Article 41 – Believe it or not

For those of you who have had watched Ripley’s on TV, I am certain that you are still undecided on whether to believe some of the bizarre stories that appeared in the series. Always well presented with an engaging script, the narrator takes you to the edge of sanity in a persuasive argument as the unbelievable story unfolds. You are seduced into believing.

Believe you me, I am now experiencing the same state of mind, every time I read the local cartoons and political stories easily available via emails, Facebook and Internet. Whether it is anti-BN or anti-PKR, the cartoons are so hilariously funny that you forget what the message is all about. The stories and claims in the articles are so far fetched and heavily skewed that even a simple educated mind will question the motives and credibility of the writer.

All the advertising gurus will give you the same advice. Treat your customers with respect. Never underestimate their intelligence. If you want your customers to buy into your brand, tell the truth and allow them to believe in you. A credible brand lasts forever.

I have long stopped reading political newsletters by opposition or pro-government parties. I totally ignore the political news in our local newspapers because the reports are heavily skewed towards the party that owns the daily. So I turn to the sports section followed by business news and then the foreign news.

I particularly look forward to columns by Marina Mahathir and others because I believe in them. Their sincere viewpoints are well articulated and written with full conviction. Most importantly, their love for the well being of the nation transcends the political divide and allows them to be truthful and forthright. In the journalistic world, they have become arguably a credible brand.

When you are on your own, you can believe in anything you want. Just make sure your wife believes you. When you run a partnership, mutual trust is everything. In a listed company, your investors believe you when your share price is up and the Securities Commission looks at you in disbelief when your share price continues to go further up.

When you manage a government linked corporation, your KPI is linked to the happiness level of your political masters. When you are a civil servant in an opposition state, you do not know who to believe in. Either way, you are just a pawn in a needless power struggle between the federal and the state. Nobody trusts you.

When you are starting a new business, building a creditable reputation for both yourself and your company is a must. Your staff must believe in your leadership or they will not follow. Suppliers and bank officers need to believe your financial statements and forecast. Your stakeholders’ confidence in you determines your success level.

If you wonder why some political leaders continue to insult your intelligence by saying some really stupid stuff, my belief is that they do not understand market segmentation, changing market trends and consumer target profiles.

Some thirty years back, economic policies were formulated based on racial needs and religious tolerance. The greater population was young, rural based and poorly educated. Communicating with the citizens then was simple and straightforward. Just control the mass media tools like TV, radio and the newspapers. Spin positive propaganda and you are home free.

Now you have a smaller rural population, well-educated fat middle class and a fast growing group of well-travelled intellectuals. The ruling party still believes in controlling the mass media to spin their stories and they still propagate the same old message to all three segments of the society. Outdated and fragmented policies of fighting for the rights of the people based on race and religion.

In the current oligopoly political scenario, the opposition is also campaigning along the same lines. So it does not matter whichever party wins the next general election, we will have more of the same in our lifetime.

If you are a smart marketeer, you will realise that there is a growing void in the political arena. There is a crying need for leaders who believes in fighting for all Malaysians, sincerely cares for the poor and smart enough to manage and protect the wealth of the nation.

This is a great opportunity. Like all new businesses, you will have to start small and grow it step by step. With the Internet, you do not have to control any mainstream media. You just need to be honest, tell the truth and you will become a credible brand.

Managing a country is no more different than managing a big company. The CEO is answerable to all the stakeholders. The management team is responsible for the long term wealth of the company. Keeping existing customers has become much tougher as the competitors become more savvy in communication. Acquiring new customers involves major investments.

Hiring talents to crossover has become very very expensive due to upfront signing on fees. To stay in touch with your customers, you have to organise roadshows, criss crossing the nation. You have to work hard to survive.

If you are a credible brand, I will vote for you. Believe it or not, I want to believe in you.


13 thoughts on “Article 41 – Believe it or not

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  6. I usually do not leave a comment, but I browsed a few responses on Article 41
    – Believe it or not On Your Own. I actually do have a couple of questions for you if you tend not to mind.
    Is it only me or does it appear like a few of these remarks look like they are written by brain dead folks?
    😛 And, if you are posting on other online sites, I’d like to follow you. Would you post a list of every one of all your public sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?


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    Do you offer guest writers to write content
    in your case? I wouldn’t mind composing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write concerning here. Again, awesome site!


  8. Mr. Honest Tan,

    I just read your article ” Taking a loan is fine, but if you can’t pay back your loans…” , with the three dots (… ) for the reader to fill in! I give the adjective ” Honest ” in line with ” Honest Abe Lincoln ” , one of the rare American Presidents you could ever find. In fact, not only American Presidents but also leaders who are “trustworthy” ( currently used by some leaders to woo voters )..
    I like your style : straight-forward, down-to-earth ideas; in short, honest.
    But, the question I would like to put to you is this: Does honesty pay? Honest people die poor; and sometimes land in prison; while crooks die rich and can even escape prison sentence.
    However, now I shall deal with “borrowing ” , for a start; and later make a diversion.
    One, there was a saying that if you borrow 100 grand ( of whatever currency ), you have to worry more than the banker who will shadow you month after month until you paqy back at least the interest. After three months of non-payment, your loan will be recalled with the alarming words
    ” On Demand ” . This Demand Notice, usually issued by the bank’s lawyer means that the bank has lost its patience in you; and you are at the end of the tether. If you still have not responded, the next instruction to their lawyer is to foreclose your property, which will come under the auctoneer’s hammer.
    However, if you borrow 100 million ( $ or RM), then you need not worry; the banker will be very, very worried! Why? Because the bank will lose so much interest; and your default means that the interest cannot be treated as profit; and the loan will be classified as NPL ( Non-Performing loan) And the Officer will unduly worried; and his head will be on the chopping block! Years ago, US banks gave huge loans ( millions, even billions of US dollars ) to Governments in Latin America ( not individuals , mind you ); and because of the collapse of commodities market, they could not servcie their loans ! And since interest-income determines the Profit/Loss of a company, the banks were in deep ‘shit. ” Before the Latin Governments go bankrupt, the American banks would the first to go bust! To get out of the grave predicament, the banks found an ingenious way of turning red ink into black ink! How? A very simple solution which entrepreneurs could learn ! Well, give a SECOND loan ; and use that loan to service the FIRST loan! Now, of course, South American nations were too glad to accept this Hobson’s choice!This bold move was a big gamble which the banks had to take! Now, the Governments had TWO loans, not one !The banks hoped against hope that the commodities would recover fast enough so that both loans could be serviced; and the loans would become healthy again!
    I could not recall the ending story. I believe the nations are humming again; and the World Football would be held in Brazil!
    So, the moral of this episode is that, if you want to borrow, borrow BIG. so that the headache will reside in the bank!
    I heard a Malaysian tycoon went on a borrowing spree; and several Malaysian banks might have read about Standard & Poor’s credit-rating of this tycoon, and all , or practically all, were very eager to lend to him !But the financial crisis hit all companies and Asian nations went on a tail-spin. This tycoon’s multiple companies went udner receivership! What a great fall it was! So, have banks learnt the Latin American lesson? No! So they got bitten.
    Yes, giving small loans ought to worry banks, not just big ones. Government servants used to get Personal loans. The amount of loan was thrice the borrower’s gross salary. A borrower’s perenial question was: ” How much loan can I get? ” Was he interested in the rate of interest? No! He was only interested in the amount of loan!Strange? No! To him, this loan was his additional income: a bonus! An ang pow!
    To him, let to-morrow take care of itself1 Just live for today!
    Now Angkasa is a body that deducts the salary ; and at the end of the month , he would feel the pinch! His take-home pay was drastically reduced!
    This tells us something: live within our means! If our income is RM100.00, never spend RM120.00. If we do so we are heading to bankruptcy sooner or later.
    Another important attitude of a great man is humility. One great car-maker was Iaccoco, who worked for Ford comapny.He discovery a way to make good profit for Ford. Owing to his humility and ingenuity, he had many good colleagues and made life conducive for workers; and workers were very co-oeprative and happy to work with him. Thus, he became very popular among the workers who worked hard for him.He never shouted at them like a commander-in-chief! But the employer did not like anybody to be more popular than himself. To send a message to him, some of his closest colleagues were fired or sidelined

    Finally, he, too, was marginalised; and was forced to resign. He joined the rival car-maker, Chrysler, not knowing that the new company was near bankrupt! He was forced to get American Government guarantee so that Chrysler could borrow money to ride the storm.To make sure that all workers would not demand for pay increase, he set an example: he took $1.00 for his annual pay! Could any worker dare demand for pay increase when he took home only $1.00 per year? No,hed shut up their mouths by personal sacrifice! That is leadership by action, not mere words! Eventually, Chrysler managed to turn around and became profitable; and he paid back the loan taken; and canceleld the Government guarantee!.


    1. If you wish to borrow, then borrow BIG like USA or Dubai. The debt is so HUGE no lenders dare to push you hard. In fact they got to make sure you live and continue to be in good health. LOL!


    2. I think if you view success in terms of being wealthy financially, you will come to the conclusions you made. instead, if you love doing what you do, the business you are in, your company will be able to make products that sell in every part of the world and in the process change many people’s lives. take Apple and wall mart for example. Apple started with steve wozniak building the world’s first PC! he and steve jobs brought the company to heights very few people in their 20s would dare to dream. the company went down for a while until jobs returned to the company and gave us marvelous products that we never knew we needed. Sam Walton brought created walmart that brought the concept of bargain stores. The most important lesson from this is that these people created the company through believing in their dream. they wanted to do something good to the people. If you operate your business with the mind of making money by hook or by crook, you will eventually lead your business into swindling people. This is the problem with many china companies and many local companies that we encounter


  9. Really great reading and learning from you. it’s not easy to find a success entrepreneur like you to share and help the younger generation in doing and manage a business. Thank you! 🙂


  10. Good morning Mr Tan! I believe in you too.

    bTW, marketing takes aim at short-term sentiment. In the 1980s actor Ronald Reagan confidently sold consumerism to the US people amid political turbulence to make them feel good and knocked out a more deeper-thinking far-sighted Jimmy Carter. That re-instated Republican in leading the US politics but also turned the US budget from one of a surplus to deficit for the past decades.

    Along the way, a friend explained there was minimum strategy, mostly tactical to ensure survival to the next phase.

    The Rakyat have matured but the tacticians are mainly playing with sentiment of the day to tilt the advantage to their favor -just enough for them to survive for the next 4-to-5 years. Now how do we inform the Rakyat?



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