The fall of the Berlin Wall
in November 1989 was the symbolic start that paved the way to eventual German
Reunification process, that took place about a year later.
The idea of reunification,
championed by then chancellor Helmut Kohl, was naturally met with opposition,
fearing negative economic impacts on West Germany – in fact, even met with
scepticism from ally nations of the United States of America, Britain and France.
although a minority, pointed to the possible impacts of East German immigration
to economic growth, unemployment rates and so fourth.
Looking back at the history
of the reunification process, the ones that revered the unification the most
were the East German populace.
Perhaps it was a no-brainer
given their dire economic situation, but everybody knew that the East Germans
were not used to liberalised economic structures and the tough competition of
the modern western capitalist economy.
Fast forward three decades
later, unified Germany has emerged into a European economic powerhouse.
It is seen as the economic
leader of the European Union (EU) – those within the EU turn first to Germany
in times of need.
Last year, Germany’s gross
domestic product stood at US$3.5 trillion (RM13.6 trillion), compared with
US$1.7 trillion in 1990.
There were of course times
of turmoil, particularly due to the vast difference in wealth and skills
between the West and East Germans at the time of reunification.
However, the German nation
saw opportunity first, and worked on shortfalls – income disparities are
narrowing, and the country as a whole has seen more gain than losses.
Today, portions of the
Berlin wall still stand to remind us of the fall of the barriers that hold us
back and the aspirations to live in a world of equal competition and a change
towards competitive mindsets.
For Malaysia to walk in the
same steps as the advanced nations of the world, it is not enough for us to
merely stand in awe of current achievements, and brush off the stories in
reaching those historical milestones.
As the saying goes,
“Success is a journey, not a destination”.
To be successful, we need
to take the mindset of learning from the success of those ahead of us.
While it is perfectly fine
to learn from our own mistakes, there are numerous resources easily available
to us that allow us to learn from the experiences of others.
Such is the power of
willingness to work towards becoming competitive in a liberalised economy.
strategies are valid for infant industries to bloom, they must always be seen
as temporary measures, and a model towards competition based business must be
One interesting thing I
learned during my visit to Berlin was the circumstances surrounding the fall of
the Berlin Wall.
The historical moment was a
result of an accident – the announcement of the relaxation of immigration
between the East and West was meant to be implemented over a longer period of
However, the government
spokesperson at the time mistakenly implied that the new regulations would take
Within the next few hours,
thousands of East Germans came to the border wall, and the rest was history.
Most interestingly though,
was the chancellor’s reaction. He took advantage of the “accident” and used the
momentum to gain the support of the international community – and a united
Germany was announced just a year later.
It just goes to show that
opportunities can arise when you least expect and often they stem from problems
Every cloud has a silver lining, it is our mindset that
teaches us to spot them, or cloud our view from ever noticing.
The writer is the chief
executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.
BEING stranded at an
airport for 18 hours certainly makes you think about life and the world around
My ordeal at Changi Airport
last week was interesting not because of the massive delays from a runway
closure due to a small plane crash, but because of the entire experience
throughout my wait.
Runway 1 of the airport was
shut down after an air force jet crashed and caught fire during the Singapore
Airshow. I’m glad the pilot was unharmed — it goes to show the risks some
people have to go through for others.
Although it took 18 hours
to get my flight, the “waiting” was a calm and comforting experience — from the
time I arrived at the airport to the time I left.
After my flight was
rescheduled, I realised that it would be best to find accommodation. Normally,
a traveller is not allowed out of the airport once he has checked-in his
luggage and passed the security and immigration gates.
Yet, in this case, the
immigration made an exception. It was clear to them that overcrowding at an
airport with flight delays overruled standard operating procedures.
My taxi ride to the hotel
was also a comforting one. The driver understood what was going on, and the 2am
check-in at the hotel was smooth and rapid.
The next day was another
“smooth” wait, albeit with more delays. Eventually, I was on my way.
It simply goes to show how
strong customer-oriented fundamentals are key to a successful handling of a
If everyone understands the
principles and objectives of his or her profession, and plays his or her role
without hesitation, it creates a series of events that lead to a great customer
experience despite the difficulties faced.
What I realised most of all
was how unfettered I was throughout the whole ordeal. Despite my unscheduled
absence, I was able to work with my team members, who were communicating with
me online at the headquarters. I was also able to play my role with my
superiors at the ministry and counterparts in the industry.
New technologies can never
replace the human factor. And because of that, human compassion can never be
substituted with even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence.
This Chinese New Year, let
us remember that although we may meet once a year, the connection on this very
day will impact our daily lives through unspoken bonds, friendship and love.
The stories you share at
the reunion dinner are not just for the sake of sharing, but they add to the
experience of the listeners. Each anecdote, advice or joke adds value to the
listeners, and when the right time comes, those stories will guide them in
So use this opportunity
wisely, for wisdom shared will multiply into a world that is enriched with
Gong Xi Fa Cai to all
celebrating the Chinese New Year, and a safe journey to you who are returning
to your loved ones! May the Chinese New Year bring prosperity and further
enhance our lives for years to come.
And because of that, human
compassion can never be substituted with even the most sophisticated artificial
intelligence. The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.