Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this the reason why we are losing out in global trade?

Malaysians in Qatar are upset with the Malaysian embassy officials in Doha here for inviting only a selected number of Malaysians for a dinner to celebrate Malaysia Day at a leading hotel here recently.

Some Malaysians feel this has something to do the recent visit here by International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapha Mohamed. During the visit, Mustpaha hosted a dinner cum discussion with Malaysians at the Malaysian-managed Holiday Villa.

During the briefing, the YB invited Malaysians to raise current issues affecting Malaysian businessmen here in Qatar. Many Malaysians openly complained about the failure of the Malaysian Embassy to cooperate and support Malaysians here.

One Malaysian said he had been working with a leading Qatari construction and development company at the boardroom level for many years. He said to date, no Malaysian embassy official had visited the CEO or chairperson to pitch for work whereas the Singapore ambassador holds regular dialogues and pitches work for Singporean companies and Singaporean products.

Another Malaysian criticised the Malaysian embassy officials' inability to speak Arabic whereas the Singaporean ambassador, who is a Sikh, speaks fluent Arabic and makes the local Qatari officials feel comfortable.

Senior officials from major Malaysian engineering and construction firms attended the minister's briefing. One complained that Exim's bank's failure to support Malaysian companies here and in the Middle East for the past 25 years was a case in point.

One firm has suffered massive losses due to a lack of understanding of local issues. Most private sector officials assigned here said that their lack of knowledge of the local business and economic environments was the main cause of the failure of Malaysian businesses.

One Malaysian resident complained that even Malaysian-produced 'kacang goreng' was being exported to Qatar by a Singaporean company. He said the Malaysian embassy did nothing to pitch for work or even promote Malaysian products.

Some said that Thailand has four to five restaurants here and they market their products through popularising the restaurants. The Thai embassy officials are very active in promoting their country both for tourism and consumer products.

During the dialogue, the minister was unable to answer many specific questions raised by Malaysians here. He said he will advise the Malaysian embassy to be more active. The chargé d'affaires was seen busy making notes.

At the end of dialogue, the minister asked his 20-member delegation to stand up in order to be recognised by the Malaysians in Qatar. Sadly, the Malaysian delegates were so slow that the minister had to practically plead to them three times.

Finally, the Malaysian team got up from one corner of the room. The minister reminded them two times not to group together in one place but to mingle amongst the Malaysians here in Qatar.

Some Malaysians in Qatar feel that the embassy may be upset due to the above incident and avoided inviting all Malaysians to celebrate '1Malaysia' function. As the monies to celebrate Malaysia Day comes from Malaysians, it is unfair to invite only some Malaysians and not most.

[Source : Panglima Garang]

Geronimo's Take : What! A Singaporean Sikh speaks Arabic while our fella (presumably a Malay Muslim) could not? Some thing is not right here. How can we consider ourselves a serious player in the global market when we can't even get our basics right. It reminded me of the time when I needed to buy a property. During one launch by one of the property developers, I noticed that the staff from the foreign banks were selling their loan services aggressively by proactively approaching customers to handle their end financing needs. They always seemed to have a mathematical calculator with them all the time to provide quick answers to the customers should they inquire about the repayment terms. In contrast, the staff of the local Malay bank still relied on repayment tables printed out on a sheet of paper. Every time a prospect inquired about the amount he needs to pay monthly, the staff would have to do cross reference on the sheet of paper which sometimes could be time consuming. In addition, instead of being up and about fishing for customers, they just sat there behind the table waiting for customers to come to them. Speed and pro-activeness count and the local bank was slow to adapt to such simple basics.

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