I attended my budget presentation meeting two weeks back. The budget has been revised many times and I found it ambitious to write the assumptions. Revenues are declining, or flat at best. The last grounds if the business does not thrive, is to look for ways to reduce expenses. For some sanity, this is where the mindset of hoteliers turn from driving profits to basic survival. Having been there in 1997, I understand how tricky it is to operate a hotel in times like this. Making those decisions, what to cut, what to keep, is one of the hardest parts.
Through some friends,I had a chance to meet Jessie Phua, a Member of Parliament from Singapore last Saturday. We were discussing about lifestyles and this led to the topic of recession. My last trip to Singapore was a few months back. I was window shopping and I noticed droves of people trying to enter into designer outlets. Yes, they literally needed to queue and I wondered to myself where was the recession? I shared this with Jessie and she jokingly said that these were not Singaporeans but Mainland Chinese, when I said that they were mostly dressed in shorts. The point I am driving here is, our friends from Kiasuland acknowledges that the recession has hit their shores and they have been taking measures to overcome.
Recessions always result in compressing the marketplace; that Sheraton and Hilton, full service hotels down the street will now be after my business. As the business pie shrinks, the number of hotels in my competition set will increase; everyone wants to propagate their slice of the pie. Hotels which present the best value to consumers will succeed, not hotels with the lowest rates. I had a meeting with my hotel EXCO members recently and I suggested not to press the panic button yet and they agreed. Resist the overwhelming urge to just reduce rates; that has never worked and usually starts the dreaded downward spiral.
In my beloved Bolehland, I feel that we are still in rebuff. Never once has the authorities acknowledged that the recession has arrived. But, at least they apprehend that the economy needs to be stimulated. I find comfort reading in the papers today, that some RM3.2 billion worth of projects will be awarded this week. With this so soon after the mini budget, I guess the authorities are trying to demonstrate their seriousness in dealing with this crisis. I am also hopeful that they are really dignified about my well being rather than their own personal agendas. What struck me was when the Deputy Prime Minister said that he would make changes to the New Economic Policy (NEP) when he comes in power. Now, that is the true spirit of the NEP, which is to eradicate poverty among all races and not just the 'chosen ones'. At this moment, the policy is seen to profit only a certain thus the dissatisfaction amongst the rest.
I am hoping that the new 'Boss' will practice what he has preached. I am hoping to see a Cabinet that is credible and able to institute the reforms much needed. To the new 'Boss', please select a Cabinet that have the credentials to deliver the reforms and not some fanny licker that will probably do better as a Post Master. I am hoping that his government will wade through the current murky political scene with much meritocracy and not because it is some 'divine appointment' that it is now their turn.
'Enough - lah' with all these money politics, 'stop-lah' all the 'katak-ing' around, 'don't-lah' change-change the government that we have voted in. Like what Anas Zubedy has said, a truce is what is needed now.
A dim light at the end of the tunnel maybe visible if all that is 'affirmed' come true. I want to see clear directions for my beloved country and it will all be revealed this June, the 100 'litmus test' days of the new 'Boss'.
The basics never change and they never fail. Don't even think about going beyond the basics until they are learned and practiced until perfected. I see too many politicians who are anxious to get into the more sophisticated techniques without first nailing-down the most fundamental principles, first. Time is their most precious commodity; don't squander it.
Let the show begin.