TV SMITH's Dua Sen: Cloneism
TV Smith's Dua Sen
TV Smith's Dua Sen. The politically incorrect irregular columnist combines his idiosyncratic observations and tangential commentary into a blog...


by TV Smith

Entry: clo·ne·ism
Pronunciation: -nE-"i-z&m
Function: noun
Etymology: Greek klOn twig, slip; akin to Greek klan to break (Merriam-Webster)
1: partiality to clones especially as evidenced in Malaysian society
2: Ah Beng pronunciation of cronyism

A contractor friend of mine who specialises in building new bars and restaurants said he no longer works with interior designers. He lets his potential clients flip through an American coffee table book entitled "Bars & Restaurants". They then pick a design from there, just like how a customer would pick a new hairstyle from a magazine in a saloon. He's not taking the easy way out, mind you. And these are big-budget establishments in uppity Bangsar and Desa Sri Hartamas. Just that every time he pays someone to create an original design; the potential customer will borrow it and use ANOTHER contractor.

Look at some of the signboards and logos around town. The names may be vaguely similar or unashamedly identical, but the original customised font, letterform or typeface is almost always retained. Blatant rip-off or inspired designs? You be the judge...

The reverse happens. Uncanny coincidence or some Americans cloned our designs?
Los Angeles, CaliforniaShah Alam, Selangor
Irvine, California Taman Connaught, Cheras
They have friends... Kita ada kawan kawan kawan...

Tourists love our imitation perfumes, VCDs, software, branded leather goods, Hard Rock Café T-shirts and Rolex watches. The government even built a fake blue roof to shelter the purveyors of these fine goods. We are now happily cloning Astro cards, ATM cards, credit cards, concert tickets, DVDs, lithium batteries, holograms and 'original' stickers. We continue churning out fake money, driver's license, road tax, passports, work permits, ink cartridges, CDs, essence of chicken, aspirins, Viagra, liquor, engine oil and spare parts. No product or design is left untouched. Where else, but Malaysia, can one find so many chain stores specialising in photostating and binding books?

I know Thailand and China are also into cloning capitalism big time. After all, regional stalwarts Taiwan and Japan graduated as industrialised nations by replicating every Western invention. Japan, unlike us, went beyond mindless copying. They reverse engineered, invested in R&D and eventually built products better than the so-called originals. Of course, now that they are First World, they enforced their patent and IP rights unbendingly on every Third World nation.

Can Malaysia leapfrog into developed country status, skipping a few crucial classes along the way? We try to buy our way in, as always. We imported entire automobile factories, bought ready-made designs and proclaimed ourselves world-beaters. We will soon send an astronaut into space on another costly national ego trip. Never mind the fact that we never had an aerospace industry or that our kids are still blowing off their fingers with homemade firecrackers made from badly copied plans.

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© 2004 TV SMITH
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