwagon. Some still not convinced it's time to run a campaign as part of its corporate social responsibility in public education for fear of unable to justify ROI.

Speaking as a person who is both a growing advocate of sustainability and an ad professional, I can tell you that we can run as many eco campaigns as we like, but the MOST cut-through campaign that gets the message right across is when nature decides to advertise itself, as witness by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake in Japan and the deadly tsunami that followed.

As hauntingly as it sounds, nothing tells the story of nature's great destruction more poetic than Hokusai's The Great Wave, more apt than now.


*****

Fire and Ice: Melting Glaciers Trigger Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanos
Geologists Say Global Warming Expected to Cause Many New Seismic Events


Climatologists have been raising alarms about global warming for years, and now geologists are getting into the act, warning that melting glaciers will lead to an increasing number of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in unexpected places.

People in northern climates who have been looking south and shaking their heads sadly over the plight of people living in the path of Atlantic hurricanes and Pacific tsunamis had better get ready for a few seismic events of their own, according to a growing number of prominent geologists.

Less Glacial Pressure, More Earthquakes and Volcanic Eruptions
Ice is extremely heavy—weighing about one ton per cubic meter—and glaciers are massive sheets of ice. When they are intact, glaciers exert enormous pressure on the portion of the Earth’s surface they cover. When glaciers begin to melt—as they are doing now at an increasingly rapid rate due to global warming—that pressure is reduced and eventually released.

Geologists say releasing that pressure on the Earth’s surface will cause all sorts of geologic reactions, such as earthquakes, tsunamis (caused by undersea earthquakes) and volcanic eruptions.

"What happens is the weight of this thick ice puts a lot of stress on the earth," said Patrick Wu, a geologist at the University of Alberta in Canada, in an interview with the Canadian Press. "The weight sort of suppresses the earthquakes, but when you melt the ice the earthquakes get triggered."

Global Warming Accelerating Geologic Rebound
Wu offered the analogy of pressing a thumb against a soccer ball. When the thumb is removed and the pressure released, the ball resumes its original shape. When the “ball” is a planet, the rebound happens slowly, but just as surely.

Wu said many of the earthquakes that occur in Canada today are related to the ongoing rebound effect that started with the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. But with global warming accelerating climate changes and causing glaciers to melt more quickly, Wu said the inevitable rebound is expected to happen much faster this time around.

New Seismic Events Already Happening
Wu said melting ice in Antarctica is already triggering earthquakes and underwater landslides. These events aren’t getting much attention, but they are early warnings of the more serious events that scientists believe are coming. According to Wu, global warming will create “lots of earthquakes.”

Professor Wu is not alone in his assessment. Writing in magazine, Bill McGuire, professor of geological hazards at University College in London, said: "All over the world evidence is stacking up that changes in global climate can and do affect the frequencies of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic sea-floor landslides. Not only has this happened several times throughout Earth's history, the evidence suggests it is happening again."

***
Now that you know. You know you have the power to do something. Do something.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I finally found The One :)

I've been searching, and waiting, and contemplating, and asking, and researching, and debating... there were two big dilemmas. The first, Apple or Android? The second, and if it's Android, which handset? I think I finally found The One :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Malaysian Economist - Muruku Ikan Popo.

I saw this Popo's Fish Muruku at Isetan today. Yup, ISETAN. Other than the super old skool packaging design which I totally dig, something else caught my eyes.

Fine print reads: Jika sesiapa melaporkan kepada syarikat kami tentang keluaran palsu yang tidak disahkan, akan mendapat wang sagu RM20000.00, wang sagu akan dibahagikan serata jika melebihi seorang.

Translation: The person who reports to our company on any unauthorized production of this product will receive a monetary reward of RM20,000, and this reward will be divided equally if there were more than one person reporting.

Now, this is what I call a very practical solution to overcome a potential principal-agent problem. The principle (the company) may have unscrupulous agents (the staff) working within the company that may steal the product idea and get it produced elsewhere, selling under a different name. It will be extremely challenging for the company, which I believe is a family-run business, to monitor the activity of its agents. Instead, by providing an incentive to the product's customers, they are encourage to 'police' for unauthorized productions on behalf of Thien Cheong Sdn Bhd. This is the first time, I see such fine print on a food packaging and I thought the idea was simply ingenious (and the packaging is awesomely old skool)! Now, I'll just have to see if it tastes any good :P

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do it anyway.

Some people ask me why I sometimes do the things I do. And they tell me, not everyone thinks like me and I cannot expect them to. I'm glad one very important person does :)

"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway" - Mother Teresa.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sensational lift as defined by Slimming Sanctuary.

The team's been busy working on a 'slimming' brand recently. While we were researching and busy digging for insights, we came across a competitive brand called Slimming Sanctuary which positioned themselves as slimming professionals with strong motto in pampering their customers.

Just want to share what I read from their brochure which just cracks me up:

Title: Sensational Lift (selling two products - Bust Maximiser and Bust Lifting Treatment with Ionto)
Copy: When your bosom buddies start heading down south or are gravitationally challenged, a little help can prop them back to their perky selves. Sagging, small or pendulous busts need firming and toning. Slimming Sanctuary has the answers to your sagging, er, we mean, nagging problems.

Hhahahahahahahahahhahaha. Okay, I have to give it to the copywriter for his or her incredible sense of humor. The rest of the brochure was stylish and tasteful till the writer decided to take a shot at the boobs. I guess it's just the 'bust' portion that he/she decided to take a different route to get his/her point across. I wonder if the client did a copycheck :PP

Okay, I'm sorry (hahahahahahahaha). Back to work... :P

Friday, March 4, 2011

The tax structure for cars in Malaysia: A misaligned incentive?

Question: Will imposing heavy excise duties really gonna help Malaysians?

So, enough of heresy, we look at some facts as published by MAA (Malaysia Automotive Association) with regards to taxes and duties imposed on the automotive industry. Here, you'll probably understand why you're using half your salary for your monthly repayment and you're not even driving a Ferrari.

One of the most common peeves by consumers in this country is the lack of choice (maybe also due to a fairly 'small market', you can see the domination of 2 or maximum 3 players in every income level from low, mid to high). Other than the price factor, national cars are not the first choice, why? Lack of technological advancement, lack of quality, bad service, questionable safety features, etc. So, Malaysians make do with what they have. They start with a national car because it's the cheapest. Then they probably upgrade to a foreign CKD marque once they have more income, but quality is still questionable (i.e local sourced and manufactured parts). Please note that when we mention 'low quality', we're not just referring to Proton or Perodua AS manufacturers. We're also referring to all the sub-industries that are brought to life by the automotive industry and that include the thousands of parts makers, fabric manufacturers, R&D centres, etc. If Malaysia, generally has a quality issue (lack of thinking for innovative solutions, instead all they think about is cost-cutting measures) then there will be a collective quality issue. Which really means the problem stems further than just Proton and Perodua - it includes your Hondas, Toyotas, Peugeots, Nazas, soon-to-be Bermaz and VWs - basically, any brands that own a manufacturing plant here. It's a collective problem. And read this, automotive is only one industry we're talking about here.

Can you imagine the excise duty, as low as 75% is slapped on top of the price of your car? My question is, yes... it is our national pride to have Proton which basically driven Malaysia to a new heights from before. It perhaps even single-handedly, opened almost an infinite amount of opportunities that helped shaped our economy. Millions are employed because of the automotive industry. But. Because of such unfavorable tax structure for a better quality car, some Malaysians are paying out at least 1/3 of their income. If the repayment was lower, and the mid-high income earners have more disposable money to spend, how would that change our economy? Of course, I hear some angry cynics - these people who chose to drive fancy cars deserve to pay a high price, they chose it!

Well, to be honest, Malaysia is a very extraordinary country. Our cars are more than just cars it seems, they are luxury badges. A symbol of upgrade. That again, ladies and gentlemen, is something we cannot deny in not having a hand in creating! We obviously have quality issues between national and non-national, CKDs and CBUs. We obviously have a strong price difference between local and foreign brands. Did we not shape the market to becoming what it is today? The ultimate question is, was the incentive misaligned? If cars were priced cheaper with more options to pick from in any one category, in short, a hell lot more competitive - will that favor the Malaysian economy more? Because when we're not spending 1/3 of our monthly salary on our cars, we could be spending on something else - property for instance, education for ourselves (or children) for instance, on charity, on better food quality, on travel, on so much more.

I'm sure if the overall quality of locally manufactured cars (regardless of brand) is improved, then Malaysia will be on her highway to a lot more possibilities. Once the foundation is set, who's to say we won't be a strong player in R&Ds and IPs in this region? And remember, Malaysia always has an edge over her neighbours. We're cheap and good. So let us stop being just cheap and start being good.

There's no right or wrong answer I supposed. But it's really something to think about. It's just time to recalculate whether current incentives and barriers are accurately measured and really giving us most bang for buck. It's time to change.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The trouble with generalization.

Once there was a boy who was at school. He was in a classroom, building his science model. He was so engrossed in his project that he didn't realize there were other students in the classroom next to his.

The atmosphere in the other classroom was most definitely different from his. It was tensed...

Three boys surrounded a girl and she was terrified. They taunted her and two of them pinned her down on top of a desk. While the third swung his fist and gave her a good aim on her face. She screamed, kicked, twisted and turned. But no one came to her rescue. The three boys continued abusing her and at last, they took turns to violate her. She screamed on top of her lungs... still no one came to her rescue.

And from a far distance, someone heard the piercing voice. The gardener spun around and felt something was amiss. It's normally rather peaceful at this hour of the day. The school was off, there shouldn't be a sou
l around. Unconvinced that he was alone and sensing danger, he gathered some men to investigate.

Upon approaching the school, they saw the gate opened. Strange, they thought. It was always closed. They went into the building and finally came to the classroom where the girl was held. They were rooted at the door while horror embraced them like a cold friend. The girl was raped, beaten up and murdered. Her lifeless naked body was covered in bruise and blood, draped awkwardly from the edge of the desk.

It took awhile for the men to come to their senses as they stared death in silence. Suddenly, a sense of fury rises in them. Which animal would do such a thing to this poor girl? They thought. The next moment, all they could see was red. Red in her blood. Red on the desk. Red on the floor. Just red. They stood there infuriated by this animal. Their anger could not be contained. They have to seek revenge. They have to look for justice.

Suddenly, one of the men announced a discovery. They found the boy in the next classroom doing his science project. They pulled him roughly by the collar and made him stood in front of the corpse. He was shocked and couldn't stop shaking in fear. He has never, ever saw anything like this before. His breat
hing quickened, his eyes were stricken, his palms wet, he couldn't make any sound.

In the midst of his predicament, the men demanded an answer from him. They pointed to the next classroom and asked him if he was in there. He couldn't answer. So the man holding and shaking him, gave him a tight slap that temporarily blinded his vision. Suddenly, it dawned upon him that he should fear for his life. Another strike came... and another... and another... then he quickly nodded his head. And when he did, the man became even angrier. Pulled him and shoved him roughly and screamed at him. He couldn't understand what they were saying, he just knew they were very angry and he was very afraid.

One of the man, couldn't contained his anger anymore and kicked him. The rest saw and followed suit, they started kicking the boy. And when that didn't satisfy them, they started punching him. Hitting him with all kinds of objects they could find. The boy screamed and shouted but his words were incomprehensible. His voice was terrified and muddled with fear.

After what seemed hours of releasing their anger, the men finally came to a stop. Because the boy was dead. They sigh a sigh of relief. Finally, justice served. They took the remains of the girl and left the school building, while leaving the boy to rot in their vengeance.

They thought they have returned the girl was she was robbed of. Dignity. Life. Future. Though they cannot give it back to her, they could steal from the one whom they thought was responsible. Little did they know, not only the boy, as you don't already know, is not one of the three murderers, he was deaf.

We so easily condemn invading forces, grouping the entire nation as evil for the wrongdoings of a few hands and the darkness of a few minds. Not knowing that sometimes, the nation never had a choice. And she herself was deceived with propaganda and/or withheld news. Why punish those who did not design evil but instead were deluded to believe it was the only salvation they had? There is crime in deception, but is there one in being deceived?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Why does everyone think they deserve to be a VIP?

Up till now, I still cannot be sure whether it is a local habit or just generally innate in mankind. Why does everyone (at least majority of consumers) think that they deserve VIP treatment? Well, surely paying for some sort of service will come with a certain level of service expectation. But I wonder if there's a particular bracket of income that will show the highest service dissatisfaction?

To my understanding, good service shouldn't use the price tag as a benchmark. Good service means putting oneself in the shoes of the customer and consider how he or she would like to be treated. But having said that, is there such thing as being a 'good' customer? If good service shouldn't be determined by price, could that be the reason why special treatment is demanded by every haughty Joe and Jerry? Whether it's 5 bucks or 500 bucks? Then what constitutes the minimal level of service or maximum amount of paid attention? Or perhaps, it's the relativity of investment to their disposable income? Someone who earns ten grand, spends 1000 will surely demand more attention than one who earns one hundred grand and spends the same amount? If that's hypothetically correct, it really means that we potentially have a lot more customers complaining at the bottom of the pyramid versus the ones on top? That kinda opens a new can of wormy questions: People at the top care less for personal attention? Because they know they're gonna get it anyway? Hmm...

It's just really interesting to wonder, why on earth would anyone think that they deserve VIP treatment, regardless of the amount they have paid (or could have paid) for the service rendered. Hmmm.