I read the above news yesterday. Then, it touches the sentimental memories to my own version of the Proton Wira in the automotive industry.
The development of Wira was my first very thick involvement upon entering the automotive sector almost 30 years ago.
The wira model also relates my memories to a Japanese, personally, till i stride quietly into retirement recently.
His name is T. Matsunaga. Not a samurai though but still a Japanese.
I guess many senior staffs in the office of the national car industries during its early stages will remember him.
He was then an MMC expatriate attached to the national car manufacturer, Proton.
I met him for the first time in 1991 while seeking approval for our component drawings.
Seeking his approval, my goodness, was a tedious and a delicate process as he, i reckoned was not convinced with our ability to do a reverse engineering that is expected to meet the rigid standards of Mitsubshi Motor Corporation specifications adopted by Proton.
But Malaysians are a capable lot. We had so many ways of doing things. The company then signed a TA agreement with a Japanese supplier and eventually we acquired the original drawings. We made some amendments and it was later adopted and that satisfy most Japanese expatriates in Proton. With some fees off course.
I guess it is all about sharing some portion of the cake for the people back home in Japan. That what’s technology transfer was all about arr..haha.
Eventually, we moved on. Proton has since been rolling out one model after another with localized components fitted to each and every car that has rolled out of the assembly plant in Shah Alam.
Time passes by…
Then he was out of sight for some good years, perhaps he might has been back in Japan.
The automotive industry meanwhile has its fair share of the booming economy and the company has progress further. It was listed in the stock market in the early 1997 just in time before the beginning of a painful recession towards the end of that year.
That was the year i guess i had the most money in my pocket.
One day i saw him emerged at the front office reception. And weeks later he was already an Advisor in the R&D Department. He was not the first Japanese Advisor we had though but he was the longest serving expatriate in the department.
And the following months i found myself spending a great deal of time with him. Attending his calls for meetings and tending to his follow-ups. He was very much in his element, a typical Japanese salary man. And it seems to me all Japanese are a workaholic.
I remember, an occasion where we came back late from a long and tiring meeting with another national car manufacturer in Rawang. While driving home he told me that he wanted us to have a meeting once we reach the office to summarize every details that we promised the customer during the meeting.
But i thought all this summarizing things can wait because it was already late. Time is up that we should call it a day. Another session will just be an anti-climax and bored and stressed you tahap gaban .
It was already 10.30 pm by the time we stop over at the R&R Sg. buluh! At the RnR and at his favourite cafe he ate two bungkus of the nasi lemak and i ..mind and soul very much at home spontaneously threw a desperate suggestion at him..
” ..matsunaga san why not we hold the meeting now and right here on this coffee table.. “.
He laughed and grinned, grinning the typical of Japanese at the idea and thought it was very funny. I was on the other hand was a desperado and the thought of having to go back in the office is driving me crazy. All i wanted was to go home!
We reached the office way passed eleven and continued with the meeting striding through the midnight. He was crazy…yes he was.
And we turn up at the office at 8am the following day just like any other day.
Time passes by.
His presence in the company has been a typical sight. Matsunaga San has turned himself from being..
” the customer (who was always right) ” he used to be
” the vendor – (who was always at the mercy of the customer) ”
..like what we have been for years..
ehh.. many many years ..weiii.
Then there was also another occasion where both of us attended a meeting summoned by the customer. Representing the customers were engineers , managers from each and every department all that is there in the corporate building.
Due to some discrepancy of details we were interogated from all corners in the meeting room. It was a tense and an embarrassing moment for me but Matsunaga San kept his cool (or maybe his nerd). Eventually the meeting adjourned with yet another loads of commitments and promises made by us the vendor.
While walking to the parking lot he sort of cracked a joke and he said to me…
” ..before meeting i feel fear, after meeting i become more fear.. “.
Obviously referring to the minutes and datelines that we have committed during the meeting. I was even more worried and stressful as it will surely be my sole burden for i am very sure he will never forget coming back asking..
” Oooo ajiz san, ..the job already do ka? .. finish kaa? ”
A moment later i saw him smile, his facial expression reflects the smile of a seasoned and a veteran vendor .. just like most of us the locals .. and our obsession for localization.
Routinely, we will drop by at the Sg. Buluh Jejantas R&R. He as usual was full of praise for the nasi lemak. And i, will smoke a cigarette one stick after another and matching it with a cup of black coffee. He will then pay the bills and i will routinely says.. thank you matsunaga san.
We shared some lighter moments together, we went deep sea fishing with the R&D Engineers.
Enjoying the King of Fruits..
Over the years we begun to understand his style of doing things and perhaps he too understood us just as much.
Significantly i guess he also knew exactly where the bisecting line of cultures between a Japanese and a Malaysian intersects….
And off course, it is always loud and clear ..Maraysia Boleh...!!
I guess this is my rascal way of saying sayonara.. to the company and T. Matsunaga.