Monday 30 November 2009


I stumbled upon his writings some time last year when a close friend of mine forwarded me one of his articles. It was a very long read but I was left speechless for a while after reading it. The things he write will really make you think. I am referring to Johann Hari, a British journalist.

I chanced upon another article of his today. It talked about a city which we have heard about it over the news many times. But the article shed a whole light on it. It certainly did for me. Certain parts may be a little dry but there is eye opening knowledge everywhere around the article. It’s stupendous.

If you are into more knowledge, a different perspective of things, an enlightening moment and what I believe is a very good read, I invite you to
go pay a visit.

But if you are browsing through the blogosphere just looking for laughs and not interested to know about the reality of life and do not intend to further your horizon (which is perfectly fine by the way), don’t bother.

1 year ago…
When one has yet to earn

2 years ago…
One for the girls

Sunday 29 November 2009

Preserving... what?

When I scrutinised the migration issue a while ago, a particular reason to why we should all remain in Malaysia was highlighted. Of all reasons and excuses that I’ve ever heard, I disagree with this reason most. Yes, I even find the I-stay-here-because-of-the-food a much better reason compared to this particular one.

The reason mentioned was… preserving our culture.

Since the migration talk centres mostly upon Chinese, I shall confine the notion of this article only on Chinese culture.

So… remaining in this country to preserve our culture? Seriously? Our culture, to me; is already dying a death inflicted by our very own hands in this land.

For a start, check out the names of the your children or your friend’s children. The regular Mei Ling, Siew Ling, Ah Hong, Ah Tan, Ah Seng, etc. are there only for documentation purposes. Instead, they are known as Ethan, Gabriel, Antonio, Shauntaine, Caitlynn, Caroline and one of my friend even named their daughter Gisele. If we can't even address our children by their Chinese name, what preserving culture are we talking about?

By the way, if your children do not have an English name, very likely their Chinese name is one that does not sound like a typical Chinese name anymore. You know what I am talking about. Well, at least you try not to officiate the English name.

But then again, do you tell your children that they you are their “ba-ba or ma-ma” or… you are known as daddy/mommy to them? Worse, how many of you are conversing with your children with any language BUT the Chinese language? Of all my friends who grew up speaking Cantonese, they are all conversing with their children in English. “Seems more natural” was the excuse.

And just to rewind a little bit back to the time when most of us got married, did we wear a Chinese “qua”? Or a tux? Preserving our culture? Really?

December is coming, and everyone is excited. Why? Because Christmas is coming! The birth of Christ and a religious celebration notwithstanding, how many of us Chinese are more excited about Christmas than Chinese New Year? Dinner with friends/family on Christmas eve is something to look forward to but dinner with family on Chinese New Year eve and Chap Goh Mei is a chore, isn’t it?

And do we still celebrate Mid-Autumn festival and the dumpling (“jung”) festival? Oh, you do know that those are Chinese festivals right? Do you?

I can go on forever but I am sure you know what I am trying to get at. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should all suddenly get traditional so that our Chinese heritage radiates out of us. The fact is; the Chinese in most of us are dying, if not dead. And not migrating is not going to stop that.

Before I end, allow me to share with you this real life encounter that I had with a child…

Baby X is now 3 years old. He was born into a Chinese family where both the parents speak Cantonese. In fact, the paternal grandparents side do not speak English at all. But just like so many young Chinese families nowadays, Baby X grew up, and is still growing in a very strong English speaking environment.

Lately, efforts were being put in to remind Baby X that he is of Chinese decent. This was triggered by a lack of response from Baby X when people tried to communicate with him in Cantonese. It appears that he will not speak to you if you speak to him in anything besides English. The child, as it seems, knows how to differentiate between English and other languages.

But one latest effort hit the worst snag when Baby X gave this strong response… he screamed…

“I am not Chinese! Don’t speak to me in Chinese. Don’t call me Chinese. I don’t like Chinese!”

P/S: A few people e-mailed me asking about GST. While I am not exactly the expert, I will certainly be blogging more about it soon…

1 year ago…
Did all the money suddenly just disappear?

2 years ago…
A very familiar situationThe ultimate fine dining

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Another typical u-turn

On 16th June 2009, the Second Finance Minister announced that the govt has no plans to implement the Goods and Services Tax ("GST") in the near future.

Today, 24th November 2009, our Prime Minister cum Finance Minister announced that the GST bill will be tabled in Parliament. I guess we all know what is the meaning of "near future" in the eyes of our govt.

While Beyonce's concert has gone, GST is coming. It is an effective tax collection mechanism that will impact every person in this country. Well, what to do? Govt is in need of money to spend on computers which cost RM40,000+ per unit to develop this country.

Your char-kuey-teow, bak-kut-teh and nasi-lemak are going to be more expensive I can assure you. But it's ok, I am sure they are still as tasty.

Sunday 22 November 2009

Of temple and palace on the second day

AZAIG’s first multitude of photos post…

We made our way on foot to “Tiantan”, a.k.a. The Temple of Heaven, which was rather near our hotel. It was a pleasant walk.

Upon entering the west gate of the vicinity, I was greeted with the sight of a host of people engaging in very interesting activities. There were people dancing to all sorts of music, including waltz/disco; there were people practising martial arts; and there people playing Tai-Chi ball. Not an easy feat as some tourists tried and could not return the ball at all.

The trees are known as “Trees of the Scholars”; and an American once claimed the world can never reproduce these trees. There were speakers hidden within the trees playing smoothing traditional Chinese music. The presence these trees together with traditional Chinese music in the background made the path towards Tiantan a very serene one.

3 main architectural wonders formed Tiantan; with Hall of Prayer of Good Harvest being the main attraction. I was actually quite disappointed that we are not allowed to go into the building. But then again, the sight outside the Hall is already quite incredible.

The other 2 elements of Tiantan are the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar (no picture). There is a stone right in the middle of the Altar where they said that anyone standing there will sound extraordinary. I didn’t bother as the queue to step on it to give it a try was already quite… extraordinary.

After lunch, we went to the Pearl Market which was nothing overly spectacular. Thereafter, we headed to YiHeYuan a.k.a. The Summer Palace.

It’s located quite out of town, but still accessible via subway. It’s said the emperors would come here to get away from the summer heat. Thus, it is known as The Summer Palace.

There is a lake next to the palace. The climb up to the palace is an excruciating experience. I really wonder whether the emperors got people to carry them up. But it was good for me, strengthened my leg for the up coming marathon.

I don’t usually pose up a lot of pictures, even after my Italy trip. For this one, I shall let the pictures do the talking though I don’t really have a sophisticated camera.

Up next… the WangLiChangChen a.k.a. Great Wall…

1 year ago…
Any difference?

2 years ago…
If you think you’re uglyDon’t ever let this happen to youAnd she placed her hands on your inner thigh

Thursday 19 November 2009

Short & Sweet: Episode 2 - Screw

Even when you are having a really bad day…

Someone will still screw you!

1 year ago…
The great tribulation

2 years ago… Will you attend?The healthy diet triathlon

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Life in a Professional Firm vs. Life in a Commercial Firm – Episode II

In the 1st Episode, I shared about some lightweight differences between life in a Professional Firm (“PF”) and Commercial Firm (“CF”). PF and CF have also been defined there.

For the second installation, let’s look at some more pertinent differences…

Profit centre vs. Cost centre

This is by far the most significant difference should you decide to switch over to CF.

In a PF, you render your professional service to client thus generating revenue for the firm. The reports that you produce and the hours that you slave are all translated into $$$ for the firm. You are known as the profit centre (“PC”).

Being in the finance or legal function in CF would mean you will be looking after the welfare of the firm, not the clients. It means you do not generate any revenue for the firm. You will move from being a revenue generator to being a cost burden. You are now a cost centre (“CC”).

Naturally, PC is given more privileges in CF. They are the breadwinner of the firm and hence, they tend to be well taken care of. Their “voice” tends to be louder, their gatherings will be more lavish, their departmental trips will be more luxurious; and you will have to live with it.

Don’t fret though. Though PC will be getting higher pay and bonus, the general pay structure in a CF would still be better compared to PF.

You may want to check out
other perspectives on being profit centres vs. cost centres.

Advisor vs. implementer

In a PF, you are a consultant. You are the expert who tells your client what to do and how to do it. It does not matter whether your expert advice is workable or otherwise, your job is to tell your client what is in the rule and what the available options are.

In a CF though, your focus will change. The management do not expect you to tell them what to do; they expect you to do it. You are there to make things happen. If you need resources, you have to voice out. You are the expert who has been employed to deploy.

This is when you suddenly realised that you are not that expert as you think. You will suddenly realise all the so called technical knowledge you gained while in PF may not work. And so, you might end up being a “client” to PF and boss the partners that you once report to. Sounds fun, isn’t it?

Learning vs. contributing

It’s funny that people join PF to learn. They are supposed to be the expert and top consultants, providing top notch advice and yet, people join them to learn. While in PF, I was once told that I am to act like an expert in front of a client even if I am not. I was supposed to be the expert consultant, but I was actually just learning. Ironic isn’t it?

Quite similar to the preceding point of advisor vs. implementer, the learning takes a dive when you move to CF. Instead of learning, you should be contributing. After all, you are the expert in the CF that you work in. Of course, there will still be things to learn but it will not the skills that you have been hired to perform.

It can be quite a daunting expectation. One should be mentally prepared.

Technicality vs. Commerciality

Last but not least (for this episode); discernment between technicality and commerciality is crucial when you work in a CF.

In a PF, it’s all about technical knowledge. During performance evaluation, you will always be asked to improve on your technical knowledge. Which section, which rule, which paragraph, while law, which regulation, they should all be in your fingertips. In your mind, everything is written in the book, you just follow.

Things take a whole new perspective when you enter CF. When in PF and you tell your clients to do this and that and they reply saying they can’t do it and can’t provide this and can’t implement that and you will be wondering why they can’t do it. When you are in a CF, you will know why.

Sometimes, doing the right thing may not be commercially justifiable. Sometimes, the right thing just can’t be done. Maybe it will cost a lot of money, or result in loss of revenue. Your role in a CF is to strike a balance. You are the expert who is there not to advise, but to implement measures to look right even when it’s wrong.

Just like how you found out that things learned in university are mostly futile when you work, things learned in PF may not be that useful either when you are in CF.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

What would you want to be the reaction?

You should read and ponder upon “What would be your reaction” before reading this…

Weekdays, on the way to work; and you were stuck in the jam once again. You just couldn’t understand why the lights always turn red as soon as you were about to cross the junction that day. Perhaps it was just not your day.

You turned to your right and saw the other driver smiling. “Seems like a good day to him”, you thought to yourself.

A loud unknown sound redirected your attention. You turned to the source of the sound and you saw it… a motorcyclist had smashed a metal rod into the driver window of a few cars behind you. He seemed to be pulling something from the driver side of the car.

2 seconds later, he swung the metal rod again to the car and a loud scream followed. To your horror, you saw a splash of blood on the windscreen of the victim’s car. The motorcyclist, who has firmly established himself as a criminal then sped off; and he was going to pass the right side of your car.

At that moment, your mind somehow brought you to the countless victims who have fell prey to such theft and they are now either dead, or left in a coma.

You engaged a gear and just as the perpetrator was about to pass your car, you intentionally crashed into him. You got him! He was pinned between your car and the car next to you.

You paused for a few seconds to recollect yourself before exiting your vehicle. The thief was screaming in pain and your car was badly damaged, so was the car next to you.

You wonder how the owner of the other car would react…

What would you want to be the reaction of the other driver?

Those who commented in the earlier post… any thoughts?

1 year ago…
Same shield, different usage

2 years ago…
Ghost sex = good sex?

Sunday 15 November 2009

What would be your reaction?

You were on your way to work, just like any other day. As you were about to reach your office, you stopped and your car came to a halt as the traffic light turned red.

The music from the radio entertained you as you waited for the lights to turn green. Looking around, you saw the familiar faces crossing roads; probably making their way to the respective workplace.

Suddenly, you heard a loud “smashing” sound coming from the back of your car, followed closely by a scream. Before you could turn around to check out the source of the commotion…”bang!”… something smashed into your car!!!

You got out of your car in hastily only to find that a motorcyclist was pinned between your car and the other vehicle next to you… your car, was *gasp!* badly damaged!

It was not an accident. What happened was…

The motorcyclist pinned to your car is a snatch thief who just smashed the window of a car which stopped a few vehicles behind you to get the driver’s handbag. After getting his loot, the thief sped of only to be stopped by a good Samaritan who sacrificed damages his car by crashing into the thief.

Unfortunately for you though, your car was also involuntarily sacrificed…

What would be your reaction?
What would be a typical Malaysian reaction?
Would you react like a typical Malaysian?

Such a dilemma to be honest with oneself… isn’t it?

1 year ago…
An answer in the 400th

2 years ago…
Can we really not be a part of it?

Thursday 12 November 2009

Those babes and their…

As I have briefly mentioned, I spent a short stint working in China a few years ago. That short stint was filled with many eye opening and experiences. One of which was when I asked to play in the inter-department football tournament.

The guy who got me into the team was this man by the name of Feng (mandarin for “wind”). Feng is the person who handled my work permit and other immigration related matters.

The entire team can’t really pronounce my English name. I am fine with people addressing me in my Cantonese name but to be called in Mandarin was rather weird. Hence, I am known as “shi-chi-hao” (number 17), the number of my jersey.

And so, we were in our final group match. And because it was a match that we had to win, my fellow teammates managed to gather some reinforcements. They came in the form of female colleagues who were kind enough to act as our cheerleading team.

Well, some of them were pretty hot looking. So I told my then colleague who is also a Malaysian and also happened to be in the team with me that it was the first time I ever had such a competitive match with proper pitch, referee, pre-match procedure and now… hot looking china dolls as pom-pom girls.

Quite a good feeling I must say…

And so we took our position on the pitch and got ready for the kick-off. The girls cheered and just then… just right then… a few of them did this…

“krrraaaaakk…… ptui!”

They freaking spit around like machine guns. No matter how hot looking they were, the “ptui!” action just turned you off immediately.

1 year ago…
If your boss wants to axe you

2 years ago…
10 Nov: A day to remember

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Short & Sweet - Pilot

Starting a new category called "Short & Sweet"... and for a maiden entry...

"People who keep asking politician to wake up should they themselves... wake up" ... Zewt

Tuesday 10 November 2009

The curse of a true slave

There was a vacancy in another department a few months ago and I recommended that position to a former junior (“J”) of mine who is currently slaving in a professional firm. Upon my recommendation, J decided to put in an application for that position.

The interview went well and J was offered the job. However, the department could not match J’s expected salary. I then had a lengthy discussion with J and after deliberating the offer, I advised J to decline the offer both as a friend and a fellow professional.

A few days thereafter, I got a call from my colleague from the recruiting department asking me to convince J to join as they were really interested in having J on board. Since I made the recommendation and was J’s former senior, I should be able to exercise my influence.

I told my colleague (“C”) that I have indeed exercised my influence and my advice to J was to decline the offer and I thought the offer did not match J’s value. I told C that I will not sell my friend’s soul to the devil even if it’s the same devil who is feeding me. C was astonished to hear that.

C then went on a crusade to get me to influence J. C went on and on about how J’s competence has not been proven and if J joins and performs well, J will surely be able to climb up the ladder. That was such a bad point simply because I work in the same company and I know exactly how this company, and in particular, how C’s department works.

C was relentless. C said that in the years C has been with the company, it was proven those who work hard and slog late into the night will be duly rewarded and rewarded well. Given that I know C has been working really hard and been slogging late nights non-stop, I asked how well has C been rewarded. C confidently answered that rewards will come.

Those familiar with AZAIG’s sentiments on modern slavery a.k.a. corporate world will know that slaving your life away is not the way to go. And certainly, I will never recommend my friend to sell his/her soul, unless the price is absolutely right.

It is very sad that there are so many people with the
“true slave” mentality that one should slave out one’s life and will go all out to get others to join this disillusioned bandwagon. Will a true slave get rewarded in the end?

In the latest promotion list issued last month. C’s name was not there.

1 year ago…
How will the end begin?

Sunday 8 November 2009

Maiden encounter of the city

“How was Beijing?” has been the most frequent question posed to me in the course of last week. Well, I must say I enjoyed my trip a lot. You may not like the people for their rude and often unhygienic antics, but I would consider Beijing as a city that one should not miss.

Upon landing, I was greeted with a first glance on Chinese efficiency. Initially, there were only 2 counters opened at the immigration checkpoint for foreign passport holders. Within minutes, there were officers appearing from nowhere and suddenly, all counters were operational.

I kept track of the time. We landed at 6.30am (thank God for MAS and on-time flights)… me and Jules got out from the plane, settled immigration, collected our baggage and got into the taxi… all before 6.50am. I find that quite amazing.

The hotel we stayed in was fantastic. If there’s anyone heading to Beijing, drop me a mail and I will tell which hotel it is. They allowed us to checked in at 7.30am and we had a nap till 11am before beginning out adventure.

Our first destination… Qianmen, which means “Front Gate”. It’s located to the south of Tian’anmen Square. By the way, Chinese are obsessed with the 4 winds. If you are heading there soon, bring a compass.

And to the north of Qianmen… Tian’anmen Square.

Nothing overly spectacular except the fact that they have security checkpoint for every entry. They x-ray all your bags. X-ray machines are also located at the entry of all subway station. I was stopped a few times because I had my tri-pot in my bag. They thought it was some kind of weapon.

To the north of Tian’anmen, it’s the great Forbidden City.

I think the Forbidden City has gone through quite substantial restoration work, which made it more magnificent. It is truly a structure of ultimate Chinese grandeur. It is always a great feeling to see ancient monuments such as these. It really makes you wonder, how in the world do they manage such feat without modern technology. The amount of thinking involved is just too mind-boggling.

We didn’t manage to cover the whole city. It was just too big, and just too much walking to do.

We went to the National Centre for Performing Arts a.k.a. The Egg. You have to pay to go in and I think that was a mistake. Nothing to see inside structure and so, if you do go, there is no need to go inside.

We went to a nice Sichuan restaurant for dinner. Let’s save that for food post, shall we?

1 year ago… More keywords splendour

2 years ago… What would you do?

Wednesday 4 November 2009

What China doesn’t have and why you are not…

Most people answered “public toilet” to the riddle (more like a question) that I asked the other day. Well, there are quite a number of public toilets everywhere; just that you wouldn’t want to use them unless it’s an ultimate emergency. Know what I mean?

In order to answer the question, let me share some part of my short working stint in China with you…

I was briefly attached to a telecommunication company which was based in this huge complex. It’s like a township by itself. It’s not feasible to go out of the complex for lunch so most days, I will have lunch at the canteen.

Food was subsidised so it’s cheap. Hence, everyone will grab a few dishes and a bowl of rice. Now, this is no ordinary bowl of rice. Trust me when I say it’s a BIG bowl of rice. I am a big eater but on some days, I am not able to finish a bowl myself. But ya’ know what? Those China girls will eat the bowl clean. Some even had 2 bowls!!!!!

Similarly, when I was in Beijing last week, everyone eats tonnes of rice, porridge (it’s called congee in Beijing) and “lai-mien” (noodles).

What I am trying to say is that, mainland Chinese eats a lot of what Malaysians deem as weight contributor… carbohydrates.

How many times have you heard of people saying… “less rice please” and when you give them the look, their response will be … “eat so much rice will make you fat”. The funny thing is, most of such people aren’t exactly… thin.

Back to my question…

I noticed this and so did my ex-colleague who was there with me in China. Another friend who visited China concurred this. It is very rare… and close to impossible… to see such in China… fat people (no offence to anyone).

Yes, there are no fat people in China. Or at least, I couldn’t see any of them. And I don’t mean obese type of fat. I am referring to reasonable fat type people. In fact, most mainland Chinese are rather slim.

But then again… they eat so much… so much… rice… carbo!!!

My fellow Malaysians, the reason why we are fat is not because we eat a full plate of rice instead of half.

The reason why most Malaysians are fat is because the distance between your home and your office is 5 steps from your door to your car and maybe another 20 steps from your car to the lift… the distance between Sungei Wang and Times Square is 2 minutes on the monorail… you prefer call pizza instead of walking out to the shop down the road for lunch because it’s too sunny, or no parking… you have no time to exercise because you are such a hardworking employee… etc. etc.

And of course, many ask for less rice and then stuff your face with Baskin Robins or Haagan Dazs…

Don’t blame the rice…

P/S: So now you know
what China doesn’t have

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Budget 2010

A quick browse around the domestic blogosphere and I noticed that many have already voiced their displeasure regarding the RM50 service tax imposed on each credit/charge card announced during the National Budget.

And being selfish people where we are only concern about ourselves, that’s perfectly understandable. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we should pay RM50 for having a piece of plastic. What I am saying is that we should look at the budget from a different perspective.

Do you know that the country will again be in budget deficit position? “Budget deficit”, sounds too economic for you to understand? Let me zewtlified it for you…

If Malaysia is a company, it means it is making loss. Malaysia has been in budget deficit for (I think) more than a dozen of years with deficit expected to be 5.6% for 2010. That means, “Malaysia Sdn Bhd” has been making loss for the last 12 years or more. What do you think will happen to a company that keep making losses?

By the way, our neighbour down south was in budget surplus position (i.e. making profit) a few years running till 2007. And this is part of the reason why SGD1 = RM2.5.

But then again, we Malaysians don’t really care about the big things. It’s too intellectually challenging for us. We are only concern about whether we can get good food at night and the RM50 we need to pay for a piece of plastic which allows us to buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

So let’s just keep the simple stuff…

Yes, the reduction of top individual tax rate from 27% to 26% will only benefit those having chargeable income above RM100,000. “Chargeable income” above RM100,000 means your annual salary must be around RM130,000 before you benefit from this. And yes, it’s only 1%.

The govt categorised those benefiting from this reduction as “mid income group”. If you are not earning above RM130,000 a year, i.e. not “mid” income group, tough luck. But can you imagine those earning millions! They will be laughing by now. I wonder who they are…

On the basis that the average tax rate of a Malaysian is about 15%, the increase of personal allowance of RM1,000 means you will have an additional RM150 to spend. That’s circa 30 additional plates of char-kuey-teow for you in 2010. Yay! Go knock yourself out. But if you have 3 credit cards, tough luck mate.

RM500 broadband deduction, average 15% tax means additional RM75 or circa 15 plates of additional char-kuey-teow a year. But if you have more credit cards, then………

This is important… the additional RM1,000 allowance for EPF/life insurance deduction is only applicable for deferred annuity paid for contract concluded after 1 Jan 2010. Sounds alien? Zewtily speaking, you have to buy additional insurance in 2010 in order to get this deduction.

It means you have to spend additional RM1,000 in order to save about RM150 of tax. So all the extra char-kuey-teow that you can get from the additional individual allowance and broadband deduction will be gone if you take this up. Worse, you may even need to pay more money! Which means… less char-kuey-teow next year! That’s big deal mate!

As for the RM50 for each credit card, I personally think it will share the same fate as toll. I.e. we will just complain and complain and at the end of the day, just pay. Just like how most Malaysians cannot survive without cars thus needing to pay toll, most Malaysians cannot survive without credit cards (emphasis on plural).

Last but not least, GST, which I have blogged about
a few years ago is indeed coming. The wind in the tax industry is strongly blowing the fact that it will be announced before the end of this year. When that comes, that will be really hell…

That’s basically the budget for a regular I-don’t-care-about-politics-and-other-complicated-things man on the street.

Monday 2 November 2009

Back from China with a China riddle

Yo! I am back!

It was a fantastic trip, blessed with the perfect timing and weather, except perhaps for the last day. But I am not complaining, because…

… … snow is always beautiful!

It delayed my flight for a couple of hours but it’s certainly a nice feeling to see snow again.

Anyone care to use your brain juice?

When I spent a few months working in ShenZhen and now about a week holiday-ing in Beijing, I noticed that China doesn’t have one particular thing… can you guess what it is?

1 year ago… Tuesday reflection on a recessionI have not made it

2 years ago…
Are you part of the mess?The mess continuesWednesday bluesAppreciating life