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The suiting thread


kotmj
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Yesterday afternoon, I was in 1U to buy supplies and for lunch. It was eerily deserted. There were very few shoppers. 

I'm typing this from a Korean restaurant in Ampang. I'm here for a bibimbap without egg and without sesame oil, aka my starvation diet. This restaurant is typically packed on weekend nights. Today, I'm the only patron. 

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Here we go again. Surat majikan, roadblocks, chicken employees, etc. 

Have you noticed the huge difference between those who must work or they starve, and those for whom work is a way to make pocket money (because shelter, food, and a car is provided by parents)? 

Thankfully, I have one employee (the Malay boy) who belongs, like me, in the former category. The other two have refused to come to work. 

I don't think I will hire any more people in the latter category. They are so soft, entitled, complaining, and ultimately useless. 

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I expect this CMCO of kl/pj to last for several months. It is very good at dampening consumption, since you're not expected to shop recreationally. If the retail sector has been suffering so far, it is just about to get worse. 

I also expect most of the country to enter CMCO soon. There has been a tremendous amount of domestic tourism on a level never seen before, which means the virus has spread everywhere.

I was actually planning to move to a larger space at Plaza Kelana Jaya. But recent developments make that look unwise. It may be better to take the opposite direction: the contractionary approach instead of expansionary. JT should further evolve into the cockroach that survives the nuclear holocaust. 

I may move into a smaller unit within the same building. The sort of unit we used to be in. This as a precautionary move to further shrink the cost structure. 

Even Liverano in Florence had to change. It recently started offering tailoring courses---with high tuition fees. Anybody can apply. Prior experience in tailoring is not a prerequisite. (The cash is. Bring the cash!) 

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So 1U has come out saying 21 of the 6000 people who work in the mall have been tested positive for covid. That's a 0.35% current infection rate. Some may have gotten it earlier, showed no symptoms and have recovered. The test doesn't detect these. Also, the molecular test is notorious for producing up to 37% false negatives, which is why you see certain people being tested repeatedly.

The mix of mall management and tenant staff numbering 6000 in 1U is a great proxy for the PJ population. Applying the 0.35% infection rate to the Petaling District of 1.661 million people gives an estimated 5800 cases of current infection in Petaling alone. 

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IMG_20201016_152929.jpg?raw=1

I have found that unlike people like Goethe who did his best thinking while out on long walks in nature, I do mine best while seated with pen and paper. 

Alas, unlike Goethe, the sort of thinking I do is very unglamorous. Rental agreements, planning how to move 11 sewing machines, whether to continue pursuing legal action, etc. 

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Today, I went where nobody dares to go: I went to 1U.

It was very deserted. But beyond that, the situation looks forlorn. A number of shops appear to me to have closed indefinitely, since their window displays are stripped of merchandise, and even the merchandising equipment are arranged as though awaiting transport out of the mall. Quite a percentage of shops has also remain closed. The sole Tudor Black Bay 58 Blue on display at Watatime has disappeared. Even the Nespresso boutique is in hibernation, which is odd because it's owned by Nestle, and because it is in an atrium space, which makes it a prominent reminder to all that all is not well at 1U.

Of the two basement parking levels, B2 has been sealed off. I saw only about a dozen cars on B1. 

I then read that the Food Republic food court has permanently closed at 1U.

So much destruction. I think for many of the tenants, their space in 1U has been loss making even before the recent shutdown, and the shutdown just made them see that it is a lost cause to continue operating there.

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This morning, while in bed perusing vacancies (I am eternally curious about all kinds of things), I discovered a type of job I had hitherto been ignorant about. It is called "clienteling". The job title for such a role would be like Private Clients Relationship Manager. 

In essence, it is about contacting individual clients---primarily through WhatsApp today---and telling them about things which would be of interest to them, and which they might want to buy. This is different from physical retail in that the client is not physically with you.

Clienteling is typically used to move high value items to high net worth customers. 

Those of you who know me know that I would be totally awful at clienteling. I have no interest in chatting with customers on WhatsApp. I don't know why that is. I just know it is. I've always been this way. This weakness costs JT hundreds of thousands a year in revenues. 

I shared my discovery with the Malay boy just now. I told him how I would totally suck at clienteling. He tells me he is good at it. I asked him: You like doing clienteling? Not everybody has the psyche and interest for it. He says it's totally his thing. 

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Dear Mr Jeremy,

 

We write to inform that we had earlier requested from Celcom’s solicitors the address of Syed Sadid Alyahya Bin Syed Hashim (“Syed Sadid”) and that the information be provided in the form of an affidavit as directed by the Court.

 

Please be informed that the Celcom’s solicitors have replied to us today enclosing an affidavit by their client on Syed Sadid’s information (name, NRIC, address and email address) and document as attached.

 

In view of the fact that we have obtained all the necessary particulars to initiate legal action, may we have your confirmation to proceed with drafting the Writ and Statement of Claim against Syed Sadid?

 

We look forward to your reply.

 

Kind regards,

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I have observed a disturbing phenomenon. People have their masks on, but it is under their chin, hanging from their necks like swimming gogles. With their masks so positioned, they go about their days completely oblivious to any form of distancing. Three middle aged extremely neurotypical people in Bentong bantering with each other in very close proximity. Two Bangladeshi cleaners in Genting walking together almost touching while talking at each other with their faces barely 30cm apart. A group of young Malays chatting with each other in very close proximity, directly facing each other. All with masks, but covering their necks. 

The general idea behind masks is to avoid aerosol from the mouth reaching another's mucus membranes. People have all but abandoned any consciousness of this, if they ever had it in the first place. I don't think they ever understood the reason behind wearing one. 

Ah, the neurotypicals. Nothing they do make any sense to us who are cognitively gifted. They don't know and they don't care to know. Listening to their banter really gives me a glimpse into their internal lives---the lives of morons. I am so grateful to be born gifted. 

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Can someone tell me, what do people do when they work from home? When people are not consuming, what are people producing (from home)? Don't consumption and production go hand-in-hand? One cannot exist without the other. 

Please excuse me, I'm so limited. Reading the newspapers, I am lead to believe that people are very productively working from home. I presume they are producing something that a customer is paying for. Except, people are not buying much of anything nowadays. So what are all these millions of people producing from home? (Emails?) 

This must be the worst year in many decades for physical retail. My sympathy goes to the retailers. Here's a bit of consolation, a bit of beauty in rough times. 

 

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Apart from back office, management, and some sectors of service providers (those that work predominantly in an office with a laptop), this is simply not possible. I suppose the WFH bunch are only a potion of the workforce.

By definition, to produce/work, people need to be at production facilities and work with tools (could be other humans). Unless their 'home' is the production facility (sole contributor, freelancer, etc.), this is simply not achievable. Which is why factories and construction sites and law enforcement and etc. cannot shutdown. It is simply not doable. Still, accounting, legal, customer service, IT, etc. these can WFH, to a certain extend, but as you can tell they produce services mostly, not goods. I might also add that they stand on top of the foundation of physical goods production, not unlike the dependence of carnivore on herbivore.

We are already seeing physical retail stores in malls packed up and left, ignoring rental contracts. Even F&B outlets are impacted (especially cafes), it seems takeout orders are simply not enough to cover. They either sell the business, or simply liquidate the assets and close down. Guess what happens to the accountants of these businesses? Given the lower amount of traffic and economic activities, demand decreases so will production (as per your mention), but there is always a delay between production and consumption.

We all know that Q420 is gonna get another hit if the Order gets an extension. It is just deflationary and detrimental. Hopefully this doesn't go beyond the point of no return.

Apparently the fear of an entity can cause much havoc than the entity itself.

***

By the way, beautiful music that. The former.

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