Friday, December 16, 2011


Sometimes there is just cause for lamenting. Imagine going to a meeting with the facts from a Due Diligence Study and being challenged, not on the facts but through negative intonations and statements based on fiction. But I have come across these situations because the persons in front of me have not done what they are supposed to do. It is amazing that some people can seemingly wield the strength to opress and subsequently suppress facts through their capability to talk in condescending manners. But it happens. Stupid people are experts in condescension. It serves no purpose because in the end, the company that they are selling is strewn garbage. I don't buy garbage. Sorry.

I am referring to Mergers & Acquisitions. Lately I have been reminiscing over my past work, rummaging through the old files and documents simply because I have kept them for so long. Most often than not, negotiations at the table have been conducted in the pleasing of manners with proper documentation and justification for arguments and through follow-ups with more documentation. These scenarios quickly fade into oblivion. What really stays in the mind however, are those meetings with fools who have no justification but tons of pride. It is like eating food without consciously knowing in the first instance of putting it in the mouth, that it has been bad. But fools will always exist, in the highest forms, bedecked with names like Director, Financial Controller as such. But they will be fools just the same. I have no time for village idiots who know not that their companies are technically bankrupt and mismanaged. Really, those times of sitting at meetings have been wasted. That is not to say that idiots only exist in M&As. There are many, in departments and divisions each holding on to loose sand and fighting vehemently just so they can emerge from meetings unscathed. Some people build sand castles. Nothing more. And they get paid for that. Sheesh...

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nothing in particular

I do not have anything to say. But that does not mean that I don't feel strongly on some matters. It is just that, the floor is sparse, and I only see a few alphabets, here and there. They are just not sufficient for me to form sentences or provide some coherence to those sentences. No, it is not one of those days. That would be like sitting on a buttress of a big old tree which has branches low enough to almost touch the ground and on those branches, many leaves forming a natural curtain, so that when the breeze blows, the curtain would raise a little, revealing some activity of life on the outside. But here, in the shade, there is nothing else to do but feel the sporadic breeze on my face and listen to the chirping of the birds. No, it is not happiness. It is a calmness, seemingly of no remorse and no euphoria. Simply being. It is not easy to be simply being. Stones are simply being. Trees, like the old tree that I am sitting down under, is simply being. The breeze which blows on my face is simply being.

You see, there are not many words on the floor. When there are no words, there is no remorse and no euphoria because there are no more words to describe them.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Which Car?

It has become more difficult to ascertain the reality of things through getting more review material, and in this case, specifically reviews on the car. And in this case, reviews specifically on the BMW and the Jaguar. It is really the case of the elephant and the blind men. Given the same car, every reviewer comes out with differing opinions, so much so, that it is difficult to make one single conclusion. I do wonder, if this applies to all other things as well. I think that I have read more than thirty reviews over the months on the specific 535i and XF. Always, when I am about to make a conclusion which car to consider, there is the criticisms or highlights of the car's deficiencies. So much so, that I have come to the conclusion, thanks to the official and non-official critics, that there is no such thing as a perfect car and that technology is not sufficient to provide the perfect car. As long as there is individualistic thinking, there is no such thing as a good car. The only way to do it is to test drive each one and make conclusions from that. Every other critique is garbage to me.

I like the XF because it has better looks. It has more charisma. To me, it is. Somebody else might differ. But another would say that the 535i is more roadworthy, a more reliable performer. Some say that the 535i has got more power than the XF. Living in this part of the world with undulating roads (not from the terrain but from bad engineering) and few long-distance highways, comfort would reign higher over speed. At least, I qualify that based on my own perception. There a more BMWs on the road while the Jaguar remains a "sometimes" machine. Do we need to look like the rest or stand out from the rest? The answer is of course, obvious. "But the service quality of a Jag is not as good as ours", commented the BMW salesperson to me. That is also a matter of consideration also. If there is not many Jags on the road, its mechanics will not have the adequate exposure to provide good repair work. That is logical, so to say. I like the XF but feel that I am being pushed by rationality towards the 535i. It is a difficult thing.


So where does this end? I really don't know. I do not have the wealthier option for a Maserati or Ferrari. I think that these are cars in their own class. After all, criticism abound when there are similar models. I am back to where I started. Just the other day, I bought another three more magazines on the 535i and the XF. That totals to about eight magazines thusfar, not to mention the numerous references to Youtube and the rest of the web on car reviews. I think it would be simpler to just toss a coin and let it happen. Sigh..

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Guru? What Guru?

I am a sceptic, through and through. Management is a science. It is a frequent sentence written in text books on Management. If it goes by scientific methods, that is. It is also an art. Another frequent sentence written in text books on Management. It is an art when there is no definitive approach to managing. And then there are the "Gurus", supposedly wise teachers who write books on Management. So called, because what is written can hardly be derived from scientific methods. Normally, it comes under the "Art" section. Good reading with case studies. For as long as there are people managing, there will always be different styles of effective management. I am a sceptic when it comes under Art section. I am a sceptic when authors I do not know well enough, seemingly write books and impose their ideas to the public. When I come across e-mails from colleagues of what a Management guru is saying, I view their words as nothing more than an advertorial. Advertisements, in the form of words, designed to bring the reader's interest and awe. There was one e-mail about a statement by this author that executives should not whine. Whining is an emotional complaint of a management action or procedure that does not make logical sense. Executives don't whine unless there is something wrong with the way the Management has done something or if there is an incomplete comprehension of the procedure due to an embargo on information. If executives don't whine, no grievance, then you don't need people to run the business. The author's statement does not make any sense. It is entirely ludicrous, to even expect that people should not whine. Unless of course, the author sees himself as a part of management. I wonder, how many authors out there, have the requisite experience to even write about management. As long as there are fools who cannot know the difference, there will always be a management author who will write nonsense.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

When Dreams become real

I think that in each person, there are aspirations which are not totally in view but remain latent, hidden, smaller than applets, pixel-size even, of wants, of wishes. When the mind perceives of the impossibility of achieving these wishes, it ensures that the dots remain as they are. However, when there is a greater possibility of success in achieving them, they show themselves, in the form of ambitions, in the form of objectives. What would go on in the mind of a poor man? Would he have the dreams and the wishes of having a big house or houses and cars and expensive stuff? Of course, he should, within. If he plods through life, without as much as having the possibility, they will possibly remain as they are. If not, they will become like thorns, inspiring jealousy and bitterness for those who have them. I believe that without any likelihood, without any perceived chance of getting, the ordinary person will just keep his wishes as hidden, like cells without life, without light, without relevance. Perhaps, I am only referring to myself and this opinion may not be applicable to others. I don't really care but I am surmising here. Now, if the poor man, meaning, a person who is economically deficient, without a potential surplus, has been given the real possibility of having an economic surplus, his wishes will take form and he will begin to visualise the possibilities. What's my point here? Well, we may visualise what is already a near possibility but not before that. I am trying to find the equation. There are just so many self-help books on shelves, in bookstores, perused and bought and read by just so many people, ever hopeful of achieving their dreams. This is the secret, the author will say. Another will say, one will need to visualise. One will say, one must believe and so on and so on. But how many people will achieve their dreams based on the inspiring books that they have read? Is there a statistical research on this? Can there be an establishment of a probability profile of readers who have read and succeeded in their lives from reading self-help books? That would be good. At the very least, we can ascertain the effectiveness of a self-help book. I wonder, how many people have been deluded into buying and reading and believing in one thing and then, having gone through the process of going according to the recommendations of the book and not getting any results, to visit yet again, the bookshelf with the self-help books and repeat the same process again. I wonder. I do wonder, how some authors must have achieved their ambitions through creating some ambiguous principles of success and putting them down into books for the gullible and the consistently-deluded to enrich them.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

The Associated Press wrote that among key predictions for the new year beginning Feb. 3: terrorist threats, continuing tensions between China and the United States, natural disasters around the world and wobbly global markets. Events such as these could have been predicted using trend forecasting. It is not difficult. It is nothing new. The world is dying; we all know it. Natural disasters will happen and global markets will be affected by natural disasters. Tensions between countries will happen and wars cost money and that also significantly impacts the global markets. Markets rise and fall as they always do, and only the very few know where it will go, with sufficient information.

Most importantly, to know, is to locate the exact location of the natural disasters. Markets will always be wobbly, interdependency from the depency on common currencies, dependence on external labour productivity on the basis of widening the profit margin and dependence on external commodities. Price and cost differentials have provided for cross border trading and with it, economic interdependencies.

Forecasting is easy if the fortune teller keeps updated on current events and previous events; like question spotting for the A level examinations. Almost anyone can say it. Yes, there will be natural disasters. There will never be a year without one. There will never be a year without a country going against another. There will never be a year without wobbly global markets. There will never be a year without a fortune teller telling that calamities will befall. So there.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Is work a way of life?

Is work a way of life? That was the question my mind posed to me this morning, as I saw the vehicles on the roads, bumper to bumper, with clear intentions of reaching the respective offices in time. It looks like it. Working is a life. It is not strange, it is not different, it is life. Almost everyone works. It is not only about making a living, but it is about living a life in work. And when the life of work is done, there is the life of retirement. And when that is done too, there is the life of no life.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lesson in humility or lesson in humiliation?

I do not know what prompted me to remember the incident that happened in 1983 this morning. It is something that still bothers me. It was my first job, in a cable manufacturing company. I reported to the CFO, a Chinese, Foo was his name, I think and he was all what you may imagine to be for an Accountant - bespectacled, thin and pale, hair parted by the side of the head. On that particular day, my first day of work as an Accounts Executive, I sat by my desk. He asked to see me and I stepped into his office. "I can see that you are quite artistic", he said, although he could not possibly see that as I had not done anything tangible that could lead to a person thinking that I was artistic. I presumed he was being sarcastic.

"Here is what I want you to do", he said. "You see those brass plates out there on the desks of the senior officers? I will ask my secretary to bring those plates for you to polish", he said.

So, on the very first day of my work, in an office where clerical staff reported to me, I sat on the chair with a polishing cloth and a Brasso, to polish the brass name plates of the senior officers. The question here is, was the CFO trying to give me a lesson in humility? Or was he trying to give me a lesson in humiliation? I am more skewed towards the latter. The spectacle of me cleaning the brass plates, obviously affected the clerical staff, so that I could feel I lost their respect. Having two professional degrees did not seem to jive with the janitor's work of polishing brass plates. I took the task without complaints, without being vocal about it. Perhaps, the CFO wanted to break my ego, whatever that was that he noticed. I do not remember I have an ego. But being awarded the best student in Accounting in the Commonwealth certainly would have provided the platform for such. Since that fateful day, I could not manage my staff well. They could not get that polishing out of their minds.

I worked for a month before tendering my resignation. My resignation attracted the attention of the CEO, a British engineer. He was respectful and called me into his office for a discussion. He wanted to know why a person like me would want to resign. So I told him of what the CFO had asked me to do on my first day of work and his recurring sarcasms from day to day. The CEO openly acknowledged the fact that the CFO was a racist. There had been complaints of him from other Malay employees.  

It was not a lesson in humility after all. The CEO asked me to reconsider but I gently refused, citing all other reasons like difficulties in travelling to work and all. Such is the Malay way of turning down an offer. In a way, my decision to leave was pretty good. I made the right choice despite losing the potential income in the company. It was a small company. The CFO found it exhilarating when the company made the first million. That was how small it was. I got a better job as Group Budget Accountant in a listed company and a better income. Still, I could not forget that Foo, the racist CFO. I still harbour that bitterness, a bitterness that could only be quelled if I can only pee on his grave. Further down the road, I have met a few more of those like Foo. I took these things in stride, going beyond the skin to the individual. There will always be people like Foo. But then there will always be other people who are not racists. Like my old friend who died recently, the late CK Loh. CK Loh shared his experience with me one day. He lost a maintenance contract with a Chinese customer because the customer insisted that he remove the Malay employees from his IT company. Loh stood by his principles but lost the contract. That was a significant thing to do. 

My brother Sam told me one day. If we do not know a person, we are likely to judge the person according to our influenced perception of him as a person of another race. And he or she is likely to do the same to you. However, if we get to know each other and become friends, we are likely to forget the bigotry.

Whatever it was, my life is certainly better than Foo. For I do not have what his small mind has. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Cause of Teoh’s death unknown - The Star

The Star reported "The lengthy Teoh Beng Hock inquest ended with coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas ruling that the political aide did not commit suicide. Azmil Muntapha, however, also said there was insufficient evidence to prove that Teoh’s death was homicide".

At most times, I think in terms of binary rationality, that if a parameter does not fit, then it must be the other. One or Zero. Yes or No. The coroner's statement above is perplexing, suicide was not committed by Teoh. And so, to my mind, his death must have been brought about by an external party. If you don't die from your own actions, then you must have died from other people's actions, in that context. So, it is perplexing indeed. Perhaps, I have been watching too many CSI shows, if there had been a murder, there should be a murderer. That is how I tend to see things.

But then, I cannot manage to grasp a conclusion. Teoh's death did not reach the classification of murder. It is somewhere in the space between the words suicide and murder. Death was the certainty but its cause is not. I am confounded by the apparent ambiguity in the equation. It scares me as it is not just about the case, but about the ambiguity in determining the murder. It tells me that it can happen to just about any Malaysian. Yes, I am afraid. If science cannot explain it, then it will normally categorise it as paranormal until such time, that it can be explained by science. So, is Teoh's death paranormal? I dare to stand firm by my opinion, until such time that the coroner classifies Teoh's death as murder. And I have sufficient cause to worry.

One can die from paranormal activity here. I can be in a building in one minute and in the next minute, I will be falling out through the window, meeting death on the pavement. Paranormal indeed. I have a firm reason to be afraid. Of what can become of future deaths. Not suicide but not murder. It can happen to you.  

At least 60 people plan suicide every day

Today's Star mentioned that Counselling centres in the country receive more than 60 calls each day from people contemplating suicide, according to China Press. In a front-page special report, the paper said the number reveals that many people are being subjected to problems related to finance, marriage and family.

It is understandable, given that the banking environment in Malaysia is more prudent and risk averse and will not provide the financial assistance to just about anybody. In this country, if a person is in high debt or without a job, he or she will not be able to obtain the financial assistance from banks. Once a person defaults on a credit card or a personal loan, no matter how small, it will be registered amongst the banking community and here is where the problem commences.

This is not a welfare-state, almost everything here has a price. Even to go to work has a price. There is the toll to pay to use the road and there is always the exorbitant parking rates. If a person does not have medical insurance, provided by his employer or through his own means, there is money to pay for sickness and maternity. Nothing is free here. The only thing that is free is probably a smile.

So, what is a person with financial constraints to do? Can a counsellor really talk a person out of suicide over money-matters when there is possibly nothing that can be done to arrest the financial situation? One can only talk so much over the phone to someone whose situation is real, not imaginary. Depression is in the mind, but money matters is real. Often times, a person cannot see the road; the alternative route. It would be easier if the banking institutions and the Government can collaborate to not only reduce non-performing loans and suicide but at the same time provide a higher margin of tolerance for people who are in need of finance. There has got to be a way, nothing is impossible in this world, save for bringing someone back from the dead.

More often than not, marriages are also risk averse, being part of the equation of having adequate finance. Without finance, marriages can fail. Wifes can also be like banks. Risk averse. No money, no wife. Everything has a connection. The report is right that money, marriage and family are the problems.

I am not an advocate of suicide, far from it, but a person, being a member of the community and the Government and the banks being members of the community, efforts should go beyond mere counselling to establish a new machinery which addresses the real and material issues affecting the suicidal person.