Monday, March 31, 2008

I Shouldn't Have, But...

It's a busy period for me - this 50+1 Malaysia book project I'm working on really needs lots of attention. But the past few days, I've been doing somethings quite different from it. This obviously delays the project a lil, but I just can't help it... What got me distracted:

1. Check for computer courses
I mentioned to a fellow blogger, BB, that I have a few other projects in the pipeline - mainly to do with the internet.

Initially when I was introduced to html & ftp in 2005, I was very reluctant to learn it. Because then, internet was not part of the business, but mainly a compliment - just like how every company needs a website.

However, because IT will now be a main part of the business, I will need to know & understand it myself. I forsee IT taking centrestage or play a big role in the business.

I asked around, and also google some courses - mainly short courses offered by schools & intuitutions. The outcome: buy a book and learn online.

Time spent: half a day & 1 night.

2. Conceptualising more ideas
There's always this period of time when some new idea gets into my head, and this is one of the times.

I've rushed into some of the ideas before, without much understanding, and lots of learning to catch up. This time round, I want to plan it proper.

So quite a fair bit of time is done formulating, browsing, searching, and back to formulating. The idea seems to be shaping up, but can only work with me having the IT skills above.

Time spent: many nights & in betweens.

3. Watch DVD
Because of so much thinking, it gets hard to sleep! It was 1am yesterday and I was still wide awake - the head a lil spinning. I needed to cool down my thoughts.

Sometimes, I might have gone online, but I knew better for that would only make me be more alert, & the head will just spin more!

So, I popped in this Korean drama series which I bought like 1/2 year ago and have yet to watch. At least it has to do with my future ambition on productions - so it's not a time waster. Though it maybe a lil eerie watching a dracula show at 1am. Luckily, it's not a horror flick! (that's what I get when I buy DVDs by its cover lol).

Time spent: 1 hour.

freeze,korean dvd
Should have known this glass is actually filled with blood, not wine.

4. Going for shoots
First it was Jack Neo's MNE2 (Money No Enough 2). Well, like I mentioned, I had wanted to experience a movie production. Good excuse right lol.

Now just to share my 'discipline side'... So since I've done it, I actually rejected another day's shoot a few days after because of time factor & the "did that. done that". In fact, I've been rejecting quite a few offers especially from MediaCorp - especially as they are not big roles. It just is 'Money No Enough One'.

But mention modeling, and my ears perk up a lil more. The reason is because modeling is a lil easier to do comparatively - just say 'cheese'! And the 'money is enough'. And especially when time is tight, this is a better take, as it usually don't require that much time.

So, when I had a shoot on Friday, I took it. Nice & I learnt a bit on the productions as well, but the this was my longest one - nearly 12 nonstop hours! I was literally knocked out the next day!

Time spent: 2 full days + 1 knock-out day.

5. Editing my websites
Some of my old websites need to be updated a lil. It has been weeks now since the thought crossed my mine.

Somehow today, I just on the computer and said 'Let's Do It'. There is no makeover yet - which I think they need one. But even then, and a lil tweak here and there took me the whole day and I'm still on it! (admit I'm slow at html lol - back to no. 1).

Time spent: 1 full day so far.

6. Blogging
My journey in blogging is a slow one. Although this blog is 1.5 years old now, I've never really been so intrigued by it till my fellow blogger friend, StormWhistle started his. He is much more serious at it and has many good useful tips, some shared on his blog.

I then took an interest on blogging more seriously after experiencing the joys of blogging. I must admit, it is like an addiction! - but doesn't need to be cured, only that it does take a bit of time.

And that is why, I'm here tonight to blog :)

Time spent: 1 - many many hours a day & still counting.

I shouldn't have, but... :)

Sunday, March 30, 2008

What Goes In?

"What makes a brand?" the first question I've been stucked to for a days. From what I know a brand is a recognisable name, not necessarily a company, but can even be a product. Simple.

But I needed more info, and checked out Interbrands, the most recognisable yearly list. This is the company that does the Top 100 Global Brands every year. Apparently, Interbrand evaluates brands much the way analysts value other assets: on the basis of how much they're likely to earn in the future. The projected profits are then discounted to a present value, taking into account the likelihood that those earnings will actually materialise (source: Businessweek).

In simple words, there is a value to the brand, and it's not merely a intangible.

The next question that came to my mind is "how about Malaysia's brands?" There are so many awards which were given out and one would be just blinded with the number of awards.

There is one participated by Interbrands as well - Malaysia's Most Valuable Brands by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia (4As). A few others worth metioning include the Brand Laureatte Award.

So, we thought with these many brand awards, it would have been easy to compile a list of 50+1 Malaysia Brands. Wrong!

Some of these awards not only award local brands but any brand that make a mark in Malaysia. That is not what we are looking for, as we want to promote Malaysia - in this case Malaysian brands.

Also, this book focus on the tourism-lifestyle-entertainment industries. The readers though could be businessmen, are most likely to be the average consumer.

So 2 more issues airsed. First, a lot of these awards attribute to a company instead of a product. That is an issue because people are more familiar with products than brands (just like whey P&G though huge is not in the Interbrands list).

Secondly, I wasn't too sure about putting in our big conglomerates which are successful, but too diversified to even be considered a brand.

On one hand, I say we put them in as then it will show what Malaysia is made of - these huge conglomerates, similarly to every other Asian country where the conglomerates do have a big pie in the country's economy.

However, on the other hand, these conglomerates' portfolios include manufacturing which may not be of interests of the readers.

So we did a lil survey to our target readers, and the answer is "No, don't put them in - I'm not interested". Basically the main reason is because it's not related to them. They would only want to know things which relate to them - consumer related products & services.

Finally, after 3 days of research the question "What type of brands goes into the 50+1 Malaysia Brands segment" is cleared.

The next step is of course the list itself. And that one is what we are still working on, as now it is a fresh list, and we can't base it on the awards given out previously. We've listed a few industries for the start - F&B, hotels & resorts, spa, fashion & retail.

*Hope I didn't bore you with the brand details in the start. Well if I did, then it really proves that the 50+1 Brands list has to be less heavy like our conclusion! :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

My First Tag

I mentioned before about blogging. This hobby cum interests is a whole game by itself. There are new things, some rather interesting!

It's not just merely about us writing our thoughts, but one thing I realised in blogging is that although virtual, we can & should make friends, basically with other bloggers. Hence, even this virtual stuff is not a loner.

One new thing I learnt from blogging is being tagged - something most bloggers will already know! lol. Well, I just got my first tag and here it goes...

Tagged! Random Questions

Instruction: Remove ONE from below and add in your own personal question, make it a total of 20 questions. Then, tag 8 people in your list and list them out in the end of this post. Notify them in their chat box that he/she has been tagged. Whoever does the tag will have blessings from all.
The person who tagged you is: BB Marketplace

1. What's your favorite book at the present time?
Can I say Batik Inspirations? :) It will always be something I treasure.

2. Given the chance, what special ability/power would you like to have?
At this moment, none. Happy with my abilities.

3. What's your favorite color? Why?
Blue. Always been. Always will. Though during Chinese New Year, there is that red, and if in Thailand, I may wear some yellow!

4. Where is the place you want to go the most?
At this current point, will be Taiwan & Hong Kong.

5. If you have one dream to come true, what would it be?
Tough one as I have lots of dreams! Short term, to ensure the 50+1 Malaysia book gets enough sponsors so that a copy can be given to each contributor.

6. Do you believe in seeing a rainbow after the rain?
Yes. Everything happens for a reason. It could be a learning point or even a turning point (for the better).

7. Do you think friends are important?
Very. Even in the bloggersphere!

8. If you win $1 million, what would you do?
Reinvest in business, plus give some to family. Ok, I'lll enjoy a lil bit of it too - the destination I want to go.

9. If you meet someone that you love, would you confess to him/her?
Yes. People need to be informed.

10. List out 3 good points of the person who tagged you.
Knowledgeable. Business blogger. Malaysian.

11. Which type of person do you hate the most?

12. What is your ambition?
To have a successful business focus on the Entertainment - Lifestyle industry, including publishing, media, productions and F&B.

13. If you have fault, would you rather the people around you point out to you or would you rather they keep quiet?
Point it out.

14. What do you think is the most important thing in your life?
Happiness. I think that is the one thing everyone is searching for. And it doesn't matter what background (poor, rich), race, religion we are.

15. Are you a shopaholic or not?
During Chinese New Year.

16. What is the one thing you like about your country?
The many places to visit. Honestly, I didn't know Malaysia was that beautiful till I started on this recent project. Now I know why we have quite a lot of tourists especially to Borneo & the islands.

17. If you have a chance, which part of your character you would like to change?
Maybe be less hot tempered. I realise that if we know something not too good about ourselves, we can always learn to adapt, and be a better person after, though not change completely.

18. Is there anything that you have done which you regret?
Not a regret. I believe all things are meant for a purpose.

19. What makes you different?
The ambition to create unique things.

20. Do you feel good to be friend with the person who tagged you? Why?
Yes. Why not?

Ok, Im to tag other bloggers. They are:
Happy Surfer
Noor Ashraff
June Lam
Jayce Ooi

Alright, what a process. A nice one :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

First Official Video

By now, some of you would have known about my project which I've been working since July 2007 - first The Malaysia Page, which then followed by the Malaysia Book.

I've always been inspired by the promotional materials by Tourism Malaysia since back in 1990 when I was still a kid. I remember the Visit Malaysia song then.

Till today it still gives me goose bumps hearing the song, with such meaningful lyrics. The tune is slow and gives a beautiful laidback feel of the country.

Visit Malaysia

To know Malaysia, is to love Malaysia
People smiling everywhere
Showing you how much they care

To know Malaysia, is to love Malaysia
It's true
This land, so beautiful
It will steal your heart away
This land is paradise
And it's only, only a smile away

To know Malaysia, is to love Malaysia
In this land where dreams come true
Malaysia welcomes you
To know Malaysia, is to love Malaysia
It's true, it's true, it's true....

Tourism Malaysia has of coursed matured since and their latest Visit Malaysia Song in 2007 is faster and more upbeat. Titled One Golden Celebration, it comes in 3 versions - Malay, English, and Mandarin.

This song plus its clip gives a more wholesome Malaysia today, with progress, yet its cultural diversity - and a fun place to be! The song actually coincides with Malaysia's 50 Years of independence as well, hence the words 'celebrations'.

Many friends love this song. And I personally believe that this song has the edge to reach to a wider audience, promoting Malaysia as a wholesome destination, and not just a beach paradise.

There’s a place not far away
Different faces yet all the same
With a million dreams
In One Golden Celebration

It’s the place for us to be
It’s the time to feel so free
With a million smiles
In One Golden Celebration

Come and spread your wings
There’s so much to see
There’s a million colours
Right before your eyes
It’s One Golden Celebration

Mari adek-adek
Mari abang-abang
Mari ramai-ramai
Mari bergembira

Feel the magic in the air
Every moment
and everywhere
With a million thrills
In One Golden Celebration

A million colours
A million dreams
A million smiles
and a million thrills
For you and me
In One Golden Celebration

Spread your wings
And take your flight
One celebration
One delight
It’s the time for us to be
One golden moment
For you and me

A million colours
A million dreams
A million smiles
A million thrills
It’s the time for us to be
One golden moment (Malaysia)
For you and me

Come and spread your wings
There’s so much to see
There’s a million colours
Right before your eyes
It’s One Golden Celebration

Come and spread your wings
There’s so much to see
There’s a million colours
Right before your eyes

It’s time to celebrate
One Golden Celebration

Malaysia Truly Asia

Taking these in mind, and the many other promotional videos over time by Tourism Malaysia, these has in a way influenced my works, which I think can clearly be seen in the 50+1 Malaysia Book and its video.

50+1 Malaysia Book has an Official Video!

The ideas behind the video is similar to that of the book. It doesn't only promotes the book, but in fact, the sample pages featuring actual photo submissions do in a way promote Malaysia. These are pages which we have already done, giving a glimpse of what you can expect of the book :)

I've chosen the beach theme as it's closest for a semi tourist book. The music is also very beach influenced but a lil upbeat as well for a light and fun book. But of course, you and I know, Malaysia is more than just that :)

Enjoy! :)

*Maybe next, anyone interested to compose an official song? :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Video Idiot No More

The emergence of YouTube and the phone cameras have made video making nearly part of our lives now. I myself a 'video-idiot' have done 2 videos - which I posted on YouTube before. The results were ok, though nothing that fantastic. That despite the time spent on them.

I'll be needing to create some proposals for our Sponsors, and a cleric first recommended Power Point. I thought that was formal, but a lil tad boring. Then he mentioned how bout doing it in video.

That brightened up my eyes. This is going to be exciting! The only setback - it will consume lots of time, and I don't know if I can come up with one eye catching one.

At first I thought of using Slide which I've used before. But I find the functions a lil bit less, and the end results neat, but not so impactful.

So I googled around and found 2 interesting sites that can help create interesting videos and even slides.

Video Idiot No More
My criteria - it has to be web-based (ie not a software that I need to download). And it has to be simple and easy for basic users.

This site offers 2 types of video making - free or paid. The free version, Animoto Shorts, is shorter (30 seconds only), while the paid one has features like allowing users to have a longer version and also the video quality is higher.

The Good
I did a trial version and found it quite smooth. Users can upload images directly from the hard-drive or retrieve it from other sites like flickr or facebook.

The interface is simple and very easy for beginners to navigate around. It has a step by step procedure. After uploading the images, the next step is to select the music (for free). The music selection is very cool and edgy. After selecting the music, allow it to render a video style automatically.

The results are quite stunning and very polished, and like they say - as if it's done by a pro.

If you are happy with it, users can automatically upload it to YouTube.

For the free version, the images are lower in resolution which affects the video quality.Also, it doesn't allow you to choose the type of remix, but instead it will automatically detect your pictures and choos a suitable one. This may not go down well with some who want a more creative management on the video.

And as for the free version, it doesn't allow you to remix the video again (ie if the generated video is a particular style, you can't redo it). The paid version can though.

The other site I tried is One True Media.

The Good
Like the Animoto, users can also upload photos via the computer or from other website that the photos are already placed. And the finished video can be uploaded directly to YouTube once it is done.

The Difference
This site allows users to make both videos (montages) as well as slideshows (more hip than Power Point). It has other features as well like creating photo books, creating ecards.

Also, it allow users to choose the type of effects from a selection. As I mentioned, this could give a better hand in your creativity, despite it being pre-selected.

The images/ photos can also be cropped and sized accordingly for the user to emphasis something. For example in the video I created below, I managed to highlight the words and also the people by not using the whole image.

The navigation is not so smooth here, and a lil less user friendly. It takes a bit more time to get familiarise, but after getting the hang of it, it becomes easier. Users have to note the difference between a montage and a slideshow.

The interface is less beautiful hence giving it a less pro image, although substance wise it is just as good if not better.

I'm still new at this, but will be exploring these options more. Both are equally good, but for the moment, I want to expore One True Media first which will come in rather handy for the business proposal! :)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Money No Enough-lah

Singapore's hit movie, Money No Enough, produced in 1998 is going to be back - most likely this year. And I had the chance to see the process and be part of it.

In 1998, this smash hit garnered S$5.8million. Then, it starred Jack Neo and his 2 all time cast - multi talented Mark Lee and Henry Thia. The movie clicked well with the audience on local theme (of basically not enough money) and it's inclusion of Hokkien in between.

With such a big success, it is no surprise that there is a sequel to the film. And like some mentioned - it's good time (on raising costs now).

10 years since the hit success, Jack Neo has much gone into directing and is now Singapore's most commercially successful director. His movies are known to subtly injected with political & current issues (eg. Malaysia-Singapore ties was widely used in the Homerun movie, and his latest Ah Long Pte Ltd played on Malaysian politics). He now has his own company, J Team Productions - which manages and train artistes, TV & film production and also does TVC.

The Call Up
I was called up a few days in advance for a full shoot day. Actually when we were called up, there was no mention as to what we were to do, or what movie we were to be in. All I knew that it was for Jack Neo's latest movie.

Having not acted in any movie before, and though this is really a small role (more like an extra), but I took this offer up for 2 reasons. One, it was for a movie - that sounds cool lol. But more importantly, it was with Jack Neo - I wanted to learn both on production and also on Jack Neo's directing/ advise.

This despite my hands being rather tied with the 50+1 Malaysia Book already.

The Shoot

location shoot - monye no enough 2
I arrived at 8am to an old school which is going to be refurbished. There were already a group of youngsters mainly teenagers. But there were also a few more senior members. A little too early, and we were told to go for breakfast and come back later.

production team - money no enough 2
We continued to wait a little for the production crew to start. All the while still don't know what are we to do yet.

Then we were asked to be protesters against the ERP (for those not in Singapore, the ERP is like a toll system to ease traffic flow into the city - where vehicle owners will have to pay before entry). We were divided into 3 teams. And our voice were recorded saying 'No ERP!'. These were done at the school compound.

Next we were asked to go upstairs. It was there that I was quite awed with what I saw. It was a huge green panel - which means this movie is using the Green (some call Blue) Screen technique. The whole day was spent on us marching in groups and sometimes all together.

shoot, green screen - money no enough 2

We were joined by another fresh group of people later - to add to the multi racial theme of the movie. There were breaks in between, but by midway a lot of us were tired from the continuous shouting of 'No! E.R.P!'

shoot, money no enough 2 - shout & march, no erp!

Another highlight for me on that day was to see the mock up ERP gates. We filmed carrying it around - rather carefully, as it was not fully secured at its ends. And there was a scene which we had to take - us literally pushing the ERP gates down (apparently the sea or the river scene will be added). Lots of cordination were needed for this as we thought it would be a one time thing - ie. when it collapse, that's it!

Well, were we wrong! It was stable. And very solid. So, goes the shoot and re-shoot of the scenes by different groups, sometimes by all once again. And from different angles as well.

The tired faces of the many extras were seen especially when it was already dark outside. But one final task - to record another sound from us - us shouting & screaming happily when the ERP gates fall.

It was only after then that we signed the talent release form.. and on it it states for MNE2. No guessing it was for Money No Enough 2!

What I Learnt
1. Production takes a lot of time & effort. It reminds me of the time we did the 3 day shoot for my previous project - the Batik Inspirations book. Already then it took so much time, not to mention the post production. And for a feature movie, there is much more cordination and filming days.

2. Green/ Blue screen is the way to go - because shooting can continue despite the bad weather outside. And the director can then multiply the people to create a LOTR effect.

3. The more cameras the better - that will save time as there won't then be a need to retake the same scene and actions from the same angle. However, a point to note is that this may increase costs - in equipment and cameraman.

4. For the actors: act like it's real - even if it's a small role or a short scene. As an actor (big or small), this project still relies on us as it can affect the flow of the movie.

5. Get good crew to build the props. Like for the ERP prop, we do retakes over and over again because it was hardy enough to be re-enected and be 'thrown' again and again. Balance between hardiness and budget is important here.

The Conclusion
For the pay, it is really 'money no enough'. But hey, I don't think anyone's complaining because although it may not seem so cool on set, but Im sure when the movie is out, all of us would be trying to see where were we in the movie (if they don't cut us out! lol).

And the lessons learnt - invaluable.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Siti Sharing Her Diary

It was a 3 year absence from Singapore. For a pop sensation with a big fanbase in the island state, that would have been something.

Well she is now ready to be back. That is Dato' Siti Nurhaliza - arguably Malaysia's most successful entertainer and pop icon to date. She is making a comeback appearance at the prestigious Esplanade of Singapore.

Diari Hati Dato' Siti Nurhaliza (A Diary Of Her Heart)
Her concert is titled Diari Hati (A Diary Of Her Heart).

I can still remember the time Siti burst into the music scene some 11 years back. Yes, she literally 'burst' into the scene. Petite, young and beautiful - with a great voice and popular music. Her video clips were aired on TV so often.

A new icon was born, and this icon continue to stay on up till today - an achievement lauded by many as unbelievable. Not many artistes can hang on that long - usually 3-5 years at their peak. But for Siti or CT for short, she held it for years to come. And till today, no one seems to be in second seat waiting to take over the 'throne' of this pop princess.

I've never been to any of her concerts and in fact, have hardly watched any of her performances on TV. But I've heard a few of her songs and find them pretty good. And there was once when I was in a concert for another performer, and in she walked in. Guess what - the whole auditorium went quiet or in whispers "Eh, that one Siti lah..". What an awe-stricking moment. Never had any star had such strong presence - not even the overseas performers on stage that night.

Ok, on with the show in Singapore on 21st March 2008. From petite, Siti has definitely put on some weight based on her pictures on TV and the magazines. So it was my first time seeing her since. In the concert, she herself mentioned about it before she sang Beyonce's Flaws & All. Jovially, she mentions in Bahasa Malaysia "last time S, now from M going to L" - mentioning don't expect her to dance like Beyonce.

Spotting her now image, she comes in dressed in the tudung, albeit a more modern version that doesn't wrap round the neck. She sang both slow and fast tunes, mainly songs from her new album. These were quite new to me, but were quite nice especially the one penned by Singapore's composer - Dick Lee. It sort of have a Chinese 'tune' to it. One of the new songs that I like is Sutramaya which has a fusion of traditional and modern feel to it. I believe it is only Siti who can pull off such a song.

Of course, Siti did not miss out on some of her favourite hits like the all time popular Cindai. However, I was expecting her to sing 2 songs which I know her for Aku Cinta Padamu and Bukan Cinta Biasa. Maybe I should have shouted my request out, as Siti was very friendly and warm throughout the concert, listening to the audience and talking to them in between songs.

And that was where I could see why she is so liked by many. It's her down-to-earth personality. She connects well with the crowd, and talks to the crowd allowing them to connect with her. It's her humble attitude that makes her so likable, and only enhances her star power.

In between she gives some presents she has for the crowd - like photo frames and diaries. These items were placed at the side of the stage on a sofa and side table. She jokingly mentioned who would want to the sofa as well. She sure knows how to joke with all sincerity. Very Malaysian, and it ticks with the crowd. Lots of people wanted her presents, and she managed well to give the last one to a makcik who is a big fan of hers.

The most heart warming moment in her concert was when a handicapped person who was in the audience was called out by Siti to be by her side while performing a song. It was a very touching moment when Siti actually noticed and actually called her. Just imagine what wonders did Siti do to the lady, who will have a long lasting sweet memory of being with her idol. And to the rest of the crowd as well. Like I said, that's why she is so likable!

People from Singapore, Malaysia and some even Indonesia (Medan) came to watch their idol. The seats were not cheap especially those from abroad, but were well worth it. I'm sure many left with a greater sense of happiness of connecting to the 'diaries from this Malaysian star's heart'.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Interview With The Stars

The 50+1 Malaysians List is most likely the most challenging one of all segments that I've encountered. From finalising the list with help from other industry players, getting contacts of the personalities, and interviewing them.

Being in their fast paced life, these are busy people with hardly time for themselves - attending TV shows, concerts, events, shoots and other interviews.

Having had a lil bit of experience interviewing some of Malaysia's biggest designers for my previous work, I come a lil more prepared. However, I must say this is a different ball game in a way. First, it's not just 8 people (designers)... now it's 50+1 (ie 51!).

And although they are from the entertainment industry, however, the number of sub industry or segments are much more this time round - the singers, the actors, the celebrity chefs, the sports players, the models & others. On top of that, the singing category is even further divided from pop to hip hop, nasyid, independent bands, etc. This is because we want to showcase each individual who made an impact in the Malaysian entertainment industry. And that is only fair to have from each singing category as well.

Furthermore, it's not only the Malay entertainment industry, but also the Chinese entertainment industry. All these adds to the complexity of the whole process.

I had to do some surveys, talk to some association experts - all these to get their views. I also had to research on these personalities myself - their past works and their awards. Remember, before the list is out, there were many more names mentioned.

Once the list was finalised, which took the longest of times, the next thing was to interview these personalities. Again, as we are new in this industry, there were quite a fair bit of explaination. And like I mentioned earlier, these are busy people.

Ok, so appointments were made - either via face to face, telephone and emails. All 3 had its own unique points and experience for me. The emails interviews were the easiest. The only setback is some artists may not answer the question accordingly, and may at times need to be re-emailed.

The phone interview is the best I would say, as first it is quick and fast - both on the artiste and my part. And I get a chance to speak to them, introduce my company and the book better. Also, I can guide them in case they don't quite understand the questions posed. Of course, however, there were some artistes who made telephone appoinments only to not pick it up when called. Some were rescheduled later (over and over again) - some never.

interview with jaclyn victor, singer of gemilang, malaysian idol winner
Then there were some who prefers a face to face interview, which I did both in KL and Singapore. This was rare and though it took much more time, but it was well worth it. It was great to see Jaclyn Victor, Saw Teong Hin and Rusdi Ramli face to face. I'm lucky that these are humble people and there were no airs in them, giving a very easy interview.

interview with director saw teong hin, director of puteri gunung ledang

interview with rusdi ramli, malaysian actor
It was interesting that I interviewed a singer, a director and an actor. Saw gave good insights to his works and the film industry, while Jaclyn was very nice giving info on Malaysia throughout. And of all the 50+1 artistes I encountered, Rusdi was the most humble one of them all.

The whole process has been a remarkable one - some big stars were very humble. In fact, I realised the bigger the stars (in most cases), the more humble they are. They reply promptly, and are very co-operative. They thanked me for my time, our efforts and also wish me the best - now that's what I call a true Star!

Some other interesting things to note - there were some who I thought would have been 'difficult' turned out very nice indeed (very different from reports from the press or insider's stories). What a big surprise! And of course there were those which were vice versa.

I'm still waiting for a few more answers to be emailed back, but officially, I'm closing this chapter. What a journey!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Malaysia Book Update 2

It's now past mid March. Time is really running very fast.

It's the month I've been looking forward to - the time for this book to be ready for print.

8 segments on Malaysia. In fact, 5 would have been sufficient:
50+1 Truly Malaysian Confirm Malaysia One (eg. our Malaysian lingo or other things we find unique to our country)
50+1 Food Very Sedap One (no need for me to elaborate here lol)
50+1 Places To Visit Definitely Must See (Places that makes Malaysia a haven for tourists)
50+1 Things To Do How To Explore Malaysia
50+1 Festivals & Events How We Celebrate

The first 5 segments will give a good recognition the country deserves already. And I'm sure Malaysians and both foreigners alike will find them rather amusing and in a way able to connect to them. (That is the main difference of this book with another travel book - connectivity with not just foreigners/ tourists but also locals).

If I had done just 5 segments, the book would have been completed, maybe 2-3 weeks back.

But I had wanted more than to just showcase Malaysia in its touristic forms. I want to portray a more wholesome glimpse of Malaysia - something that will give a better insight to Malaysia, and somethings that make Malaysians proud.

This goes back to my aim of Recognising Malaysia - my main aim of the book actually.

2 other segments that I think is important to recognise the country are its people and the brands/ companies behind it. Hence, I've added 2 more segments:
50+1 Malaysians Now That's What I Call Talent!
50+1 Brands Glocal Faces Of Malaysia

The Malaysians List is aimed to recognise the talents and also to promote them (though I must say some may not need so). For example a tourist to Malaysia may want to know what movies to watch, or what CDs/ DVDs to buy, and this could help them in a way. Or when the director's movies are screened overseas, some of them might have heard of these Malaysians and won't be so foreign, and for all you know support their shows.

The Brands is hoped to give an insight of modern Malaysia, brands that are close to Malaysians hearts, and in our everyday lives. Of course some have gone and made a name abroad. This will show where the economy of Malaysia lies - though not in full, but it will give a good understanding.

One last segment I created is the 50+1 Love Expressions. The aim of this segment is to bring Malaysians together to show their love for the country. It could be a physical thing or just an expression. At this point, the pics of the Malaysia flag (called Jalur Gemilang) is one of the main show of expression in this segment.

And though I know that the flag is not the only way to show one's love to the country, but it is a good way. For a photographer to take that shot, he must be proud of his country.

So, 2.5 full months including Chinese New Year offs, the book is quite close completion. I'm still looking at a end March dateline (ready for print). At times I'm a lil burnt out, but having already put my all the past months, it's just a bit more to go.

Besides, the satisfaction of meeting fellow friends both local & foreign who share the same passion & love for the country is a great inspiration to continue. I've met a fair share of new friends some very supportive & encouraging. Many have actually agreed for interviews and replied to my requests to submit their photos, some very patriotic.. while some very willingly because they mention that they so love their holiday here. In any case, I am proud to know these humble & friendly people.

I can't wait for to see the end results in a few weeks time. In the meantime, while I'm on this, let me savour it! :)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Keeping It Cool

I would like to share an experience - maybe not so inspiring, but something in my journey as an entrepreneur.

Last week I had a business meeting. It was a business meeting between young hopeful entrepreneurs like myself and one senior member who supposedly has had his fair share of success and experiences (I didn't check his resume yet, but was mentioned). We are to develop an idea for a new business together - yes the 4 of us.

Well, so going for the meeting, I expected it to be one smooth one, where we can discuss on the new project - outline of its objective, its timeline, divide of work and goals for each member.

However, the meeting was a 180 degrees turn from what I've expected. I'm fine if the meeting has met at least a few of its objectives, or if we came out clearer, but this businessmen took it as a boasting platform and no mention at all on the new project. "I know best", "I am great", "I am..." Ok, so I give in to the 45 minutes of full self appraisal & 'glory'.

Being myself, I don't like to brag - I believe in 'empty vessels making the most noise'. And somehow I felt that although he is successful in a way, it's not superbly successful. Of course success comes in many forms, and for a businessman who knows how to brag, I find him showing off to a wrong crowd - to young entrepreneurs.
'Get your own level playing field - and platform too!'
Actually, I would say, we've read of bigger younger people who are more successful - be it from USA or China or even South East Asia.

Now it is one to boast, but another to 'run others down'. And again, it shows the lack of charisma as a businessperson. Although I could boast if I had wanted too as well, but all the while in the meeting I never mentioned anything much on my company. Let him have all the spotlight he needs.

So listened I did but when he started to fiddle with his handphone for a long time, I got agitated. This behavior coming from this so called successful businessman. But again, I kept my cool.

So after the whole meeting, I got a lil wearied, drained and no clue as to where we are heading next. I'm quite certain in this business world, I'm not the only one who face or will face such situations - where valuable time is spent without much gain (ps: the journey to his remote office is a good 1.5 hours and another 1.5 hours back).

This is a good business idea, but fall where it matters - its team & members. It has to be put on hold - at least on my part. I can't be going to invest my time in something quote unquote from him - "see how".

It's a lil disappointing that this can't work out now. Quite a waste actually because I do like the business idea - it has good potential and does give something back to the society.

But I guess, there will be a silver lining after every storm, and maybe there will be another time to invest in this business idea :)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Migration Vs Loyalty

Today Ive just spoken to a friend. Knowing this friend for 2 years now, he has always mentioned of his 'Australian dream'. This Malaysian, like many others, have furthered his studies overseas, and in his case, Australia. He then came back to Malaysia, worked in Singapore a while, but somehow he missed the lifestyle that Australia offers.

He will be part of the figures that tally to Australia. Already, last year there were 3838 Malaysian migrating there (Source: The Sydney Morning Herald).

Now, firstly, I think Australia is a beautiful country. Its big and huge, lots of greenery, very fresh air with many wide open spaces, and most of all its Western. This is of course quite a stark contrast to Malaysia.

Well Malaysia is also huge to one extend, and is very beautiful - just look at our number of tourist arrivals. However, it fits into the Asian mould - South East Asian mould to be exact. That may not seem so cool to some - and I'm not just saying the weather. Besides, Malaysians don't travel around the country that much apart from visiting the major cities. Hence, the perceptions by Malaysians on Malaysia is usually not 'a wholesome one'.

This 'brain drain' doesn't only happen to Malaysia. In a report by Channel News Asia, it mentions that Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in an interview with the United Press International (UPI) has said Singapore is facing a 'pretty serious' brain drain problem - losing about 4 to 5 percent of the top 30 percent of its population every year.

What could be the reasons people are migrating abroad? What has another country offer them that their home country don't? There are many pull factors as just mentioned, a change in lifestyle and working environment, and maybe also the paycheck, which when converted can be a lot of difference - my friend mentions that he is offered 4 times a higher salary in Australia now, taking into consideration the exchange rate of 1AUD = RM2.98! This friend who may take 10 years (not counting his previous income) to become a millionaire in Malaysia will now only take 2.5 years to do so.

I'm sure there are also quite a fair bit of 'push factors' - whether in working environment, family relationships, or on the local environment. In Singapore, the complaints heard are usually it's very restrictive or rather boring, despite Singapore being one of the top nightlife places in the world!

So, the grass is always greener on the other side. And in a huff and puff, my friend has made his decision to leave beautiful Malaysia.

The next question to ask is - is migrating a form of disloyalty? I guess this is an open debate. Some will definitely say a strong and resounding Yes. Some of course will say No - especially those who have left. Now, by the Festivals held abroad eg. Malaysia Fest in London or NY with huge Malaysian supporters, maybe they are right about them still loving the country.

My Own Experience
I myself have been questioned before, though I'm only based across a tiny Straits Of Johor. Though I travel frequently to KL and Malacca on business, but some have raised the issue of where I am based and my loyalty.

For me to answer this question, it is without doubt that my heart still belongs to Malaysia. Sometimes friends have always said 'Wah, this Malaysian da*n loyal one lei'. This is usually in response they mentioning something or making a statement about Malaysia that I don't feel right.

Or even when I'm with a group of other citizens in a foreign country and the native ask 'Where are you from?'. It would have been easier to just follow the crowd and nod what they have mentioned. But, this loyal Malaysian will not, and sometimes although it's only me alone, I still say I'm from Malaysia! lol :)

I will always be back in Malaysia despite traveling or being based elsewhere. And I'm sure I'll continue to do works on & for the country. Already, I have 3 projects dedicated just for Malaysia - Batik Inspirations, The Malaysia Page and now 50+1 Malaysia. That could sometimes raise questions by my friends - like why I'm being based in Singapore doing work on Malaysia. I guess, it takes one to be abroad to see that the grass is greener on the other side!

My opinion may not represent all Malaysians abroad, but I'm sure many feel the same as me. That their first love - is and still will be their homecountry. In this case, Malaysia :)

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

50+1 Love Expressions

The results of the 2008 12th General Elections in Malaysia has been somewhat interesting. Called a 'political tsunami' by the press, this has changed the face of Malaysian politics since independence 50 years ago.

Just a brief recap, the ruling coalition which consists of 4 major parties - UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan has seen its majority in the Parliament reduced to below 2/3rds. And under the state level, Malaysia now has 4 new state governments. (Previously only Kelantan is held by PAS, while the rest by Barisan Nasional).

My viewpoint of the elections is that Malaysians love the country and have voiced for a country that is to progress together, benefiting everyone. (Now Im not saying nothing has been done so far, but maybe the people want more).

Their love for the country is not new. In general, despite the many grouses we have, one thing is for sure - ie. we love our beloved country, Malaysia.

Now, that is one thing I can assure. In my works of interviewing people on the 50+1 Malaysia book, I encountered many people who declared their love for the nation. Actually, that is one of the main reason the book is to be done - to highlight this, that Malaysians actually love their country! :)

Share Your Love!

Because of the many entries, and some of them not being able to fit into the other topics, we have created a special segment in the 50+1 Malaysia book, called

50+1 Love Expressions


If you are reading this, I would like urge you to send in your love expression to the country, to be published in the book. This is an avenue for us to show our love & express it.

What can you submit:
1. Photos - one example is you could include photos that show the Malaysia flag in its 'many poses'. Other examples could be creating some miniature gifts, or things that showcase your love.

Some example submissions so far:
*Photo by a blogger who shared her mini Malaysian cake-dolls which she made;
*Photo of a batik blanket with a love shape dedicated to Malaysia.
*Photo by a batik artist from India who painted a work to depict multi racial Malaysia.

2. Writings - declare your love to Malaysia through writing eg. a paragraph or a story. Just share your love about Malaysia - maybe write your vision of the country, or write what you love about the country wholesomely! Maybe you can also share what you want of the country - eg. peace, harmony.

Some example submissions so far:
*Poem written by a a student.
*A story submission about what he loves about Malaysia.

One example that can help is to dedicate something to Malaysia, showing her you care. Example:
Dear Malaysia... I love you because... I hope that... and I will always... :)

How to submit:
(remember to insert your name, and blog/ web link if any).

I guess this is my strongest urge so far throughout the book process (seems like Im campaigning lol :) ). Aniway, I really hope to create a book that we all can see from the people's eyes. And this segment is a special one of course - to us Malaysians.

My wish: I hope that you guys can help spread the word around and inform your friends about this, to come together in one platform to show our love for the nation :)

PS: It doesn't matter which party you support, or whatever race or background you are :)

*For more info on the book:
Malaysia Book Q&A

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Updates On Malaysia Book

3 full lists have been done and by this week 2 more lists will be completed. That means by end of this week, we will have completed the write-ups plus photos for slightly more than half of the book.

More of the book being revealed, in accordance to the amount of work we've completed.

It has been a busy past few weeks. Most of my time have been spent on the idea creation. At times, I could spend the entire day just thinking (of course with a paper(s) and pen in hand) on the direction/ contents of this book. There is also a lot of research on my part as well. Basically, I'm going through a learning process of discovering the country (which I've learnt there's more to see than I've known there is - see Malaysia Is Beautiful). This is a huge workload, but that's because I really want this book to be unique, and something that can benefit the country in someway.

Another large chunk of my time is spent on the interviews and collection of photographs for the book. These include foreigners/ tourists who have traveled here, and also locals who travel around the country. Like I've mentioned before, we want to publish a book that is seen through their eyes. Though terribly busy, however, it has been quite a fun time. Some of them have been very friendly and courteous. There are many too (both local & foreign) who support such publication for the country (a pat on the back!) :)

Not to mention, the list of interviews with the 50+1 Malaysian personalities/ celebrities. I undertake most of the interviews myself, as I think I know what to ask best and also having had previous experience interviewing some of Malaysia top designers for my previous book, Batik Inspirations. So far, I've done a fair bit of interviews. I guess the question on most people's mind is 'How are they like?'. Well, they are really humans - just like every other professions. The first batched interviewed see mostly very down to earth people (will share more on this once the whole interview process is done).

I'm lucky to be able to form a small team of writers & a dedicated designer to assist me in the write-ups. And as I've mentioned, we are near halfway through, and many thanks must be credited to them.

There's still a fair bit more of work to get done, but things are moving and bit by bit the Malaysia Book will be revealed! :)

Monday, March 03, 2008

50+1 Malaysia: Talented Malaysians List

One of the segments in the book for Malaysia - 50+1: Malaysians. This is a tough list to do with lots of research work and feedback from the public to select amongst Malaysia's best. Some of them you will definitely be familiar.

This was a very hard list and lots of research, working with other industry experts. I'm glad that after weeks of late nights, we can now present the completed list!

And now presenting... the 50+1 talented Malaysians:

1. Datuk Michelle Yeoh
2. Angelica Lee Sin Chet/ Lee Sinje
3. Datuk Siti Nurhaliza
4. Mawi
5. Jaclyn Victor
6. Sheila Majid
7. Anita Sarawak
8. Ning Baizura
9. Raihan
10. M. Nasir
11. Search
12. Anuar Zain
13. Ella, EMI
14. Sharifah Aini
15. Yogi B
16. Joe Flizzow
17. OAG
18. Nicholas Teo
19. Gary Chaw
20. Victor Wong
21. Michael Wong
22. Rynn Lim
23. Fish Leong
24. Penny Tai
25. Daniel Lee
26. Erra Fazira
27. Maya Karin
28. Rusdi Ramli
29. Vanida Imran
30. Fasha Sandha
31. KRU
32. Rosyam Nor
33. Hans Isaac
34. Saiful Apek
35. Chef Wan
36. Chef Ismail
37. Hannah Tan
38. Amber Chia
39. Datuk Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor
40. Datuk Mahadzir Lokman
41. Suhaimi Baba
42. Ahmad Idham
43. Yasmin Ahmad
44. Afdlin Shauki
45. Tiara Jacquelina
46. Saw Teong Hin
47. Lee Chong Wei
48. Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong
49. Nicol David
50. Jazeman Jaafar
51. Shalin Zulkifli

To those in the list, Congratulations!

For more info on these personalities, hang on & keep a lookout for the 50+1 Malaysia book this 2008!

Next up, my interviews with these talented stars.