Thursday 29 April 2010

Short & Sweet: Ep. 8 - 3 facts

Fact 1 –
A lot of Malaysians complain about Malaysia and refer to Singapore as a better country.

Fact 2 –
A lot of Singaporeans then say Malaysians under Fact 1 are stupid because these Singaporeans think Singapore is worse and that Malaysia is actually a better country.

Fact 3 –
You see Malaysians under Fact 1 migrating to Singapore, but you hardly (or never) see Singaporeans under Fact 2 migrating to Malaysia.

1 year ago…
Fame in plain

3 years ago… Is it worth it?

Wednesday 28 April 2010

The price that really kills

We have all heard about how prices have increased over the years. I know this chicken rice shop I frequent which used to charge MYR2.60 a plate when I first started working now charges MYR5.50. That’s a 112% increase.

When I started working, my starting pay was MYR1,800 (USD560) a month and currently, I understand that the starting pay for that same position in that same company is MYR2,600. That is a 44% increase.

We can go into the topic of how increase in income doesn’t match inflation rate because the economy sucks and that is why we are all screwed. But that is not quite the notion today, though close.

Generally, the Malaysian public as a whole has brilliantly (or stupidly depending on how you see it) accepted and adapted the slow increase in salary. Some are fortunate to have parents as ATMs, while some just max out the credit cards and perpetually be in debt. The rest typically carry the if-the-good-is-good-the-price-doesn’t-matter mentality.

Essentially, chicken rice for MYR5.50 or teh-tarik for MYR2.50 or char-kuey-teow for MYR6.50 or nasi-lemak for MYR7.50 is still not that bad though even-though those prices have already inflated 75% - 100% in the last 5 years or so. It is not the end of the world.

However… the story is very different when prices of this particular thing inflate at a frightening rate – the prices of properties.

I bought my first property 6 years ago. It’s not exactly the best in town but with the same amount of money, there is no way I can buy that kind of property in KL anymore.

Paying for a plate of chicken rice which has increased from MYR2.60 to MYR5.50, despite it being a 112% increase, is a totally different story compared to paying for a property which has increased from say, MYR350,000 to MYR500,000; which represents only 43% increase. Mind you, such is the range of property prices in KL.

With the current trend of property companies seemingly putting up projects only for the rich, i.e. everything seems to be MYR600k and above, the general working population in KL will only end up with huge amount of debt when they decide to buy a property.

And everything is connected. A huge mortgage will then put pressure on the working population a.k.a. modern slaves to “work hard”. The need to “work hard” will put us at the mercy of the companies we work in. The situation becomes competitive amongst modern slaves. Willingness to “work hard” to service our commitment will result in us keeping quiet when pay is low or bonus is cut because there will be another modern slave who will be willing to “work harder”.

Ultimately, salary will continue to remain stagnant or rise slowly.

And that… is what ultimate kills us all.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

Salient points from a good HS by-election post

A very big thank you to deus X machina for pointing me to this particular blog which painted what is arguably the best summary of the recent Hulu Selangor by-election. Ribuan terima kasih. Kalau ada lagi rencana sedemikian, jangan segan nak beritahu Zewt.

I sent the link of the post to a few friends and they all agreed with what was said. But because that post is written in BM, some of my friends couldn’t fully comprehend it. And I know from my
previous BM entries that many of us have returned our command of the BM language to our teachers.

Not me though (~smirk~), and hence, I shall zewtinise some salient points of
that post in English here…

Zaid Ibrahim (“ZI”) is a good candidate, but he was the wrong candidate for HS. He would be perfect if the by-election was in Bangsar or Damansara Heights. But for HS, he was the wrong candidate. He failed to assimilate with the folks of HS and like how the writer puts it, the selection of ZI failed to address the psychological and sociological elements in HS.

We all know ZI is a highly intellectual person with a rich flavour of corporate background. Unfortunately, only urbanites are able to appreciate this. For the majority of HS folks who are mainly Felda settlers (i.e. farmers), a high flying founder of a major legal firm means nothing to them. No offence.

Apparently, a friend of the writer said that ZI couldn’t really verbally string together a full sentence in BM. His type of BM is more suited for people in Bangsar, Damansara or TTDI, the type of BM which uses “I / you / can / goodbye” instead of “saya / engkau / boleh / jumpa lagi”.

Kamalanathan (“KML”) on the other hand, has a background closer to the HS folks. Yes, there were allegations that his credentials were questionable. But then again, do you think the HS folks give a shite about whether he has a degree or otherwise? In the first place, many HS folks don’t even have internet access to view the articles that questioned KML’s credentials.

And KML demonstrated humility in his dressing. ZI walked around as though he was a minister while KML was amongst the people – walking, talking and wearing clothes just like them. Like it or not, it does pose a huge psychological advantage.

Next, the issues brought up by the candidates too made the difference.

Apparently, ZI was talking about the infamous national issues such as submarines which can’t dive, stolen jet engines, Mongolian girl, etc. Again, no disrespect to HS folks, but how many of them actually appreciates these issues? Some supposedly intellectual urbanites don’t even give a shite about these topics, and you expect the HS folks to? Get real!

This brings me to a point which has been stuck in my mind for a while now. We read so many wonderfully and intellectually written pieces, all written with stupendous English incorporating deep analysis using sophisticated words – the question is: How many of the Malaysian population actually comprehend that? The truth is, a big portion of the Malaysian population do not really comprehend English that well. And most of those who do understand, they have migrated.

Another good example – you know those community message in the radio asking people not to ride motorbikes recklessly? Those done by Valentino Rossi and the other dunno-what’s-his-name guy? It’s stupid and a waste of money. How many mat-rempits understand English? And… how many motorbikes got radio?

KML on the other hand, spoke about schools, temples, farming, the state of oil palm trees and like what writer mentioned – “un-flush-able toilets”. These are the things which are close to the HS folks’ heart.

If you are trying to hit on a 17-year-old girl, bring her to evening dinner galas to meet with elites of society will most probably scare her off. Instead, regular trips to the movies or a quick get-away to Port Dickson may just do the trick.

There are more good points and enlightening issues highlighted in that post, but I think what I summarised is good enough. The writer opined (and I agree with him) that Pakatan needs to re-assess their strategy. Just like how in the corporate world, you need to prepare your presentation based on your target audience. That’s reality, that’s politics.

Last but not least, I would like to translate the writer’s superb final line…

“If this is how Pakatan campaign in election, believe me – their dream to form federal govt in the coming 13-GE is same as my dream to ejaculate on the face of Leah Dizon.”

P/S: Terima kasih
Holden Caulfield atas ilham yang diterima dari tulisan saudara.

1 year ago…
A first language dilemmaThe Big 4Why UK companies will not do business in Malaysia in the future

3 years ago…
Is the world going faster?

Sunday 25 April 2010

A very sad day

Money talks bullshit walks.

You can choose to play by the rules but the won’t.

Results matter, not the passion shown on facebook status updates.

Promising RM3m! Talk about open bribery.

Somehow, I feel this particular one is significant.

I see no hope…

But then again, do we deserve hope?

Wednesday 21 April 2010

The timing of the take-off

I wouldn’t rate the initial years of my modern slavery life as anything near a success. Yes, it started off well with good review from my seniors and mentor. I was moving up the ladder in line the normal scale. But it did hit a snag.

At that time when I missed promotion, it did felt like shite. I saw my peers moved ahead of me. Those who missed the preceding level have all but left. As such, I decided to make a move as well.

I took a gamble by going to China, a stint that didn’t really pay off. I returned and spent a few months bumming, leveraging on the dough I made from China.

Thereafter, I joined my current employer.

The initial months were quite a struggle as I tried to programme my professional-firm type of thinking to the commercial-type. Fortunately, it has since taken a favourable turn and in the last couple of years, I would consider that my career has really taken off. I moved up the ladder rather rapidly and will soon be moving on to a regional role.

Now that I sit down and look back, I notice one thing…

The timing of the take-off coincides with the passing of my Mom. Although my religious faith would disagree, I think it must have been a blessing by Mom.

Monday 19 April 2010

Together for tigers

I remember my A-levels economics lecturer once told the class that one day, mankind will have to go to the museum to see how leaves look like. Yes, that green product of nature which we lay our eyes on everyday may well one day be a specimen in the museum in the name of economic development.

But that “one day” has not reached yet, though it is not very far away.

The same cannot be said about tigers though. Traditionally, we do need to head to the zoo to catch a glimpse of this magnificent creature. But with their numbers dwindling to only about 500 in the Malaysian wilderness, they may soon disappear even from our zoo.

As Malaysians, we have all read or heard about tiger attacks in the country within the last decade. While lives have been lost, we cannot deny the fact that the destruction of tigers’ natural habitat is the sole reason why they need come out and hunt for us. Our action ultimately led to the lost of lives of our kind, ironic isn’t it?

Mother nature certainly needs a huge dose of replenishment in many areas. But for this week, A.Z.A.I.G. proclaims full support for Tiger Blogfest 2010 – an initiative to create awareness for this beautiful mammal called tigers. Let us do all that we can, as insignificant as it may be, to collectively put an effort in the preservation of our tigers.

Our tigers is our heritage and we must do our part in ensuring that our children will have the privilege to see this creatures with their own eyes and not via a google image search.

Malaysians – together for tigers.

1 year ago…
Why specialise?

2 years ago…
Songs re-engineered

3 years ago…
A trap on both sidesAn accent mystery

Thursday 15 April 2010

Should you tell the girl?

Imagine if you were at your work place, and there were 2 big bosses having a heated discussion next to your place. The discussion did not concern you but since it was a heated and rather loud discussion, you can’t help but to take notice.

But in trying to pick up what exactly was the issue, you inadvertently noticed that one of the big bosses did not zip up her skirt. There was a rather “significant” exposure. And the reason why you noticed was because they were standing and you were in a seated position.

The question is… will you tell? If there are similar situation, regardless of the type of “exposure”, will you tell?

Generally, when a girl is in similar situation, would you want the guy to tell?

1 year ago…
The fate of 4 slaves

2 years ago…
What happen if you put your foot down?

3 years ago…
KPF or starfish?

Wednesday 14 April 2010

Why Helen the mother and not Hank the father

It would appear that my post regarding “The story of Helen, who’s only the mother” has attracted some not very happy souls. There are people who are not happy that women are seen as responsible for nurturing children while men are seen as responsible for “bringing back the bacon”.

The discussion on the existence (or non-existence) of gender-bias responsibilities will never come to an end. Like it or not, there will always be a tiny fraction of biasness in our view towards certain gender. Hence, I am not going to go there.

As for my story regarding Helen, perhaps I made a mistake by not formulating a better summary. If I may, I would like to add that the story of Helen was never meant to be gender bias. It could happen to anyone, including men.

Ablogaway commented in the post saying that there should be a post regarding the story of Hank. Indeed, just change the name from Helen to Hank, mother to father and she/her to he/him, and there you go, you will have your story of Hank.

But then again, why did Zewt chose to have a story of Helen the mother and not Hank the father? Was Zewt being gender bias?

Well, the reason is simple.

Helen relayed the story to me personally. She sits beside me at work.

P/S: Of course, name has been changed

1 year ago…
Have you got the balls?

3 years ago…
Even they got the guts to say it

Tuesday 13 April 2010

Parents these days

I met up with some friends a few weeks ago over lunch. Turn the clock back 5 years and we will most probably be bitching about our bosses. But since one of them is now a director while the other is a senior manager with one of the Big 4 accounting firms, we usually now bitch about… staff, about how staff nowadays will resign if you make them work excessive overtime and so on.

This time however, the conversation took another twist. This time, they were bitching about… the parents! The stories…

An executive director was giving training to young associates. As the clock struck 5.30pm, someone knocked on the door. It was the mother of one of the newly recruited associate. Apparently, it was time for mommy to pick daughter home.

In the midst of a meeting, a staff (different from above) said she has to go. The official office hour has ended. Her reason… the mother was waiting downstairs to fetch her home. Is the office a school or something?

Apparently, there are lot of parents who send their “kids” to work and fetch them back everyday. Very loving parents indeed…

A staff of my director friend was working overtime for a few days running. The staff didn’t say anything, but the parent called up my friend! It was not a friendly call. Credit to the staff, she never complained and was happy to work. Just the parent reacted differently. Talk about being protective.

There was an external meeting and a staff was asked to drive there for the meeting. She called her dad for permission, and permission was not granted. My director friend insisted that she go as it is part of her employment requirement. Permission was granted, but she has to tell the father that she has reached the destination safely.

A staff asked my director friend to grant him 2 weeks leave. Due to a tight working schedule, the leave application was denied. He told my friend that he has to go because… the father has already booked him for a 2 weeks holiday.

This staff comes to work in a Camry. She complained that her car was too big. The father bought her a CRV. Wow! What a small car indeed!

Starting pay in this firm is currently RM2,600. After working for a while, the father insisted that his child stop working. The child resisted. The father paid the child RM2,600 to not work.

Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not advocating that people should work late and die for their company. But surely, there must be a time when the protective grip be released for someone to experience the world.

I am not a parent yet, so maybe I will react in the same manner. But I will certainly allow my children to experience adulthood and give them the opportunity to mature from student life to a working life. Of course, I am not asking people to be
a parent like this (which has drawn some stinging comments), but there should be a balance.

It is not an easy transition; the sooner parents let their children go through some “hands-on” training, the better.

1 year ago…
How much?

3 years ago…
A very misleading document

Monday 12 April 2010

The story of Helen, who’s only the mother

Perhaps it’s the drive to achieve equality, perhaps it’s the desire to prove that women are as good, if not better as men… Career driven women are everywhere these days. Helen is one of them.

Rose from rank to rank, always given the recognition in her workplace, a legion of staff under her command… Helen was the epitome of a successful female corporate figure. If you thinking that Helen is single and lonely, then you’re wrong. Helen is married with 2 children. Her husband, just like her, is also a very career driven person.

Under such circumstances, the children were well provided for. Material gifts are aplenty; and just like many working parents in Malaysia, a maid is a must.

Of course, there is no perfect picture in this world. Something has got to give. And in this scenario, all the signs point to the one and only sad truth… the children were often ignored. Helen seldom gets to see her kids. When she reached home after a hard day work, she is either too tired to entertain her children or the children were already asleep.

While Helen was busy working and building her career, maid did the rest… cooked, sent the children to school, picked them up, sent them to the doctor when they were sick, did all the laundry, etc. etc.

This went on for years………

Then, came a time where the maid needed to return home for a few months as one of her family member was not well. Helen, being a good employer, allowed her to go.

On the day the maid left, the children cried non-stop…

“I don’t want mommy to go” the children said.
“What? I am your mommy! Kakak is not your mommy!” Helen screamed!
“No, kakak is our mommy. You’re only our mother”

That was the loudest wake-up call Helen has ever gotten in her life.

Are you the “mommy”?... Or the “mother”?

P/S: Kakak = the Malay word for “sister”

1 year ago…
Maundy Thursday

2 years ago…
Chronicles of vol-ass-no eruptions

3 years ago… An out of this world experiencePrioritise life

Friday 9 April 2010

GST - yes no yes no yes yes yes no!

16th June 2009 – The Second Finance Minister announced that govt has no plans to implement GST in the near future.

24th Nov 2009 – Prime Minister announced
GST bill to be tabled in Parliament.

11th Mar 2010 – Second Finance Minister
dismisses speculation that GST will be called off.

8th Apr 2010 – The same Second Finance Minister who dismisses the above speculation announced that the
GST will be delayed beyond 2011.

The trend seems to be this… whenever they deny something, it always turn out to be true. Remember the no-election and bam… election was announced. It’s amazing how some people still trust them…

I guess it’s good news. But……. How the hell am I supposed to tell this to my big boss in London after being so convincing just a few weeks ago that it will be implemented? There goes my credibility… thanks to…

1 year ago…
Consider this

2 years ago…
When you think you’re thinking the right thingA different kind of “doing dutch”

Wednesday 7 April 2010

Need help to file your tax return?

Folks, it’s time to file your tax return. I have done mine and geeee… with the amount of taxes I paid, I think I contributed to a metal door or two of the submarine!

Anyway, you should be going yours too. Need any help? Individual tax… corporate tax… drop me a line… I am sure the regular readers will know my credentials…

I may charge though… hehe…

If you think you are better and smarter than your parents

Midway through my teens, I had this belief. At that time, I strongly believed that my parents were very blessed to have me as a son. It was a very proud mentality, not exactly a good thing.

My parents were illiterate. I was told that my dad kept failing when he was in school while my Mom never got to school at all. And, they do not know how to play any musical instruments or engage in any sporting activities. Worse, they seem to be very simple minded and have a vision for the future.

I have always been doing quite well in my studies while in primary school. Midway though my secondary school and having joined Boys’ Brigade, I found myself somewhat thriving in studies, picking up music, dancing, singing and playing sports at a reasonable level.

Hence, I can’t help but compare myself to my parents. It got me thinking, and pride took over me. Worse, my foolish pride even prompted me to tell my parents that they must really give thank to God for having a son like me for I excel in so many things and they didn’t.

I was wrong…

My Mom came to KL for an arranged marriage with my dad knowing only the Hokkien dialect. Her cooking knowledge was limited. But she picked up Cantonese at a rapid rate. Her cooking improved tremendously and for a good 5 – 8 years before she passed away, she was able to speak, read and write Mandarin. She did all that, without any classes or tutors.

How many of us can do that? Have you heard of “bananas” who just insist that they will never be able to pick up any Chinese dialect?

The writings were on the wall. My Mom had incredible learning abilities. Given the opportunity to take up a musical instrument or a sport, I do not doubt she will be able to play them well.

My Dad though, isn’t exactly very academically sound. But I have witnessed him doing rather complex calculations to arrive at materials needed for his tailoring business in a flash. All he needed to do was to remove his specs and stared into this air for a few seconds… voila, the calculation was done. Similar to my Mom, he didn’t have any formal education. Also, my Dad is quite a singer.

Putting all the pieces into the puzzle made me realise I was never the wonderful gift from heaven whom I thought I was. Not to say I have wonderful genes, but the portion of good genes I have did magically appeared from thin air, they were all from my parents.

The only difference is that I was given the opportunity to utilise whatever genetic ability that I inherited from my parents (though I had to
lie to do some). I was in the better environment and had the right platform to achieve it.

My parents though, were not so fortunate. They were poor when they were young. They never had the time, and certainly did not have the money to do what I did when I was young. Their lives were limited by the evil human creation called “money”.

So the next time you think you are better and smarter than your parents, think again.

1 year ago…
Losing the migration bluesIt’s not corruptionMost disheartening

2 years ago…
Of alone and lonely

3 years ago… Find the buck over the weekend

Monday 5 April 2010

What auditors do?

Of late, quite a number of people have mailed me, inquiring about Big 4 modern slavery world. The types of query vary, but there appears to be a common curiosity… what exactly does an auditor do? How does it work in those big firms?

In a nutshell, the auditor is to certify that the accounts of a company reflect the “true and fair view” of the company. Of course, it goes through quite a long process. Don’t get conned with the professional look and aura that they put up though.

Without going into a detailed description of their job scope, a very zewtified version of how auditors function…

Let’s say computers are the accounts…

The juniors are those doing the dirty work. Depending on the scale, they will check all the computers in the company and prepare a first level report. Let’s say there are 10 Dell computers, and they will report that to the seniors.

The seniors are supposed to do the first level review, and also highlight some basic issues such as “Do the computers have proper monitors?”, “Do the computers have proper mouse?” or “Are the computers functioning well?” Stuff like that. He/she will screw the junior for not checking it in the first round.

They will also do some casting check. 1 computer on the ground floor, 2 on the first floor, 5 on the 2nd floor and 2 on the top floor. So 1 + 2 + 5 + 2 = 10. There you go, junior did a good job. By the way, they use calculator for that. Report will be signed off and sent to the manager.

The manager will review and perhaps highlight some higher level issues such as “Are the computer system good enough for the working requirement” or “Why use all Dell computers? Why not try other brands?” Stuff like that. He/she will screw the senior for not being able to highlight this.

They will also do a reasonable test… there are 10 employees in the company, 10 computers. Right, it’s reasonable. He/she will sign off and send to the partner of the firm.

A partner being a partner, he/she is supposed to be all knowing and only highlight the super duper high level issues such as… “It’s risky to place all 5 computers on the 2nd floor. What if there is a fire? Should move them elsewhere to even out the risk”. He/she will probably screw the manager for not being able to pick this up.

And the partner will do an overall reasonable review… this is the information technology age, so companies having computers are normal.

There you go… “true and fair”!

2 years ago…
Screwing for desire

3 years ago…
Are you aware of its existence?

Friday 2 April 2010

That’s what I call a high-income economy

There was this department secretary in the division that I worked in when I was seconded to London 2 years ago. She was the person who booked my service apartment, arranged my transport from the airport, arranged my workstation in the office, books meeting rooms when there is a need for one, arranged my farewell lunch, things like that.

She was the department secretary… apparently the lowest paid person in the division.

During that period, her birthday happened on one of the weekend. Being a nice and all, I went to wish her a very Happy Birthday and asked her how she celebrated her birthday. Her reply was…

“Oh, I flew to Vegas over the weekend for my birthday”

How many department secretaries in Malaysia can fly to say… Singapore over the weekend for a holiday?

There was this guy whom I worked with when I was there. We are of the same grade in the organisation, i.e. same ranking based on internal hierarchy.

When I was there… he bought himself an Audit R8.

In the last 2 years, we have rose in rank and file. As of to-date, I think we are of the same internal grade, or maybe I am even 1 grade higher than him.

News came to me 2 days ago that he is going to upgrade to a Ferrari. No, I can't afford a R8, probably only the wheels.

Now, that’s what I call a high-income economy. And this is NOT an April Fool Joke.

Don’t be depressed cause at that time, I was
made to feel like shite too. Enjoy the weekend!

1 year ago…
Will you call?

2 years ago…
The prank that went wrongA toilet encounter