Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Atomic Men (and women) Let’s Fight Back

A Kadir Jasin

THE atomic men (and women) are dying; killed by the advancing digital age. The faceless, robotic digital men (and women) are taking over.

Human beings are becoming slaves to machines
 The human tellers are being phased out and replaced by the electronic ones. Automatic teller machines (ATMs) now occupy the front office once manned human beings.

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The atomic men (and women) are told that their passbooks and cheques are being phased out. Their monthly bills are no longer posted to them. Go online, they're told.

Even the Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), which is supposed to serve the poor and the downtrodden, had gone online banishing the trusty passbooks to the garbage bins.

I damned those heartless, uncaring digital men and women at PNB as I damned the rabid dogs. I gave them a middle finger.

I keep my trusty passbook & enter transactions manually
I ask them this question. Who are the big, loyal investors of the Amanah Saham Bumiputera (ASB) – the passbook generation or the computer savvy crowd?

Thankfully, my lady banker is a gem of a woman. I have known her for decades and my accounts follow her wherever she is transferred. We literally grow old together. Of course she’s a lot younger than I am.

The future is uncertain for an atomic man like me. A personable banker like her is becoming harder to find as managers and clerks become more attuned to treating customers as mere numbers and passwords.

I am from a generation that treasure human touch. We deal with humans. At this advanced age, I have no intention of becoming slave to teller machines and recorded human voice telling me which button to press.

I started banking back in the 1960’s with the Post Office Savings Banks (POSB) that required me to buy stamps whenever I wanted to put in more money into my account.

Deposits were made using stamps
Those days, as a remnant of the British legacy, post office clerks had beautiful English style handwriting – clear and legible. Today very few people have beautiful handwriting.

As a young reporter working for Bernama and later the New Straits Times, going to the old Bank Bumiputra at Jalan Melaka in Kuala Lumpur was something to look forward to.

It was not just about the money but the expectation of being served by the young and sexy counter clerk by the name of Azean Irdawaty  who would later plunged into the acting world and went on to become an accomplished performer.

With some banks and investment companies so rudely sidelining atomic customers like me, I am now in a crusade against unabated, uncaring digitization of banking and investment services.

I am now on the way to closing down accounts that require me to go totally digital and transferring them to where humans still provide the service.

Atomic men and women let’s not get deleted. Let’s demand our right to exist as body and soul, and not as mere numbers and passwords.