Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Olive green to Drab green

Two neighboring Toastmasters clubs in the KL Sentral area, KL Advanced and Bangsar collaborated to organize a joint meeting this evening. There were twenty attendees, including seven guests. Four individuals took part in Table Topics and two Toastmasters delivered two assignment speeches. I participated in both these sessions and even walked away with a certificate and a MPH book voucher for being voted the Best Table Topics speaker. There were no awards for the latter since there were only two speakers. But even so, I gave a pretty good speech – CC speech # 9 Persuade with Power – titled “Be Free”. I also enjoyed the other speech by Bangsar Toastmaster, lawyer Sham Sunder who presented an Advanced speech from the Humorously Speaking manual. If I may add, Ahmad Zakie as the Toastmaster-of-the-Evening and a polished presenter did an awesome job. I would give this meeting an 8 out of 10. Overall, I had a great time!

On Sunday, I had blogged about the Aussie tobacco plan. Under proposed legislation, all logos would be removed from cigarette packets, which would have to be a drab green color and be plastered with graphic health warnings.

When the legislation was announced, the government said the plain packaging would be olive green, but olive growers objected. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon was forced to issue a rebuttal, explaining “I need to publicly say to the olive growers that we don’t think that their products are in any way connected with the very unattractive product of tobacco”. And she added “Even though the colour we are using is olive green … I am now calling it drab green.”

Predictably, the big tobacco companies have slammed the idea and vowed to fight the move. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) also got into the act when their secretary-general Jean-Guy Carrier on Sunday sent a letter to Australian Trade Minister Craig Emerson outlining his concerns, according to this news report in Star, May 30, 2011, p 33.

“The ability of brand owners to market their product in unique and easily identifiable ways is a core element of a developed society’s protection of intellectual property rights“, ICC spokesperson Jeffrey Hardy maintained.

“Australia has been a leading voice in support of IP and rules-based commerce, but the proposed regulations mandating the elimination of trademarks… is in direct and dangerous conflict with this view,” he added.

As I have previously said, this is a brave move by the Australian government. If executing this plan proves challenging because it will get bogged down by legal tussles about IP issues and such like, then I say, just ban the sale of these cancer sticks nationwide. It’s all about political will. The million-dollar question: Will the Aussies cave in or will they stand firm?

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