Saturday, December 30, 2006

The incredible burning furniture malls of Malaysia

I don't have statistics on hand but it seems Malaysian furniture malls are very susceptible to being burned. This one along Jalan Ipoh is the third furniture mall that I know which has been gutted in less than 2 years. The other 2 were at Old Klang Road and opposite Desa Seri Petaling.

Are our fire safety regulations so poor that these large malls can burn down so easily? This particular one, called the Sky River Interior World Centre, lasted less than 2 years before it went up in flames in just one night. It's a miracle that nobody gets hurt.

Failed business? A quick way out of debt? Who knows. I just feel sorry for the people who have placed deposits on furniture to find their new acquisitions go up in smoke the next day.

Technorati: Malaysia, fire

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Malaysian overseas listings increase; Bursa worried

UMNO mouthpiece NST wonders aloud why good quality Malaysian firms are increasingly seeking to list overseas. This is not new ground. The Edge had long covered this phenomenon some months back and also in their latest end-of-year bumper print edition.

While many of us know that a key consideration for companies to list overseas is to avoid having to surrender 30% of their hard-earned equity to UMNO patrons, the NST suggests that greed could be a key motivator - or as they put it "the ability to get more money from investors".

The Edge cites regulatory hurdles from many different bodies as another reason for the flight abroad.

Even politically linked Scomi Group and Ranhill Berhad have gone to the Singapore and London bourses respectively.

Wise up Bursa & UMNO. In an increasingly flat world, local businesses that didn't have any choice before, will now pack and leave to where it makes economic sense for them.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Blessed Christmas and a Great New Year Ahead

Blessed Christmas to all who come by here. Hopefully, the season is more meaningful than all the commercial busyness we see in our malls at this time of year.

Here's looking forward to a great 2007.

Friday, December 15, 2006

So what’s the big deal about entrepreneurs?

Looks like entrepreneurs aren’t so special a breed after all as they have been made out to be.

According to a study quoted in this Wharton article, entrepreneurs aren’t as risk-taking as we think they are; in fact they try to manage risk. Also, instead of having a secret method of succeeding at every venture, they often fail the second time round.

Also, interestingly, the more you are an ‘outsider’, the more likely you are to be an entrepreneur. This, to those of us who are labelled kaum pendatang (immigrants) in Malaysia, should not be a surprise.

The logic apparently, is that if you are part of the establishment, you stand to GIVE UP a lot by being an entrepreneur. So, according to this gentleman, you are more likely to start your own business in the US if you are a member of any of the following groups: minorities, immigrants, gays and lesbians.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Technorati: Malaysia, entrepreneurship,

Thursday, December 14, 2006

IHT: Indonesia's Chinese community emerges after years of violence and discrimination

Remarkable for a country that not long ago persecuted its Chinese minority with near sadistic enthusiasm and viewed it with suspicion.

Today, Indonesian Chinese can actually say :

"The situation of the Chinese has never been as good as today," said Benny Setiono, head of the Chinese Indonesian Association, a nonprofit group that represents the community. "We feel more free, more equal."

And for some interesting contrast,

"Other laws have erased the preferential treatment for "pribumi," or indigenous groups, in bank lending and the awarding of government contracts, a policy that still exists in Malaysia, where racial tensions are creeping higher." (highlights my own)

Read on here.

Technorati: Indonesia, malaysia, overseas chinese

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is marketing to children making them more miserable?

In the UK, a new report on the “Commercialisation of Childhood” warns that children are rapidly becoming the innocent targets of companies hungry for their business, to the point that where 70% of them can recognise the McDonalds logo, only half remember their own surnames.

Worse still, the evidence suggests that being bombarded with images of how they should look and what they should have, children struggle to keep up resulting in higher rates of depression. Not to mention the conflicts that arise when cash-strapped parents have to say no.

Both the Guardian & the Telegraph have their bits to say about this worrying trend.

We are beginning to see this happen in Malaysia too - for example, my three and half year old son has already started to receive direct mails from the company that makes his milk formula. He’s given fridge magnets and stickers on a regular basis, reminding him of his loyalty to the brand.

Those of us who are parents need to guard our children against the excesses of a consumerist society. Businesses who market to children need to realize that they must approach this issue in a responsible manner and that the almighty dollar must not overshadow even their morality.

technorati: malaysia, children, consumerist

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why am I such a magnet for network marketers??

I wonder why I am such a magnet for network marketing recruiters.

An ex-colleague whom I bumped into at a shopping centre asked for my business card which was innocent enough. Lo and behold, a month later, an sms comes in and this exchange follows:

Ex coll: “are you and your wife free this week?”

Me: “er no – we have quite a busy schedule. Anything urgent?”

Ex coll: “well I just joined a company dealing with xxxxx Cleaner. I need to do a few demos to qualify as an agent.”

Me: “er no thanks. Not interested”

Ex coll: “don’t worry I’m not going to sell you anything. Just need to show you how this machine works and improves the air quality in your house”.

Me: “er no thanks. Seriously.”

Ex coll: “A no obligation and free demo – pls help me qualify as an agent”

Ex coll: “in fact company going to pay me RM100 just to demo. You don’t need to buy anything. Just take a look.Can you help me?”

Me: “hey really no thanks. Sorry”

End of sms trail.

All I can say is that if you are in network marketing and phenomenally successful, you have my admiration for being so freakingly persistent and thick skinned that you can do this on a daily schedule and not tire.

Technorati: network marketing, malaysia

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Economist: UMNO-led Malaysia slipping down the competitive league

The venerable Economist sheds some light on Malaysia's struggle to regain some economic clout as it falls down the ranks of competitiveness.

It points out something that many of us Malaysians already know - that chauvinists and rabble-rousing back-benchers in UMNO's ranks and their vociferous complaints against reforming government-linked companies (like the close-to-death Proton), are turning away both domestic and foreign direct investment in the country.

The article also calls for a *gasp* review of the social contract to stop the races from further polarisation but says that there is a lack of momentum even here.

For as long as there is some form of economic growth, Malaysia can still get away with all these sins. But once another 1998 comes, what will happen to us?

* Pix from the Economist

technorati: Malaysia, NEP

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Small and Medium Thoughts is almost a year old!

Well, I should have waited for the actual day but I couldn't resist. I've given the blog a new skin to celebrate its upcoming 1st birthday.

Amazing - I never thought I'd last so long. It's still fun and I imagine I'll continue to do this for as long as there are useful thoughts about the economy and SMEs in malaysia that I can share.

Thanks for reading small and medium thoughts!

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