Introduction

Are we being too loyal to Ah Chong (A Chinese supplier of textile in Malaysia)? I heard from my friend yesterday that we could get supplies for 25% less than the current price they are giving at overseas, plus with higher quality.’ Said Abbas, CEO and the second generation owner of a textile shop, putting down his cutlery on an almost clean plate of curry chicken rice, at a busy Nasi Kandar shop beside the road.

‘Don’t be ridiculous lah. We have been partnering with Ah Chong for more than 10 years already! Plus, they are brought in by our late father because they are best friends, can use your brain a bit ah?’ said Nadia in an angry tone, who is the elder daughter of the family, who is the Chief Finance Officer.

 ‘I am only saying what’s best for the company, I know lah what you mean. But friend is friend, business is business. You always stay in the office, you have to come out and see the world!’ Abbas shouted.

‘Dey, dey , dey… stop.’ Said Kumar, an Indian who works as the marketing director for the business. ‘Enough ok? Think about this, no matter if they gave us good price and quality or not, they have done business with us for more than 10 years, which means they helped us a lot in the business, we still owe them a lot. So, if we think they’re becoming uncompetitive we should talk to them as friends, okay ah?’

Abbas and Nadia looked at each other for a second and turn back at Kumar. They agreed as they nodded at Kumar and sipped on their Teh Tarik, their favorite Malaysian tea. While the traffic honks like trumpet music ending this scenery.

Several things are striking about this interaction. One is the informality. I mean, discussing business in a place like that? Second, the emotions are downright rude in this conversation, unlike a normal business talk. Looks like a brother and sister arguing over a toy, and had grown up arguing about their family business supplier. Third, quite big decisions are being discussed speedily in such a small group. Why shouldn’t they get a meeting room at their office? Forth, the matter of subject relates to the loyalty to their stakeholder relationships. Fifth, even though the conversation was heaty with sharp feelings, they are remarkably able to recover quickly even without a good-natures consensus.

Sixth, there is a woman in the business, quite unabashed by challenging her boss in his terms. And don’t forget, seventh, they are a group of business in a Malaysian themed environment. The drama, emotion, loyalty, familiarity adding with a spice of the Malaysian diverse culture is what makes family business, this case in Malaysia, such a complex and interesting topic to talk about.