Thursday, December 27, 2007

Zoo Negara and Service Liability

On Dec 22, 2007, a five-year-old girl was clawed by a leopard at Zoo Negara, Kuala Lumpur. (Read the news here and here.)

According to The Star, zoo officials were puzzled how the incident could have happened as there was a barrier that separated the visitors from the leopard’s enclosure. Director of the zoo had said that they would not compensate the victim. Most people interviewed by The Star believed that the girl’s parents, rather than the zoo, should be held responsible for the incident.

I haven’t been to Zoo Negara for years, but based on the photo published in The Star, I find the safety measures less than satisfactory.

The so-called fence was merely made up of a few cables. Curious kids could easily get behind it and risk their safety. (Remember that the victim in this case was merely 5-year old.) There was a warning sign written in Malay. Given that there were foreign visitors to the zoo, one wonders why there weren’t any signs in English.

Had Zoo Negara done enough to protect the visitors? Could it escape from any liability by issuing warnings?

Let’s digress for a moment to the well-known McDonald’s coffee case. In 1992, Stella Liebeck, a 79-year-old woman from Albuquerque, New Mexico, purchased a cup of hot coffee from a McDonald’s drive-through window. She spilled the hot coffee in her lap when she tried to open the lid, and suffered third-degree burns.

In 1994, a juror in Albuquerque awarded Liebeck $2.9 million. McDonald’s lost the case even though their cups warned drinkers that the contents were hot. Jurors disagreed with McDonald’s, citing evidence that the fast food giant had not cool downed its coffee even after receiving many earlier complaints.

Now back to the Zoo Negara incident. Who were responsible, the girl’s parents or the zoo?

P/S The victim's parents insisted that the girl was clawed by a puma, not the leopard as reported by the zoo. Zoo officials, as mentioned earlier, were unclear how the incident could have happened. How could they immediately issue statements without investigating thoroughly?

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Paradox of Christmas

Christmas is the world’s most commercialized festival. Each year, around December, upscale hotels and shopping complexes compete on Christmas decorations, which feature anything from huge Christmas trees to colorful lightings to fake snowmen. In addition to this, many shopping complexes hire Santa Clauses and Santa Girls to distribute gifts to kids.

Christmas has also been secularized. Originally meant to mark the birth of Jesus, today it is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. While religious Christians would go to Church and praise the Lord, non-practicing Christians and non-Christians would participate in Christmas party and exchange gifts.

But here is the problem: religious Christians are unhappy. They are upset that Christmas has been commercialized; they detest Santa the gift-giver for taking the focus away from Prince of Peace; they demand that Christmas not to be written as ‘Xmas’.

Ironically, some Christians hate Santa but want to preserve the tradition of gift giving. They just don’t understand that this tradition was started by historical Santa, or Saint Nicholas. It is, therefore, unfair and irresponsible to exclude him from the picture.

How do you want Christmas to be? A secular festival celebrated by everyone, or a religious one exclusively for Christians???

Who hates this jolly fat old man?

Reference on Wikipedia - Santa Claus

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas at The Curve

After I published a post, Christmas at 1 Utama, two bloggers, Michelle and Catherine, noted that they preferred the decoration in another shopping mall - The Curve.

I decided to go to have a look at The Curve. Here are some photos taken there...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Learning Ethics in the Classroom

“Can we learn ethics in the classroom!??” That was the first thing which came to my mind when I realized that one of the subjects in my MBA program was Business and Professional Ethics.

I always believed that if a person is over the age of 12 and still doesn’t behave well, he/she can only be changed by law, love or religion. So what is the point teaching ethics to adult MBA students?

How completing the subject, however, I find that it isn’t as useless as I thought. I did learn something from the class. For example, I am now more aware of the following issues, which could affect the operations of a business:

  • Product safety and liability – Remember Mattel’s recalls of its toys?
  • Workplace romance – Read my related post here.
  • Impact of business on environment
  • Abuse of stock options – Executives inflated the share price, then sell their stocks.
  • Employee whistle blowing - Is it disloyalty to the firm, or is it good for the public?

I also learned how to make decision when confronting a moral dilemma. Some of the guidelines are The Golden Rule, Utilitarianism, and the concepts of Rights, Justice and Liberty.

Also, thanks to the Enron scandal, Business and Professional Ethics turned out to be a lively subject.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Beef Consumption and Global Warming

We all heard of global warming. Al Gore’s The Inconvenient Truth earned him an Oscar Award and Nobel Peace Prize, and international climate change talks have just been concluded in Bali. In my MBA study, I recently learned that beef production is a factor which contributes to global warming. Here is the excerpt of my text book:


Beef production. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, is produced as a by-product of the digestion of some animals, including cows. Large-scale cattle ranching releases significant amounts of methane.


It looks like I should cut down on beef consumption. But I like Yoshinoya’s Beef Bowl. Now that’s the dilemma…

Beef - culprit for global warming?


Lawrence & Weber, Business & Society – Stakeholders, Ethics, Public Policy, 12th edition

Friday, December 14, 2007

Modified Car Expo

The Xtreme Nights is a modified car expo, held recently in Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur. I went there to take some photos.

The Ferrari...

Car modifying is traditionally a hobby of men, who would equip their autos with noisy turbo engines and hi-fi sets. Here, nonetheless, I see some modified cars with feminine touch...

Given that more and more women own cars, it certainly makes sense to target them with these designs. This seems to be a good marketing idea

While the cars were interesting, I somehow spent more time snapping photos of these charming ladies

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Is Raising Kids a Fool’s Game?

How much money do parents spend on bringing up their children?

50 years ago, most people spent only a few years in school before they entered job market. In my time, more and more people had tertiary education. In fact, many girls did not even have access to education.

In the past one and half year, as I go back to school to take up MBA study, I discovere that many of my course mates have little or no working experience, and they are studying full time.

When I was a poor undergraduate student, I rode a cheap motorcycle to the campus. Today, vast majority of my MBA course mates drive, even the non-working ones.

My sister, who lives in Singapore, will move to a smaller, but more expensive, house next year so that my little nephew could enroll in a ‘good’ school.

No wonder a BusinessWeek article asks this question: Is Raising Kids a Fool’s Game?

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Christmas at 1 Utama

Christmas decorations at 1 Utama Shopping Mall...

Another angle...

Impersonator of Buckingham Palace Guard...

Musical performance...

Friday, December 07, 2007

Sins of Recycling

I currently take the subject of Business and Professional Ethics in my MBA study. The lecturer recently told us that recycling is ethical, and encouraged us to do so.

Unfortunately, there are not many recycle bins around. To recycle, I have to drive to one. That contributes to air pollution, global warming and price hike of gas

Is recycling really that good for environment

Where are the recycle bins?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

McDonald’s veggie options

In one of my posts, It ain’t wrong to be different, I mentioned American vegetarians who shun meat for health purpose or out of love for animal.

In this country, many people practice vegetarianism for religious reasons. There are many more who, while not vegetarians, try to cut down on meat intake either for health purpose or in order to slim down.

I have a few vegetarian friends. When I dine out with them, our options are limited to the Chinese vegetarian restaurants which dot the country. I am, nonetheless, not a fan of Chinese vegetarian foods as I find them too oily. In fact, I knew of someone who actually gained weight after going vegetarian. I prefer salad.

Which makes me wonder: McDonald’s offers salads in the United States and veggie burger in India. Why do we not get them here in Malaysia???

I believe there is a market for veggie fast food in Malaysia. Does McDonald’s know something which we don’t, or is it not paying attention?

Monday, December 03, 2007

Coursemate's Wedding

Hellen and Jonathan. Hellen is my MBA course mate...

Hellen with her (my) course mates...

Sorry, Shwu Shing & Ivan. I wasn't using a zoom lens...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Interracial Relations

The government of Malaysia has always touted the country as one in which various ethnic groups live together in harmony.

Speaking of racial diversity, there is probably no country which can match the United States. When I worked in California a few years ago, my co-workers consisted of, among others, Whites, Blacks, Indians, Pakistanis, Chinese, Salvadorian, Lebanese, Filipinos, Vietnamese and Russian. Garden Grove, the city where I lived, was a 5-minute drive from Little Saigon. And throughout Southern California, Mexicans made up bulk of the staff in fast food outlets.

Interracial relations have not always been good. In 1992, the verdict of the Rodney King case angered African Americans and sparked a racial riot in Los Angeles. Racism was said to be still rampant in some parts of the country, even though Californians were generally quite liberal.

Racial segregation in America, until 1950s...

There is good news, though. Interracial marriage is increasingly common. In 2000, 5.4 percent of all marriages involved couples of different races. Angelina Jolie adopted children from Cambodia, Ethiopia and Vietnam. Madonna also adopted a child from Malawi.

Gary Locke (骆家辉), a Chinese American, was elected twice as the Governor of Washington. Bobby Jindal recently became the nation’s first Indian American governor after winning the poll in Louisiana.

Angelina Jolie and her adopted son, Maddox...

Malaysia has one non-Bumi chief-of-state – Dr Koh Tsu Koon of Penang, but he was appointed by the ruling party. His appointment, in turn, was a result of 'bargain' between majority Malays and minority Chinese. In contrast, voters of Washington and Louisiana directly voted Locke and Jindal to the office. In year 2000, there were about 2.8 million Chinese (including half-Chinese) in the U.S., or nearly 1 percent of the total population. In the same year, there were about 1.9 million Indians.

America has come a long way since 1865, when President Lincoln abolished slavery. Racial segregation was outlawed in 1950s. Today, Barack Obama, whose father is an African and mother is a White, is a Democrat presidential hopeful. (He is lagging behind Hilary Clinton, though.)

On the surface, racial relations seem to be very good in Malaysia. There has been no racial riot since 1969. However, if we look deeper, we soon notice that Malaysians remain suspicious of people of other races: Government policies are race-based; Students of public universities seldom mixed with those of other races; Job applicants must specify their ethnicity; Interracial marriages are few, except probably between Malays and Indian Muslims, and between Chinese and natives in East Malaysia who profess Christianity. (Ironically, there are, I believe, more Malays and Chinese who marry Westerners.) As Malaysia celebrated her 50th anniversary of independence recently, the government continues to rely on Anti-sedition Act, Internal Security Act and ‘social contract’ to hold the people together.

There is no room for complacency...

U.S. Census 2000 - The Asian Population
Mark Penn, Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

English is still King

In my post English vs Chinese, written in 2006, I voiced my doubt over the prediction that Chinese would become the most important language in the world by 2020. Newsweek article English for Everyone (August 20, 2007 issue) seems to confirm that I was right.

Excerpt from the article…

Beijing guesses that more than 40 million non-native speakers now study Mandarin worldwide. But that pales next to the number of those learning English. In China alone, some 175 million people are now studying English in the formal education system. And an estimated 2 billion people will be studying it by 2010, according to a British Council report last year.

Why do more and more people study English despite the rise of China? The same article provides one reason:

China’s rise has actually increased the desire to learn English among the country’s neighbors, as they seek to maintain a competitive edge.

Monday, November 26, 2007