Get over the ‘power window’ hangover

It is disheartening that some sections of society are still harping on the 3rd national car

Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A 19-YEAR-OLD lad went to seek a job at a video game company. Impressed with his ability, he was hired as a technician despite that the company rarely employed a university drop-out. 

During his stint, he corrected the problem with the company’s game console with what he called “soft soldering”.

A few months later, he left Atari Inc and founded his own company. The company he founded is globally known today as Apple Inc.

Like a rags-to-riches tale, Apple — that assembled its first computer in a garage — is now valued slightly above US$1.07 trillion (RM4.44 trillion) in the third quarter of this year.

To give a perspective of how large this iconic brand is, Apple’s market cap is four times that of Malaysia’s total RM1 trillion debt.

It is about three times bigger than Malaysia’s whole economy of RM1.45 trillion and larger than the market capitalisation of all the stocks listed on Bursa Malaysia — which is valued at about RM1.77 trillion as of June this year.

Apple’s market value is about 10 times larger than Bank Negara Malaysia’s foreign reserves.

Another interesting story is about a boy who migrated to the US when he was 16 with his mother.

He enrolled into San Jose State University and worked various jobs. Later, he worked part-time at a search engine company in the Silicon Valley.

Young and naive, he was shocked to know that he was eligible under the employees share option scheme. He sold his shares, and created a company with a friend.

As the CEO of the company, he built a mobile messaging application. His reason — it was too costly to call his dad in Ukraine.

Today, the app is used by 1.5 billion people around the world with about 60 billion messages sent daily.

WhatsApp, the company that the migrant Ukrainian boy co-founded, was acquired by Facebook Inc in 2014 for a whopping US$19.3 billion.

On another note, a Kampar-born boy enrolled into the University of Texas to study mechanical engineering. He later attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue his Master’s degree in engineering.

Excited with all the tech waves in the US, he created MOL AccessPortal Sdn Bhd and sold it to one of Malaysia’s richest tycoons.

He used the proceeds to create a job portal. JobStreet.com, one of South- East Asia’s largest online employment companies, was listed on the MESDAQ Market in November 2004 before it moved to the ‘Grade A’ Main Board in 2007.

In 2014, Australian-listed Seek Ltd acquired a 78% stake in JobStreet.com for RM1.7 billion. No small penny for an online company created by a local boy.

Steve Jobs (Apple), Jan Koum (WhatsApp) and Mark Chang Mun Kee’s (JobStreet.com) achievements were nothing short of amazing.

But their journeys were never easy. Jobs was told (so many times) that no level-headed guy would put a square-looking PC in their homes.

But he didn’t listen. He integrated a graphical user interface, added a mouse and allowed users to do more things like changing fonts, bold and italic text, etc. His perseverance changed the world.

Great civilisations were built by innovators, inventors and visionaries. Bold and brave people who had the foresight.

They possessed the courage to go against the tide and defy critics. They used knowledge to achieve what others could barely fathom.

So, it is disheartening — and almost bordering on despicable — that some sections of the society are still harping on the third national car.

Criticisms against the project have been loud, bold and widespread. Politicians had portrayed the negativity of the project to almost biblical proportions. Armchair economists are fixated with their analysts and spreadsheets. Certain industry players have shot down the idea.

We do like our clairvoyance and scrying. While the country dwells on whether another national car is the right move, others are developing fuel cells that will allow you to drive 600km with a single charge.

Car companies are building self-driving vehicles, erasing human elements from the act of driving itself.

Even the devastating MH370 tragedy is driving tech geeks and engineers to develop real-life data transmissions from aircraft, improve black boxes and engineer self-flying planes in the event of an emergency.

But the icing on the cake must be Vietnamese automaker VinFast unveiling its Italian-designed first production cars at the Paris Motor Show 2018 last week.

Sad but true, this is the country that suffered years of wars, massacres, widespread poverty and underdevelopment.

Great civilisations of the past and the future are not built by ambassadors, politicians (especially from failed political parties), economists, accountants and armchair commentators or administrators.

The future is shaped by innovators, engineers, computer scientists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, programmers, etc.

Malaysia could gloat (or laugh) at the fact that we prevented a global human overpopulation with our durian- or Teh Tarik-flavoured condoms.

Maybe that is all Malaysia is — the world’s largest contraceptive producer with a “power window” hangover syndrome.


Mohamad Azlan Jaafar is the deputy editor-in-chief of The Malaysian Reserve. He used to change the engine oil, oil filter, spark plugs, radiator coolants and other minor repairs of his old Proton. It is better to walk the talk than just talk.

(The article has been updated for correctness and clarity.)