23 May 2009

Shoes take me places

I bought a pair of cheap shoes today. Adapting to a rapidly industrialising China. Do people even realise we have to adapt, and what has halal food got to do with it? Full essay.


Anonymous said...

Now, I hate overpriced things as much as the next person and still would not pay $300 for a pair of Clarks, not when I'm short on cash especially. But while you may be able to buy lots of cheap China shoes for the price of one decent pair of Clarks, I hope you've considered the cost on the environment by consuming so many new products and tossing away the old. They just won't last that long even among future users before they end up in the dump, and I'm sure you're aware most countries are horrendously inefficient in recycling their waste. I hate to come across as another loony tree-hugger but what I don't like about the proliferation of SO MANY cheap goods, many being unsold (how many can we seriously consume?), and the encouraging of buying more, more, more and all new simply because it's low cost. What an inefficient use of material, IMO.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments about the relative lack of awareness among the Malay community in sg and malaysia.

I was recalled a malay minister lamenting the lack of interest of Malays going into academia doing Chinese Studies, whereas you do have a good number of Chinese Singaporeans well versed in both Malaysian and Indonesian Studies.

I guess the competition from China is not yet considered by Malays here as clear and present danger aside from the feeling of further marginalisation by only Chinese speaking PRC sales staff who have been seen to replace more of the Singaporean Chinese counterparts.I do also suspect that Malays in Singapore are not well represented in the manufacturing industry and therefore not many would feel the pinch when factories relocate to China.

But having said that, I do find that Malay women are actually more progressive than their male counterparts. Several of them I know are either at least mildly fluent in Mandarin or do have some following in East Asian pop culture. In one of my tours to Korea, I met three malay women who were k-drama fans and they have also visited China and Taiwan as well.

As for across the causeway, if you are a bumi, why bother with competition?

Hence, i feel that the government should actually try to cultivate a core group of Singaporean Malays and Indians in Chinese studies and language, and offer general incentives for them to go to Chinese universities. It would be this group that would be able to connect the Malay community with not just Chinese Singaporeans, but the Middle Kingdom as well.

Kai Khiun

Jackson Tan said...

Interestingly, my opinions fall along the same line of the first comment (Anonymous 03:01). When you posed the advice,

We may love $13.90 shoes, but at the same time we need to see its significance.I see a wholly different significance: waste and environmental destruction. Not only does such cheap and "disposable" products increase the amount of rubbish thrown, it also consumes a greater amount of resources. Of course, in the case of shoes, this is not as terrible as other products like television sets, but there is the animal rights issue of the increased leather consumption.

But going back to the economic perspective of the cheap shoes, I think it is clear that there is a change in focus by the government from manufacturing (at least, low-end ones) to research-based economy. However, I'm not sure if a research-oriented economy will take off here in Singapore.

To begin with, the government goes into research because of economic reasons. And because of that, there are metrics and indicators to measure a researcher's worth (the simplest of which is by the number of articles published). Now, the problem is this: in research there can be small, baby-steps kind of results (but still publishable in top-tiered journals) and then there are those revolutionary, Nobel prize-winning breakthroughs. From what I can see, these economic yardsticks to measure research output favour the former.

Of course, perhaps, there's nothing wrong with that: the former may fetch the same amount of economic benefits as the latter. However, one key difference, at least from my personal point of view, is that the former gives the impression of scraping for bits and pieces of gold left over by the latter group of researchers, and it is hardly inspiring for future generations. As such, to sustain such an economy, the government may have to continually resort to "importing foreign talent".

Well, maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but we'll see.

Anonymous said...

As an old man, I often buy shoes from the neighbourhood shops.

They are very cheap of course, but do be careful because the sole or heels tend to fall out easily, especially if you wear them in the rain. Also, the new shoes look nice and shiny, but the shiny surface always peel off after some use. It is actually a sprayed-on vinyl surface.

Anyway, what can one expect in a pair of shoes costing a fraction of the price of a pair of Clarks.

Lost Citizen

alfian said...

Hi Kai Khiun,

"But having said that, I do find that Malay women are actually more progressive than their male counterparts. Several of them I know are either at least mildly fluent in Mandarin or do have some following in East Asian pop culture."

I'm not sure why you seem to think that being midly fluent in Mandarin constitutes 'progressiveness'.

I consider myself quite progressive, I hold some liberal values very dear, but I will never, never learn a single word of Mandarin. I would rather learn another Southeast Asian language, like Thai or Tagalog, than Mandarin.

I think if Chinese Singaporeans wish to connect with their Malay counterparts, the onus is on them to learn the Malay language, rather than Malays learning a transplanted language. Malay is after all the language of the region.