Friday, September 11, 2009

The American 4+0

Yesterday, I gave Speech # 3 from the Specialty Speeches series titled “The American 4+0” since I am supposed to “sell a product”. So it makes good sense to talk about my College product, i.e. the undergraduate program that we are offering here in partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, USA. The 4+0 means that students intending to have an American education may do so wholly in Malaysia, without having to set foot on American soil! This is important because study costs are considerably lower than if students go to the US for their tertiary education, even if at SNHU.

My evaluator was visiting Sri Lankan ACB CL Suresh Kumar, who incidentally is also an A3 Governor, for District 82. His first opening statement? I speak confidently and with conviction. I cannot disagree with him on this score. And he thought I was good, and I spoke well. Again, I will not deny this. But it is also true that I could have done better. Besides ACB Ramesh, there were others (in the Open evaluation session), who commented too. Firstly, I tried to achieve far too many things in this assignment – my speech would have been better-served if I had focused on a couple of salient points instead. ACG CL Wei Seong reminded me that I could have made my ‘sales’ presentation more personal; he didn’t feel engaged as a member of the audience – I had made it like a ‘lecture’. Sigh, very true! ACB CL Nancy opined that my slides were really good – they were so good that they took center-stage! Sigh, again so true! And I know my 78 slides were really very excessive, I should have ruthlessly downscaled them to only 10 slides or so. Still, overall, my speech was okay lah – taking into consideration all the above-mentioned feedback.

And if there are people who are over the moon because green shoots are supposedly sprouting profusely all over the place, this news from Malay Mail should somewhat restrain their exuberance, and prompt caution: “US is economically unstable” (September 09, 2009, p 17) – the World Economic Forum made the pronouncement that the US fared badly in an assessment of world economies, with the financial crisis accentuating its weakness as one of the most economically unstable nations. Although its overall ranking of second only to Switzerland in the WEF’s 2009 Global Competitiveness Report, the US is placed 93rd among the 133 countries in terms of macroeconomic stability. According to this report that I read, repeated fiscal deficits have led to burgeoning levels of public indebtedness, which are presently being exacerbated by significant stimulus spending. And with the low national savings rates – these have helped drag the US down.

On the same note regarding this WEF Global Competitiveness Report for 2009/2010 – it is worth mentioning that Malaysia’s global competitiveness ranking has dropped to 24 from 21 last year (The Sun, September 11, 2009, p 14). This is worrying but you may ask, what are the reasons for this deteriorating situation? Amongst the reasons for Malaysia’s declining competitiveness were lack of public safety and security, a much poorer assessment of their institutional framework and the growing budget deficit of 5% of GDP last year and 7.6% of GDP this year. I just hope that we are not in self-denial again.

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