11/01/2009

Small minds and big businesses

The land of Sintu was controlled by Godfather Ah Beng. It was not a big place but lying at the crossroad of the international drug trafficking route, it was where all the action took place. From human smuggling, vice, prostitution, gambling and drugs. And Godfather Ah Beng ran it as freely as he could by just collecting the dues for his retirement. And he spent his time partying with wine, women and song. As a result he was indisposed and left the running of his business to his son. His main source of income was prostitution. His son was not the only beneficiary. His mistress also owned a third of the business while his godson another third. The three ran the three cash cows separately under different entities and managements. It was a very closed cartel business and everything was within their control. As time passed, each tried to outdo the other to prove to Ah Beng that he/she could do better. The cartel protected them from new competition and they exploited the arrangement to the fullest. The prostitutes were like slaves to the three organisations, generating incomes to fatten them, which was all good and well. Then smart alec thinking appeared. They tried to compete with each other 'discreetly'. Three monkeys running the same business and trying to con each other by being discreet. Son brought in foreign prostitutes that were cheaper and better. His business prospers. Not to be outdone, mistress and godson did the same and their shares of the business was back to square one. When one offered free gifts or extra services the others followed in double quick time. When one cut the price, the others also cut prices. The consumers were the happiest when the three monkeys fought among themselves, 'discreetly'. The people that suffered the most were the prostitutes. They were the ones servicing the customers and getting paid lesser and lesser while working harder and harder. Even the foreign prostitutes had to compete with foreign prostitutes from cheaper sources. As far as the three monkeys were concerned, cutting prices was the only way to go. They could think of no other better ways. And they forgot that their business was a near monopoly. While they kept squeezing the prostitutes, they were not stingy to themselves. They still reaped big profits and bonuses. Ah Beng too was undisturbed. Whenever he needed more money to splash around, he just raised his protection money and the three monkeys would pay willingly. One day the three monkeys found out that the business was not lucrative any more as the prostitutes too were abandoning the trade. So they sought permission from the Godfather and sold their businesses to live happily ever after from the wealth they accumulated over the years of exploiting the prostitutes.

4 comments:

Gagagantor said...

The story sounds similar to the Sin Gap Ore story. The heartland peasants are the 'prostitutes'. Godfather Ah Beng seems to be like the Emperor Without Clothes. The three stooges seem to be his son, daughter-in-law and his now vegetable wife.

Anyway, I enjoy your story. Sad but true, isn't it?

redbean said...

uh, no. not nice to talk about people in this way. i am referring to people who messed up their privileged positions in monopolistic biz and running them to the ground for lack of ideas.

redbean said...

oh, my apologies. welcome to the blog Gagagantor.

Matilah_Singapura said...

One of my first jobs here as a broke-assed uni student was working in a bar run by one of Perth's colourful crime bosses.

He used to remind me that running a business was not a democracy, and you never let your underlings take control because they will form their little fiefdoms and eventually things will fuck up.

In this kind of business it is better to "terminate the services" of underlings who try to be smart alecs, especially if they try to angkat the boss.