On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Resolutions aplenty to beat new year blues

With all the predicted doom and  gloom in the media, laughter has  become a scarce item these days   very much like sugar, one might  say.

It's going to be more difficult to  lift the holiday spirit. But the Malaysian sense of humour, no matter  how controlled, must remain an essential item for all of us to get  through the tough times.

So, it was a welcome change  when I received several festive  wishes with rib-tickling messages  from friends in the banking and  stock-broking sectors  those  hardest hit by the economic slowdown.

Here's a compilation of their new  year resolutions which if followed,  say these financial experts, will  help us survive the depressing  year.

Visit more friends this year   just in case they need to borrow  money. And confine visiting hours  to lunch and dinner time.

Make loud attempts to pay the  bill at restaurants but make it  equally long to take out your wallet  from your pocket. That, they insist,  is prudent financial management  and upholds the Asian value of  sharing.

Go for lunch with your bosses, if  you can. In following another important Asian tradition of “giving  face,'' especially to your superiors,  let them pick up the tab.

Keep sending flowers to loved  ones during special occasions. Loyalty, after all, must be appreciated  if your spouse is standing by you  during economic hardship. However, it will be hibiscus this time instead of roses.

“Hibiscus, being the national  flower, deserves a more prominent  role now. It's also available free in  many places,'' they note.

Despite what the politicians tell  you about not buying fashion apparel with unpronounceable Italian  or French names, it's okay to buy  such items as long as the names are  spelt the Malaysian way.

“Versagie, Armanee or Teg Hevey'' branded items are made by  100% Malaysian-owned stores in  Petaling Street. Besides being politically-correct in this climate of  austerity, we are helping the small  and medium-size businesses which  are still waiting for transfer of  technology from foreigners.

Spend your vacation at home to  stop the outflow of the ringgit. If  you must go to a neighbouring  country, the advice is “don't fly, it  can be dangerous.''

Cut down on transport cost. Follow the example of those neighbours who come often to our country  take a boat.

If you must travel overseas,  make sure it's a company trip. Of  course, make sure the accounts department provide you with enough  greenback. And check the exchange rate when you return unused US dollars  a small profit in  forex trading will be additional income.

Prepare yourself for a new job, is  another resolution by my financial  wizard friends who confessed to  losing a bundle in the stock market.

“But never, never give up your  existing job. Wait to be retrenched  and use your payments wisely. Go  into the food business, it's all cash.  Remember, you can owe your suppliers,'' they advised.

Eat local food. The nasi bungkus  and chap fun, which the Malaysian  yuppies had dumped for more  Western choices, deserve a resurgence.

It's chic  not cheap  to take  your girlfriend to the back lane of  Jalan Tun Perak for a plate of  prawn mee in true Malaysian ambience: the warm tropical night, the  stars above, the stream of passing  vehicles.

Finally, why drink Perrier water  when the mineral water from Taiping is as good. Even the distilled  water from Sentul is fine as long as  it is clean.

Like all new year resolutions, it  is always difficult keeping them.  But under the present circumstances, it looks like we don't have  much of a choice.

By the way, are you ready for  lunch?