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?.

‘Graphic Design’ Versus ‘Visual Communication Design’!

I got this book called ‘Communication Design – Principles, Methods and practice’ by Jorge Frascara. This one particular topic that always interest me, moving from Graphic design to Communication design. I’m a graphic designer myself. I’m also a communication designer. These two term is common, but is the meaning and the role are the same? Recently the role of graphic designer have moved, or expend to broader areas. Graphic designer have looked into interior design, product, events etc. There are more and more collaborative work involve between graphic designer and client. Or sometimes even others from different disipline. This particular paragraph from Frascara explain more about what I wrote above.


‘ It is necessary to recognize that the term ‘graphic design’ has contributed to the obscure profile of the profession. Although better than ‘graphic artist’ and far better than ‘artist’, the term still places too much emphasis on the graphic, physical elements and omits more essential aspects of the profession – the main aim of which is not the creation of graphic forms but the creation of effective communications. Although the most widely accepted term indeed ‘graphic designer’, it is more discriptive and appropriate to say ‘visual communication designer’, because this defination includes three ensential elements of the profession: a method (design), an objective (communication) and a medium (vision).’

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.