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"A penny for your thoughts"

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Asia smiles

Thai smile — motorcycle policemen with a bright red goofy grin painted on their white anti-pollution masks. For the first week of the year 2009 and possibly longer, highway policemen in Thailand will wear the masks to lift the mood of motorists.

In dour Singapore, where social engineering is often attempted by fiat, people walked around smiling for a while a few years back in response to a campaign called Smile Singapore.

In Japan, where people can sometimes get carried away by the seriousness of life, workers have been trained to hold a chopstick in their teeth to produce the living equivalent of a smiling emoticon.

Raise the corners of your mouth above the bar,'' Japan's smile guru, Yoshihiko Kadokawa, tells a class of disciples biting down on chopsticks. ``I brainwash them. I tell people in the services industry: `It is your job to smile','' explains the 47-year-old instructor, who has become a magnet for firms trying to escape economic gloom. Kadokawa, formerly marketing director at a major female clothing retailer, set up The Smile Amenity Institute in 1989 with the promise that a smile can boost sales. The Tokyo company got off to a poor start but the bursting of Japan's economic bubble in the early 1990s spawned fresh demand for ways to tackle falling demand.Kadokawa now counts major car makers and consumer electronics manufacturers among his customers, along with local government offices and some community groups.VIA

Now Thailand is trying to live up once again to what might be a national motto, by way of the musical “Bye Bye Birdie” — “Just put on a happy face!”


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