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Who & Why

(If you must know, or if it makes a difference when reading my posts)

The name’s Michael Tan, but ‘Mike’ is fine.

Other than the fact that I’m Malaysian, what’s there to know?

Bio details are boring – age, race, religion, address, what else? Why bother? I must have taken at least 5000 ID details of strangers in a previous life and I found it terribly boring. Also, most people I meet, outside of Malaysia, don’t really care about my background much. Instead, they focus on the issues or ideas at hand.

Anyway, in the past few weeks, blog readers (particularly this blog) thinks it’s important to know – just so they get a ‘feel’ of where I’m coming from. They keep asking for details.

OK, here’s some details:

I left for UK when I was 17 and didn’t return to Malaysia till 22 years later, which makes me 39. In between, I did the following:

  • Read for law degree, worked as Reader/Lecturer in Law in Singapore and New Zealand, then General Counsel for an investment house in Hong Kong (contemporary lawyers are all technique, and no judgement – not my vocation)
  • Have consulted with telecommunications companies, including British Telecoms, China Mobile, China Unicom, KT, M1, PCCW, SingTel and Tom.com. Funnily enough, have never done any work with local telcos. My area? Marketing strategy and execution (the operative word is execution, not strategy)
  • Managed 3 technology companies (not at the same time) – one in Europe and two in Asia (one I started).

In addition, I have a background in law enforcement (not Malaysia), and public policy experience with another government service (again, not in Malaysia), controlling a 5-man team to 600-manpower division. It’s a lot of planning and execution (my favourite word). But that’s all I’ll say about my public service work.

If you ask why not Malaysian public service? Simple, I did not qualify because I wasn’t … what? You got it, Malay. Which explains why I left my country for so long. And I learnt a few things along the way, t’was a blessing in disguise.

Am I angry or resent Malaysians who are Malays? No. Because, if you experienced the bigotry I had to face in order to succeed in the commercial world, you’ll realise how destructive discrimination is. It’s a learnt behaviour. Not hereditary, not a disease – though the consequence is. A cancer of society. And if it gets into your system, it will kill you – maybe not literally, but you’ll have lost your soul. So, in my team, friends and family – discrimination is a big NO, NO.

I say all these because, until I returned home, I never did listen, read and think so much about race.

I returned to Malaysia early 2008. Why? Because I am Malaysian (never took up another citizenship). But why? Why come back to Malaysia at all? Oddly, this is a favourite question of Malaysians. Like I said, I’m Malaysian.

Ok, that’s it. No more personal questions. Why? Check out point 1 of William Patry’s last post. The other is security on the web.

For everything else, I welcome all questions / comments / thoughts.

Why this blog? I believe Malaysia can be better. The longer version.

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