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Fashionably Late, Period

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By Ivan Tan

One of my favorite movies is Jerry Maguire. It talks about a sports agent who found himself awake one night and discovered he couldn’t grapple anymore with the domineering business practices of his profession – handsomely rewarding yet ethically perilous to the soul. He broke into cold sweat and wrote an entire volume until the break of dawn of what this business ought to be and how it ought to be run.

The movie went on with Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, meeting more than a few unexpected and colorful episodes where he would find himself challenged just because of a conscience he had on that one cold night. Real life took over from the reins of the egocentric world of million dollar sponsorship and cold negotiating tactics just to win over the commission. To the world, the commission was all that it is worth, the only reason worth fighting for, the true honest symbol of success.

Like Jerry, Malaysia has finally woken up to the same fate it allowed itself to go through. The unethical Jerries of the country had become the root of high property prices, inflated at one time by mystery but today we know it is due to the many marketing ploys such as the packaged mortgages and the tribes called bulk.

The grievous hurt had caused her citizens to scream everything from crazy prices, crazy developers to crazy government for letting this happen. How then are they to own a decent home that is convenient to where they need to go cari makan? They would be flung far out from metro civilization just to have a roof because that’s all they could afford. Worse, they have to travel through the excruciating traffic and distance just to earn that measly pie while compromising all that is left in the family time when they arrive home past 830pm daily. Is it worth it?

But Malaysians are typical at arriving late, no different too at arriving at the right policies. A little too late is what we face today. Who can we blame? Who really can we blame for singing praises to no money down, rebates, pay nothing until ready, where everybody wins today but a larger everybody loses tomorrow?

I wish our authorities did not need to wake up like Jerry did. I wish they could smell a rat immediately. But life would mimic Hollywood at times where real life emulates fiction, when commission trumps ethics.