If you have Hong Leong credit cards, I urge you to terminate your subscription. If you have outstanding balances on them, I recommend that you do a balance transfer. If you are contemplating applying for Hong Leong credit cards, I suggest that you don’t. Why? Hong Leong doesn’t respect your rights as a card holder and a customer.

My SO and I were victims of a scratch and win scam almost a year ago. As soon as we’ve discovered that we were conned, we immediately put in a request to Hong Leong to stop the transaction via their useless Dispute Form, along with the Consumer Claims Tribunal reference number, to their so-called Customer Service department.

To sum it up, Hong Leong Customer Service is a fallacy. There’s no such thing. I had to discover this the hard way.

When we submitted the dispute form, the transaction wasn’t even posted yet. They had ample chance to flag it. But what did Hong Leong do? They decided to side with scammers than a long term customer! Hong Long reps even blatantly lied to us by saying that the transaction had already gone through. Why do I say they are liars? Because another rep said that the transaction hasn’t gone through, contradicting what her colleague said earlier. See their incompetence? Even they don’t know what’s going on!

What follows on for months was an endless trail of lies:

  • The transaction was allowed to proceed because we need the credit card statement as evidence for the tribunal hearing; Lie! We have the receipts and items from the scammers, and those were enough to be used as evidence
  • We just need to pay for the initial purchase price without the interest once we’ve recovered our monies; Lie! Until today, one year after 100% full payment was made for the initial purchase price, Hong Leong still charges the interests
  • Hong Leong reps will get in touch to solve this issue; Lie! Nobody from Hong Leong bothered to assist properly. Instead, we were made like slaves trying to contact them and being put on hold for more than 30 minutes at any one attempt

To date, I’ve been waiting for them to give the final decision letter for me to proceed to bring this case to the FMB, for more than two weeks! Still no action, typical Hong Leong incompetence at its finest.

You can find this out by yourselves by trying to contact their so-called Banking Services Division through the contact details provided here.

Even though the interest now stands at almost RM200, I won’t pay a single cent! I’d rather bring this issue to court and let Hong Leong be exposed as the incompetent bank it really is.

Hutan Bandar is one of the rare places of green tranquility in Johor Bahru. It spans over 32 hectares and is maintained by MBJB (Johor Bahru City Council). Translated to English, Hutan Bandar means “City Forest”. In the deeper parts of Hutan Bandar, you would literally feel disconnected from the hustle and bustle of JB. It’s a really strange, yet calming feeling to have, especially over the weekend after a full week of corporate battles and mental drain.

Some of the facilities available at Hutan Bandar are:

  • Lots of lush green flora.
  • Seven scenic lakes.
  • Children’s playgrounds.
  • Jungle Trek.
  • Exercise facilities.
  • Camping site.
  • Children’s swimming pool.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken during my last visit to Hutan Bandar.

A Japanese style bridge leading to the main pathway of Hutan Bandar.

A Japanese style bridge leading to the main pathway of Hutan Bandar.

View of the lush greenery near the biggest lake in Hutan Bandar.

View of the lush greenery near the biggest lake in Hutan Bandar.

Stone dolphins spouting water at the children’s pool

Stone dolphins spouting water at the children’s pool

Paved pathway to the playground and jungle trek.

Paved pathway to the playground and jungle trek.

Full size images are available upon request.

All pics shot with my trusty Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX5 digital camera.

The wife of Malaysia’s Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) passed away earlier this morning at 7:55am, Malaysian time (GMT +8). She was 64.

I join millions of Malaysians in mourning this loss. Datin Seri, you will be missed. Al-fatihah.

I’m writing this in response to a recent comment by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Proton. I don’t know how Tun Dr Mahathir sees (or saw) the national car industry as a politician, so I’m not going to comment much on that. I will instead focus my writing on how I see the Malaysian car industry.

The reasons behind the birth of Proton are noble causes indeed. Primarily, Proton is to realise the vision of creating affordable cars for Malaysians. For a while, this plan was actually heading towards the right path. The Proton Saga was definitely an affordable model.

Amidst the celebratory fanfare on its launch, the Saga met, and probably exceeded the expectations of Malaysian motorists… at least aesthetically. It looks nice, unoriginal (earlier Proton models are clones of older Mitsubishi ones), but still… nice.

It’s not long before design flaws of the Saga begin to surface, among which, the one with the most notoriety would be the infamous “power window problem”, which many claim to still haunt current Proton models.

In the meantime, the inevitable evolution in automative technology keeps moving forward. While the honchos at Proton were busy with something else (probably enjoying their earnings), it seems that they’ve forgotten that cars need to be improved upon constantly. Imported cars continue to define quality that consumers crave… but Proton, probably lulled by the market protection provided by the Malaysian government, failed to react proactively.

And when the second (and in my opinion, real) national car project, Perodua, was launched… it was obvious to almost everyone, except the staunch politician supporters of Proton, that it is gravely mismanaged, has no strategic vision beyond milking Malaysian consumers aided with the overprotective tariffs on foreign cars, and management who are out of touch with business realities.

Although placed in an “inferior” market segment (small cars, under 1000cc), Perodua didn’t take long to outshine the far bigger Proton. Perodua provides a refreshing look to Malaysians on how a dynamics automative player should be. It constantly redesigns its models to suit current trends. Although based on Daihatsu compact car models, Perodua managed to give its products an identity that is uniquely Perodua. Compared to Proton, whose current Saga model still stinks of the Iswara which is more than a decade old.

To make things worse, Proton idea of “redesign”, seems to mean making their cars more “rice-ish”, or as Malaysians (and Singaporeans) puts it “ah beng-ish”. I have no idea which market segment Proton is trying to entice… perhaps they’re just trying to add “value for money” to those people who like to transform their cheap Protons into imitation Evos and Lancers.

Marketing wise, Perodua is far more adept at identifying potential, and more importantly profiting from it. Proton, on the other hand, are champions of hype. I can’t help but feel that they like to hear the sound of their own voices… even when spouting nonsense. While Proton was busy telling whoever bothered to listen on how revolutionary their Tiara Replacement Model (now known as Savvy) will be, and publishing “teasers” on the media, Perodua pulled off one of the most intelligent publicity maneuvering in the Malaysian automative industry… it launched their latest model, the Myvi, a week before the scheduled official launching of Proton’s similar spec’ed model.

This move by Perodua, took all the buzz generated by Proton’s hype campaign and absorbed it in all it’s glory, leaving Proton dazed at the lacklustre acceptance of it’s Savvy model. Proton never recovered from this miscalculated promotional strategy. To add insult to injury, the television advertisement for Proton Savvy oozes stupidity and seem more like a junk food ad (you know, the one with a useless “free” toy inside) rather than one for a car. I’m sure that most Malaysians have seen it, the one where a monster used the Savvy to scratch its ass (or back, depending on how you see it). I was dumbfounded to say the least… the ad was amateurish, unintelligent and to be honest, blatantly false. If this was a junk food ad, I’m sure that the Malaysian Parliament will be discussing on how it misleads children and whatnot.

And don’t let me even start on the nonsense coming up from the pro-Proton camp, during the recent AP issue. You can read them yourself. It seems that these people have difficulty accepting the fact that Proton is uncompetitive. Proton’s over-reliance on government protection has blinded the company on the harsh realities of world economics. The basic law of supply and demand seems unabsorved by the strategists at Proton… how else can you explain saturating the market with rehashes of obsolete models? People won’t demand for old junk, no matter how much you change how the lights look… it still is old junk.

Another irritating tendency (politically connected) Proton supporters have is to equate Proton with nationalism. Whenever you hear these people talk on TV, it’s like you’re not Malaysian if you don’t support Proton. To be honest, Proton was a good plan… however, its implementation begs a lot of questions. Do Malaysians really benefitted from Proton, or was it Proton that profitted from Malaysians?

How I wish I could just let these people understand that market dynamics are nothing personal, and especially not political… it’s just business! You deliver what makes consumers happy, they’ll reward you with brand loyalty. You shove your products down their throat, expect them to vomit it back in your face. It has absolutely zilch to do with national pride. Live with it. Proton will probably die without even realising this… perhaps this is destined to happen anyway.

Every fsckin’ year, them stupid Indons keep doing the same shit: clearing forests by burning them. Consequentially, the whole region is enveloped by thick haze, but this year’s haze is the worse ever. You can read more Malaysian haze related news from Google News.

I hate to over-generalise, but it’s hard to see it any other way… most Indonesians are idiots (especially their government, no, strike that… Indonesians voted them morons into power, so yeah… most Indonesians are fsckin’ idiots). It’s fine and dandy if you want to burn your fskin’ forests to make way for whatever “development” (congratulations on graduating on to farming… we had a good time with that since a few hundred years ago), but for God’s sake, can’t you keep it under control? If you can’t manage things as simple as this, how the hell are you ever going to be a civilised society (not that there’s any chance of it happening in this millenium anyway).

If I sound bigoted, let me just clarify that I’m merely pissed by the irresponsible attitude of the Indonesians with regards to the cause of this haze. I don’t really have any problems with Indonesians in general… heck, my maid is Indonesian. Just as moronic as the Indonesians are Malaysians who are also contributing to the haze by committing open burning. Heck, I’ve seen a lot of these idiots when I as travelling up to Kedah a few months ago.

It seems that the haze has suddenly became a hot blogging topic by Malaysians. Well, it’s unsuprising… that’s the very nature of the blogosphere. And almost every haze related blog posting I’ve seen links to Haze Haters in KL, so I will too… by the way, us Johoreans hate the fsckin’ haze too… thankfully we’re not as severely affected as you KL and Klang Valley people.