What edge do Malaysian Chinese have?

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Sat Dec 23 15:21:23 UTC 2006

December 22, 2006

What Edge Do We Have, Malaysian Chinese?

While in a conversation with some friends, it dawned on us that being
Malaysians we don't have unique capabilities that give us competitive edge
in the global market. Indians have powerful software industry, Chinese
have powerful manufacturing, Japanese has fantastic technology and
superior product quality, Iranians have strong wireless competency, Thai
has worldclass tourism facilities, then what Malaysians have? Then, when
we thought about Malaysian Chinese. Over the we observed that most
Malaysian Chinese have one strong advantage: we speak languages that allow
us to communicate with large proportion of the world population.

Most Chinese here speak English (perhaps not very fluent, but good enough
to communicate effectively), Mandarin (Malaysian Mandarin happens to be
quite good, thanks to our Chinese educationists), and Bahasa (thanks to
our national language policy). English is used everywhere in the business
and technology arenas. Chinese language allows us to communicate with
Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong folks. At one point I found out that
Japanese can read Chinese characters when I was in Japan. So I was able to
made my way through in Tokyo by communicating with them by writing Chinese
characters. Bahasa Malaysia is very similar to Bahasa Indonesia, therefore
it opens the door for us to communicate with the people in this country
which has the third largest population.

In a way, we can talk to people in the three most populous countries in
the world. Who else has that capability? No wonder some truly
multinational organizations like to have Malaysian Chinese to run their
international operations.



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