Assalamualaikum Dato Nadzim Johan and a warm welcome Arab Asia Trade magazine.
We are one of the most reputed, trusted and oldest Arabian, Asian, and African trade magazines. We are successfully in the market for 40 years catering to the South East Asian region marketing products from the region to Arab & African world.
Well, like to begin this interview by knowing a little about your background and childhood influences.
Thank you (AATBC), well I think what I am doing today is what my father practised when he was alive. He fought the Japanese and was very strict. He was so strict that when he was in the government, they suppressed him, but he fought for the right, full of hope, that we can do something to put Muslims together. So that is the objective that brought I was brought up with. We have been indoctrinated to help the poor, regain our dignity, to fight for rights and justice but in harmony. So, over the years we have seen many flaws in the present system especially the capitalist system that is solely looking at money as the sole objective of life which we don’t believe in as Muslims, we have a better system. Actually, during childhood, I was exposed to this, I was following my father’s business, he began the business when he was about to retire and I have been through many, challenges and the predicament of doing business at old age. When I jump into business, I had many opportunities to study abroad on scholarships offered to me but I said never mind, I want to do something else and I did my business. I studied at night business, law and marketing. It took me more than 15 years to study at night. It is not easy to study at night and doing business at the same time. While I was doing business, the challenges I went through probably made me more determined to do something more systematic to achieve an objective and the platform was to help the consumers. That was the starting point in 1997, we started the Muslim Consumer Association because we realise that the government is influenced by the capitalist. The only way to fight the capitalist is through consumerism. That is the only way and of course Islamic consumerism. So, from there on we want to put ourselves in the shoes of many unfortunate people, oppressed people, poor people so alhamdulillah for the past 23 years we have been fighting and we have many experiences and a fair share of failures as well. Of course, failure is success turned inside out. So, it’s ok.
Yes, we can learn from failures too, what was it like?
So, it was like holding burning charcoal in your palm, some people ask me what’s it like, so that is the description. You see, whatever we do we have to go against the norms because the norms has always been conquered by those businessmen that make money out of the misery of people so we had to fight a lot like the capitalist banks, the Telco’s, the hospitals, the manufacturers, restaurant food that is not fit. When we talk of consumerism, it’s like consumer consumption. We consume what we want, you pay you to get, so you become consumers, unfortunately, we are not exactly like that, we thought we were like that but we are actually not like that. We consume, every day until we are being consumed from the time we wake up until we sleep. You are being consumed by the insurance, banks, companies everything so we have got to put this behaviour in the proper place and that is why we have many people coming together to form interest group at times even against us. It’s a very long story to tell it would take 23 months to share what we did in 23 years of experience.
I am sure so how did you achieve this?
Its a good experience, there is no success without sacrifice and there is no success if you don’t feel the pain, at least you can enjoy the pain, failure is success turned inside out, so it’s more or less like that to fight government policies drawn by capitalist so there are many things we work on.
So Dato in your association there could be many ways to assist the locals, how can foreign businesses who want to bring business to Malaysia be encouraged to enter the local markets?
Yes, this is what we are trying to do. We are trying to put together a marketplace for the good people because we feel that economy shouldn’t belong to capitalist, it should belong to consumers. Companies make one million to half a billion, but consumers are dying, they cannot even get proper homes. The company margins are tremendous, and the consumers don’t have to pay so much and be in a miserable state. We are now in a miserable state.
So Dato is there any sector you may be focusing on?
No, we are looking at everything because the consumer is everybody. Consumer have their problems and seek us to find ways to solve them. We have got many successful experiences like banks authorising seizing of property, cars and what not, wrongful termination at job and oppression. So, far we have managed to bring back the rights like in some places they don’t allow Muslims to use hijab or prayers. So, there are some of the things we keep on doing so Alhamdulillah. We are teaching consumers to empower themselves to do something.
You cannot be scared; you shouldn’t be scared if you empower yourself with knowledge and skill and unity. Its only about you that can get whatever you wanted to get as suggested by Islam. You have got to get together because if you have misunderstood, the minute you have a misunderstanding you will get very the Malay word is “Kantas” – scared. You will be put in fear and then you will lose all your strength and when you lose your strength then you will be conquered and that is the name of the game. You will be taken advantage of. So, we cannot allow ourselves to be taken advantage of because as a Muslim we have got to be strong. The Quran, ask us to be together to prepare and strengthen yourself but of course, I have asked myself many times why are we like this? Why Muslims are weak, simple they don’t follow Islam, so if we follow Islam you will get what you want, in fact, better than that and on top of that, baraka, because Islam says we must be clean but we are not, Islam says we must sacrifice but we don’t even pay zakat, we must practise cleanliness yet we don’t practise, integrity to we don’t practise. So, what we have now is what we deserve to get because we are arrogant which will make us like monkeys, so this is reality. So, these are some of the things we have got to make our new generation to understand by practise.
Thank you Dato for sharing your thoughts and ideas, we are grateful.