Saturday, 8 August 2009

Just a Flawed Argument......

There appears to be a moral dilemma in NEP which many don't seem to see, and the question is simple -"Is it alright to cheat, if you cannot compete?"
In the last two updates, this question was "posed" (although not explicitly) - where a case of "cheating/manipulation" was perpetrated, and it was justified by saying that it was done to beat the competition in its own game - albeit without the help of "handicaps".
This was mentioned by RPK, and it was his way to rationalize that he does not need the NEP to survive.
The following are two quotes from the two articles on No Holds Barred :-

I went to meet two of those fishermen who had received free Mitsubishi engines from UMW and offered them these Yanmar engines, also free of charge. But the condition was, they would have to first sabotage their Mitsubishi engines in the middle of the sea and get rescued by the Fisheries Department.

-RPK, Why I Don't Need The NEP

Actually, the NEP is still there only partly because of Umno’s manipulation. The other reason it is still there is because the Chinese have demonstrated that they look down on the Malays and without the NEP the Chinese would have smashed the Malays to smithereens.
-RPK, The Racist Malaysian Exposed

All he's saying is that he "cheated" by sabotaging his competition to get ahead - never mind the consequences. All those who questioned RPK's assertion that he did not depend on the NEP are deemed "racists" - even if they just questioned the methods of awarding the tenders.

To RPK's "deviousness" and business acumen, I say - Bravo!!
It is quite easy to understand RPK's simplistic logic here.
It's business, and it is "war" - and all's fair in love and war, right? After all, realistically speaking, that is definitely the case - and NEP is just another form of "cheating" by the Malay elite, when the Chinese Chambers of Commerce (or the like) do a similar form "monopoly" through their "networking" prowess.

However it (this argument) is definitely wrong- especially when you seek to be a proponent of an ideal. RPK's argument against the NEP was deeply flawed. When one wishes to make an argument or brag about success a "level playing field" in marketing- it has to be based on the merit of one's services/ products and its feasibility or after sales services.

Without a doubt - RPK succeeded in manipulating circumstances and achieved his success "without the help of the NEP" in marketing the product. The way I look at it, RPK was in a very subtle manner, actually justifying the NEP as a valid form of competition - by manipulating the "market". This success that RPK speaks of was not due to the cost-effectiveness or a proven track-record of the product, but rather based on the premise that - "If I think you're playing dirty, I'll play dirtier".

So if the dirtier businessman wins with no regard for the methods used, it is definitely a valid success!!! So it is with the NEP - the only problem is, in NEP, the "dirty" businessman turns out to be a beggar for more "dirty deals" and easy money.

I do not presume to say that what RPK did was "wrong" as such - as he was faced with a juggernaut. It was a David and Goliath story - and david decided to use a missile against the sword & shield. However, that should not have been the argument against the NEP. Two wrongs don't make a right. The way I look at it, he should have argued his case by saying that he managed to prove that his product was superior, value for money, had better after sales service or more cost effective despite the "inferior" quality - and so he won.

Moving on to the NEP per se - RPK had a very valid sentiment in saying that many Chinese (or others) do not see Malay competition as being worthy of respect. The problem here is in "perception" - businesses are viewed as "Malay", "Chinese" or "Indian" or "Japanese". Why isn't a business viewed as just that - a business?
And why can't these businesses compete as just that?
It is simply due to the fact that we have institutions catering to race-based businesses - Indian, Malay, Chinese associations for businesses, education, sports, entertainment, religion and politics. This exists everywhere in the world as people tend to seek "common ground" to form alliances in business.

In Malaysia though, blatant racism in institutionalized for the benefit of a small group of people with political clout. It is the system that breeds racism and polarisation, which eventually confines people to their own business/educational/social ghetto. So when a business is successful, that community is thumping its chest with empty pride, even if it had nothing to do with racism, but everything to do with excellence.
So it was with RPK - he viewed UMW as a "Chinese business" although it had within it enough "bumi" hotshots, who were simply rent-seekers/ pirates who increased the operating costs, and so were increasing the cost of the end product for consumers - the poor fishermen.

So logically speaking, reducing the 6-7% of the profit margin shouldn't have been much of a deal for the businessman- RPK would probably have lost out had there not been pirates within UMW who pushed up costs by about 10% ....... But then again, Pete - it was a job well done.
Congrats - but for gottsakes, use a better argument next time!!

It is sad that people seem to keep seeing things from the same perspective all the time.
They even want to play the same game, even if they knew that their competition has a wealth of resources in playing the game - and as such become underdogs. Then when they become the underdogs, they cry foul about the "tilted playing field" and ask for "affirmative action".
It should be somehow possible to simply start a new game - wherein perceptions change, and the old rules of sectarian alliances and prejudice cannot apply anymore.....