Brandon Hastings - Mall Culture

To me at least, there's something really different about sitting in a restaurant in a mall. Not a strip mall. A mall-mall.

I don't mean sitting at a food court table in a mall, having just purchased your food from a nearby vendor. I mean actually sitting in a restaurant, in a mall. It feels a bit like being inside one of smaller boxes they put in the larger boxes when they package those jumbo Toblerones for Christmas.

Back home, there's the occasional White Spot (that's a British Columbia burger chain), Earls, or some such eatery, usually with glass windows and visible to outside passers-by, but this scattering of mall-based diners doesn't hold a candle to the plethora of full scale, sit down gastronomic experiences available at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Maybe it's just that Vancouver isn't really large enough to support these sorts of consumerism-bourne-grotesqueries (maybe you can see the west-coaster in me coming out in that statement), but I have actually never been confronted with such a strong mall culture as I have been in South East Asia. This 420,000 square metre, 6 story mall is not atypical of what one would find in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, or Mainland China.

Sat with my teammates in an Indian restaurant in the Mid Valley Megamall, I pushed away my 33 RM tandoori chicken half, 9 RM white basmati rice, and 4 RM bottle of water. I was full(ish), but oddly dissatisfied; there was no sauce, no spiced yoghurt, nothing. This meal had cost, in total, 46 Malaysian Ringets, or approximately CAD $14.50, and the major component was plain white rice which I had to order separately. We had selected this restaurant instead of the Japanese restaurant to the right, the Thai restaurant on the other side of the linoleum walkway, or a third, the type of which escapes my memory. My meal tasted like authentic Indian food, but it wasn't really "good.

I reflected upon my last Indian meal 3 days ago in Singapore near Little India MRT. We walked up a craggy sidewalk, sat in plastic chairs at wobbly tables, were confronted with an eclectic mix of pseudo-religious, religious, and just straight-up confusing artwork on the walls, ate from metal dishes, and drank from metal cups. The staff was jovial, the service left something to be desired, the restaurant opened onto the street, and (if you cared to look) the curries were stored in metal bins behind panes of glass. It was delicious, relaxed, and fun. In the Mid Valley Mall, the staff was attentive, all donned the same uniforms, and prepared the dishes with precision. I can't say that my experience at the mall was bad - it was just a bit... clinical by comparison. Sort of like my white rice - the experience was lacking a bit of flavour, spirit, and, well.... sauce.

In Singapore, you'd be hard-pressed to find a place to eat such as this. Most of the food in Singapore, even in the most opulent districts, is served in food courts. I ate in the basement of Lucky Plaza on Orchard Road after a meeting once last week, and was gratified to see I wasn't the only person wearing a suit. A meal like this in Singapore would most likely run you no more that $5 CAD, and it would be dripping in sauce, the water would be free (and come from a tap; tap water is potable in Singapore), and would include rice at no charge.To be fair to Kuala Lumpur, I'm sure that it has it's fair share of side of the road, authentic, greasy spoon Indian joints, as I'm sure Singapore has it's share of pretentious, overpriced, and artificially lit concessions.

As I wandered back into the fluorescent light of the 6th floor of the Mid Valley Megamall I was struck by how nice it was to be located conveniently only a few air conditioned steps from the entrance to my hotel. Despite this, however, I couldn't help but reflect how little "authentic" Malay cuisine I had seen that day as I ran all around Kuala Lumpur on our trade mission's cultural tour component. Maybe it's because I'm from Vancouver and the west coast hegemony has biased me towards vegan-hippy-surfer-hipster-organic-foodie culture, but if you ask me for my opinion on food: Singapore wins this round. I miss the sauce on my rice; or maybe I'm just biased by an intense dislike of megamalls.

by Brandon Hastings, BBA, JD, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

ICT Sector Summary

Sector Summary: Information & Communication Technologies in South Asia

Many factors contribute towards South Asia's international reputation as both a leading manufacturing complex and a major commercial centre within the world. While many factors such as the economic policy of free enterprise and free trade, the rule of law, a well educated and industrious workforce, a sophisticated commercial infrastructure, as well as development of ports and airport which are among the world’s finest are important, an emerging factor that attracts the attention of the world to this specific region is the fast-paced growth of their I.C.T Sector.

As a student interested in learning more about investments geared towards the Technology, Media, and Telecommunication industries, I have been a keen observer of the way the improvements in technology and infrastructure have affected the regions' society and culture. As a race that heavily values the concept of efficiency and effectiveness, it is only inevitable that the way people communicate has shifted tremendously in the last decade. Unlike in the North American society, the Asian world is heavily reliant on smartphone as well as portable technologies, up to a point that this technology is subtly being integrated to everyday tasks such as ordering a cup of coffee through the use of E-Wallets and booking a taxi through SMS messages.

While there is large variance across Asia's ICT infrastructure landscape, there are centralized themes and factors driving innovation and development, largely deriving from the region's increasing economic integration, which in turn has several important effect for ICT technology purchase. Intra-regional trade and investments as well as increasing foreign demand has made South Asia one of the world's fastest-growing economic regions. The fact that carriers and enterprises largely avoided the global Financial Crisis has proved that it is more convenient for them to make decisions on next-generation technology, such as the introduction of Long-Term Evolution technology and other 4G mobile upgrades.

This economic robustness, and the continuous cycle of regional integration that has supported it, has also facilitated cross-ownership in telecommunication and particularly mobile network operations. An example of this would be Singapore's SingTel as well as Malaysia's Axiata who hold stakes in operators in Thailand, Indonesia, and other ASEAN nations.

As well, the Asian nations are currently experiencing difficulties while dealing with the flow of information. The growing concern has led the Asian market to become early adopters of technology that has just been introduced to the North American and European markets. By transferring most of their collection to the Cloud servers and technology, government organizations and multinational corporations that are headquartered in South Asia has been able to centralize their database and reduce the need for manual I.T tasks, allowing their human capital to automate their systems and allocate more of their efforts in developing strategies.

In conclusion, I can say that I was tremendously enlightened by the rapid growth of the ICT industry of South Asia. Through such growth, I was able to determine three key opportunities that could potentially rise from this on-going trend: Wireless Build, Next Generation Networking, and Mobile Media. These three sector are not as well promoted to the Western world, however, shows promising future for investors as they are all experiencing fast-paced growth. By providing services dealing with Wireless Broadband technologies, I.T Solutions (Hardware and Software), and mobile content services, there is no doubt that Canadian investors and entrepreneurs could see success in the years to come.

by Andrew Shon, Junior Team Canada Ambassador

JTC Mission Launch!

31 Youth Selected to Represent Canada on International Trade Mission to Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Malaysia

Ottawa, Ontario — (July 10th, 2013), Global Vision

31 young Canadians will be traveling to Asia on an international trade mission this summer from July 31st to August 19th, visiting Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, as part of Global Vision’s Junior Team Canada program.

Junior Team Canada is a delegation of youth ambassadors that represent Canada both at home and abroad, through national conferences, international trade missions, and special assignments like the G8, G20, and APEC summits. 20-30 youth are selected through a nationwide selection process each year, giving these young leaders the opportunity to experience international trade and diplomacy first hand.

As Junior Team Canada Ambassadors they will meet with leaders from business, government, and the community to promote Canada’s economic interests, learn about business and culture in Asia, and further develop trade relationships in the region. The 2013 mission will be focused on the clean-tech & renewable energy, information technology, agriculture food & beverages, mining & resource extraction, education, real estate, and finance sectors.

“The mission is going to open up a world of new and exciting opportunities for them,” says Amy Giroux, Director of Global Vision and Junior Team Canada. “These dynamic young leaders are getting the experience and skills they need to help strengthen Canada’s presence in the global marketplace.”

About Global Vision

Global Vision - Junior Team Canada (JTC) is a Canadian non-for-profit organization founded in 1991 by Terrance Clifford, MP London-Middlesex (1984-1993) and Member of the Order of Canada. Global Vision’s objective is to give youth hands-on experiences in international trade and community leadership to produce top global leaders that build the future of Canada.

Global Vision’s flagship program, Junior Team Canada, has led missions to over 30 countries on 6 continents, the most recent being to Colombia and Panama in July 2012. Since its founding in 1990, it has equipped hundreds of Canadian youth leaders with the skills, experience and knowledge they need to become extraordinary leaders. The organization has been responsible for delegations on Team Canada Trade Missions, the APEC Summit, Inter American Development Bank, G8 and G20 Summits, as well as a variety of other top level international events.

For more information on Global Vision and its programs, visit
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