Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Life & Times: Girrrrl power!

By Caroline Yap and Sofianni Subki
08 January 2001

The facts stare us right in the face. Blame the Spice Girls and their war cry of "girl power", blame the girl teens who launched the likes of Leonardo de Caprio and the Backstreet Boys by deciding who stays and who goes. Yes, we're talking about the force - female force of young, vibrant women with buying power.


SHEILA Pandian's not worried about getting married but her parents are. She's 30, a qualified accountant and drives a Citroen ZX. She's happy but her parents cling to the old-fashioned view that a woman is not complete without a man. Sheila begs to differ.

"Subservient wife and mother? No way," she says. With a gang of hip friends and challenging work, she doesn't have time to mope around thinking of the missing man.

"Right now, my career is my top priority and I love earning my own money!" she says. It's money that gives her the lifestyle she leads. Shopping splurges, nights out with friends and travelling - being financially independent is everything to her. She even has two credit cards.

"It's for security," says the well-travelled woman. She's not one who wants to be stuck with no cash whether in a foreign country or at the local shopping mall. Sheila is not a rare find these days. More young women are earning their own income and are becoming an important consumer market. Gone are the days when women depended on husbands to provide.

"We did not look closely at the female market before as there wasn't much demand for financial products from women," says a spokesperson for Citibank.

"For instance, most credit card applications from women in the past were requests for supplementary cards made by their husbands or fathers.

"However, it has changed over the last three years. Since 1997, the proportion of female primary cardholders has increased to 30 per cent. We have also seen an increase in the number of women applying for our new Citibank blue credit card. In fact 50 per cent of new blue cardholders are women."

This new breed of young women hold a buying power that is stronger than ever.

"More women are going out to work. They make up about 50 per cent of the labour force. This means women have more purchasing power and disposable income not just for cheap products but more expensive branded items," says Mary Assunta, media officer of the Consumers Association of Penang. Before, the fashion and beauty industries were the only ones which took an interest in women.

However the rise in women's levels of income and education has made them a valued and lucrative market. According to statistics from Citibank, 60 per cent of university graduates are now women compared to 47 per cent a decade ago. And the percentage of women employed in administrative and managerial positions grew from 0.1 per cent in 1970 to five per cent in 2000.

This rise in women's overall status has affected marketing strategies. This is clearly evident in Volvo's recent focus. At a Press conference, Lena Olving, Volvo Car Malaysia managing director, explained:

"There is a global trend of more well-educated women, women professionals, women starting their own business, and many who are selecting and purchasing their own cars."

Volvo has seen it fit to skew some of its marketing strategies to woo women. Based on a survey conducted in America, women either buy or influence the purchase of 85 per cent of new vehicles sold. And it is a trend that is catching up with Malaysian women as well. One good example is the new Lux
detergent tablets advertisement.

Unlike in past advertisements featuring detergents and the kampung makcik, this one portrays a sassy urban young woman whipping out the tablets at a laundrette to the envy of the other women there.

Dr Rohana Ariffin, a gender studies lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia, agrees that "young women are a force to reckon with because Malaysia has a young population, and half of them are women."

"It has definitely influenced marketing and advertisement strategies."

She says the media gives priority to the younger population in terms of theme as well as models used. The media tends to portray the world as belonging to the young. 3R, a new TV programme aimed at young women, has been sponsored by the likes of Southern Bank and Siemens.

These companies have recognised that the growing numbers of young women are a good market to buy into.

Explains Lina Tan, producer of 3R: "All these companies see women as a niche and growing market. They see their association with 3R as a step towards building an image of a company that is sensitive to women"s needs. It is not so much having a special product to target women but they feel that women are an important market share."

Even the premise of the show was based on the fact that young women are an important part of society.

"We felt that issues which concern young women like harassment at work and overcoming gender bias should be discussed. It's about time their voices were heard," says Tan. And it's not just single women who have buying clout. Young married women too constitute a significant portion of the market and are the
primary decision-makers for their families.

"A study in America shows that women made 80 per cent of such decisions. As the main carer of the family, women determine the food, clothing, household items and toileteries," says Rohana.

The trend is also not restricted to the urban areas of the country. According to Rohana, it is nationwide although the divide between cities and small towns affects what is bought.

She explains that rural women are mainly influenced by the Malay media and therefore have local or regional tastes. Urban women, on the other hand, are more exposed to the West and develop a cosmopolitan choice of products.

Despite the varying socio-economic backgrounds, young working women are acknowledged to have buying power that can sway marketing directions.

In this respect, a trendsetter is the instant coffee advertisement of a woman waking up late, rushing to get ready, rushing out to work and rushing right past the morning cup of coffee... dutifully made for her by her man.

The table's turned - swung over with legs up in the air.

* Logistics executive Rathika Alagirisamy, 25, says: "A career equals independence. I would not give that up. It lets you explore different roles and you have a separate life away from home."

She feels that with financial independence she gets to "buy her own stuff" without depending on others.

Having moved to Kuala Lumpur from Malacca, she says: "Things are more expensive here. When I am back in my home town, I buy simpler things."

She still finds it important for a man to be stable and secure financially.

"But whether or not you can support yourself is a different matter," she adds.

* Jessica Tan, 30, is an executive at a finance company. Her career is important to her.

"Women now are more ambitious and educated and they would like a better lifestyle," she says.

Marriage will not deter her from working simply because she finds satisfaction in earning her own money.

"Besides, a combined income will increase purchasing power and standard of living!" she adds.

Financial independence is important to her. She also feels that it helps to keep the relationship between husband and wife healthy, "especially during difficult times".

Hailing from Malacca, Tan says that Kuala Lumpur definitely changed her lifestyle. "Fashion is more updated here. There are more malls, brands and designs," she says.

* Sharon Goldman believes that women should have their own careers and not rely on their husbands.

"There are no guarantees in life," says the 32-year-old, an account manager at Getty Images, a stock photo and film library.

"You might end up marrying a rich man but nobody knows what the future holds. It’s best to have your source of income. That way, you can be prepared for anything."

Her twin sister, Karen, who works in real estate, agrees. "Making my own money is important to me because I love shopping and travelling. And I have a gold Amex charge card to prove it!

"I want to enjoy life while I’m young and the only way I can do that is to be financially independent."

She says that unlike many women from previous generations, women nowadays are not content staying at home to look after kids.

"Women today know what they’re worth and want the same things that men want."

* Establishing her career is Khaizura Ibrahim’s top priority.

"I know this sounds cliched but I want to have what I want without having to rely on anybody," says the 24-year-old law graduate.

She plans to settle down some day but admits that at the moment, her job as a legal assistant is taking up most of her time.

"But I do intend to start a family when the time is right."

What if her future husband wants her to give up her job?

"Well, hopefully, I wouldn’t have to deal with that as I feel that I am perfectly capable of dividing my time between work and family."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

How to lose a guy and profit from it!

Wednesday, September 13, 2000

Michele Alexander and Jeannie Long used to scare men
away. Now, everyone wants their number, they tell
Charles Laurence.

INSPIRATION does not strike many people when they are
nursing a hangover and a strong cup of coffee, but
that is exactly when it visited Jeannie Long and
Michele Alexander.

Sitting in their Los Angeles apartment, desperately
trying to recover from yet another hectic night out on
the town, the two friends began discussing their
terrible failures when it came to picking up men. We
should write a book, they thought--the universal
"don'ts'' of dating.

So they began jotting down their thoughts. Tried and
tested ways of sending your man running in the
opposite direction include telling him he looks like
your father; referring to him as your boyfriend after
only one date; and announcing yourself simply as "me''
when you call him late at night.

In spite of their pounding heads, the list grew and
grew. The result was a slim volume entitled How to
Lose a Guy in 10 Days.

"We wrote most of it that morning,'' says Michele.
"And we wrote the rest of it about a week later in a
bar after we had been to a concert. There was this
guy, you see, totally trying to hit on everyone.''

"And that was the thing,'' continues Jeannie, "it
suddenly seemed so absurd, the whole dating-mating
thing, the desperation ...''

At first, How to Lose a Guy, with its witty one-liners
and stick-figure drawings, was just a private joke.
But because everyone who saw the book at their
apartment found it so funny, the pair decided to run
off a few copies at their local copy-shop and give
them away as Christmas presents.

Then a friend showed it to a friend who just happened
to work for a publishing agent and--va-voom!--it was
soon destined for the shelves of Borders and Barnes &

And now, just when these two 30-year-olds cannot
believe that life could get any better (both girls
worked in lowly jobs on the fringes of the
entertainment industry before going into web
marketing), it is announced that How to Lose a Guy is
to be made into a film produced by Robert Evans, the
legend behind Chinatown, Love Story and The Godfather.
It will star Gwyneth Paltrow.

Jeannie and Michele met when they were 12 years old in
their hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, and have been
best friends ever since. Their apartment, which lies
in a slightly seedy but affordable district of Los
Angeles, is piled high with towers of CDs, clothes and
teddy bears. Snapshots of jolly parties are stuck to
the door of the refrigerator.

The only sign that any work is done in this place is a
pair of laptop computers sitting on a makeshift desk.

Michele is blonde and good-looking, with blue eyes and
red lips. Jeannie has a cascade of dark curls and a
slightly eccentric cast of features centred on a nice,
pert nose. They make a good double act.

"We have all the character flaws of the girl in the
book,'' says Michele. "Not the flaws, the
eccentricities,'' corrects Jeannie.

"But the point is that it's so funny because it is
real,'' says Michele.

"Factual, even,'' says Jeannie. "Believe me, either
one of us, or one of our friends, is guilty of doing
absolutely everything in this book.''

(This is alarmingly true: just like their ditsy
heroine, Michele even admits to constantly doing the
splits in front of an old boyfriend in an effort to
remind him of her lithe flexibility.)

How to Lose a Guy does not quite fit into the
self-help genre to which so many Americans have become
addicted, but there is plenty in it of which a girl
should take heed, and its 130 or so pithy pages are
perfectly pitched at those with a dot.com
concentration span.

Want to put the frighteners on your latest date? Well,
by day two of the relationship you should be telling
him that you love him; and by day six, you should have
bought him a T-shirt with both your names airbrushed
on it and a picture of his car.

If you spend the night at his place and he goes out
the next morning to run a few errands, don't waste a
second: "get busy,'' urge the authors. First, go
through all his things.

Call his mother and introduce yourself. Then read his
high school yearbook (or flick through a few of his
old photograph albums and persuade his mother or
sister to tell you the stories behind the pictures).

When he returns, make sure you are wearing his shirt.
Say: "Remember when you and Scooter got arrested after
that football game? That was the funniest story I ever
heard.'' Ask him if he still has feelings for his

On day eight, tell him this is the longest you have
dated someone and that you met your last boyfriend on
the Internet. On day nine, fly your parents in just to
meet him.

After this, it's downhill all the way. Your man will
be well and truly cornered--with the result that, by
day 10, you'll be telling him that he's changed and
you don't know him any more. It's time to go to a
party and meet someone new. The whole miserable cycle
must begin all over again.

So haven't Michele and Jeannie ever had any luck with
the opposite sex?

Apparently not. In all the years they have been
friends, only one of them has ever had a stab at a
serious love affair, and that was years ago. After
college, Michele went to Denver, Colorado, to be with
a man. It lasted two years.

"She calls them the lost years,'' says Jeannie.

"Yeah, lost,'' repeats Michele.

In the end, both girls decided that love could wait.
Instead, they settled in LA and began work in the new
high-tech world--digital music editing, website
designing, even, in the case of Jeannie, running
computer systems for the powerful Creative Artists

These years were a struggle, and they still can't
believe that they have finally got their big break.

"It's hard here,'' she says. "Los Angeles is a bit
like high school with too much money.''

Still, it will probably not be too long before they
are walking up the red carpet at the premiere of the
film of their book. And naturally, there is a
follow-up in the pipeline, this time for klutzy males.
It is called--surprise, surprise--How to Lose a Girl
in 10 Days.

It is, it seems, a very bad idea indeed to invite a
girl home to watch you play Nintendo games with your
mate, an even worse one to blame your erotic disasters
on the fact that you have had too much to drink. We
have been warned.

Shrewdly, though, Jeannie and Michele will not be
sending it out to hungry publishers until the film of
the first is up there on the silver screen. After
that, there should be plenty of time for romance.

"I want to establish myself, and then find someone,''
says Michele.

"That's just what we all want,'' says Jeannie.

Given that both girls have learnt the lessons of the
dating game--and, as a result, neither one is likely
to be tempted to send their true love a tape with
significant smoochy songs specially recorded on it--it
isn't too hard to imagine them both succeeding
sometime soon.

Text: © Telegraph Group Ltd, London

Monday, September 8, 2008


Apabila saudara/saudari mendengar azan, maka bangunlah bersembahyang serta-merta walau bagaimana keadaan saudara sekalipun.

Bacalah al-quran atau tatapilah ilmu atau pergilah mendengar perkara yang baik atau berzikir, jangan sama sekali membuang masa dengan perkara sia-sia.

Berusaha sedaya upaya  untuk bertutur dalam bahasa arab fusha kerana ia merupakan salah satu syiar islam.

Janganlah banyak berdebat dalam apa perkara sekalipun kerana pertengkaran kosong tidak mendatangkan sebarang kebaikan.

Jangan banyak ketawa kerana hati yang sentiasa berhubung dengan allah itu sentiasa tenang lagi tenteram.

Janganlah bergurau kerana umat yang  berjihad sentiasa bersungguh dan serius dalam setiap perkara.

Jangan bercakap lebih nyaring daripada kadar yang dikehendaki oleh pendengar kerana ia menjemukan dan boleh menyakiti pendengar.

Jauhi daripada mengumpat peribadi orang, mengecam pertubuhan - pertubuhan dan jangan bercakap melainkan perkara yang mendatangkan kebaikan.

Berkenalanlah dengan setiap rakan yang saudara/saudari temui sekalipun saudara/saudari tidak diminta berbuat demikian kerana asas dakwah kita ialah berkasih sayang dan berkenalan.

Kewajipan lebih banyak daripada waktu, oleh itu bantulah rakan mu untuk memanfaatkan waktu mereka dan jika saudara/saudari berurusan maka singkatlah masa pelaksanaannya.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Orang yang banyak bicaranya, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat kesedaran hatinya

Orang yang banyak makan, janganlah engkau harapkan kata-kata hikmah daripadanya

Orang yang banyak bergaul dengan manusia, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat kemanisan ibadahnya

Orang yang cintakan dunia, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat husnul khatimahnya

Orang yang bodoh, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat akan hidup hatinya

Orang yang memilih untuk berkawan dengan orang yang zalim, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat kelurusan hatinya

Orang yang mencari keredhaan manusia, janganlah engkau harapkan sangat keredhaan Allah padanya.