November 28, 2008

#49 Avoiding Confrontation

Malaysian people are not fond of confrontation. You could say that they take passive-aggression to whole new stratospheres. There's something uniquely Malaysian about this trait of beating around the bush and delaying the inevitable that coincides with that other Malaysian pastime of complaining but not doing anything about it.

Malaysian people will go to great lengths to avoid incidents or encounters that force them to express feelings of discomfort or displeasure. If you have committed a transgression against your Malaysian friend, rest assured you won't hear about it from them. You will hear about it from another friend, your neighbour, your colleague, MSN Messenger statuses, Facebook or a blog but you will not be confronted by the person you've offended.

If you're wondering why Malaysian people would rather take this merry-go-round method than confront the source of dissatisfaction, you probably neglected the fact that this is part and parcel of Malaysian congeniality. It's true. Malaysians are far too polite to tell you about it to your face. Which is why they'll relieve their emotional burden by telling everyone else. If you're one of those in the loop, be prepared to hear the phrase "Don't tell him/her I said this but.."

In case you have manufactured a situation of conflict-avoidance, you need to know how you can manage such situations and use them for your own advantage. The first approach is to, well, approach. "Hey Jason, I understand that you were slighted by my remark about your casual attitude towards piracy. I'm sorry." This move will gain you lots of guilt trip points which you can use for leverage in the future due to them having already badmouthed you to everyone up till the point you apologised.

The other technique you could employ is slightly risky and requires a thicker layer of epidermis. Knowing full well that your actions offend someone, continue doing it and take advantage while feigning ignorance. Your Malaysian friends will grumble and whine about your behaviour (but do nothing about it) for years. During this period, low expectations of you will have been set in place. All you have to do is every now and then, display that you are capable (nothing certain, just glimpses) of change. This will appease them greatly and they'll continue feeding on the false hope that you have fed them.

It really is that easy.

November 23, 2008

Malaysian People In The News- Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis Sues Petra And Tunku Imran
B.K. Sidhu
Business, The Star Online
22nd November 2008


Hollywood actor Bruce Willis has sued the Petra Group and its chairman, Tunku Imran Tuanku Ja’afar, to recoup US$900,000 (RM3.1mil) of the US$2mil the actor invested in a “green rubber” venture.

Best Quotes

In his complaint filed in the federal court in Los Angeles yesterday, Willis said Petra chief executive officer Datuk Vinod B. Sekhar and Tunku Imran induced him to invest in a company that was developing a non-toxic and recyclable rubber in 2007, according to a Bloomberg report.

Willis, the star of the 1988 hit action film, Die Hard, accused the Petra Group and its executives of breach of contract and unjust enrichment.

In response to the suit, Vinod, who owns Petra Group, told StarBiz yesterday: “It is a minor shareholder issue and we are surprised as we already agreed to take care of it. The current market softening is making people react.’’

While Willis wants his money back, Gibson was quoted in the Petra Group statement as saying: “When you make investments in companies that have the potential to have such a significant positive impact on the world, you do it for the long-term gains and not for quick return. I am in it for the long term.”

Efforts to call Tunku Imran were not successful.

Stuff Mentioned

November 18, 2008

#48 Elaborate Wedding Dinners

There comes a time in a Malaysian person's life when they take the next step and venture into that foreign realm the rest of us call matrimony.

The process is more or less the same as it would be in your country except that customs and tradition run rampant and the emphasis is placed on the wedding as opposed to the marriage itself.

The wedding dinner is much more than a celebration of two people's union, it is a momentous occasion in which the couple and their family announce to the world that they are happy, successful, accomplished and basically everything you are not.

You will witness an indulgent and decadent display of extravagance as well as nauseating sentiment. You will bear witness to the couple's lives unfolding and converging through a professional and calculated slideshow presentation. You will have more than your fair share of alcohol and food to compensate for the token of appreciation you parted with at the welcoming/cashier counter.

Throughout the night, you will be sufficiently entertained. The obligatory website/movie inspired wedding vows, grudging speeches from both sets of parents and a performance from a drunk relative or two. And that's not even the singing on stage part.

If you should be so fortunate as to be at a wedding dinner with someone you have not pledged your undying love to, you will at least be able to share the awkward silence on the ride home followed by an inevitable guilt trip in the months to come. But let's dispense with all this cynicism, one should be merry and rejoice in the infinite possibilities and symbols of hope that weddings accord. Don't worry, it won't be long before you have your bride and gloom.

November 11, 2008

#47 Piracy

If you've been on holiday to Malaysia or had the delightful experience of living here, you will have surely come across a facet of it's culture that is illegal yet polarising.

Given Malaysian people's affinity for all things foreign, it's only natural for them to want to propagate such influences and disseminate them to the general public. And how do Malaysian people do this, you ask? Why, it's quite simple. All one needs to adhere to is the old adage, "If you can't make it, fake it."

When you consider the practical and reverent nature of Malaysians, it therefore makes sense to pay tribute to the things you love by acquiring them illegally for a fraction of the actual price. That way, everyone gets to share the same experience affordably and without guilt, because everyone's doing it!

If there's a market for it, there'll be a pirated version out on the streets in no time. The latest Hollywood movies on DVD? Check. Designer clothes and accessories? Available. Copyright infringement and zero compunction? Absolutely.

Having this knowledge however, does not mean you should preach the values of purchasing original goods and services to your Malaysian friends. Any attempt to do so will result in a spiel that will be 30 minutes of your life you will never get back. First, they will tell you that this illegal and early acquisition of the material will enable them to form an informed opinion, thereby justifying their recommendations to others. This increases the exposure and awareness of the material in question. So in actuality, their illegal activities are spurring the industry on.

What you say following this is very important. While it would be natural to point out that they're still depriving the source of royalties as well as acquiring illegal and cheap goods, you must refrain. Instead, ask them what movies or music they would recommend. This will give them a sense of pride that they are your resident pop culture expert. It also allows them to feel vindicated that their inappropriate activities are part of a larger cultural advancement exercise and not just piracy.

This will please them greatly and you should expect an invitation to movie night or a listening session for the bootleg Linkin Park album.

November 6, 2008

#46 Barack Obama

On the surface, it may be hard to fathom how Malaysian people feel such an affinity for the President of a country whose citizens assume Malaysia is either a viral tropical disease or the capital of Singapore.

But yet, Malaysian people have taken to Barack Obama as if he was a political bastion of hope in their own country and followed his progress to the White House with great relish.

It would hardly be a shock to see Malaysian people having more knowledge of the U.S. elections than the local political climate. You could attribute this irony to apathy for the domestic political scene but it is more a statement of faith.

Such is the reverence Malaysian people have for Obama that they have gone to great lengths to find a link between Obama and Malaysia. Local politicians have followed his campaign fervently and even incorporated the need for Change into their own rhetoric. But I digress.

Malaysian people love Barack Obama because he represents everything that Malaysia claims to stand for: Justice, Democracy, Progress and Equality. Malaysia is a little short on some of those claims but who's counting. Obama, with his policies and administration will affect more than Malaysia's relations with the States and the struggling economy. Obama, to Malaysian people is a beacon of Hope, that one day Malaysia too can proudly say "Yes We Boleh."