DATUK Seri Chan Kong Choy is a visibly changed man of late.
Standing at 177cm, his weight is now down to 77kg after shedding 8kg and inches off his waistline.
Doctors said my ideal weight is 72kg, he said, obviously proud and pleased with his new frame, which he credited to exercising on the treadmill at least four times a week and a proper diet in the past few months.
Known for his good sense of humour, the articulate 51-year-old MCA deputy president said he wanted to share the good changes with the people.
But it certainly is more than exercising and diet, he said, adding that one of his biggest challenges or rather that of the party is to change the mindset of the people so that they are prepared to face rapid globalisation.
Unlike retirees who could look forward to a slower pace and more leisure lifestyle, MCA, which will turn 57 at the end of this month, has to do otherwise, he said.
We are talking about globalisation. Many in the community are yet to be well-equipped to face the onslaught. We have to learn, adapt and change, he said, citing how some small-and medium-sized businesses had been wiped out by the impact of globalisation in recent years.
So what has Chans new look got to do with globalisation and changing the mindset of the Chinese community, especially the small-and medium-sized industry entrepreneurs?
Chan said the community must be ready to change in the midst of challenges.
Drawing an analogy, he said: We cannot take good health for granted. Exercising diligently on the treadmill gives me a good sweat besides helping me to keep fit and healthy.
My wife who is very into qi gong has benefited much from it. She is now healthy again.
Likewise, he said, many people used to assume that globalisation only affected the industrial and service industry. But it was not true, he said, lamenting that such assumption was indeed costly.
The negative impact of globalisation, he said, was obvious on a wide spectrum of businesses, from the local kopitiam to the cottage industries in the new villages, to tourism.
Chan, who is also Transport Minister, pointed out that the conservative way of doing business had become obsolete.
People must be willing to spend money and time on branding and promotion of a product, service or country, he said.
Some famous tourist destinations are branded in such a way that you can get everything there except your father and mother, he said in jest, relating his travelling experiences.
However, in a serious tone, he said the people must be willing and ready to adapt and open up to the world in order to compete effectively.
We have in a way lost out in several areas but it is better late than never, he added.
Chan said MCA had positioned itself well to help small-and medium-sized entrepreneurs via its various institutions, including the MCA ICT Resource Centre helmed by Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha.
Citing NV Multi Corporation Bhd, a public-listed company dealing with funeral services, as a shining example, he said Malaysians were no less enterprising.
Who would have thought in the past that funeral services could be transformed into such a thriving concern.
The caretakers, dressed in suits and ties, are very professional. The packaged services also take away the hassle in times of sorrow and this helps the grieving family to cope better, he said, recalling the demise of his mother last year.
Likewise, he said, Malaysians could always brand other products and services.
It is not impossible for Malaysians to have a chain of kopitiam or warong all over the world, just like McDonalds, Starbucks, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
To me, our local coffee is equally good if not better and at a fraction of the price of designer coffee, he said, adding that the question to be explored is why the younger generation are drawn to the designer cafes.
To put Malaysians in a good stead to face the modernised world and the impact of globalisation, Chan said the party would go all out to implement its nine-point platform at all levels, including lifelong learning, revitalising education, upgrading economic competitiveness and promoting the spirit of Malaysia.
Last but not least, he said: We must accept the world situation, be adaptable, ready to take up the challenges, innovative and visionary.
The Universiti Malaya graduate who loves to read Chinese classics and play golf admits that he has had no time for such leisure in recent years due to his increasingly heavy workload and responsibilities.
This perhaps explains why he has to be contented with taking glimpses of a painting of 12 Chinese beauties from his favourite 200-year-old Chinese classic Dream of the Red Chamber hung at his office on the ninth floor of Wisma MCA, Kuala Lumpur.