Celebrated global creative icon speaks out for talented Malaysians
I read last week the good news of Malaysian minorities appointed as mayors in America and New Zealand. The same week a politician in Malaysia said there was no need for minorities to be represented in government. An odd statement in an increasingly inclusive and progressive world.
… The places went to the best people who brought different perspectives, deeper insights and better ideas…
I left Malaysia for Singapore about a decade ago for the exposure and experience, to paint on a regional canvas and see the outcome on a global scale. Working with over 20 offices across 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific, I could focus on the job without the distraction of racial and religious politics.
The team was American, Canadian, English, French, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Italian, Brazilian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Sri Lankan, Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean, Indonesian, Australian…
It was all about the power of the idea, the quality of the work, the value one brought to the table. Meritocracy. No one was made to feel second-class or treated like an outsider because of the colour of his skin or the God he believes in. The only thing that mattered was the person’s ability.
The work we produced won the Cannes Lions Grand Prix, the D&AD Black Pencil and the Facebook Award for Innovation. We were crowned Campaign Brief Asia Network Of The Year twice and Adfest Network Of The Year thrice.
This would not have been possible if places on the team had been reserved for only one type or class of people. The places went to the best people who brought different perspectives, deeper insights and better ideas to the table.
The best players in the English Premier League are English, French, Dutch, Egyptian, Korean, African … The best Malaysian football team of all time comprised Mokhtar Dahari, Soh Chin Aun, Arumugam, Santokh Singh, all sorts. Multiculturalism on a level playing field brings out the best in people, the organisations they work with and the countries they represent.
Discrimination demotivates. There is no reason to work hard when the work is not recognised. There is no reason to try when one doesn’t have to. Nobody wins in the game of favouritism. The favoured sits back, the disenchanted walks out. Everyone loses when the demotivated team is dismantled by another more motivated to win.
Multiculturalism brings more to the table. More resources, more insights, more perspectives, more creativity, more empathy, more depth. Meritocracy inspires innovation, spurs productivity and creates value.
Global organisations like Facebook, Amazon, Alibaba, Tencent, ByteDance, Apple, Samsung and Dyson recognise this. It comes as no surprise that these businesses are investing billions in Singapore and other economies that are becoming more inclusive, progressive and global by the day.
Malaysia can opt in or lose out.
Ted Lim is probably the most decorated Malaysian in the global advertising industry. He left Malaysia in 2012 and worked as Regional Chief Creative Officer at Dentsu Asia-Pacific until June this year. Ted spoke at the World Knowledge Forum in 2016, was Cannes Lions Jury President in 2017 and recognised by AdWeek as one of 13 global creative leaders whose ideas are advancing advertising worldwide in 2019. He is now an independent creative consultant to a coterie of progressive clients and ad agencies in Singapore and Malaysia and advisor to a tech start-up in America.