E-volution – thanks to the voices and the voters!

Been away from my computer for quite sometimes, or should I say I been busy digging some news about Malaysia (election) and been spending time reading for my writing. I would like to wish Happy Women day although it have passed few days ago, but still it’s never to late to wish. There’re two things I would like to put on my blog today.

First of all is a story of a strong women who decided to join politic at the age of 89 years old. This might is not shocking for some of you but for the people in Malaysia, this is really something. I don’t know what you guys think but for me this is the awaken of the dragon. The situation must be critical or vulnerable position in Malaysia for a granny to rise and voice up. This in unusual. We (Malaysian) hardly or perhaps never had any women in that age with that courage to challenge and team-up with other younger politician. She called her self ‘Tok’ which is a common call for grandma in the northern side of Malaysia. She’s a candidate for Malaysia 2008 Election and she presenting the free party. Have a look at her poster. Apart from going around promoting her ideas and plan for her areas in future, she also been busy contributing information and converse with her supporter through her blog and you tube. I am inspired! Thanks to the designers who contribute in the making of the project. Good Job guys! Nice poster too ;).


Poster 1 – Maimum Yusuf – vote for free party Poster 2 – Step Down Mr. Prime Minister! “We don’t want to work with you.” – Malaysian Citizens taken from http://angan-angan.blogspot.com/

The second things I wanted to write is about the elections in Malaysia. Another shocking news! Boy..Malaysia have grown! 50 years of independence does mean something to us. It seems very important to many people including myself, to reveal our stand and what we believe in. The voices of the people are rising. I saw many visual artifact through the election campaign. Videos, poster, e-card, banner and advertisement are everywhere. The evolution of design have emerged. These processes must be a challenge for designers to visualize their ideas and thoughts; and how to communicate with others. What ever your objective, remember we designers do play some part in making the changes for our future.

If you interested to see some of the comedy scene from some creative Malaysian (one thumb up for you!) visit this site – www.bolehnation.com

http://harismibrahim.wordpress.com – I’m Malaysian


http://mob1900.blogspot.com/ You could find more interesting posters in this blog.

Does identity matters? (+,-)

I know that Ive been discussion quite often about identity, culturally and nationally. At some point, more and more now, I dont think identity really matters anymore. Why? For one of the reason, I think we belong to certain images of identity without our agreement. Were born in it. We belong to our ancestors identity even if we disagree with the contents. We then continue living with the identity that been perceived but without us realizing it, we seldom try to make changes, adjusting and fitting it in our way of life. We then alter it and perhaps in future it might become another identity. I dont think anyone can preserve an identity. It’s all up to us!


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Malay Apple!

Courtesy image: http://en.wikipedia.org/

‘Jambu Merah’ botanically identified as syzygium malaccense, the fruit is also called Malay rose-apple and mountain apple. Recently I’ve read an articles from News Strait Times about Malay apple. I was shocked thinking when did Malaysian manage to produce an apple? We can’t even get the apple tree growing because of the climate. It is an interesting column wrote by K.P Waran with the title: Go Global with the Malay Apple. Apparently not many Malaysian knows what fruit is it, not by this name for sure.

A very beautiful fruit, usually deep red in color, pear shaped, with a waxy skin, about the size of an apple. Flesh is crunchy, often juicy, with a mild sweet flavor. Some varieties have white or pink skin. Surprisingly Malay apple even have its name in French ‘pomme de Malaisie’ and Spanish ‘pomarrosa Malaya’.

Quote (Morton, J. 1987. Malay Apple. p. 378“381.) In: Fruits of warm climates about the origin and distribution of Malay Apple, “‘The Malay apple is presumed to be a native of Malaysia. It is commonly cultivated from Java to the Philippines and Vietnam, also in Bengal and South India. Portuguese voyagers carried it from Malacca to Goa and from there it was introduced into East Africa. It must have spread throughout the Pacific Islands in very early times for it is featured in Fijian mythology and the wood was used by ancient Hawaiians to make idols. Indeed, it has been recorded that, before the arrival of missionaries in Hawaii, there were no fruits except bananas, coconuts and the Malay apple. The flowers are considered sacred to Pele, the fiery volcano goddess. Captain Bligh conveyed small trees of 3 varieties from the islands of Timor and Tahiti to Jamaica in 1793. The tree was growing under glass in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1839, and specimens were fruiting in Bermuda in 1878.

Eggers, who studied the flora of St. Croix, reported seeing naturalized trees in shaded valleys during his stay on the island from 1870 to 1876. The Malay apple was unknown in Puerto Rico in 1903 but must have arrived soon after. Britton and Wilson observed 2 trees 43 ft (13 m) high at Happy Hollow in 1924. Thereafter, the tree was rather frequently planted as an ornamental or wind-break. Perhaps the Portuguese were responsible for its introduction into Brazil, for it is cultivated there, as it is also in Surinam and Panama. Dr. David Fairchild sent seeds from Panama to the United States Department of Agriculture in 1921. In 1929, young trees from the Canal Zone were transported to the Lancetilla Experimental Gardens at Tela, Honduras, where they flourished and fruited. The Malay apple is sometimes seen in other parts of Central America, including Belize, El Salvador and Costa Rica, much more frequently in parks and gardens in Venezuela. The fruits are sold in local markets and along the streets wherever the tree is grown.”

Since the Malay apple has a strong historical link to Malaysia and countless documents exist calling it by the name, it would be appropriate to return to the name and promote it as a Malaysian product. As been suggested by K.P Waran in NST column, and I completely agree with him, I think it’s about time we give back the name ‘Malay Apple’ or in Malay might be ‘ Jambu Melayu’ to ‘Jambu Merah’. It will be an excellent way to promote Malaysia as the fruit country’s of origin and Malaysian product. Perhaps in few years it might increase the plantation of ‘Malay Apple’ in the country.


Focus on locus!

Labsome Studio

This research is driving me insane! I need to narrow it down. At some point I can’t see where I’m heading from here. Why am I doing this research? Who and what is it for? This questions also drives me crazy. Am I trying to create a future Malaysian Identity (which I did not intented too, or is this where I’m heading to?) or analyzing Malaysian Identity through past ( sounds more realistic )?

For a start I re-arranged the ad and images. Put them as in time line from 1957 to 2007. My time line works between 10 years. I found fews catagories while separating them. There are economy, social, environment and culture appear in the images.

What does it trying to say? What are the things that are not visible in these images and how do these meaning relates to the images?


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Kuala Lumpur – Past & Present

I found this visual in You tube. Interesting to see the changes, although it is only through the architecture. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian capital city developing since the past until now. This presentation is by ‘Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL)’, Kuala Lumpur City Council. Thanks for the effort of collecting some images and put it together. I think DBKL need some graphic or interaction designer to work on this further. Have a look… Kuala Lumpur dulu dan sekarang

Designer’s hand can change the world

It’s been a while I didn’t log in and throw some thought here. I’ve been busy preparing my presentation for the Graduate Research Conference (GRC) which ended last Saturday. It went well and I’m happy with the comments and suggestions from the panel.

Part of my research presentation, I’m interested in the graphic/communication designer’s practices in industries and higher education. Mainly in the contribution of graphic designers in advertising, branding, education etc. I came out with this statement in Malaysian context.

I believe communication design plays an important role in crafting the cultural and national identity. I believe the contribution that the communication designer did influenced the development of culture and lifestyle. I think there it is important to start critical analysis in communication design areas in Malaysia. Hopefully by making critical comments, it will evoke the awareness of the audience about the role of communication designers in the society and enhance the design culture in Malaysia.

KCF in Malaysia

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When I was in Kuala Lumpur (KL) CBD a month ago, I tried to travel around using public transport. Just to check out and update myself with the services. And to experience the changes. Fortunely the services have improved. More people choosed to take public transport than drive. That makes the “Rapid KL” and other public transport services, the LRT and buses improved their services. While taking underground LRT in KL, I saw this advertisment.

I find this KFC adds interesting. For sure this add will not sell or perhaps will never have the chance to be on the billboard in any western country. It says “Kita mesti makan nasi! Jadi kita tidak tercungap-cungap naik tangga” , “We need to eat rice! So we will be able to climb the stairs in a good shape.” Malaysian citizen loves “nasi” rice. Just ask anyone, to the extend that we even make some of the ‘sweet’ dessert with rice flour. As one of the marketing strategies KFC attracts their customer by adding the “culture values” in their menu. KFC serves with rice. A mixture of East (Rice) and West (bread). KFC is one of the biggest sales ‘fast food’ in Malaysia, therefore in order to keep the customer happy they keep on inventing their product that can fit the local taste.

Myth?: Some even said that KFC is much better taste in Malaysia or Asia. I wonder why?

4th GRC – moved on!


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Nurul Rahman poster for October GRC2007, the image haved been modified from the original add that she found from “Malaysia Year Book 1967”. An advertisment from Strait Central Agencies LTD., a travel agency.

Another GRC is coming this Oct 22. I decided to changed again my title from “Branding Malaysia? Thinking to understand the evolution of Malaysian Identity 1957-2007” to this new title “Design in Malaysia 1957-2007? Understanding the participation of Communication Designer in shaping the Malaysian Identity”.

Why? Well after the trip, I spent time looking at the collection of images that I collected during my field trip in Malaysia. Even during the trip, while collecting the images I realised that I can be out of track somehow if i keep on following the same path. I’m not trying to find Malaysian Identity, or trying to define what Malaysian Identity is/are. This topic is too broad. I’m also not trying to do research about branding in Malaysia. Yes this two topic is very much seductive because this is what i been long to know, but it’s not really what i want to do.

I’m a communication designer and a graphic designer. This is my areas of knowledge. I’ve been practicing graphic design, collobarate with others in design, and shared my practices, and knowledge of design with others (students, friends, client etc.) All of this happen when I was living in Penang, Malaysia. Studying and practicing graphic design and creative areas inspired me to seek for more about design. Further more, to be explicit it is all the way about communication design, and not fine art. I’m aware of the lack of understanding about communication design in Malaysia. Therefore, I tried to make some people understand the important of my role as a communication designer in some cases/project in practicing and in teaching.

In Malaysia (1994), especially in Penang, it’s very hard to find a designer position for career. I remembered when I told my father (who was a lecturer in automobile engineering department, in one of the college in Penang) that I wanted to study Graphic Design. He responded “What will you be doing after you graduate? A street artist? Can you get a job with this course?”. Wow! that was shocking. But, of course I insisted. I’m lucky at some point because although my father didn’t like the idea of me studying Graphic design, he still encouraged me to go on with what I really want.

What I’m trying to say here is, in Malaysia, the term of graphic design is still blur, perhaps not much people know what communication design are. Seriously, I understand the reason why i decided to do my PhD. I wanted to start a design culture in Malaysia. I hope the designer position will be acknowledge and recognise by others as one of the important position in creative department, in advertising department, in school etc. There are not much lecturer have the knowledge in communication design in Malaysia. That the gap that perhaps we can fix. The teaching curriculum strategies in the higher education.

I hope somehow and someways I can contribute to Malaysia by having this PhD. In order to do this, I’m will investigate the development of communication design in Malaysia and how communication design participate in shaping Malaysian Identity?.

Design in Malaysia – 50 years of independence!

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I know I should have wrote in August 31, but forgive me for not being able to do that, as I was in my field work trip in Malaysia, experiencing the moment when Malaysia celebrates her indipendence. Of course it is big and well plan, for this year also is a year for visit Malaysia.


From the trip, I can see many advertisments, promotions, posters, banners etc. related to celebrates and promotes the nationhood. Newspaper, tourism, hotels and goverment department, each one of them plays their part in this show. I can also see each state in Malaysia compete with each other promoting their authentic products and speciality.


Malaysia have changed. If the main objective it to show the other Malaysia is changing, then it is succesful.Looking from designer eyes, i can see the evolution. The changes the design movement in Malaysia. Design is always there in Malaysia. It is just the acknowledgement that is lacking.

My first work in design is in 1994. I started as DTP(Desktop Publishing) Artist with a very low pay (RM350), although my Diploma is in Computer Graphic and Commercial art ( I got two diploma). I guess it does sound similar. My work is not much designing, it is more about cleaning the layout from client ( this is to make sure the layout is ready for printing film-color separation). Sometimes I get to do the small design work like creating logo for a product, but still this process is under monitor by the client. In a way I have to follow what the client want. After a year I’ve moved to another company that require a graphic artist. It is much better position as I get to do the design job, no more cleaning the layout for film processing. Then so on..moved and changed work. Through my working experience I always tried to make others understand the role of designer (at that time). The importance to trust the designer. And to differentiate between ‘designer’ and an ‘artist’. I guess in a way I’m educating others about the importance of design in society.

What I wanted to say here is, it’s been 50 years Malaysia gets her independence and I can see there are acknowledgement in the design field in Malaysia. Designer are much more appreciated than 20 years ago, not to the extend that it is much more appreciated than the professional position like doctor, engineers etc. but this should be enough to get going. There are ‘designer’ position in the goverment areas. More University and collages teaching design in Malaysia. And more people trying to define and understand the different between an ‘artist’ and’ designer’.

This lead me to this question- How can this knowledge contribute in creating the culture of design in Malaysia?


End of the trip – mouthful tasting!

Roti Canai, one of Malaysian favorite dish.

After the long 6 weeks trips, partly holidays and partly research, I’m managed to be back in Melbourne, although its hard. I have visited France and Malaysia in this trip. Places, historical building, people, food, fruits and desserts are mainly our target when we arrived in a country for. I found similarity in these two countries (France and Malaysia) when it comes to food.


One of the best dessert in Reims, France. Of course there arae more!

French people loves their food and dessert not more than the Malaysian loves their food. I would say crazy for food. In Malaysia, food is easy to get, much easier than in France, 24 hours food anywhere, it all depend what kind of food you guys looking for. If you need a typical Malaysian hawker food, it’s available anytime. Easy. In France, for typical french food, we need to book in advance. But it’s worth booking, because the food is soo good. Once, a friend of mine in Malaysia asked me about the different of food in Malaysia and France. Personally I would say that French care more for fresh food and will try to maintain the food fresh when they cooked it. As for Malaysian, we tend to cook the dish well, for example if we cooked the meat, it always cook in curry or some dishes that need to cooked the meat for long time. Malaysian loves to tastes the heavy flavour in the meat. As for the french, the taste of the meat is much better appreciated than the flavour. Of course every state have their own speciality in preparing the food. This goes the same in these two countries.


Please dont get me wrong, I’m not trying to compare the food differences, pro and con between Malaysia and France, but I’m just writing my journey experience visiting this two countries. I will continues to write more about the journey in this blog later. Hmmm…I might have some snap shot from the trip that will make you dream of tasting this food. What do you think?


‘Teh Tarik’ or pulling tea is a must try if you go to Malaysia.

Nasi Lemak (Coconut Rice mixed with anchovies, cucumber and chili sauce) is known as one of Malaysian ‘anytime’ dish.


Pai-Tee (deep fried flour with cucumber, slice fried eggs, fried shalots, and ‘mengkuang’)
We had this in Malacca, one of the Baba-Nyonya speciality. It comes with sweet sauce.