Wednesday, 31 March 2010

What's USD15,000?

Maybe I am ignorant, but I have yet to understand what exactly is the newly announced National Economic Model (NEM). From the brief summary, I can only see a lot of promises and pledges.

Remember the 11 goodies dished out after the initial 100th day?

Measures to be announced to curb correction = 1 goodie.

The NEM seems to carry the same tone, with its major selling point…

Aim to increase per capita income to USD15,000 within 10 years = NEM! Yay!

Anyway, let’s think a bit. What’s USD15,000? Based on current rate, its circa RM50,000. That would be RM4,166 a month. After tax and other deductions, left with maybe RM3,500? What’s RM3,500 a month?

Oh wait! It’s to be achieved within 10 years. Assuming, this timeline doesn’t suffer a from the Malaysian-time syndrome and is actually achieved in 10 years time. What’s RM3,500 a month in 10 years time? How much do you think a nasi-lemak, char-kuey-teow and bak-kut-teh will cost by then?

But then again, maybe in 10 years time, USD1 = RM10 and hence, USD15,000 = RM150,000!

Or maybe, we can buy more submarines that can't dive, or buy more planes that keep crashing, or sponsoring a few more F1 team, or keep driving away foreign investors, then maybe it’ll make USD1 = RM20 and hence, USD15,000 = RM300,000! It may be part of the plan, you’ll never know…

Having said that, a lot of us are probably earning above the per-capita income level we don’t really care.

2 years ago…
More valuable than gold

Monday, 29 March 2010

Elimination of poverty is a myth

Every noble organisations talk about it, and every governments trying to boost profile or enhance propaganda talk about it. But will it be reality? Do they really want that to happen?

I think it’s all a load of bullshit.

The fuel that keeps the world turning is called money. Money makes the world go round. The rich and the poor, the have(s) and have not(s) form the very core of our human community. It shaped and continues to shape our civilisation. That’s how we function.

Without poverty, who is going tap rubber so that your cars have tyres to run on?

Without poverty, who is going to be factory workers building cheap electronics in China for you to use?

Without poverty, who is going to do your foot massage?

Who is going to be your garbage collector?

Who is going to work under the hot blazing sun building roads that you drive on?

Who is going to work under the hot blazing sun building houses that you live in?

Who is going to be your maid?

Who is going to work under the hot blazing sun harvesting oil palm fruits so that there will be oil to cook your nasi-lemak, char-kuey-teow and bak-kut-teh?

Who is going to clean the dirty sewerage, filled with your “digested” nasi-lemak, char-kuey-teow and bak-kut-teh?

Without poverty, who is going to risk their lives to mine poisonous minerals in order to build the computer that you are using right now to read this?

Who? Do I need to ask more questions?

The truth is, the whole world will collapse without poverty. Equality in wealth will result in a halt in the human operating system. In fact, we do not need to look at those in poverty to see the ugliness of human wealth hierarchy.

Look around (or in the mirror)… for a few thousand RM (or a few hundred USD), people will work hard and diligently work overtime without a noise, people will betray their dignity to work for their company. These people are not even poor, they are just not rich enough.

I am not saying that people should be kept poor, certainly not. I am just saying that the truth is ugly, and that elimination of poverty is a myth. It will never be achieved not because it is not unachievable.

It will never be achieved because the rich will never allow it.

3 years ago…
Chef of the day

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Crazy money

I am sure we have all heard about how investment bankers or hedge fund managers or forex traders making huge amount of money. There were also plenty of media coverage on bonuses and payouts at the peak of the so called “financial crisis” about a year ago.

But they are all just hearsay, and what we read of the media. As far as I am concern, I know they money involve is huge, but just don’t know how huge.

My first monthly salary was RM1,800 (USD520 – aren’t we cheap labour?). My first bonus was when my salary was RM2,100. A 2 months bonus brought me RM4,200. After all relevant deductions, it was only RM3,000+. Not exactly a lot but damn… was I happy when I got it then. It was hell lot of money. I am sure some of you know what I mean.

For a few years running, bonuses for me and my peers were all 4 figures. Hence, when we heard about people getting 5 figure bonuses, our jaws will drop.

My current role brings me with close proximity of the “money industry”, and I had a very good catch up session with a friend who is a player within the “money industry”. And I found out…

RM0.5m bonus payment is a norm. There are people who consistently get 7 figure bonuses.

There was a smart soul who managed to get into one of the biggest “money company” in the world and his monthly salary alone is already hitting 6 figures. Yes, 6 figure salary a month!! And… when he joined this super “money company”, he was given a joining “gift”… a 6-figure “gift in USD. Can you imagine what this smart soul will be getting as bonus?

I also personally know of an investment banker whose lifestyle went through no changes at all during the so called financial crisis. The flying around and the spending continued to flow. I wouldn’t be surprise if his bonus is also something within the region of 7 figures. The media said these people were very affected by the financial crisis. I think otherwise.

Don’t be misled. I am not earning what these people are earning. Not even close. But to actually know of people who are getting these mega bucks, it really throws me off my chair.

It’s really… crazy money.

P/S: What is “money industry / money company”? You have to figure that out yourself, I can't be telling you everything, right?

1 year ago…
This thing called MTM

2 years ago…
Cards laugh

3 years ago…
2nd chance with Mom: Between hard work and successThe week that’s been

Thursday, 25 March 2010

They can't order

A bunch of students walked into a chicken rice restaurant. Having browsed through the menu and decided on what they want, they started to centralise their orders to a particular person known as S in their group…

S, I want chicken breast rice please” – Shervina Chan said.
“I want chicken breast and roast pork” – Antonio Lim.
“Drumstick for me, de-bone please” – Luke Lau.
“Just chicken rice, any parts will do” – Samantha Yap.
“I am not eating. Just want a drink. Barley ice” – Brenda Wong.

The owner came to the table and S started ordering…
“Hui oi kai hoong. Hui leh jau kai hoong siew yok. Yi go oi kai pei, hui guat. Yi go kai fan, meh doh tuck. Hui jau mo sik, bei pui yim mai ping”

The restaurant owner just stared blankly at S. Do you know why?

Because S, the person who ordered, stands for Subramaniam.

2 years ago…
A day in ParisLawatan ke sekolah dan syabas Kementerian Luar Negeri

3 years ago… 2nd chance with Mom: Why it is enough

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

That lie I told

Was talking to someone about childhood today. It’s always good to talk about childhood regardless of whether it was good or bad, the reminiscent of our early days always bring a smile.

Talking about it reminded me of one lie I told my parents, a lie that changed my life forever.

When I was in primary school, I wanted to join scouts. But my parents never agree. They just refuse to let me join. I think they believe that I was just looking for reasons to get out of the house. And probably, they were worried that it will be a financial burden.

When I reached secondary school, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to join an organisation called Boys’ Brigade. And so, I leveraged on the one fear my parents had… the authorities.

I told them that in order for me to stay in school, it is a rule that I join a uniform organisation. If I don’t, I will be kicked out of school. And if I am kicked out of school, it will be against the law and they will be in trouble.

My parents are not educated people, they bought it; and I joined the Boys’ Brigade.

It was there that I learned how to play sports, sing, dance, learned about God, swim, be in a band, camp, leadership, how to be independent… It made me who I am today, which isn’t exactly a bad thing. I also made some really good friends who are now my close buddies.

Yeah, I lied… and I am not exactly proud that I did that to my parents. But then again, that was probably the best lie ever told. I am sure my parents wouldn’t mind.

Ever told such lie(s)?

3 years ago…
Some of Mom’s wishes

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


For guys doing desk bound job, how often do you wash your pants? Everyday? Every other day? Once a week?

I know guys who wash their pants on a daily basis. This also means they have quite a big collection of pants to accommodate daily change. Not me though. I think many would consider me as “dirty”. I only wash my pants once a week, sometimes… once a fortnight. Dirty? Unhygienic? Maybe…

Ya’ know, this thing called “washing machine” never existed in my house until I was 16. It means my Mom washed all our clothes with her bare hands for 15 years.

Can you imagine washing pants with your bare hands? Those scrubbing and then having to rinse away the washing detergent, I have witnessed it with my eyes. That green school pants that we guys used to wear are pretty heavy when they’re wet. Did I mention jeans?

Initially, it was like an instruction from my Mom not to dump our pants into the laundry basket every other day. As time goes by, I think we just decided not to wash our pants all the time. After a while, washing pants on a weekly or fortnightly basis became a habit, a routine, a lifestyle.

Although the washing job now belongs to the washing machine and has been for many years now, I still find it strange to dump my pants into the laundry basket after a few days. Sending it to wash after a day is definitely not an option. Of course, if the pants are dirty due to spillage of food, etc., that’s another matter altogether.

Though Mom is no longer around, she reappears in my mind every time I send my pants for washing. And today, I remember the times when my pants were washed by the bare hands of my Mom.

How often do you wash your pants?

1 year ago…
The change I seek

3 years ago…
Dear MommyFarewellIt was not meant to be a surpriseA 2nd chance with Mom

Monday, 22 March 2010

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Short & Sweet: Ep. 7 - Bicycle

Someone sent me this………

Be mindful of the colour of your bicycle seat…

2 years ago…
To prove that I am good

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

It’s not about image

I am sure many will agree that our country tends to hit the limelight for the wrong reason. From burning of churches to statements by Australian MPs to bad coverage in recognised international media to purchase of non-dive-able submarine… certainly, this is not going to give our country a good image, no?

I observed one thing… the immediate reaction of people to this “bad image” is that, we will lose out on foreign investments. We-can-kiss-investors-goodbye… No-one-will-want-to-do-business-here… direct-foreign-investments-will-hit-another-low… such are the usual rhetoric.

Is it true? Will investors shy away from a country because the country has got a bad image?

No entirely accurate…

I am not saying that I am a high flying corporate figure with tonnes of business experience and information. But, being in an industry with a significant international dominance has given the opportunity to see that the decision for corporations to invest in a particular country depends on 2 major reasons…

Money… and… potential opportunity to make money…

The business world does not give a damn whether the country is burning churches or severed cow head is being dragged along the road or whether someone died because he was thrown out of a building. Honestly, they don’t give a shit about it.

All they care is whether there is avenue to make money. They will only be driven away if there is an interruption in their profit making mechanism. Really, it’s just as simple as that.

So next time, if you see some major international newspaper doing a coverage about so and so are being forced to admit so and so screwing his asshole or so and so asked “Can I fuck you today” or some submarines unable to dive thus putting the nation to massive embarrassment and you think this will affect foreign direct investments… thinking again…

What then, are the things that will severely damage the profit making mechanism and stop all these so called modern-colonial-power known as “investors” from coming here?

Well, why don’t you do some thinking? I cant be telling you everything all the time right?

1 year ago…
10 days at a glance

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

That “hectic” project

Slightly more than 6 months ago, I blogged about my involvement in a confidential project which redefined the word “hectic” to me and I promised to blog more about it once the project is over.

The project involved the potential acquisition of financial assets of a major corporation in 3 jurisdictions, i.e. China, India and Malaysia. I was in the project team and was also the tax focal point for all tax matters in relation to the acquisition. Unfortunately though, the project fell through. An agreement on the purchase consideration as well as the valuation of assets in one of the jurisdictions couldn’t be reached.

What a shame, it would have been a massive boost to my CV.

A month ago, news came out saying that another institution has secured those assets in the 3 said jurisdictions. If you have been following the financial world, you will most probably know what I am talking about, and you might just be able to decipher where I work .

Anyway, it has been a good experience being in the project for a good 3 months. During the tenure, I was involved in conference calls and meetings with CEOs / CFOs and other big bosses around the world.

It’s quite an experience hearing them talking to each other. They are not what you expect them to be. Some of them are pretty comical. In some occasions, I don’t know if I should laugh or act serious when they cracked a joke.

This project also highlighted me another commonly missed notion, things disclosed in the media is not 100% accurate. Not even close. There was also a brief spell of information tug-of-war between the media and the parties. Looking back, it was quite comical.

But the best part has to be… ya’ know, it’s a big profile project involving hundreds of millions of US$ but there were times where team member of all countries and HQ come together on a conference all and we can just give out a loud long “sigh” and say… “gee, we have absolutely no idea what the hell are we doing, do we?”

Last but not least… at the end of the day, no matter what the conclusion is… everything is about money, money and money… nothing else matters…

Despite the hard work and hectic hours, it was fun. Wouldn’t mind doing it again… but hopefully, the next project will not fall through.

3 years ago…
They clever or I stupid?Lifestyle of the smart and not so smart

Sunday, 14 March 2010

I never said GST is bad

I think there is a need to make this point clear. I have never said GST itself is bad. It is an efficient tax collection mechanism, one that ensures an equal spread of tax burden. Just like how some readers have highlighted, GST is currently functioning in many countries. It would appear that it has a proven track record and hence, we shouldn’t be complaining about GST.

The above are all true, I wouldn’t disagree with them. In fact, I would even say that GST is good.


Just like a friend of mine said… GST is good in “chaotic and racist countries” like UK, Australia, Singapore, etc… but for a “beautiful” country like Malaysia, GST is no good.

Consider this… is democracy good? It certainly is… but is democracy in Malaysia good? I hope you get my drift.

For a start, it is claimed that only 15% of Malaysians are tax payers. The rest are either retired, which means they enjoy tax exemption, or their income are below the tax paying range. When GST comes into the party, everyone will have to pay tax. Is GST good in this situation? It is good because it spreads out the tax collection net and increase govt revenue, but it’s bad because a lot of people who don’t really need to pay tax will now have to pay tax.

Certainly; more tax revenue collection for the govt under a normal situation, is a good thing. It means the govt have more money for development of the country. But for a beautiful country like Malaysia… do you think they will use the money to develop the country and improve things… or will they use the money pay commission for buying submarines that can’t dive?

Right now, some of you might be thinking… GST, proposed at 4% is supposed to replace sales and service tax of 10% / 5%, surely such a reduction in rate will benefit us…!

I am not going to go into the detail mechanics on how GST, despite only at 4% will still result in us having to pay more tax. The bottom line is, govt is going to collect an additional RM1b from GST. Please note the keyword “additional”. I am not going to elaborate further.

Next, GST will result in additional cost for businesses. This happen in all GST/VAT countries. As to why companies will incur additional costs, I have already blogged extensively about it.

In other GST/VAT countries, there is strict enforcement to ensure that additional costs arising from GST will not be cascaded to consumers. If they find any companies cascading such costs to consumers, these companies will be in trouble.

Now, for a beautiful country like Malaysia with their very civic minded businessmen, do you think companies will refrain from cascading GST costs to consumers? And, do you think our super efficient law enforcers will ensure that consumers’ interest will be protected?

Last but not least, we are talking about a beautiful and efficient country like Malaysia trying to kick-start a very complicated and sophisticated tax regime. The last time something like this was done was the implementation of self-assessment for companies. It was a huge mess. Till today, there are still some grey areas that are not fully addressed. Will the implementation of GST be properly done? Only God knows.

There are many more things that I can write about. But I am sure you already know what I am trying to get at. Besides, I am tired of hitting the same nail again and again.

So just let me reiterate… GST is not a bad thing. It’s a good tax regime, designed with an effective and efficient tax model. But when mix GST with Malaysia, that’s when the equation takes a whole new dimension.

2 years ago…
The conversation with the driver

3 years ago… A very misleading document

Friday, 12 March 2010

Those e-mail addresses

I was talking to someone today and asked for that someone’s gmail address to be added into my chat list. I was given:- (name has been changed)

My reaction was… gee, why is the e-mail so freaking formal? It’s like a freaking working mail type of address. Don’t you think so?

I was told that this particular e-mail is used for formal purposes, predominantly… application for jobs. And then it hit me! Indeed, one should really have a more proper e-mail address when applying for jobs.

While I was recruiting someone into my team last year, some of the e-mails of the applicants are… how should I put it… professionally inappropriate?

Can you imagine someone applying for a manager position and that someone’s e-mail is…

Maybe, it shows the openness and adventurous side of the applicant. Or perhaps, it is craziness in doing work. Maybe you are a health freak and you are crazy about orange. But at the end of the day, it just feels weird.

I just ran through the CVs that I received and there are 2 that deserve a mention (domain has been changed)……

The first… No, the first one has got nothing to do that that applicant’s name. On hindsight, maybe it shows that the applicant has got a very bubbly character. But then… linlin… no connection to that applicant’s name… hmmmm…

Second… Try not to apply for senior professional position with such e-mail address, particularly when you attach your photo along. Enough said.

2 years ago…
The changes, the expected changes and the unchanged

3 years ago…
Prioritise life

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Drain construction commences [Type: Brain]

After so many discussions and debates and publications and all, I was very surprise that many people out there do not know what does the term “brain-drain” means. This includes some people who are currently part of the brain-drain phenomena. Are you one of them?


Quite some time ago, I mentioned about a regional position that was coming up in the organisation that I am working with. After an initial hiccup due to the economic crisis, the position was finally finalised and yes, I have successfully secured the position. This regional position will be based in our neighbour down south.

Though it is still within the same organisation, my boss expressed intention for me to stay and put forward some possible counter-offers. But then again, money is not the only reason why I want to leave.

Besides money, the glamour of being in regional office and holding a regional position, I suppose this opportunity came at a time where there are lot of push factors happening in this country. Burning of churches, being openly branded as second class citizen, being called a “pendatang”, a clear picture of the economic situation due to the capacity of my current position, a clear 2 set of laws applicable to 2 sets of citizens… the list goes on…

Personally, I feel this country is getting out of control. One can lay low and just ignore the ruckus, but it does not stop the ruckus from progressing. When the shit hits the fan, and I mean the real big shit hits the fan… I do not intend to be around just because the food is good.

All these factors, and many more, drive me away. Drive me to ply my talent in another land, drive me to contribute my taxes for the development of another country. I suppose I am doing this country a favour. After all, I am considered a threat to my fellow countrymen due to my race and I clearly remember that I have been asked to “… keluar dari Malaysia”.

Yes, I will be part of the construction team who has been constructing this big brain-drain affecting Malaysia. And with some people saying “Go lah Zewt, we don’t need people like you in Malaysia”… this drain is just going to get bigger and bigger.

Construction of Drain [Type: Brain] has commenced. Target completion date… May 2010.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Doc visit this time

Medical check-up is never a pleasant experience, regardless of the purpose. It’s much worse in mine as my check up is to see whether things have gotten worse. It’s either status quo, i.e. still abnormal but within control, or the situation has worsened. Either way, it’s not exactly good news.

Thank God though, things have actually improved in my case. There are still red blood cells in my urine but protein leakage has reduced to bare minimum.

One thing I always observed during my visits… I am always the youngest patient in the clinic. Others, as far as I can see, are most in their 40s or 50s. It makes me wonder whether I should be glad that I discovered this condition early… or… should I be worried whether my kidneys will last that long.

My observation took a twist last Friday. 2 patients who showed up are younger than me. 1 is a girl, probably in her teens. She came with her mother, I thought her mom was the patient until the nurse asked for the patient’s weight and she went to the scale instead. She didn’t look exactly pleased, neither was her mother.

The other is a guy, probably mid 20s. He was rather overweight, something which the doc asked me to control. Apparently, being overweight puts a lot of stress on the kidneys. He looked pretty cool though, no sign of anxiety in his face.

This time round, the doc also did a GSP 1 blood test on me. Kidney functions are holding up well, so is my liver. However, the test showed that I have what is known as a lifestyle condition… I have high cholesterol!

I’ve been asked to eat oat twice a day, else I may have a heart attack by the time I am 50!

Apparently; there are a lot of people out there with high-cholesterol, they just don’t know it. With the abundance of good food here… that shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Do you know your health profile?

1 year ago…
The most difficult question in the interview and how to answer it

Thursday, 4 March 2010


Time really flies... and I have reached that time of the year again, where I will see my Nephrologist for my semi-annual check-up. Rather anxious about this time though. Not that I am expecting anything serious (hopefully not), but this check up will most probably influence a big decision that I will make next week.

Hope everything turns out well...

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Short & Sweet: Episode 6 - Environment

Last year, I initiated a “bring your container to tah-pau” exercise and most of my colleagues follow suit. I think I prevented about 100 Styrofoam containers from polluting the environment last year.

Did you do anything for the environment lately?

P/S: Earth hour and pausing for the environment while posing for camera doesn’t count.
P/S/S: Though most of my colleagues have lost the momentum, I have not

1 year ago…
12C 4 HE

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The reality of GST

In the past weeks, I have been trying to explain GST to a lot of people; ranging from acquaintances to friends to colleagues to business heads. I ended up with a common conclusion… it is very difficult to get these people to understand the technicality of GST.

I suppose I should be glad. If everyone can comprehend the topic easily, people like us will be out of job…

Anyway, I have tried to explain one very important component of GST, i.e. input tax. I even tried to
sexitised the topic, but people only got the sex part, not the concept. Let me tell you, it is an element that will impact us all.

Right… let’s not get technical. The thing is, input tax recovery rate will impact costs composition of companies. It means, the profit of companies will be affected. But do you think companies will allow their profit to be impacted?

All the best tax brains in the country have been hired by big companies to ensure that these companies will not incur additional cost due to non-recovery of input tax. They are screaming to the relevant government agencies, that they want full recovery rate. And behind the scene, they are plotting, that if there is no full recovery, any additional cost will be passed on to consumers.

It simply means… prices will increase…

In consultations with the govt authorities, agencies or discussions in industry associations, I have heard how these people refer to companies as “we” / “I”, saying things like… “I don’t want to incur out of pocket costs”… “We will be suffering if we don’t get this through”… and the ultimate…

“If we don’t get it, we will just pass the cost to customers. We have no choice”

Isn’t it amazing (and sad), that humans can be so focus when they have been “paid” and forget that they too, are part of the community. They, their families, their friends… are the “customers” they are referring too. But they can’t see that far, they only see the salary and fees that the companies pay them.

1 year ago…
How tasty are your nasi lemaks?Behind the economic scene

2 years ago…
London cooking adventure