Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year, New You? Why in Malaysia, hardware (lowest common denominator) rules supreme over software.

Package Delivery from Future 2021 
of the New You - Anybody home?
February 12, 2021
My Love can only go so far...
As the new year 2012 already dawns upon us, I began to notice so many glaring missing puzzles in our nation's macro social frame. I love my country, because it's the only one I have. But my love can only go so far. Unfortunately, there's a limit to my love. How I wish I could say my love is as wide and deep as the ocean. If I say that, then I would be no different than the other hypocrites on the street. I question about so many things the past year. How far have I progressed. How I view people in general, and the way I view the world in general.

Any thinkers here? Hello?
Other countries in the West, they have great thinkers. Serious intellectuals who actually thinks about solutions to solve problems in their own countries. I wonder how many of these thinkers we have here in Malaysia. Or at least the ones I could admire. I walked around the city in the last few days of 2011, and discovered plenty of constructions going on around me. Some were brand new walkways and bridges that connect one infrastructure to the next. Pretty cool, and lovely to see.

Of course, in order for these new constructions to take place, old infrastructure has to go. This is what I call the hardware transition. In Malaysia, we are so vibrant and constantly changing our hardware. KLCC is expanding its east and west wings. The old UO shopping mall near to Central Market has already closed to make way for the construction of a new rail. The pounding and clanking sounds of lorry and dirt movers regurgitated my mind into deep thought.

Hardware Only
Why, hardware is ALL Malaysia is good at. Not just the buildings, but race, culture and religion are considered to be a form of hardware as well. My Muslim friends who wears the tudung and songkok is proclaiming proudly to the world that they are Muslims. My Catholic friends who go to church every Sunday is affirming their faiths. Unfortunately in the entertainment industry, race and religion do take precedence according to a specific style of hierarchy. But I am only speaking for my own profile - a Chinese male. I find it so offensive that there's a great lack of representation and the misuse of the media in stereotyping the Malaysian Chinese male as some form of nerd, geeky and always-funny form of caricature.

Spanking new station
Social Hardware
Again, this is all hardware. Social status is another form of hardware Malaysia can be proud of. We grant datukships to high society or some Malaysians who "made it" overseas. Or some other forms of title which honors, usually a person of wealth, power and fame. You will notice how many TV personalities are busy hooking up with millionaires and datuks. They have to in order to "survive" and upkeep their image. I am not condemning, I am merely stating a fact that celebrities are NOT true artistes. Celebrities are merely chasing a form of hardware in order to survive. True artistes don't chase after hardware.

Hardware Misuse
New Block (carpark?) at Chinwoo
How about non-celebrities? Well, they also chase the same form of category, but in a different form factor - the content is the same. Jobs, positions and money. These are hardwares too that are fundamental in a materialistic and commercial society like ours. If I am the manager and you are an officer, you better listen to my instructions. Unfortunately, the drive to go after these hardwares cause a fundamental fallacy in any type of system. One will tend to be greedy and misuse the system for one's own selfish benefit. Or lie and steal to get the hardware. So many times in politics, you hear people calling to protect their religion, race and culture. All hardware, zero software.

Especially in a creative industry, your ideas can be stolen: be it a script you wrote, your performance or copy you wrote for an advertising campaign. It happens. This one "friend" of mine has been using my services as a copywriter for some years now. And everytime I have to chase him for payment. When the work is given, he would not acknowledge that piece of headline, for example, and claimed it was done by him. Another personal example I've encountered was for a ringtone company. The manager asked me to translate the ringtones into Chinese speaking format. But where's my offer letter to dictate the terms and payment of my services? You may see a lot of job advertisements, but please be careful. There's plenty of hoax out there due to software non-existence.

Goodbye UO
No Software Here
Believe me that all these dishonesty of no payments for work completed are still rampant in our entertainment industry. But how can these dirty practices still exist in our country which is developing so many wonderful hardwares around us? The answer is simple - our software is simply non-existent. Even under-develop, you may say. The ringtones company director who hired me to translate their ringtones is a Muslim, so why didn't his religion stop him from cheating? The advertising company who stole my ideas is an established business with an office. The boss is  Chinese, why didn't his high position stop him from cleverly taking my ideas without paying?

Thinkers Transcend Barriers
It's all about the software too. In our country, the biggest failure is in instilling the best practices for thinkers to thrive. There's virtually zero well-known thinkers in our country. Why's that? Simply because our current hardware system does not reward or even nurture quality thinkers. Everyone is going for the HARDWARE: religion, culture, status quo, money, salary etc. Most of the so-called "thinkers" with some form of name or media coverage, are merely defending their own race, culture or some other form of selfish enterprise. I'm talking about thinkers who knows they are in a precarious situation and would not allow themselves to be mistreated and treat others unjustly. Are there any like that? It has nothing to do with your race, religion and social standing. You could be a garbage collector and be a great thinker at the same time!

More skyscrapers surrounding KLCC
Here's where my aspirations are for my Artiste Training Course. Real artistes are so rare, perhaps even non-existent in Malaysia. Are you ready to become the first one? Artistes understands the situation and sees things as they are, not in any colored fantasies or falsity hyped up by others or by some form of out-dated hardwares. True artiste stand on their own, at the expense of being unpopular even. Now what we have in our industry are simply followers, Yes-men and women. We become like that because we are afraid to lose our hardware - jobs and money! Really, I'm not saying it is a bad thing, just the way we are conditioned, hence the results.

Anyone out there NOT afraid to lose their jobs?
If I don't follow my boss orders, I could get fired. Fear is actually an illusion. A form of convulated belief that you will lose something for doing something else. But the truth is, nothing in this world ever belongs to any of us in the first place. Eventually, everything has to go - to make way for the new. Like money. If you don't spend it, what good would money do for you? I believe fear is a misnomer. Fear to think is a misnomer. If thinking is what you do the whole day, you should be put on the front page newspaper and made a star. Unfortunately, thinking is not something Malaysians are encouraged to do by anyone. Hence, the greatest mistake was made for putting priority on hardware over software. Seriously, you cannot blame people for doing so due to conditioning from young. It's easier to just follow a set of existing hardware conditioning. Simply follow A in order to get to B. If you don't, you will never get there, period.

New bridge
No wonder so many people are repressed by fear, in the midst of all the hardware superiority. Fear to take action. It is this fear that produces a generation of sub par quality of people. No doubt we have Malaysians who studied abroad and such, and came home with their hardwares - degrees, masters, PhDs. But does it matter? Some who do come home, complains about the very infrastructure that enables them to go overseas to study. Notice how much trouble hardware causes? People with Masters aren't all that quality people. Their minds are just as common as everybody else.

New bridge connecting Star and Putra Masjid Jamek

Lots of Hardware Work, Zero Software
How about in the workplace? I remembered my last stint as an English Teacher for this food and beverage company, and notice this very young manager. She obviously has the ambition, hence she does a lot tasks, but unfortunately the people working around her aren't cooperative with her. The staff working under her were my students, and I hear many complaints. This is a great problem because in the restaurant business, teamwork is essential. The manager thinks she completed all the hardware tasks would enable her to succeed further, and that's what the boss approves too. But she failed to notice the software part is abandoned. That's why as an English Teacher, I tried to instill the software skills, but was stopped half-way due to the priority placed on hardware tasks. You see, I'm not afraid of losing my job because of some silly software malfunction. Let it be.

Empty space - devoid of machines
The point is: I'm  a Communications Strategy Coach, and the one thing I do best is to fine-tune the software part. A lot of people failed to see that - what with the examination importance placed on the education system? I notice so many students spend time on tuitions to make the grade - but essentially failed horribly to understand why should they even learn in the first place? The answer from them is to get the grade, get a degree, get a good-paying job, build a family then retire. Notice all these answers are skewed only in one direction? The hardware direction. Not even one answered or aspired for the software aspect. Worst, to prove how hardware is gaining superiority is to look around you. Indians still mingle with indians. Malays still with their own race in social gatherings.

Hardware deteriorates, Software Endures...
A lot of people failed to notice that hardware deteriorates faster than software over time. Your thinking is what made who you are - not your job, family, friends, race or religion, where you stay or what kind of connections you have. How can you spot the symptom when a hardware is deteriorating? The most visible form of deterioration is rudeness. The quick dismissal and belittlement of others of their opinions "Ai ya, it is like that arrr. Don't bother...". Bad customer service from the electronics shop where I purchased the walkman. Rude remarks from food stall operators who thinks you owe them the favor for becoming their loyal customer. Family members who pretends to offer a helping hand, but with conditions attached and accusatory assumptions being placed on you first before the help even arrives!

Improving Software, Not Hardware
Again, I am not saying hardware is not important. It is imperative, even a prerogative that we must let our minds be developed first and lead the hardware later, not the other way around. The saying "Build first, the rest will come" is a dated thinking. Can you imagine watching a movie that only have beautiful and famous actors but lousy story/plot lines? It's a waste of ticket money. We have so many of those thrash coming out from the pipeline. Even the story and plot lines are treated as some form of hardware, meaning lack of depth with no thought whatsoever. Simply just follow. Or go back to their original hardware.

Software. The single most important thing everyone should fix and upgrade despite their hardware condition. Millions, even billions of ringgit are spent on building infrastructure hardware around us - the new SmeCorp at KL Sentral, Iskandar etc. Don't you agree that money should be spent on upgrading your software  too? You are different from an electronics gadget because if you were an electronics gadget - the hardware and software must be compatible with each other first before it could function. That's the amazing thing about being a human being. You can upgrade your software now, without waiting for the hardware to arrive. Software changes, hardware seldom do. When a virus infects, simply change the software. That's how easy to change  software - and voila, you are brand new again. Truly, this new year 2012 should be the clarion call for all of us to better our software before the hardware. If not, you might just stuck and remain frozen in 2011.

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