Time to do some soul-searching


  • Business
  • Saturday, 23 Feb 2019

AS you grow older, you tend to appreciate quiet moments to reflect on the past, present and future.

Even though I enjoy such solitude, I always look forward to chatting with families, friends and business associates. I have a preference for small gatherings as it is a great opportunity to re-acquaint old friendships and make new friends.

I attend corporate events and seminars because of business commitments but I do have the opportunity to meet up with friends whom I seldom meet. It is the same with weddings and funerals, meeting up and catching up with friends and families that you seldom meet.

The last few years, weddings and corporate events have been held on a larger scale and require event planners to put together an entertaining programme for the evening.

To justify their fees, the over-enthusiastic event planner employs an eloquent master of ceremonies (MC), installs a modern PA system, lighting technicians and depending on the available budget, hires entertainment acts to fill up the entire programme for the night.

At the last wedding I attended, the decor was magnificent and the mood in the ballroom was properly lit with romance and love in the air.

The single MC could switch from English to Mandarin with ease and she was well-dressed in her gown, looking as good as the bride. Just like in all Chinese weddings, the bride would change from her wedding dress to an evening gown usually after the fish dish which is normally the fourth out of eight on the menu.

To announce the re-emergence of the bride in her gown, the MC herself appeared dressed in a new gown to the surprise of all present. I was suddenly confused as to who the bride of the night was. This was the hijacking of limelight which should have been accorded to the bride on her most memorable night. I was not impressed at all with the event organiser and the MC.

Just a few days ago, I attended the annual customer appreciation dinner organised by my old relationship bank. I had looked forward to meeting up with old business friends and the bank’s senior management whom I normally meet once a year.

My wife and I were greeted with loud Chinese New Year (CNY) songs at the packed reception foyer. I met some old acquaintances and we started shouting at one another to be heard.

I went into the ballroom and was seated near the stage. The same CNY music was broadcast with the amplifier working furiously.

To complement the noise level, the two MCs were equally loud bantering back and forth, doubling my misery by translating the bantering in full from English to Mandarin.

It was as if they were the stars of the night and the event organiser was paid by the amount of decibels they could output. Despite requests to tone down the amplifier, the whole act continued.

Maybe my recent chemo treatment has made me rather sensitive to continuous loud noises. I was feeling highly distressed. Finally after 2½ hours of loud pounding noises and after the second dish, my wife and I decided to leave and we had a quiet dinner in a restaurant in the vicinity.

I was disappointed beyond words. It was the first time I left an event early and most of all the lost opportunity to reconnect and chat with some really old friends. Such irony as the theme of the night was Timeless Reunion. It was more like chat-less reunion.

The MCs have hijacked our opportunity to converse with their loud, incessant and self-important bantering and music.

Event organisers and MCs must understand the objectives of hosting an event.

If it is a wedding, then the stars of the evening must be the bride and the bridegroom. No one else. It is not a gig for you to look good so that you can get new jobs. Same with the loud singing wedding bands.

If the corporate objective is timeless reunion and customer appreciation, create an evening that allows the guest to mingle and chat with their bankers and among themselves. MCs should stay in the background and ensure the evening moves along smoothly. The guests did not attend the event to listen to your bantering nor super loud music. We normally go to a night spot or concert for that.

Similarly in business, startups will only be successful if they stay true to their original objective of building a sustainable and profitable business.

The reason nine out of 10 digital startups fail is because they have veered from their original objective of building a profitable business to one that is unprofitable but built for an exit sale based on a large customer base. As soon as the venture capital pumps investment into the startup, they will hijack the original business model which can be profitable to one that suits their need for an early exit in five years.

Nine out of 10 entrepreneurs exit in disappointment having wasted five or even shorter productive years, taking down with them many disappointed employees who had believed in their cause. To me, it is a massive misuse of financial and talent resources. Pure wastage is the name of the game.

Our local politicians share similar problems of veering off from their original objectives. The Pakatan Harapan coalition was voted in by a decent majority based on the objectives of replacing a corrupt government, reinstating the rule of law, rebuilding the independence of the judiciary and reforming the economic, education and human rights issues.

It must be noted the two main parties, PKR and DAP, are multi racial in composition and control 75% of the winning seats in the coalition. Lately, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has started recruiting former UMNO MPs on his outdated belief that political parties based on race would eventually rule the country again.

Our dear Prime Minister has hijacked the electoral success of Pakatan Harapan to rehash the political system of yesteryears of which he was the main architect. It is the same chemo treatment for new voters recommended for the old cancer that will reappear.

Highly distressed

The voters of Pakatan Harapan are now feeling highly distressed. It is like hiring the same organiser and MCs which screwed up your last event.

If PKR, DAP and Warisan do not wake up, their voters will leave them before the next general election.

These parties will be organising parties without any guests present and they will just be listening to themselves talking at the top of their voices amid the loud background music of “Don’t leave me this way” by Tina Turner.

Maybe it is time for these politicians to step back, enjoy some solitude and reflect on some soul-searching. Just don’t talk too loud when you can’t keep promises.

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