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|...All the Asia business news that didn't fit...|
Daily commentary on Asian business strategy, management, market research, marketing tips, business prospects, economic and culture news. Market prospects. Economic prospects. Short reviews, links, advice, satire and topical coverage for international and Asian managers doing business in Asia.
The Hari Ini column is available daily on the Asian Business Strategy & Street Intelligence Ezine home page. Sure.. go there now for more of the same. At least it's fresher...
This page contains one month of the archives.
The Hari Ini column documents off-the cuff comments, very odd spots, unsubstantiated rumours, misinterpretations, cruel innuendo, limp jokes, dodgy links, tips lacking in credibility, and other material very roughly related to Asian business, marketing, management, culture, politics, economics and why the earth is round.
Some of the items emerge into sections later on; some are contributed by email or word of mouth by friends of the forum, columnists, editorial advisors, and the Chao Phraya River Rat. ..Most of it just ends up here...
Basically it means we can at least comment on happenings that we wouldn't otherwise have the time to.
"Hari Ini" means "Today" in both Malaysian and Indonesian.
..Which means that everything on this page is already outta date...
As the masthead suggests, this column also includes all the news that doesn't fit..
It also means we can add some lightheartedness and CNN type shallowness to our otherwise more serious content. As CNN proves, such content sells...
Mostly the column just reflects the mood of the editors on the day, and gives a potted summary of key issues in the region. If you want it to reflect your mood as well, email us contributions at email@example.com.
Chiyo Hyiuiki (Webmaster, and on behalf of the editors)
A "sorta" free market in Vietnam: Vietnam's new Stock Market started trading today with 8 listed companies expected by the end of the year. Things were fairly euphoric until a couple of hours ago when the government announced a cap on two of the companies. | Asian stocks are bleeding today as Tokyo, Korea and Hong Kong drop 2 to 5% and South East Asian indicies by 1 to 2%, following the second major drop on the US NASDAQ overnight. Together with alarming currency falls in the past weeks, especially in Thailand, and the failure of Japanese retailer SOGO, it would be fair to say that the pessimistic among us are suggesting that the Asian recovery may be faltering. While some good efforts have been made on financial and corporate level re-structuring, very little has been achieved in management restructuring in the wake of the 1997/8 crisis. Some financiers and the little people were hit hard by the Asia crisis.. but the middle class and many protected companies saw limited effects. Far past time to concentrate on reforming our organizations and management. Only when that starts happening will a real substantive Asian revival occur. | Suspect Sumo: Corruption pervades Japan, even in the establishment of perhaps the most famous Japanese sport - Sumo wrestling. A research paper today investigates match-rigging and the complex procedure that runs it. The articles notes the difficulty in producing empirical data relating to corruption - the essentially secretive nature of corrupt practices means that much work on uncovering corruption remains the province of investigative journalism - The researchers found that match rigging disappears in times of "increased media scrutiny". ...A relatively free press DOES have it's advantages.. | The Malaysian authorities still have a hard time keeping control of their weapons. Yesterday a robbery suspect managed to make off with a police car with an MP 5 sub-machine gun inside. After dumping the car, the suspect broke into a home and robbed a sixty-year old man of RM 580 before locking him in the loo. The robber, and the gun, are still at large. | The Malaysian New Straits Times reports today that George Soros has become a latter day convert to PM Mahathir and his currency controls. That's a big move after Mahathir called him an idiot. Of course the report is yet another example of the NST's impressive talent for turning water into Kickapoo Joy Juice. Last year, they managed to extract a quote from the excellent book analyzing the role of corruption and collusion as a cause of the Asian crisis (The Asian Eclipse), lauding Dr Mahathir for "raising the respect of Malaysians.". | Still from Malaysia, the Express Rail Link has dusted off plans for the high-speed rail link to Singapore. The Chairman is calling it a "gift to commuters". | A US judge has ordered Napster, a Web site that allows users to download music files from each other's servers, to be shut down by midnight Friday US time. This is not just another case of heartless corporate profit makers cutting off the free exchange of information. It is a victory for the value of intellectual and creative property. Sharing music computer files is not analagous to sharing CD's, tapes, or books, as Napster's lawyers are claiming. Ease of copying, from the invention of the photo copier several decades back to Recordable CD's and MP3's today have seen to that. The principle surely is that every copy of a work that can be accessed by more than one person at one time must be paid for. Copyright laws protect artists, authors, researchers, and providers of original information that create them in the first place. It is not only in Asia where piracy runs rampant. These primarily US based pirates and thieves prove that many people will steal whenever they get the chance, especially from the privacy of a dark room and the impersonality and anonymity of cyberspace. | What a difference a day makes: The Hari Ini Kuala Lumpur Haze Index (HIHI) went upwards again yesterday, as clouds cleared, and today Hari Ini haze observers comment "...Visibility is three miles plus, although the eastern hills are obscured. The sky is currently blue, but clouds seem to be rolling in from the east..." That gives the HIHI a 5.9 today and observers are bullish on the weekend's outlook. We apologise to Dr Mahathir for exaggerated readings mid week as the cleaners hadn't cleaned our windows for a while making the haze look worse than it was. | What a difference a decimal point makes: The easily titillated Business Week recently reported that the prostitution industry in Thailand was worth US25 Billion. That's a lot of Baht left on the dressing table seeing it represents 10% of the Thai economy given current GDP figures. Frank Lombard in a letter to the Bangkok Post this week revealed story behind this ba-ba-baboor statement, explaining that the Business Week figure came from Dr Pasuk Phongpaichat of Chulalongkorn University, quoted in the Nation and the Bangkok Post in 1966. "...Subsequently it was used as the basis for numerous articles and editorials and enshrined in a prize-winning report on regional prostitution by ILO author Lin Lim in 1998..." According to Frank, "...Pasiuk showed us her arithmetic... and she had slipped a decimal point and was too high by a factor of 10...". Now 1% is about what this week's FEER estimates as the contribution of the prostitution industry to Japan's GDP (and most of the sex workers there are imported from overseas and kept in slavery, fear and for no salary by Japan's "yakuza"). Which all goes to reinforce to good researchers that you should always take precautions before rushing into action...
At least they could bomb something useful: Our report on the grenade bombing of the Carlsberg factory in Kuala Lumpur last week prompted a reader from Bangkok to comment.. "...How much does it cost to hire these guys? We've got a little job for them at the Beer Chang factory..." | On a clear day... Our own Kuala Lumpur Hari Ini Haze Index (HIHI) is down to 1.6 today as rain dampened any smog and it was back to the sunny clear days in the sparkling Kuala Lumpur that we love. Our amateur meteorologists from our office on the 21st Floor in Jalan Ampang report.. "...The rain clouds have blown out and its turned into a glorious day. Visibility is about five miles and only the furthest hills are obscured. If only it would rain every morning...". Meanwhile PM Mahathir hit out at foreign media the other day accusing them of "...spooking tourists...". In a quote dripping with the lowest form of wit of which he is famous for he stated "...There is haze in Malaysia, meaning if you are flying to Malaysia, cancel it... Don't go to Malaysia, it"s a bad place, you are going to die if you have asthma, you won't survive etc." ..Well as for us Kuala Lumpur is a great place to visit.. any time... (The HIHI - Hari Ini Haze Index is a complimentary service of Hari Ini in the absence of the official haze readings banned for publication by the Malaysian government) | When things look bad, hum a little ditty: The ASEAN ministerial meeting is well underway in Bangkok with the brightest point being that the Thais have come up with 4 (yes ...FOUR) Conference theme songs. As reported last month, the most upbeat was penned by an assistant in a government office. The G8 meeting in Japan last week also boasted an official song. And even in Mongolia the opposition Communist party is carting along Mongolia's top all-female pop band at their functions. To the relief of all, the Malaysian contingent resisted the urge to break into the song evoked in Mahathir's victory speech in his last elections, and also at the time the theme song for Malaysia Airlines... You know.. it's the one that goes.. "..And now, the end is near.. as I face the final curtain...". While even more disturbing for Malaysian Airlines passengers, the ditty would have been just a bit too close for home for ASEAN-aphiles, with the body struggling to retain credibility. It seems a toothless dragon in enforcing tariff reductions on schedule, was an irrelevance in the East Timor crisis, and member countries spend most of the time furthering their own agendas rather than working as a team. The malaise is easy to explain... Any organization which has as it's most visible policy a principle of "non-interference" in its constituent parts will fail to grow and develop. | The Institute for International Economics (US) Web Site offers authoritative research papers and analytical articles, many relevant for international and Asian managers. | Sintercom's Best of the Asia Pacific has a new spiffy interface to showcase their excellent listing of "best" sites, now much better categorised. A very good site to browse and discover new resources. | Our mates in the Oil and Gas Industry may want to check the World Wide Worker Site, which according to the correspondent is "...a new job site for the Oil & Gas industry, focusing on employees like drillers, mechanics, subsea engineers, safety professionals and many more. Over 1750 job titles are now in the online database, 20 companies have registered for advertising open jobs and already 250 job seekers have applied to the vacancies of these companies..." | Take the "A" train: Following up on our item last week on the cost effectiveness of assasination rather than paying your bills in Thailand, the Bangkok Post yesterday came up with a review of all political assasinations they have reported on in the Kingdom in the last 18 months. We got bored counting. Remember to pack the bullet proof vest when next visiting the Land of (crooked) Smiles.
Dis-Order in the House: Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid is prone to "nod off" during the admittedly long turgid speeches preferred by Indonesian parliament. Your own editor's father, a pastor of the kirk, gained some consolation when a parishioner told him that his own closed eyes during sermons just meant he was "concentrating". Wahid hasn't used that excuse so far, but instead demonstrates a good awareness of customer service principles in liberally slipping jokes into his own addresses to stop others doing similar. We have already referred to Wahid's joke last year describing Indonesian founder Sukarno as "crazy about women", Soeharto as "crazy about power" and Habibie as "just plain crazy". The newly liberated (thanks to Habibie and Wahid) Indonesia press however have their own sense of black humour, if somewhat pointed, in describing the Wahid presidency. If Sukarno's regime was the "Old Order", and Soeharto's regime the "New Order", then Habibie's was "Disorder". As for Wahid's Indonesia, they say, it's "Out of Order". Wahid faces his greatest challenge when parliament resumes early next month, facing lost confidence from his coalition partners. | Hopefully new Bangkok governor Samak Sundaravej, the landslide winner in this weekend's election, will exhibit a considerably more tolerant attitude towards those who hold divergent views than he has in the past. Despite allegations that military man Samak encouraged the massacre of university protestors during one of Thailand's black days in the past, it's Samak who will be cleaning up our rubbish, getting rid of elephants, and improving our public transport for a few years. Perhaps it's the best punishment Bangkok citizens together could muster. | It's not that bad a drop: Malaysian PM said last week that "there were reports" arms heist group, the Al-Ma'unah has launched grenade attacks against the Carlsberg brewery in Shah Alam, and several temples. Carlsberg has never had it easy in Muslim Malaysia. A couple of years back, Carlsberg spent thousands of Ringgit preparing to be a major sponsor for the Malaysian Commonwealth Games, only to be told on the eve of the event that their involvement was "unsuitable". | The Internet Public Library is a useful reference site put together by the forgotten men of the Information Age - librarians. Excellent advice on Web searching, and an excellent and reference to magazines, serials and newspapers. In a rare exhibition of modesty on the Net, the editors admit the site is "...a bit of a mess...", though this may just reflect the high standards and professionalism of the unit.
The PM who cried wolf: Kindly old grandpops Mahathir propped a collective Malaysia on his knee Wednesday night to recite his big bad wolf tale that the Al-ma'unah cult responsible for the recent arms heist in Northern Malaysia was on the verge of a planned insurrection to displace the government, and that elements in the opposition Islam-based party PAS supported it. This bedtime story for the kiddiwinks on both government TV networks also continued Mahathir's successful policy of usurping political foes and predicting "anti-Malaysia" reactions to current issues from opposition camps. Mahathir's early successful career in building a healthy, wealthy and respected Malaysia, demonstrations of what happens to those who defy the ruling élite and deft handling of opposition, gives him a credibility in the eyes of many Malaysians in a country where it's always the best policy to bet on a winner than become a winner yourself. Suggesting that PAS would try to make heroes out of the sect members follows his predictions that Anwar bashed himself up, that opposition parties would cause violence in the last elections, and that an opposition rally last year would result in riots. He was proved wrong in all cases. The threat of an increase in Islam fundamentalism not only to Malaysia's self admitted fragile society itself but also Malaysian and international business is very real. But Mahathir runs the risk of people not taking any notice to the shepherd's warnings when the real wolf descends upon us. (see the Chao Phraya River Rat's Asia Pacific Management News late today for our full analysis) | And now for something completely different: If you didn't want the Mahathir speech on the idiot box you could always switch over to the X-files shown by the other network - a fanciful tellie program about the US government covering up UFO sightings and alien abductions by green-eyed aliens with rusty antennas... | Another dry old weekend in Bangkok: The election for Bangkok governor is the main agenda this weekend, with establishments selling alcohol banned from opening, for fear that the masses' votes would be Singha and Sang Thip-inspired rather than objective. The leader by far in the polls is the old military man Samak, veteran of political campaigning and quelling popular uprisings. With the military and police behind him, he was way ahead even from the start, even in cosmopolitan Bangkok where the price of a vote is higher, and a uniform does not quite have the allure, than in the provinces. Second in the polls is Sudarat Keyuraphan, bankrolled by the Thai Rak Thai (Thai love Thai) party, and one of the highly publicised women candidates. Regardless of the outcome, it will be a victory for money and influence rather than of the people. Bangkok boasts an official population of around 8,000,000 with an migrants and itinerants from the provinces boosting the unofficial estimate to around 12,000,000 at times. That's almost 20% of the population, and even though the stuff of being Governor still revolves around garbage collection, pollution, and traffic, the post is highly influential in a country where Bangkok is by far the largest urban centre. | Did you know? It is an offence punishable by death to possess unlicensed firearms in Malaysia. It is estimated that over 95% of software loaded onto Indonesian computers is pirated. | The (wait for it) Hanoi stock market is gearing up to open next week. | A blow for the Internet revolution: Shell Thailand, subsidiary of the US Exxon group has banned Internet access at work due to fears of security threats such as computer viruses. | Flying kangaroo goes gold: Qantas has been offered 50% discount on landing fees at KLIA as an incentive to take a share in Malaysia Airlines. (MAS for short and also literally translated as "Gold" in Bahasa Melayu). Maybe everything Australian is not on the nose in Mahathir's Malaysia | HI-HI update: Our Hari Ini KL Haze Index soared skywards yesterday as the respite caused by dampening rains ceased. It was back to 7.6 yesterday, (you couldn't see the mountains from our window). According to our amateur meteorologist Dave in downtown Kuala Lumpur "...Today is turning out to be disappointing. When I got up this morning the sky was blue and I could actually see the sun for the first time in six days. By 9:30am, however, the haze has begun to settle in It's not as bad as yesterday though. Clear visibility extends about a mile and the eastern hills are visible, although hazy...". Hmm.. we will give it a 7.1 then. (Note: See previous entries in July for explanation of the HI-HI.)
A survey of the top business schools in the USA has resulted in a listing of the 10 most powerful ideas in management. (yep... yet another list of management dos and don'ts.) According to the Brighton Press book documenting the results they are: A High Level of Self Awareness, Knowledge of Human Motivation, Established Knowledge and Learning Networks, The Ability to Analyze and Package Complex Information, The Willingness to Be Flexible, the Capacity to Be Fast, The Ability to Make Decisions in Conditions of Extreme Ambiguity, The Ability to Allocate Limited Resources Perceptively, A Well-Developed Personal Vision and the Ability to Sell It, A Well-Developed Set of Personal Values, The Capacity and Willingness to Think Boldly, The Ability to Develop Effective Professional Relationships Quickly, and A Commitment to Community. More details here. | The US National Library for the Environment offers full-text up-to-date reports on a variety of global economic topics, not limited to environmental issues alone. The updated reports page deserves a bookmark. At present some informative and thought provoking reports are available on "Global Financial Turmoil, the IMF, and the New Financial Architecture", "Internet and E-Commerce Statistics: What They Mean and Where to Find Them on the Web", and "Multilateral Development Banks: Issues for the 106th Congress". | HIHI down today: Well the rain bucketed down in Kuala Lumpur today, removing the haze almost totally. In fact you can see the Twin Towers and KL Tower clearly again. So it's a downward watery plunge in the Hari Ini Unofficial KL Haze Index (HIHI) to 3.3 today. (The HIHI is brought to you daily in the absence of the Malaysian government's banned Air Quality index, so you will have to up with ours. - See the previous Hari Ini for detals of the scientific methodology used.) | Coke-heads go Cold Turkey: Interbrand's latest survey shows some movement in brand name valuations. According to the survey, "In the past year, the value of the Coca-Cola name is estimated to have tumbled by 13 per cent to US$72.5 billion (S$127.1 billion), amid a gloomy reassessment of its growth prospects. Other old economy brands have also underperformed. In contrast, the value of new economy brands has soared. Microsoft's value jumped 24 per cent to US$70.2 billion, indicating that it is on the verge of eclipsing Coca-Cola at the top of the global league table. In the short term, this is unlikely to be prevented by the recent US antitrust ruling against Microsoft. Meanwhile Hewlett Packard is in the midst of a major rebranding exercise. According to a recent Economist report, HP's "product groups" approach to management, "became a recipe for inward focus and bureaucratic paralysis", as "a collection of 130 independent product groups that tried harder to meet their own financial targets than to find any common thread". The new management has set aside - wait for it - $US200m for a branding campaign, whose main message is that HP is a company of invention, bent on democratising technology. It's on the way up in the Interbrand rankings as well.
(Tuesday) The Hari Ini KL Haze Index (HI-KLHI) Launches: Seeing the Malaysian government wont release their Air Quality Index for fear of scaring off sensitive tourists, we are launching our own daily index. At least until such time as Putrajaya recognises that while in Malaysia no news means good news, in the rest of the world the opposite is usually the case. Our KL base on a 28th floor with a view 500 yards down the road to the KL Twin Towers and further to the Eastern hills, Genting Highlands etc. offers now the only daily KL Air Quality Index (HI-KLHI) with 10 being absolutely pitch black and 1 being the crisp clear KL we all know and love. Today's HI-KLHI: Well you can still see the Twin Towers but it's pretty hazy out there and no way you can see Genting Highlands. Open the window and you can actually smell the burning. The haze emanating from government offices remains worse though. OK, let's give it a 6.8 today. | Where did the Rupiah go? 209.43 trillion Rupiah (around US$20 billion), or 46 per cent of state funds allocated in the last financial year, including that from the national budget and central bank, is unaccounted for, the state audit agency told an Indonesian parliamentary commission in a shock disclosure yesterday. This is more than 10 times the amount lost to corruption and mismanagement in the same period for the 1998-1999 fiscal year. With sections of the Indonesian army openly supporting Muslim rebels in the Moluccas and Ambon by the issuing of weapons and fighting alongside them, one could not be blamed for feeling that anarchy is the term that best describes Indonesia at this time. While Wahid will come under attack from opportunists (including those who are aiding and abetting such) one has to remember that Wahid came to power well after the start of the fiscal year. It is his inheritance, not, hopefully for Indonesia, his legacy. It was open season after the breakdown of law and order in the dying and following months of the fall of the Soeharto dynasty. Wahid has perhaps the world's second most difficult job, (after the APMF editor), and criticisms of Wahid's ecumenical and fair approach to rebuilding Indonesia are more often than not riding on self-interest and political opportunism. Wahid, a compromise choice for President, will always be an interim president while behind the scenes interests including the army and ABRI, Soeharto's Golkar, Rais' NAP and Megawati's raging wild bull party PDI (Struggle) were given the breathing space to re-organize after a year of supersonic-speed changes. At this stage no alternative power grouping has either the competence nor the required Indonesia-first motivation to do a better job. | The FEER reports that the American intelligence community recently organized a conference in Washington entitled "Prospects for a Post-Mahathir Malaysia." The conclusions? Malaysia could face considerable political uncertainty, including infighting in the ruling United Malays National Organization, once Mahathir gives up the reins he has clasped tightly since 1981. The panelists predicted new economic turmoil in three to five years because of growing fiscal debt, brought on by the state's rescues of troubled companies and the minimal restructuring of the economy in the wake of the 1997 financial crisis. | Meanwhile in downtown KL, Mahathir marked his 20th year in power on Sunday, and Anwar took the unexpected step of delivering his own defence sum-up on the last day of his year long sodomy trial yesterday. The date for the delivery of the verdict is expected to be in 2 to 3 weeks. | The NBO group thinks that Hari Ini readers should take a peek at their Trendwaves Newsletter and Website, - "...a newsletter on trends that affect Asia. Asia's influence in the 21st century is highlighted.." | Don't wrap your frog legs in this: For our more sophisticated Euro readers, Kriengsak's Thailand Tales has been translated into French.
Those hazy, crazy, fazy days of summer Forest fires in Sumatra in the midst of a hot dry period are again about to deposit a haze over Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei threatening a tourist industry at the fickle whim of fragile-ego international travel agents, prone, as always, to make a 5 star smorgasboard out of Nasi Lemak. In 1997 it was mainly Mohomad Bob Hassan's fault, a law only to himself and Pak Soeharto, - a Muslim of convenience out to make as much Rupiah as possible by uncontrolled burning-off of his plantation assets in Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo). Malaysian pastoralists on their own slice of Borneo (Sarawak and Sabah) helped a bit too. KL boasted a slightly hazy air quality last week, nothing in comparison to the political haze of their own making emanating from Putrajaya , but Northern areas of Malaysia were more affected. You wont get any air quality indicies emanating from Malaysia either. As part of the government's see/hear/speak no evil policy for politically-correct Malaysians, publication of these were banned a year or so back... | Excuse me while I jump off the balcony: Following up our thread on the inherent politeness of Thai's, it seems it also extends to the ultimate expression of wordly alienation. Bangkok's Nation newspaper reported yesterday that a young lad, upset over a failed love affair, jumped to his death after "asking permission" from his mother to commit suicide from a high rise apartment. Mum left the room and returned to find an empty balcony. | Excuse me while I blow your head off... Some previously féted but contemporaneously crisis-burned Thai businessmen are finding it easier to shoot the investigator rather than pay up. A couple of years back an Australian Touche Ross accountant was murdered by a gun-toting motorcyclist as he travelled up North to investigate some more-than-creative accounting practices of a Thai agricultural company. Hauled up in court as the prime mover was none other than the Human Resources Manager, demonstrating a rather deft practical approach to managing a recalcitrant human resource. This week Krit Sesavej, an official from the Thai government Asset Management Corporation which negotiates debt restructuring announced that he had received death threats, possible from one of 10 corporations with which he was dealing. Only 6 months ago, a Thai language newspaper office was visited by weapon wielding cadres of a Thai pollie demanding the withdrawal of allegations and reports against the aggrieved one. Meanwhile, there is great consternation over the new traffic regulations concerning removal of tinted windows in limos. It seems that clear windows makes a passenger an easy target for Mafia gunmen pulling up alongside in their own black stretch limos. With the old rules changing and maintaining your standard of living now just a little more subject to skills rather than influence, bribes, old money, and mates, the seedy dark side of Bangkok business is still finding the old reliable contract and threat far more cost-effective. | Know This dot Com is a Web site run by the founders of the highly respected Marketing WWW Virtual Library. Browse sections of resources from Advertising and Promotion and Education to Market Research. Not too much on Asia specifically yet, but many quality general sources. | From the US Bureau of Economic Resources some insightful working papers relevant to APMF readers just posted: Natural Openness and Good Government, Banks, Short Term Debt and Financial Crises: Theory, Policy Implications and Applications and Emerging Equity Markets and Economic Development | Kentucky Thai chickens fly South: Thailand KFC released disappointing forceasts for the next financial year this week. Perhaps a good time to revisit the quality of the product rather than any fancy creative marketing or accounting schemes. The KFC product in Thailand compares poorly with neighbouring countries. If you really must patronize these clinical franchise boring eateries we can recommend the newly opened Chicken Treat chain. Almost, but not quite as good as the BBQ chicken man on the street corner - just triple the price... | Avagoodweegend all - Thailand has a holiday on Monday and we are keeping an eye on the Bangkok governor elections as well as some exclusive news items for next week.
Who wants to be a millionaire? - the tellie program already made famous in the UK and US, is now one of the most popular shows in Thailand in it's Thai incarnation, threatening even the local soapies. It's a formulae that crosses cultural boundaries with effortless ease. The answer is simple. As any advertising guy will tell you, and we mentioned in a previous Hari Ini, the more of the seven deadly sins you can sneak into a advert/promo the more sucessful it will be. ..And for those who asked what exactly the seven deadly sins were they are - Pride, Envy, Lust, Covetousness, Anger, Sloth, and Gluttony. A list that surely knows no cultural boundaries. | And further on deadly sins - Mahatma Ghandi's Seven Deadly Sins actually make even more sense. Wealth without Work, Pleasure without Conscience, Science without Humanity, Knowledge without Character, Politics without Principle, Commerce without Morality and Worship without Sacrifice. Probably explains the Asian crisis better than any economist. | Word has it that if you are in a hurry to get through immigration queues at Bangkok airport, sneaking into the ASEAN lane even if you are a non-ASEAN personage does not result in being sent back to the end of anther lane. (No responsibility taken!) Also note that Bangkok now also provides an APEC lane. | Observers were surprised by a Malaysian press, previously unwilling to print anything critical of the Malaysian ruling élite, getting stuck into the government and Defense Minister Najib relentlessly over the arms heist in Northern Malaysia reported in the last Hari Ini. There may be method to madness however. Expect further reinforcement from establishment circles in Malaysia that more "Islam fundamentalist terrorism" is exactly what to expect should the UMNO dominated BN coalition ever be toppled from government. Reported also is that some members of the some members of the responsible Al-Ma'unah have been identified as PAS members (PAS being the main opposition party in Malaysia with a strong fundamentalist Islam charter), including its uniformed Unit Amal, usually seen at PAS ceramahs guarding party leaders and controlling the traffic. For the Malaysian élite, dark clouds always have a silver lining. | Singapore's recent decision to increase public officer salaries is reaping mass criticism, but makes major sense. While salaries for kingpins like the PM are clearly far too high - (Goh earns almost 2 million Sing$ a year compared to Clinton's miserly 350,000 SNG this year) - lower level salaries are very low compared to other developed countries. This results in talent being lured away fron administration to the murky world of commerce. Other countries must also embrace this initiative, mainly in the lower levels such as police, immigration officers, and public servant salaries. The extremely low salaries here, especially in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and other countries, aids and abets corruption. In many of these countries it is almost accepted that to make a living wage such professionals need to supplement base income by kick-backs and bribery. It also encourages employer governments to simply expand ranks rather than train each employee to be more efficient, as base salaries are so low it is more cost-efficient to recruit rather than train. Salaries in Asia are distinguished from those in Europe and North America by the top levels being over-paid and the lower levels being underpaid. In summary, the rich are much richer, and the poor are very poorer. There will no substantive Asian recovery until income is re-channeled from féting the rich and privelaged to developing the skills of the poor and those who make a living by the sweat of their own hands.
(Thursday) Manic-depressive Cameroon pygmies and leadership: The always stimulating Emerald-Now monthly mag features a chat with Manfred Kets de Vries, Clinical Professor of Management and Leadership at the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD). In the interview the good Prof outlines a psychoanalytic approach to leadership, which should keep our closet Freudian readers happy. "...What, for example, do you think it was that King Saul, General Patton, Winston Churchill, Teddy Roosevelt and Mussolini had in common?, asks de Vries. "The answer is that they were all manic depressives...". He also worked amongst the pygmies of the Cameroon rainforest, to explore the factors underpinning their markedly effective teamworking. Don't miss this highly stimulating interview. No prizes for spotting the obvious manic depressive among our present Asian leaders.. ...nor the Cameroon Pygmie.... | Malaysian newspaper Utusan Malaysia has traced some of the activity behind the recent arms cache heist in Northern Malaysia to a shadowy Al-ma'unah Islam separatist sect. They mentioned the Al-ma'unah has a web site but didn't post the URL, which you can go to now by clicking on their name back the sentence a-piece. From their site, they seem more of a martial arts academy rather than a shadowy group. Lots of pics of Malays trying out martial arts on idyllic beaches and in exotic forests as well as some run-of-the-mill revolutionary rhetoric. Indeed the benefits of practicing this technique may come in very useful for Asian pollies or even us managers. Sun Tze and Norman Vincent Peale take a step back.. and lets all head for Perak... As a trained practitioner of the Al-Ma'unah you will be able to :
If you've got a spare $25,000 SNG$ you can buy www.leekuanyew.com from the Yahoo Singapore auction site. Business Times Singapore reports that no one has taken the bait yet and that you can also purchase www.tonytan.com and www.gohchoktong.com. Interested purchasers should be aware that many "celebrities" have sued successfully similarly celebrity domain names. And once you get the Lee domain name what would you put on it? A biography and piccies spring to mind of course. Even smarter would be links pages to sites on social and genetic re-engineering, and how to rebrand a name once symbolising Asia authoritarianism to one embodying grandfatherly benign benevolence. | The NBO Group wrote today suggesting Hari Ini readers should toddle over to Trend Waves which features "trends and ideas that might affect Asia. It provides a quick linkage from the happenings of the world and links it back to Asia." At present, it seems to focus exclusively on IT. | Time Asia does not seem too impressed with President Wahid Abdurrahman at present, though he has been laying foreign Heads of State in the aisles with his traditional witty asides and new dirty jokes.
(Tuesday) The Indonesian Rupiah skidded to a 10 month low yesterday and the Jakarta Stock Exchange shed 2.2% (and down further as of 2pm today) as President Abdurrahman Wahid sanctioned the arrest of at least 10 parliamentary legislators for alleged involvement in activities to undermine the government. The list includes Akbar Tandjung, from Soeharto's Golkar Party, Speaker of the House, and perhaps one of the most powerful figures within the party. As in his marginalization of Army Chief Wiranto last year, this is a further political gamble to clean up Indonesian government, but the stakes have raised yet again. | A good site to keep up to date with news developments in Fiji is David Robie's Café Pacific. Political and business news on Fiji, Solomon Islands and Pacific Intelligence. | A. C. Nielsen reports that Australia is set to boast 80% of the population on line has been overshadowed by a China set to become the largest Asian IT market. IDC Research reports that "...last year, the Chinese market was worth USD11 billion. This figure should grow to USD14 billion in 2000, and should then triple by 2004. By then, it will constitute one-third of the regional market..". ...There will be more than 33 million Internet users in China by 2004. The Chinese Internet economy is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate over 170 percent and reach USD114 billion in 2004..." | The KLSE Composite Index (Malaysia) shed 5% yesterday though it has regained around 1.5% so far today and the trend is upwards. Since it's high of over 1,000 points earlier this year the index is at around 800, representing a fall of between 20 and 25%, mainly in the last month. While the Malaysian stock market was the high flier of early 2000 following a lacklustre 1999, the trend in the last 6 weeks has been to buck the general come-back of Asian stock markets. We speculated in this column last month that the KLSE was artificially inflated due to local institutional investment, and that was re-inforced on Friday when the CI turned around dramatically in the last hour of a losing day to show a slight gain after being down 1%. A good figure to end up the first half of 2000. Trading has also been remarkably thin. Foreign investors withdrew and local support finally could not match it. And seeing most analysts are saying yesterday's fall was not largely due to Singaporean CLOB share liquidation trading, that problem is still on the horizon. In all, concerns over government interference in the TIME-SingTel deal, waivering of chain-listing rules to favour the Renong group, and upcoming CLOB stock liquidations, suggests that the KLSE should not be seen as a reliable indicator of the strength of the Malaysian economy, nor a market in which investors should be falling over themselves to be in, while good alternatives exist elsewhere. | ..And for the ghoulish..., you can now trace the death-throes of Dot Com's big on glamourpussies but low on management substance at Dot Com Failures. Speculate on the next dot Com to go under and learn something at the same time.
Who is the fairest of them all? Cosmetics crew Mary Kay expects double digit growth in Hong Kong with skin whiteners leading the way, and you will get similar predictions from others in the industry for their own bleaching treatments. Most say that skin whiteners are popular because of their skin protection quality. ....Well that certainly is nice and politically correct. What they don't say however is that skin whiteners pander to the weaknesses of consumers and to at least 3 of the seven deadly sins. (Appeal to all 7 and you have a winning product.) In many cultures worldwide, but especially in Asia, "white" means "purity", "virginity", and is seen as the skin of the upper classes. Generally, people are seen as more "beautiful" the more "white" they are - and it is a belief that pervades cultures from the Chinese and Japanese certainly but also to the Malay and Indian (See also this analysis of Indian matrimonial ads). The smart marketer in Asia knows that a successful product must be marketed as a formulae to create a person that one is not. In a region characterised by massive gaps between rich and poor, successful and not, any product that reinforces one's superiority has a winning marketing edge. Today's vanity, envy and class-driven Asian consumer market serves to reinforce the legitimacy of inequality rather than break it down. And also in a region where "Face" is supreme, "looking" like you have made it, gets you 80% of the way. The other 20% is substance, and unfortunately that does not always come in a Gucci suit, Mercedes Benz, Italian shoes, cocktail glasses, and a bottle of perfumed chemicals. | Partner of the forum, RMIT School of Business maintains a very useful weekly on-line magazine called "The Manager". Abut half a dozen stories each month on anything from "How big companies innovate" to "Abolishing management - one slice at a time".. Now just where did my nice cushy management job go??? | William M Mercer has just released the results of their survey on Cost of Living conducted in March 2000. With New York used as a baseline index of 100, 4 Asian cities lead the ranks of the most expensive. These are Tokyo (164.9), Osaka (143.6), Hong Kong (141.5) and Beijing (138.3). Things don't get much better in the top 20, with 13 Asia cities making up almost 2/3 of the list, and Middle East countries most of the rest. Add to the first 4 cities, (in order); Shanghai (Rank 6), Seoul (7), Guangzhou (9), Taipei (11), Shenzhen (12), Hanoi (14), Singapore (15), and Ho Chi Minh City (16). Aussies have something to crow about. Australian cities are amongst the world's least expensive - yet with a high quality of life... | The Social Sciences Research Network Economics Research Network site makes available abstracts and full-text papers and articles from over 25 economics journals. | Amien Rais, the at times seemingly sensible and at other times just plain gila Speaker of the House in Indonesia says that if President Abdurrahman Wahid manages to "shut his mouth" in the month ahead of August's parliamentary session, then "maybe he has a chance to survive". Rais realised he didn't have the power to run for President last time with a poor showing by his NMP in the elections, so participated in electing a compromise candidate in Wahid. While Wahid leads the world's largest Islam organization and has impeccable religious credentials, his approach is ecumenical, wise, and tolerant. Rais is by comparison a radical and firebrand, - an academic with more ideals than sense - at least at this stage. Wahid's finest contribution to Indonesia is as an interim President who has made good progress in re-unifying an almost suicidal Indonesia by demonstrating a forgiving yet accountable view of reducing corruption, by encouraging an acknowledgment of Chinese Indonesians, their contribution and their culture, and making the first significant steps towards unifying the country. To believe that any President could achieve what he has with perhaps the world's most difficult job, while at the same time getting business moving again reeks of impatience and fantasy. Wahid was always going to be a short-time President, but his short time ain't finished yet if the Indonesian people know what is good for them.
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