Say “Tak Boleh” to “Malaysia Boleh”

Say “Tak Boleh” to “Malaysia Boleh”, if you’re an entrepreneur

I am a proud Malaysian who grew up in Singapore. I have often heard the term “Malaysia Boleh” used by Singaporeans. Depending on the context, “Malaysia Boleh” can empower Malaysians, implying that Malaysians have the will and the spirit to achieve anything. However, I have learned that most Singaporeans use the term in a sarcastic, derogatory manner, implying that people can do what they like as long as they have money to bribe officials in Malaysia and Malaysians are not fussed about getting the job done correctly. I consider this term quite derogatory if implied this way.

When taking a closer look, on the surface, Singaporeans view Malaysians in this manner because there is evidence to illustrate these assumptions.

Take this “grandiose” event below. It was supported by the Malaysian government and had several sponsors and partners. The event served as a business network hub, connecting local and international businesses. With over 500 exhibitors, it’s a renowned event.

To advertise the event, I saw the following advert.

  • “Are you wondering how would you explore new technologies, products, business trends, and new emerging markets during a lockdown?”
  • “Are you thriving for business trainings”
  • “Come and learn from our amazing coaches and trainers who will facilitate trainings daily”

When analysing this advert, they have been poorly written, which doesn’t portray Malaysians in a positive professional manner.

The below phrases contain some grammatical and syntax errors, despite the writer commenting that the advert has been written in “perfect English”.

In particular, the phrase:

“Are you wondering how would you explore new technologies, products, business trends, and new emerging markets during lockdown?”

Should read
“Are you wondering how to/ or how you can explore new technologies, products, business trends, and new emerging markets during lockdown?”

The phrase:

"Thriving for business trainings" contains the term "thrive", and “trainings”. The word “thrive”, which is another word for succeeding or flourishing has used in an incorrect context.

The purpose of the advert is to attract clients to meet their unfulfilled needs. The advert should read, “Are you looking for business training?” instead of saying, “are you succeeding or flourishing in business trainings”. “Trainings “should not be plural which applies to the other sentence “Come and learn from our amazing coaches and trainers who will facilitate trainings daily”.

Strategist MY - Elliott Wang - Screenshot from June 7th Strategist MY - Elliott Wang - Screenshot from June 7th

Screenshot on 7th June

When conducting a simple google search for the event.

There are only five results on the google news tab, including an 8-day-old post (at the time of screenshot) with only five likes, one share, and one spam comment. Yes, a spam post unrelated to the event that had elements of fraudulent activity which had not been taken down.

My new business partner, whom I respect very much, felt that I was too direct when criticising the ad, which in my opinion, was a fair one.

He felt offended and embarrassed when I criticised the ad. I don’t believe he fully understood my point of view.

In my opinion, the grammatical errors have tarnished the brand. Further perpetuating the self fulfilling prophecy that in Malaysia, doing half the job is enough.

To make things worse, the ad has been allowed to continue to run on Facebook; they are paying for the ad only to be essentially scrutinised.

It's safe to say Malaysians are educated; however, considering this event has been promoted to an "international audience ", it doesn't paint Malaysians professionally. I can only imagine what foreign companies are thinking after reading this ad.

If only the organisers had paid more attention to the ad and were more diligent in organising the event. This classic relaxed approach by the organisers is the old "Malaysia Boleh" approach.

The relaxed approach is present in many everyday business operations and business decision-making in Malaysia. Many entrepreneurs take the "easy-going" approach to sales, administration, and planning. When it comes to business, one needs to be professional, organised, and succinct.

Strategist MY - Elliott Wang - Say “Tak Boleh” to “Malaysia Boleh”, if you’re an entrepreneur

I mean, if you buy a 1300PM movie ticket and are late for the show, will you be able to negotiate with the theatre for a 1500PM entry? Complications arise when payments are considered. The complications would not arise if businesses and organisations had solid business plans and processes.

To further illustrate this point, if a party is being sued and has to appear in court on Tuesday, 8th June 2021, and needs legal representation in court on that day at 8 AM. They pay the legal fee and travel expenses via IBG on Friday 4th June 2021, 1830PM. However, the payment is not instantaneous, and if you make the payment on a Friday evening, it may arrive on "next business day", which will be Monday, which would have been fine… alas, 7th June 2021 was a public holiday! (Had an unpleasant experience which is why I am writing about it)

If a lawyer was engaged, they may think it's fraud and may refuse to appear in court.

+Interbank GIRO (IBG) is an electronic fund transfer payment system that allows for money transfers between participating financial institutions in Malaysia.
+Malaysian banks don't operate on the first and third Saturday of the month.

Business is about money. A delay in your payment to a vendor often means a delay in service or product delivery, translating into a disappointed client that your business relies on. If you don’t pay your employees on time, they may refuse to turn up for work; if they do, they may not deliver their best work and even report you to the authorities.

With the modern ages and the speedy development of the internet, it’s now easier to do business across the border. The informal approach has to change, and Malaysian entrepreneurs should delve into the nuances and conscious understanding of leadership, teams, motivation, transformation, and operation.

The time of change is now.

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