Thursday, 30 September 2010

A disgraceful country, between saying it and feeling it

It was the second day of my Dubai trip.  As I stepped into the office, the regional head came over and said…

“Good morning Zewt… blah blah blah… By the way, there is a newly appointed chief of xxx who will be overseeing the African region.  Since you are overseeing the global business for xxx, perhaps you would like to have a chat with him.”

I agreed. After a brief introduction, the regional head left me with the chief.  I then briefly told the new chief of xxx about the role I am in and the purpose of my Dubai trip.

“So you’re from Singapore?” he asked me.
“I am based in Singapore, but I am Malaysian”
“Oh! Malaysian! I love Malaysia! I used to be based in Singapore too and when I was there, I love to take a drive up to Malaysia!”
“Really!?”… my reaction to Malaysia’s fame.
“Oh yeah… Malaysia is the best place because all the cops are on the take. I always drive my car up to KL and speed all the way. Whenever the cop stops me, I just give him 50 bucks and he will fuck off.  Isn’t that great?”

He then turned to the person at the other cubible…

“Hey James, meet Zewt. He is from Malaysia, all the cops in his country are on the take. You wanna break the rules, you gotta go there.  And their govt is so screwed they bought a sub that can't dive.  Maybe they need to sink the sub to make it dive… ha ha ha”

James and I then shook hands.

“Hi… nice to meet you. Is it true that all the police in your country take bribes? Why is it so?”

James, by the way, is an African…

Ya’ know… Malaysians always say… “This is such a disgrace… I am so embarrass… we are laughing stock of the world… etc.”… but that’s it.  Maybe you will talk about it while stuffing your face with nasi-lemak at the mamak store or something.  But that will be it.

Do you know how it feels to be really “embarrass” because you are a Malaysian?… That it was so bad till you thought of digging a hole to hide your face?

I do.

I experienced a few of such situations while in Singapore, very mild ones.  But this one in Dubai is the ultimate.




Sunday, 26 September 2010

To Dubai and back

For all the environmental talk that I have spoken, it’s ironic that I landed myself in Dubai in my first official business trip.  This piece of land is a desert not too long ago. Today, Dubai is a full fledge metropolitan city.

I was told the temperature has come down a bit but coming out from an air-conditioned shopping mall to catch a cab in the open, I felt as though a fireball was thrown at my face.  It was really hot!  Moving in between the hot open space and the winter chilled air-conditioned building can make you sick, literally.

Do you know… that 99.999999% of the working population in Dubai is foreigner?  My colleague told me the Emiratis don’t work, or more accurately… don’t need to work. They are freaking rich already.  He said even the govt agencies and police are foreigners! 

Well, I saw 1 Emirati who worked though… the guy who stamped by passport at the immigration.  He made up the 0.000001%.  For the rest, money comes out from the ground for them… literally.

Throughout my stay here, I have been having meetings with Jordanians, Lebanese, Pakistanis (yes, a lot of high flyer from this nation), Indians and some Brits.  Oh… one Lebanese I met looked exactly like… I kid you not… Takeshi Kaneshiro!  A very nice guy and I am working with him on some transactions.   Any girls want his number?

I went up the Burj Khalifa, the pride of Dubai.  This building makes the Petronas Twin Tower look like a dwarf.  The lift which took us up was amazing… 124 floors in less than 30 seconds. No kidding.  124th floor is not the top by the way.


The view from the top? Well... everything just look small…

Don’t think I like being here but my colleague who is based here said it will take a while to settle down and once settled, this is quite a nice place to live.  I am not sure if I can agree with him. This place is an insult to mother nature, the amount of electricity used is beyond comprehension… they built an ski-mountain in the middle of a desert!!!!!!

You know the news about buildings being empty and all because the economy collapsed and there is an oversupply of real estate?  Well… somewhat true… I see a lot of construction and yet, a lot of buildings are vacant.   Rental has crashed… what used to be Dhs120,000 (SGD45,000) a year is now Dhs70,000 (SGD26,000) a year… and you can even get a bigger place!

Being a city born into metropolitan state, there is no cheap coffee shop type of food here.  A meal will easily cost you Dhs40.  Well, the guys here (those who worked in the same company as I am) are all paid in USD and they don’t need to pay tax so… no problem for them.

And so… my first business trip…

Oh… being flown in business class and at arrival, chauffeured to my hotel in a Lexus… and the same tomorrow morning to the DIFC… I felt like a small kid who just got his first taste of candy… and I guess this is why I became a modern slave.




2 years ago… Hypocrites aplenty


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

How does it feel to be in my current modern slavery position

Obviously, the initial feeling is pretty good. I mean… moving into a head office position, it does gives you a glamorous feeling.

When I first arrived in the office, almost all the administrative and logistic matters were already settled… gadgets were cool and they gave me an i-Phone!… linked to my work mail server of course. But still… very cool. So yeah… it was a good feeling…

Next, the composition of colleagues within my team is quite over-whelming. I am the second youngest guy in the team and the only person without international exposure, the rest are all very experience people in this function I am in.

Sometimes, during discussions; the level of conversation is so high level and so corporately intellectual, I am left thoroughly amazed. I would like to believe that I am quite a quick thinker but man… these guys whom I work with are way too fast for me. I am like a small child feeding off the experience and knowledge of others.

And then, there will be days where I do feel quite powerful. With just 1 e-mail, I can (if I want) send chills through some people’s spine. With just 1 e-mail, I can instruct people to do a lot of things involving quite a lot of $$$. The details are beyond sharing boundaries but yeah… such are the days when I feel powerful.

Then there are days where I feel I am being put on the spot. Today – was a classic example. I was thrown with about 15 slides and was then asked to do a presentation… 10 minutes before a meeting. Fair enough, I am fairly familiar with the stuff but shite… 10 minutes preparation!

I think my boss did it on purpose because he has put me on the spot several times. Maybe it’s a training process, I should ask him the next time we have our 1-to-1 talk. Anyway, I have to say enjoy it. It’s actually very satisfying when you pull it off.

Apart from all that…

I have to admit that it can be quite frightening being in this position. I would even go to the extent to say that there were times where I really felt very fearful. I am fully aware that this organisation has very low tolerance for mistake. If I am fucked… I am really fucked…

Yeah… it’s glamorous to feel powerful and all but if I made a wrong call, I know my job is on the line.

Life is like that… I guess…


1 year ago…
The unforgettable accident experience Part 3Are you racist?

3 years ago… Whack it over the weekend

Sunday, 12 September 2010

My Singapore working hours

“So what time do you knock-off?”
“How late do you work till?”
“Are the hours crazy?”

I have been bombarded with the above questions or the likes for the last 3 months by my Malaysian friends and ex-colleagues. All are under the impression that people here work non-stop and I will be drowned in it.

Remember the conversation that I had with my boss on
why he hired me? In that conversation, he also told me this…

“You want to come in late, you come in late. You want to go for 2 hour lunch, you go for 2 hour lunch. You want to go back early, you can just go. But whatever you do… make sure you don’t fucked up in your work. If you’re fucked, I’m fucked. Staying back late to show me that you work hard doesn’t work here”

I guess that pretty much sums up the trend in my office. The big-boss generally leaves at around 6.45pm because he needs to pick up his kids. Of course, certain days he will have to stay for con-calls or other urgent matters. But it’s not very frequent.

There are a few days where my direct boss will leave between 6 – 6.30pm for his sports activities. Generally, he won’t stay past 7pm.

As for me… So far, there was only 1 day where I stayed on past 9pm because I had to rush something. On average, I will be having dinner at home by 7.30pm.

So to answer all those questions…

I do not stay late because my boss has made it very clear that it’s the quality and not the quantity that matters. I believe that’s the general principle here in Singapore, it’s all about performance. The if-you-go-back-early-means-you-don’t-have-enough-work theory doesn’t apply here, though that theory is very prominent in Malaysia where quantity is often perceived as performance.

As for getting into the office, I get in at around 9 – 9.15am. There were a few days where I have to come in early for calls with people from USA but that is not an everyday thing.

During my recent kidney check-up, I told my boss about my appointment and that I will be coming in late. He (fully aware of my kidney situation) looked at me funny and said…

“You don’t have to tell me these things. It’s a very matured working environment here, and you are not a junior person. If you have to go, you have to go”.

That’s pretty much my Singapore working hours.


3 years ago…
A trip of co-incidencesA thought from an overloaded brain

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Raya Greetings

I wonder if Perkasa will lodge a police report against me for wishing my Malay friends in English (as per picture). Have a good holiday!



1 years ago…
Satu peristiwa berkenaan bahasa

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Water

I was going to blog about something else but having read about the Semenyih water treatment plant has been closed due to contamination … I felt it was time to blog about this topic

Taking a step back, a lot of Malaysians are making fun of Singaporeans because here, the water coming out from the tap is actually processed from the sewage, hence the you-drink-processed-pee-water jeers…Actually, I thought there was a scandal a few years ago about a contract of water sold to Singapore for cheap. So I can't really make up why water here is processed from sewage.

Anyway… Scientifically speaking, and as pointed out by bro Johnson, the reverse-osmosis processed water is one of the purest ever.

Yes, Malaysians do not need to drink processed pee-water. But how sure are you that the water in Malaysia is clean?

A doctor friend of mine once told me he has patients who can't drink KL water because it is so dirty and they have to take water from Ipoh or Johor for consumption purposes. Indeed, the pipes carrying water underneath KL is rusted beyond recognition. If you don’t have a water filter, you will be literally drinking rust.

Coming back to the news on the Semenyih treatment plant… when such things happen in Malaysia… I can't help but think to myself…

How long has it been before the contamination was discovered? Are the engineers inspecting the plant of the same quality of the MACC lawyer? And if you remember, the head of the Malaysian meteorological department once said something to the effect… “There’s haze doesn’t mean it’s hazy…”

And when they declare the water is safe consumption… is it really safe? I am sure many have heard about stories about how chocolates and biscuits were not withdrawn from Malaysian shelves during the China melamine scandal but the same goods were withdrawn from the shelves of other countries.

In a country where money equals “boleh”, it really made me think…

In the past 5 years, I have also observed that there will be news about certain consumer products (particularly bread) being found to contain dangerous amount of chemicals… and a few days later, all will be forgotten with no follow up.

Yeah, me together with other people here in Singapore may be drinking processed pee-water, but I think it’s definitely cleaner and more importantly, safer than water back home.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

See... I am still reading the news

Someone asked me am I slowly phasing myself out of Malaysia news. My answer is definitely not. To proof that I keep myself very much abreast with what is happening in Malaysia, let me tell the news that I have been reading…

I read about a headmistress in Johor called Siti Inshah asking her Chinese students to Balik China and the Indians looked like “dogs” when they wear prayer strings, but no action was taken against her.

I read about Namawee wrote a new song condemning this Siti Inshah’s action and he instead, will be charged for sedition.

I read about a police report being lodged against a church and the pastor because the church staged a church play during Ramadhan.

Just as my friends were joking about whether a police report will be lodged against them for eating during Ramadhan, a principal up north advised Chinese pupils in her school to go back to China because AirAsia flight is cheap – after the Chinese pupils were “caught” eating in the canteen during Ramadhan. And of course, no action was taken.

See, I didn’t lie… I am still reading Malaysian news.

And the crown jewel has to be this news about 2 guys who were on their way to watch “merdeka” celebration fireworks ended up being bashed by a bunch of kids and after dispensing their punches and flying kicks… they wrapped their adventure by telling the 2 guys to Balik ke negara asal (Go back to your country of origin).

This piece of news got hot with people from different quarters claiming that the victim is a liar and only wanted to seek attention.

I found out on Friday that they victim, the one who needed stitched on his head is an ex-classmate of my church-mate. What a small world eh?

But most importantly, the bashing is real.

People said Australians are very racist and if you are not careful, the whites there will bash you up for being Asian. They say such things will not happen in Malaysia.

Well, I don’t read Australian news so I don’t know anything about that. But as I am still reading Malaysian news and those are the news I read.

See… I am still reading Malaysian news… are you?


1 year ago… The unforgettable accident experience
Part 1Part 2

3 years ago…
Grass thoughtsThe reason evolution

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Those videos shouldn’t make you laugh

By now, I am sure many would have watched the now famous video clips of how the MACC lawyer questioned Dr. Porntip in court. If you have haven’t watched, go have a good laugh here.

I am not going to make any jokes about the clips, as I think there are already a multitude of jokes cracked in respect of the lawyer who represents the MACC, who represents the govt.

If you are a Malaysian, and having watched that video… besides laughing your ass off, I am of the zewtpinion that you should be very afraid.

Such is not the only quality of lawyers in the country; such is also the quality of teachers, nurse, doctors and probably a host of other professionals produced by the current Malaysian administration.

Hence, you should be very afraid because…

Such is the quality of the teachers that are teaching or going to teach your children…

Such is the quality of doctors who are going to treat you or your family…

Such is the quality of the engineers who are going to build your home…

Such is the quality…I have personally attended a conference in Malaysia where the Minister (he is still at his post) pronounced “property development” as… I kid you not… “poverty development”… he repeated that again and again… “poverty development”, till giggles started getting obvious. On hindsight, perhaps that’s the secret agenda of the ministry.

Of course, if you are rich and able to afford private services, you can escape from the system. But how many of people out there who are rich enough to afford that? Remember, it’s “poverty development”.

I have previously blogged in a subtle manner that the Malaysian public healthcare system is near collapsed or is already collapsed (safe for a few quality doctors still available). The education system is heading there, if not already there.

So after laughing at that moron, and Malaysians really like to laugh at such things at mamak while eating that nice roti-canai and nasi-lemak, you might want to think of the quality that you are going to get in Malaysia If the country doesn’t change.

I seriously do think… “poverty development” is going full blast.


1 year ago…
What a timely reflectionDid they pour oil on it?