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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Months That Was.....

Okay, okay, it has been ridiculously long since I last updated this very, very dusty blog.

In fact, why do I even bother. Who reads my blog anyway?

But then again, that's the actual purpose of a blog. Blog originated from the word weblog, your personal online diary in cyberspace, which is only meant for your eyes only or for people you wish to share with by giving them the URL.

Whatever it is, the break from writing was a cross between intentional and unintentional.

Honestly, (here I go again), I was buried with work. Hahahahaha! The overstatement of the year, which coincidently, is coming to an end in less than 48 hours.

My God, we are ushering in 2010! How time flies (again, an overused expression.)

Where were we? Ah yes, work. You see, I was promoted and transferred to a subsidiary of my company on 1 October 2009, so its been close to 3 months now. As the Head of Department, my responsibility is heavier and job scope is broader by leaps and bounds. Expectation from management is also high. Don't even ask about how I am managing the stress level ever since taking up this new appointment.

But hey, I'm not complaining. I call it progress. I got a promotion which means I get a handsome salary increment (as soon as I pass the higher job grade assessment in April). I got a bigger cubicle now (which is one step away from a proper room if I get one more level of promotion in the next few years) and I have cool colleagues in the department. Well, subordinates actually but I prefer to see them as colleagues (because I am the new generation managers - cool, dynamic and think out of the box, chewah).

The first month (October) was hell. I had to travel a lot and I hardly saw my wife and kids. My new position required me to constantly travel to Kertih, Terengganu and Segamat, Johor as the subsidiary's core operations were located there. October is the worst month to transfer in my company because it is halfway through the fiscal year. That is the time when everyone is busy finalising their departmental and divisional budgets for the next fiscal year and also busy with the dreaded mid-year performance review. On top of that, my department was at the tail-end of a major audit exercise and although the audit period and scope covered a duration well before my time, I was pretty much involved, by virtue of me being the new Head. Let's just say I was unfortunate enough to "inherit" some problems left by my predecessors and them tight-fisted auditors just didn't care or symphatised with me. On top of that, my immediate superior was also new and eager to be up to speed with the current operations of my department which was parked under the division of which he is the head. So, it was a whirlwind first month for me and I tell you, the learning curve was so steep, I felt like crying at times.

If October was hell, November was hell deluxe! Just as I was about to settle down and thought that my travelling schedule has finally stabilised, I was slapped with a major and urgent assignment. It was like my cheek being pushed to the side of an express train! I was instructed by management to handle a ground-breaking ceremony in Sabah for a major project undertaken by the subsidiary which was a joint-venture with a state government-owned entity. And we had less than 3 weeks to pull the whole thing off! Hence I was zig-zagging to and fro Kota Kinabalu as if I had a second wife over there for most of November until the event itself which was on the 26th of November, one day before Hari Raya Haji! It was a miracle me and my team managed to get a flight back to KL on the night itself to enable us to be home in time for Hari Raya Haji. The event went well and I was thankful it was done and over with. For that, I thank my team for a job well done (you know who you are, I don't mention names in my blog).

And finally, December, ah yes, good old December, I would say was the best month since I joined my new outfit. I attended a forum for managers of the company in Kertih (at my favourite hotel Awana Kijal of course which was really a well-deserved retreat) and also presented two major papers to members of the subsidiary's management committee at their monthly meeting held in Kuantan (that was a two-hour ordeal which I thought would never end). I also spent one week alone in KL as my wife and kids went back to Johor Bahru to spend time with my mom-in-law. I really bonded with my house, hehehehe. Accomplished lots of things when I was alone - installed a new ceiling fan in the master bedroom (the old one had its sensor stuck as the slowest speed), cleaned the bathrooms, mopped the floor, vacuumed the carpets, serviced both my car and my wife's car and watched lots and lots of tv. Oh, I also made arrangements for a short vacation to Phuket, Thailand which I'm taking in mid-January 2010. Yeahoo!!!! (This is a solo vacation and my wife is cool about it.) I'm so excited about this trip that I've read two travel books on the exotic island and have mapped out my itinerary for the four days I'm there.

So, there, that's what happened in the past 3 months during which I abstained from writing. I'm going to start writing again, in this blog, in Facebook and also in NST where I'm a regular contributor to the Letters To The Editors section. I have a lot to say actually on current affairs but like I said, I just didn't have the time. I'm certainly going to try and the fact that I wrote this post is already, yes you said it - progress.

So here's to 2009 which has been a great year (for me and my family at least) and let's usher in 2010 with hopes and prayers that it will be better - financially and emotionally.....

p. s. Arsenal is doing so well in the English Premier League! I'm so happy!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

1Malaysia F1 Team - Another Minardi In The Pipeline??

We like to throw away money to satisfy our "Malaysia Boleh" ambitions, money that we don't have actually.

Last time it was the astronaut programme and what do we get? Nothing.

And yesterday, the powers that be has announced that we are competing in F1 next season with a full Malaysian team known as 1Malaysia F1 Team.

Okay, okay, before we get too excited, let's do some homework first before you offer your two cents worth at your local mamak joint.

This is actually the former Lotus F1 team, which once upon a time did compete in F1, between 1957 to 1994. By virtue of the British outfit being owned by Proton, our national car manufacturer, it becomes Malaysia's F1 team by default. That is quite normal for us Malaysians - piggybacking is the name of the game.

Anyway, Lotus F1 was a great team. During that era, Lotus cars were driven to no fewer than six drivers’ world titles by drivers like Jim Clark, Emerson Fittipaldi, Graham Hill, Jochen Rindt, and Mario Andretti. The cars included the type 25, the first monocoque F1 machine; the type 49, which used the engine as a stressed member of the chassis for the first time; and the beautiful, ground effects type 79.

After Andretti’s 1978 title, the team slowly faded away, despite employing the likes of three-time champion Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna, although that was before he won his three world titles. Financial problems began to plague the great British car manufacturer and this has hampered anymore hopes of its motorsports division from progressing any further.

Enter the 90s and to everyone's surprise, Malaysia's national car maker Proton decided to make a bold move by bailing out the ailing Lotus. The move was spearheaded by the late Tan Sri Yahya Ahmad, the CEO of Proton then where the national car maker acquired a controlling 63.75% stake in Lotus.

I actually had the privilige of visiting Lotus' facilities in Hethel, Norwich, 300 km north east of London when I was a journalist way back in 2000. It was a trip organised by Proton, in conjunction with the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's visit there.

Now, back to the present - the 1Malaysia F1 Team.

The new organization is backed by a consortium of Malaysian entrepreneurs and of course the Malaysian government.

The car will use a Cosworth control engine—which will also power the cars of several other new teams, among them the USF1 outfit—and will be headed by Mike Gascoyne, the mercurial engineer who has worked for the likes of Benetton, Toyota, and most recently, Force India. Gascoyne is a star designer, but is notoriously difficult to get along with, so it will be interesting to see how he copes with other Alpha males in the consortium, primarily Tony Fernandes, the head of Air Asia.

Let's get real here. Honestly, we are being too ambitious. The powers that be when making the announcing yesterday said that the team will be based in hot and humid Sepang where the cars will be designed, manufactured and tested there. "Made in Malaysia and by Malaysians". Even the 200-member technical and pit-stop crew will be an all Malaysian outfit managed by Gascoyne. Wow!

I’d be surprised if the new 1Malaysia F1 Team can scale the heights that Colin Chapman’s outfit managed. For one, Chapman was a maverick who pioneered technologies in racing. The new F1 seems to be hell bent on becoming a spec formula, with the emphasis on parity rather than innovation. Second, while Cosworth will no doubt produce a decent engine, the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari will spend inordinate amounts of cash to gain a few horsepower over their opposition. And finally, while Gascoyne is a brilliant talent, he hasn’t exactly stayed in any one place for long enough to suggest that he’s in it for the long run.

Having said that, remember the Australian Paul Stoddart who owned the now defunct Minardi F1 Team? He conned the Malaysian government big time in the early 2000s to back his financially troubled team. As a result of direct endorsement by the powers that be at that time, he managed to rope in several Malaysian companies such as Magnum 4D, PC Suria and Asiatech to come in as sponsors, renaming the team Go-KL Minardi F1 Team featuring Australian driver Mark Webber and our very own Alex Yoong. I don't think I have to mention what happened to the team after that. Didn't even complete one season.

And at the same time, Petronas was faring much better with the Sauber-Petronas F1 team. Now that's the thing with Petronas. The national oil company had a fool-proof plan when it entered the F1 foray in the mid 90s. It was mainly for fast-track branding, transfer of technology and also a platform to test its lubricants. Petronas did the job well and they progressed from Sauber-Petronas to the BMW-Sauber F1 Team as premium partners. Very, very focused and they knew well enough to let the specialists do the job. "We pump in money, you do what you do best." Something like that. It's a pity that BMW is pulling out from F1 next season. But I guess it is a beautiful ending because if I'm not mistaken, Petronas' partnership with BMW-Saubers ends this season. Just nice.

But I foresee the 1Malaysia F1 Team as being a PR stunt by the usual suspects. Perhaps they feel it's their turn now to bask in glory, to enjoy what Petronas has enjoyed for the past 15 years or so.

As a Malaysian, I wish the team all the best. But I have this nagging feeling that a repeat of Minardi is bound to happen.

But still, I am willing to give this one the benefit of the doubt, furthermore Proton was kind enough to give me the opportunity to travel to England to see first hand how Lotus develops and manufacture cars.

If the team fails, I will be among the first to say this : "Told you so....."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Moving On

As I signed in for work today, I realised that I'm down to my last 20 days at my current department in my company.

If all goes well, kalau tiada aral melintang, I will take up my new position at a subsidiary of my company on 1 October 2009.

I look forward to it of course because it's going to be a whole new adventure for me. But I am well aware that being promoted means greater responsibilities, broader job scopes and a significant escalation of key performance indicators (KPIs). Furthermore, the subsidiary where I'm going is public-listed, on the main board of the stock exchange, and as the new head of public affairs there, I know there are bound to be headaches in managing the company's shareholders and stakeholders. Nonetheless, I welcome the challenge. And I know I have a capable team over there.

Anyway, I will miss my current department. I've been there for more than 4 years now, since day one of me joining the company. I have cool colleagues and cool bosses - there is one Senior Manager and two Managers in my current department. I report directly to one of the Managers and of course to the SM as well.

Honestly, I would have prefered to be promoted within the department because I think I'm pretty good at what I do there. But you can't have it all. There are no more managerial positions in the department. That is why I have to leave in order for me to be promoted to Manager. If I could be promoted where I am now, it would have been perfect. It is like a couple being madly in love with each other for years and they finally decide to tie the knot because they know they are perfect for each other. Something like that.

But like I said, you can't have it all. Hence, I will have to move out, for the sake of career progression opportunity. It is normal, people go through it all the time. My father was a government officer for 32 years and he moved around a lot as he climbed the ranks until his retirement in 2001. So, yeah, in my case, it is a small price to pay. Furthermore, it's not like I'm being transferred out of KL to some far flung corner of the country. I'll just be moving 17 floors down from where I am now.

I am thankful to Allah s.w.t. for this promotion. Ini rezeki anak-anak. My prayers have been answered. Last year, when I missed the round of promotions within my division, I was quite down. Not that I expected to be promoted but more of frustration because I think I worked hard, I think I possessed leadership qualities and I think I delivered my KPIs. But then again, everyone else would claim they deserve promotion. It is very subjective and it is not surprising that every now and then, it could create unhappiness especially among those who missed the boat.

That is why it's best that I leave if that is the price I have to pay to go one notch higher in the corporate ladder. I am thankful because at 36 and as an average joe, I think I have accomplished quite an achievement. I know there are a lot of people here in my company who would only get managerial position way into their 40s, sometimes even close to retirement.

Of course there are the super elite bunch known as the High Potential Staff (HPS). These are the creme de la creme of the company - brilliant, articulate, dynamic and exceeds all requirements. These people can become Senior Managers, General Managers or even Senior General Managers as early as 33! I can't compete with these people. I'm way out of their league.

So there. I am going.

To my bosses and colleagues at my current department - thank you so much for bearing with me for the past few years. I am sorry for any shortcomings, for any acts which could be deemed as incompetent, for offending any of you in any way. I am only human and God knows, I gave my best to the department.

See you around.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

French Spiderman : Unfair To Just Blame Petronas Security Personnel

As someone who works at the Petronas Twin Towers for some years now, I beg to differ on the media's and public's blatant accusation that security at the headquarters of the national oil company is loose.

First and foremost, I noticed many newspapers refered the security personnel at the towers as security guards. They are not your normal “pak guards”, okay? The Petronas Twin Towers are guarded by the highly-trained Petronas Auxiliary Police and I can vouch in any court of law that these fine men and women are highly competent. After all, they were all trained by the Royal Malaysian Police.

Those who have been to the towers would appreciate this. To enter the towers, either Tower 1 or Tower 2, a visitor would have to go through stringent security screening, from the reception counter to obtain their visitors’ pass, through the metal detectors and further subjected to body search if necessary. Visitors are only allowed up to a certain level only for meetings and if the visitor needs to go to the higher levels, he or she must be escorted. The same security procedures applies to tourists for the Skybridge Visit. Tourists are only allowed up to Level 41 of the Skybridge.

Alain Roberts aka the French Spiderman did not enter the towers. He scaled the towers from the exterior, at 6.00 am when it was still dark. And this was his third attempt. Doesn’t his first two failed attempts in 1997 and 2007 count? Who managed to foil his first two attempts, was it not the Petronas Auxiliary Police?

We are being the typical ill-informed finger-pointing Malaysian. It is so easy to accuse without doing your homework. What about the Immigration Department? Why didn’t the media question their incompetence in detecting Roberts when he entered the country? Are we not going to question the French Embassy as well, who were well aware of Roberts’ presence in Kuala Lumpur days before he conquered the Petronas Twin Towers? And what about the irresponsible foreign media who knew all along what he was up to?

We should also bear in mind that this man has also successfully eluded security at other high-profile highly sensitive buildings including the Empire State Building in New York, Sears Towers in Chicago, Jinmao Tower in Shanghai, Sydney Tower and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. He managed to bypass security but was always apprehended in the process. He was apprehended twice by the Petronas Auxiliary Police before this, so please cut Petronas’ finest some slack here.

It has happened and I’m sure Petronas is not amused. However, many Malaysians are amused, in fact excited about it. Yes, it is free publicity yet again for the Petronas Twin Towers but the damage has been done.

Perhaps Petronas should cease operations of the Skybridge Visit for tourists too. Shut out the towers totally from outsiders. Perhaps that would satisfy these critics. I’m pretty sure the Petronas Auxiliary Police can turn the towers into a fortress like Fort Knox in Kentucky if they want to.

But is that what we really want?

Monday, September 7, 2009

At 36...

Today I am 36 years old.

Not getting any younger and definitely one day closer to death.

Let's see now, what have I achieved so far.

I graduated with an honours degree from a reputable institution of higher learning 12 years ago.

I got married 10 years ago and still married to the same woman.

I got two bright and lovely daughters aged 8 and 5.

I am driving my dream car (the one which I've always wanted since varsity days), in fact its brand tagline is The Power of Dreams.

I am living in my own double-storey terrace house in a nice residential area, 15 minutes away from where I work and 5 minutes away from my parent's.

I have a small apartment which I rent out, making me a lord, a landlord to be exact, for the past 8 years.

I am working in my dream company and this is where I will end my career at 55, InsyaAllah.

I am pro-establishment and I am thankful for the hands that fed me, thankful to a system which has worked well for me and a lot of Malaysians for the past 52 years although many young punks and not-so-young punks nowadays doesn't think so, despite them benefiting from it whether they realise it or not.

I am a consistent fan of Arsenal, since I was 12 years old, and proud of it.

I am a consistent hater of Manchester United, since the beginning of time, and proud of it.

I am a consistent fan of the German national football team, since I was 13 years old, and proud of it.

I am a consistent hater of the over-rated and over-hyped English national football team, since the beginning of time, and proud of it.

I have performed the Umrah twice and Insya-Allah, my next trip to the Holy Land would be for the Haj.

I love my country and will not tolerate any attempts to destroy it. I will do what I have to do, to defend it from any threats, foreign or domestic.

I am proud to be a Malaysian and will not abandon my homeland for the so-called greener pastures in the "usual suspects" nations - America, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia or New Zealand. Grass is always greener on the side but at the end of the day, a lot end up doing the dishes in some restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. And for what? Just so you can send a postcard to mom from New York?

I am very prudent in my spending. I spend on my wife and kids and whatever is left goes to savings. I don't really go anywhere, buy anything. I can count with my fingers the number of times I went to Starbucks in the past 4 years.

I regularly workout at the gym nowadays, not really to lose weight but to stay fit and healthy. I even go during Ramadhan, no sweat. So to those who like to take potshots at me, joking at my expense - "tak kurus pun" "makan tu kena control jugak" - cut me some slack okay? At least I am doing something about it. Can you do 5 laps non-stop at the KLCC Park totalling 6km in 30 minutes? I can. And I have seen men half my size panting for air and it's only their second lap.

I am up for a promotion in a few weeks time, InsyaAllah. I guess my prayers especially the ones I uttered in front of the Holy Kaabah in Mecca has been answered.

Itulah rezeki anak-anak sebenarnya. They are my life and I love them to death.

So, for a 36-year old, I think I'm doing okay. Okay sangat.

Syukur Alhamdulillah. Syukur. That's what a lot of us need to do. Bukannya asyik complaining and whining.

Selamat Meneruskan Ibadah Puasa.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Demo ISA : Orang-Orang Bodoh & Bangang Yang Menyusahkan Orang Lain

It happened yesterday, causing total chaos in the city of Kuala Lumpur. Walaupun dah diberi amaran, tetapi kerana rasa besar kepala dan kurang ajar, mereka meneruskan juga niat mereka sehingga menganggu ketenteraman awam.

Because of a bunch (or two bunches) of self-centred, ignorant, stupid and ill-informed bastards, the federal capital was paralysed from as early as 11 am yesterday until almost 8 pm due to illegal street demos by two opposing groups, namely Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) which is calling for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA); and Majlis Gabungan Badan Bukan Kerajaan Pembela Negara (Magaran) which wants ISA to be maintained.

Both groups had the same intention - to march from Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman all the way to Istana Negara (the national palace) to hand over memorandums to the King. Of course the march would pass by key and favourite landmarks such as Dataran Merdeka, Masjid Jamek, Central Market and Masjid Negara. These are typical assembly areas for these illegal street demos since the days of Reformasi back in the late 90s.

The organisers of the demo have made known their intentions for quite some time, at least two weeks in advance. The police have warned them not to do it. No permits have been issued by the police, meaning it was deemed illegal. But they think they are above the law. And because of that, close to 600 protesters were arrested. I personally think that the police should have arrested more, wipe them all out. Perhaps Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak should have even deployed the army to handle this, using tanks and armoured vehicles. Crush 'em all.

The bastards knew pretty well the chances for them to reach the gates of Istana Negara were slimmer than an anorexic. Don't they know by now that our police are one of the best in the world? Our Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), the riot control division of the Royal Malaysian Police has an awesome reputation among its counterparts in other parts of the world. A friend of mine who is an Assistant Superintendent of Police attached to the FRU told me that when he attended a regional police conference in Bangkok, his counterparts from other countries only had praises for our FRU.

Dah tau FRU kita memang terror, lagi mau buat sreet demo. Memang kena tear gas and chemical-blended powerful water sprays le jawabnya.

Police were forced to close down a number of major roads in the city, causing a horrible traffic jam which is beyond describing. Businesses along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, including Sogo departmental store were forced to shut down. Street traders suffered huge amount of losses due to damages inflicted by the protesters and also by stray tear gas canisters fired by the FRU. A lot of business goods were soaked with water sprayed by the FRU's powerful hydro cannons. They cursed the protesters for their losses. Cab drivers also cursed. Bus drivers cursed. Motorists cursed. By-standers cursed. People who were late for wedding receptions cursed. People who missed funerals cursed. People who missed visiting hours at government hospitals cursed. We all cursed.

I chose not to go out in the morning and afternoon. But I had no choice in the evening because I had to head to Muzium Kesenian Islam Malaysia (opposite Masjid Negara) at around 6 pm for the rehearsal of a friend's wedding reception as I was the emcee. I was lucky because I wasn't stuck in a jam. I took the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE) which rocketed my car straight to Jalan Duta (near the Indian High Comm) and connected me to the Lake Gardens road that took me to the museum in no time. I was lucky because the traffic police just removed the barrier cones to enable traffic, including me, to enter the Lake Gardens road. On the way there, I got a first hand look at the horrible traffic jam on the opposite side of the Mahameru Highway. I can bet if it was a scene from a comic book, all the dialogue balloons would say all sorts of profanities.

Mereka yang membabitkan diri di dalam demo haram semalam memang tidak memikirkan perihal orang lain. It's always about you and what you think you are entitled to. No one else matters. Those whom are not with you are deemed as cowards. Deemed as not cool.

Hello, it is not cool when you cause the city an estimated RM200 million of losses. It is not cool when your 10-year old daughter accidently gets hit in the forehead by a stray rock. It is not cool when your wife and teenage son is also dragged into the police lock-up because they happened to be with you while you are protesting.

It is not cool when an innocent asthmatic child of a by-stander or shopper suffers an attack after inhaling tear gas fired by the FRU. What do you expect, that the FRU will aim carefully before firing during a riot?

Pernah terfikir tak semua consequences ni? Of course le tak kan? Yang penting, hati puas sebab dah protes. Orang lain boleh pergi mampus. Elok sangat le perangai macam tu.

The foreign media loves reporting incidents such as these. Visuals of riot police firing tear gas and hydro cannons depicts a nation in distress lah konon-kononnya. And that's what the protesters want pun. They want drama. Bila kena tangkap, kena pukul dengan belantan FRU, hah tuduh le police brutality lah, draconian law lah, democracy is dead lah.

What about those who suffered losses on Saturday because of these protestors? Where is justice for them? And don't even think of pinning this on the police. Kuala Lumpur's finest were just doing their job to ensure public order.

It is the protesters' fault. Hook, line and sinker...

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Dreaded CP38 Clause By LHDN

My joy of annual salary increment has been shortlived.

I kinda' expected it already.

Last night when I reached home and upon checking the mailbox, I already saw a white and sleek envelope with the official franking "Urusan Seri Paduka Baginda" ("On His Majesty's Service").

I knew it even before I opened it. This was surely the dreaded love letter from Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (Inland Revenue Board - IRB).

It was the compulsory CP38 deduction schedule required of me to settle the balance of my income tax for the last assessment year, amounting to RM1,684.44. The deduction imposed by IRB from my monthly salary will begin in September this year and ends in March next year. IRB will deduct RM240.00 every month and RM244.44 as the final instalment in March 2010.

It's my fault actually and I bet that I'm not the only one. Once you file your tax returns in late April, you are required to quickly pay the "Cukai Kena Dibayar" or "Tax Payable" to IRB. If you can't afford to make full payment, then you are required to liaise with IRB to work out a reasonable payment plan. For those who fail to do either one of the two mentioned, then IRB will do the job for you, via clause CP38 which is forced deduction, on top of your existing Potongan Cukai Berjadual (PCB) or Scheduled Tax Deduction. Serve me right actually. Had I worked out a payment plan with IRB earlier, I could have reduced the CP38 deduction, though it would take me longer to pay it off.

My income tax is definitely more than RM1,684.44 actually. Thank God for PCB. If not for PCB, I think I'd still be paying the Government from my grave. That is the beauty of PCB - the Government forces you to deduct a reasonable amount from your monthly salary (based on a certain formula) which goes to your IRB account. When it's time to file your taxes, you already have a significant amount to cover your taxes. If you're lucky, you will even get a rebate from the Government in an event that your deductions are in excess of the required tax payable (cukai terlebih bayar).

But that is not the case for me. I haven't enjoyed a rebate for quite some years now. It is now always "cukai tak cukup bayar" which means even my PCB cannot cover the taxes. Hence for the last assessment year, I still owed the Government RM1,684.44 and it will take me 7 months to clear this one. So be it. At least I pay taxes unlike some big time tax evaders. I have an option actually which is to instruct my employer to increase the PCB deduction. But do I really want to do that? Even the current PCB deduction is killing me.

Thank God that I'm married and have kids which enables me to enjoy huge tax exemptions or discounts. Imagine those who earn the same amount of salary like me but are single. They pay higher taxes. So hey, I can't really complain.

Anyway, I guess prudent spending is the way to go these days. If it's unnecessary, don't spend. Refrain from splurging. Strecth your finances.

This is reality. And it bites...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Another Year, Another Familiar Friend, Or Figure To Be Exact

Syukur Alhamdulillah.

The results of the annual individual performance appraisal are out and I survived yet another gruelling financial year.

My results, or rating to be exact, is nothing much to shout about, but at least for the record, I have met all my requirements as stipulated in my KPIs.

And for that, I thank my bosses (you know who you are) for giving me a rating which has enabled me to enjoy a "more than I can bargain for" annual salary increment and the possibility of other incentives.

Terima kasih Encik A dan Cik J kerana masih percaya dengan saya, akan kemampuan saya untuk melaksanakan tugas-tugas yang diamanahkan, walaupun saya tahu benchmark yang ditetapkan oleh Encik A dan Cik J sangat tinggi.

Thank you for pushing me to the max, to encourage me, sometimes force me to go beyond the limits in order to produce a quality of work that would raise our unit's image among the rest of the division.

I am proud to be a part of your team. It is the best team in this division, although others would beg to differ. We have been known as a unit which walk the talk - always delivering what we pledge. "Hangat-hangat tahi ayam" hardly exists in our vocabulary. When others have seen whatever initiatives they introduced fall apart or simply evaporated into thin air due to lack of willpower to sustain, we have proven many times over that whatever we do is consistent and this observation was made by planners from other units and departments within our division. So there, we are doing something right.

It's okay that I did not get a higher rating (although God knows I can use the monumental increment which comes with it). I am just thankful I am not among those who get the dreaded mediocre rating which will result in them not getting any increment at all and worse, to be subjected to a 6-months review period for them rectify whatever weaknesses they have in their course of work. That I could not handle.

To my wife and daughters, whatever I do, I do it for you all. Not for me.

Daddy hardly buys himself anything. Daddy thinks 10 times before buying a book for himself at Kinokuniya. But Daddy would not even blink to think if kakak or adik wants books from Kinokuniya because Daddy knows both of you loves to read, colour and do activities. It's for your own good and Daddy doesn't mind spending if it means Daddy's girls would shine at whatever they do, especially at school.

Z, please save, save and save for our girls. I am increasing the monthly amount that I give to you so that we can save more for kakak's and adik's education.

You have every reason to save more than me because I pay everything for us. Your salary is completely yours so I hope a significant amount goes to the girl's funds.

You know me Z. I don't buy anything, don't really go anywhere. I'm either at home or at work. Or at the gym - also for you and the girls. Too many friends of my same age are either sick or dead because they did not bother to take care of their health. I need my health so that I can take care of you three.

Kalau ada rezeki, mungkin abang akan dapat rating yang lebih baik tahun depan. Untuk kemungkinan itu berlaku, abang kena kerja lebih kuat. I need you and the girls behind me to do this.

I'll see you at home later. Tell the girls to wait up for me. I won't be that late today....

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Conduct Unbecoming

Today I want to discuss about conduct unbecoming.

It is a phrase used to refer to behaviour considered dishonourable. Its origins are military, though it is also widely used in other fields to describe ungallant behaviour.

I'm pretty sure my employers also do not tolerate conduct unbecoming. Which is a good thing. Once you decide to join an establishment - be it government, military, corporate or academic, you must be prepared to condition yourself to adapt to the ways of the entity which you are now part of.

Which is why I do not condone to what a friend of mine will do soon. Either today, tomorrow or God knows when. One thing's for sure, my friend is bent on doing this despite me begging for this person not to do so, because the consequences will be to this person's disadvantage.

I can understand the grounds which has led my friend wanting to commit this act. The predicament faced by this person is the worst nightmare which any employee can possibly imagine.

But that is life. Life is not fair. You win some, you lose some. I'm okay with losing, because I have always been on the losing side for most parts of my life.

But my friend is not that used to losing. The analogy is like this. Imagine Sir Alex Ferguson whom is so used to winning silverware every English Premier League season with his beloved Manchester United, only to see his fancy team crash and relegated to Division One League another season.

Something like that.

I would not elaborate on what my friend is planning to do in retaliation to what has happened to him/her.

But I do know this. What my friend is planning to do qualifies as conduct unbecoming. And perhaps it was conduct unbecoming in the first place that caused this person to be accorded such treatment.

To my friend, I have done everything to stop you from doing this. It's out of my hands now.

You must do this alone...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Susah Ke Nak Menulis Dalam Bahasa Kebangsaan??

Kepada orang-orang Melayu tertentu di tempat saya bekerja.

Cuba-cuba lah belajar menulis surat atau dokumen rasmi yang ingin dihantar kepada pihak kerajaan dalam Bahasa Melayu.

Janganlah asyik menulis deraf dalam bahasa Inggeris, kemudian minta pertolongan kakitangan yang mahir dalam Bahasa Melayu untuk membuat terjemahan.

Bukannya kami tak sudi tolong sebab memang itu sebahagian dari tugas kami pun.

Tapi kalau selalu-selalu sangat naik menyampah juga. Kalau nama awak Brad Pitt atau Trisha Yearwood tak pe. Ini tidak. Nama Ali Bin Mamat atau Khamsiah Binti Selamat. Orang Melayu! Orang Melayu yang tak reti menulis dalam Bahasa Melayu patut dihadiahkan penampar je.

Jangan ingat sebab kita bekerja di syarikat bertaraf multinasional, kita tidak perlu menguasai Bahasa Melayu. Ia adalah bahasa ibunda kita, bahasa kebangsaan.

Ada kakitangan kita yang bernama Ah Chong atau Muthusamy pulak yang mahir menulis dalam Bahasa Melayu!

Tak malu ke?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Working Out

There are many school of thoughts on working out at the gym.

Most people do it to stay fit and healthy. And of course, there's also a large number who do it to lose weight.

I think I fall somewhere in between. I go to the gym so that I can stay fit and healthy and at the same time, attempt to lose a significant amount of weight.

I'm not that fat actually but I guess my figure could be categorised as large - XXL. Big and tough, that's how I prefer to see it. Although my family and friends beg to differ.

I joined the gym - Twin Towers Fitness Centre to be exact, in December last year. Meaning its been almost 8 months now.

So, the million dollar question is - have I actually lost weight?

Not really.

But that's not the point. The point is, I feel good. I may have yet to lose the desired amount of weight, but I did gain a considerable amount of muscle. Biceps, triceps, latissimus dorsi, deltoids and trapezius (on the shoulders). Which is really cool when I stand in front of the mirror after the refreshing shower in the locker room.

The only thing which is preventing me to look like Rambo is of course my tummy. I really need to work on my abs in order to get that much desired six-pack. Yeah, yeah, dream on dream away, with all the carbo I'm consuming on a daily basis.

Anyway, toning my body is only one part of my workout regime. The other one is cardio. I usually start with cardio first - either on the treadmill, elliptical trainer, bicycle or lateral thigh trainer (commonly known as the stepper). I normally spend 45 minutes to an hour just on cardio workouts. And then only I move on to the weights for toning.

I think I have progressed well in the cardio department. I can run further now and faster too. I can easily clock 5 km in 30 minutes with a speed of 9.0 and burn close to 500 calories on the treadmill. Even better on the elliptical, where I can burn 700 to 800 calories, moving at Level 13. Not bad for a big guy eh?

I usually feel rewarded when I jog at the KLCC Park, alone or with friends. The KLCC Park has a dedicated synthetic jogging track, 1200 metres for one lap. Nowadays, I can run 5 laps (6km) non-stop and leave others who are half my size panting for air. How about that? Not to brag but just to share with you how rewarding it is to actually make an effort to be fit.

So which do you prefer - being slim but not fit or being big but fit?

Go figure.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An Open Letter To A Busy Friend

Dear XXXX,

How are you? I hope life is treating you well.

I think it's been more than month since we last saw each other although we are working in the same building, for the same company.

Don't worry, I perfectly understand.

You are a very important person in this company. You have lots of meetings and discussions to attend.

And after work, you also have to attend gatherings in other parts of the city to catch up with your other more important friends.

So don't worry, I'm not angry that you hardly pick up my calls nowadays, let alone reply my text messages.

After all, a text message replied almost 72 hours later is still better than none, right?

Perhaps you are also busy in the love department. If that's the case, I'm so happy for you and wish you only the best.

Honestly XXXX, I only wish you the best.

And one thing's for sure, I'll always be here for you, through thick and thin.

You know where to reach me. I'm not going anywhere...

Your friend and ace boon coon,

The Naval Aviator Wannabe

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sleepless In Shah Alam...

...At least that was the case for the late Teoh Beng Hock, until 3.45 am yesterday.

The 30-year old political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean-Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the balcony of a shipping company on the 5th floor of Plaza Masalam, Section 9, Shah Alam at 1.30 pm yesterday.

At press time, police has classified this as sudden death. He was believed to have fallen from the 14th floor of the office block, where the Selangor headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is located.

Teoh was at the MACC office from 5 pm on Wednesday, 15 July right up to 3.45 am on Thursday, 16 July for an intensive interrogation session by the commission's officers. He is a material witness to an MACC probe on alleged misappropriation of funds involving seven Selangor state assemblyman from Pakatan Rakyat.

After the interrogation, Teoh was allowed to go home on condition he returned with vital documents related to the probe. But he opted to rest at the MACC office as he was already too tired.

Poor MACC. This is the last thing they want, to have a senior aide of an Exco plunge to his death from their own offices, right after they grilled him for about 10 hours.

Surely now this will turn political. A scuffle was already said to have taken place between MACC officers and Ean who came to the scene much later in the day, accompanied by another Exco colleague Ronnie Liu. Ean was reported to have demanded the whereabouts of Teoh and why he was not informed of his political secretary's death earlier.

Here's my take on this. There are several possibilities :

1. I think Teoh committed suicide because he couldn't take it anymore. The 10-hour interrogation was not the end of it. MACC wanted him to return with several documents related to the probe. Either Teoh was scared that the documents would indict him as well or he was scared that he would not be able to produce the documents - either way he'd be in deep shit.

2. I think he was murdered by an "underworld" hitman. The Selangor State government is already in hot soup after Wangsa Maju MP, Wee Choo Keong alleged in his blog on July 11 that a Selangor Exco member has ties with underworld figures to an extent that the Exco even allowed his office in the State Secrerariat Building in Shah Alam be used by these gangsters to conduct their activities. Police has launched an investigation on Wee's claim. I think Teoh was murdered to cover up this whole thing which is starting to stink to the heavens. Perhaps the documents required by MACC from Teoh could have led to the arrest of all the culprits, including the Exco in question.

3. Maybe Teoh was rude and arrogant to MACC officers during the interrogation and because of that, he was thrown off the 14th floor. Nah, highly unlikely...

Anyway, I sincerely hope the Pakatan Rakyat-led State government would keep cool and not make blatant accusations. Let the police handle this.

Do not make MACC a scapegoat.

Berani kerana benar, takut kerana salah.

Oh and one more thing, and this is directed to all Selangor voters. Hah, lain kali pangkah lagi orang-orang macam ni to administer the state. For all you know, we have elected gangsters to run one of the richest states in Malaysia.

Elok benor le tu...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Sum Of All Fears, For PAS and Pakatan Rakyat

After 7 by-elections in 16 months, where Pakatan Rakyat (PR) humiliated Barisan Nasional (BN) by winning 6 of them including Manek Urai yesterday, it would be fair to conclude for now that PR is finally running on fumes. Running on fumes because PR, through its component PAS, only managed to edge BN with a majority of 65 votes when the result of the Manek Urai by-election was announced on Tuesday night.

We are not talking about any State constituency here. Manek Urai can be likened as Fort Knox for PAS in Kelantan. It has held the seat for five consecutive terms, that's almost 25 years, until the incumbent State Assemblyman, the late Ismail Yaacob passed away a few weeks ago, forcing a by-election which looked set to be another avenue for PR to further sink its teeth into the jugular vein of a watered down BN. At least that's what people thought, since PR was on a roll after it captured five states in the 12th General Election held in March last year, and also won another five out of six by-elections that followed within the next 14 months.

But surprise, surprise. Not because BN won. But because PAS won, but with a mediocre majority. PAS won by 65 votes, compared to 1,352 votes which they commanded just 16 months ago during the GE.

BN has humiliated PAS, and where it hurts most - in Kelantan.

Where did PAS go wrong? A number of things. One, because of the development pledges made by BN. Two, perhaps because the Kelantan Malays are sick and tired of being left behind and deprived of what Malaysians in other states are enjoying. Three, the prospect of being granted oil royalty payment by the BN-led Federal Government. And four, which I think is the most logical one, is that the Kelantan Malays are angry with the internal rift plaguing PAS. They are upset that both the President, Hadi Awang and Deputy President, Nasharuddin Mat Isa are not seeing eye to eye with the Spiritual Leader, Nik Aziz. Not only that, even several Vice Presidents and PAS' Central Committee members are not seeing eye to eye with the number one and number two, all because of the unity government proposal by UMNO which Nasharuddin openly supported, with full blessings from Hadi.

Perhaps this is a slap on the wrist for PAS. What we Malays call pukul manja. Minor punishment. If that is the case, then it's a bit too early for UMNO and BN to "pop the champagne". But if this is an indication that Kelantan folks want change, then UMNO and BN must continue to keep the pressure on PAS until they crack.

The game plan for UMNO and BN now is to slowly but surely regain confidence and trust from the rakyat. It's a long process, but sometimes in politics, patience will prevail. UMNO could be likened as what people in America refer to as the GOP or Grand Ole Party (when they talk about the Republicans). Yes, the Republicans have had their fair share of humiliation from their arch rivals the Democrats, but they are still pretty much alive and kicking until today, 155 years after they first came into power in the US.

For 52 years, UMNO has spearheaded this country and turned it into what it is today - dynamic, prosperous, well known, forward looking, exemplary, peaceful and harmonious.

We can't simply throw that away just for the sake of change. We already gave PR a chance and look at how they have messed things up in the five states and also stirred trouble at the Federal level.

It's time for Malaysia's Grand Ole Party to rise again. And when they do rise, like a Pacific Northwest grizzly bear standing to full height, I promise you, that will be the sum of all fears for Pakatan Rakyat...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Manek Urai Marks 7th By-Election In 16 Months : A New World Record?

I hate to say this because I think it is overused.

Malaysia Boleh.

The just concluded Manek Urai by-election (State seat N.41) of the state of Kelantan marks the 7th by-election in 16 months since the 12th General Election on March 8, 2008.

Surely this is a record of sorts. If so, jangan le setakat masuk the stupid Malaysia Book of Records. Do we dare submit this to the Guiness Book of Records for a possibly entry?

I don't know.

Anyway, it's very difficult to find the full list of the seven by-elections mentioned. So, me being the pro-active dude decided to compile this for you. Just the basic info and stats.

The rest you can find on Wikipedia. Believe me, there are Wikipedia entries for all seven by-elections.

Orang Malaysia benda-benda macam ni memang rajin meng"upload" ke internet.

Okay, here’s the full list of by-elections since 8 March 2008 up to yesterday for your record :

1) Permatang Pauh (P.44) Parliament (Pulau Pinang) : 26 August 2008
Winner : Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (PKR-Pakatan Rakyat) 31,195 votes, majority 15,671

2) Kuala Terengganu (P.36) Parliament (Terengganu) : 17 January 2009
Winner : Abdul Wahid Endut (PAS-Pakatan Rakyat) 32,883 votes, majority 2,631

3) Bukit Gantang (P.59) Parliament (Perak) : 7 April 2009
Winner : Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin (PAS-Pakatan Rakyat) 21,860 votes, majority 2,789

4) Bukit Selambau (N.26) State (Kedah) : 7 April 2009
Winner : S. Manikumar (PKR-Pakatan Rakyat) 12,632 votes, majority 2,403

5) Batang Ai (N.23) State (Sarawak) : 7 April 2009
Winner : Malcom Mussem Lamoh (PRS-Barisan Nasional) 3,907 votes, majority 1,854

6) Penanti (N.12) State (Pulau Pinang) : 31 May 2009
Winner : Dr. Mansor Othman (PKR-Pakatan Rakyat) 6,052 votes, majority 5,558

7) Manek Urai (N.41) State (Kelantan) : 14 July 2009
Winner : Mohd Fauzi Abdullah (PAS-Pakatan Rakyat) 5,348 votes, majority 65

As you can see, Barisan Nasional (BN) only managed to win one, in Batang Ai, Sarawak.

Personally, the Batang Ai victory is nothing for BN. They should be proud that they managed to butcher PAS' majority in Manek Urai from 1,352 which they enjoyed in 2008 to a mere 65 vote majority yesterday.

Bravo BN and UMNO. It's a long process and patience will prevail.

Tidak semudah itu untuk orang melupakan jasa UMNO and BN. Masih ramai yang sayang pada anda, termasuk saya...

Close Call For PAS In Manek Urai

Hmm, even I was surprised upon knowing the results of the Manek Urai by-election in Kelantan.

Of course, everyone expected all along that PAS would retain the state seat but not on a razor thin majority.

PAS edged Barisan Nasional (BN) with a mere 65 votes, a far cry from its landslide 1,352 majority during the 12th General Election in March 2008.

Here's the final tally announced last night by the Election Commission :

Mohd Fauzi Abdullah (PAS) - 5,348
Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat (BN) - 5,283
Majority - 65

The Manek Urai state seat has 12,293 registered voters, including 25 postal voters. Voter turn out was quite good - 87% or 10,631.

So, what can we gauge from this? Well, common sense would tell you that BN is back on track in regaining the trust and confidence of the Malays in Kelantan, especially the fence-sitters. Which means that Dato' Seri Najib must be doing something right.

BN's commander-in-chief for the Manek Urai by-election machinery, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said BN need not be disheartened with the defeat as it is an indication that more and more people are supporting BN again. Muhyiddin who is also the Deputy Prime Minister believed the people are aware of the values of the PM's leadership and the changes that the country has already undergone.

So far so good, BN has accepted defeat in a gentlemen manner. Which is the expected thing to do. I just hope there won't be any gung ho UMNO members who would suggest or demand for a recount, just because PAS won on a razor thin majority. BN can afford to be patient. After a string of defeats in seven by-elections in the past 16 months, BN can finally see some positive results. Believe me, this is positive for BN, being able to deny PAS a landslide victory in the heart of the latter's stronghold - Kelantan.

And it is also hoped that Najib would start to take care of the Malays from now on. In the past 100 days, most of his announcements were in favour of the non-Malays. Sedikit sebanyak, hati orang-orang Melayu terguris jugak.

Cukup-cukup lah tu. We are all for your 1Malaysia concept. But at the same time, jagalah hati orang Melayu.

Again I quote Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak, our second PM.

"Sekiranya orang-orang Melayu gembira, maka orang-orang lain juga akan gembira di negara ini."

I believe this quote still applies, in fact it applies forever. Because this is the Malay motherland. The Chinese have China as their motherland. The Indians have India as their motherland. But we Malays, this is our motherland. And by virtue of that, cut us Malays some slack, okay? We have been accomodating enough. Don't push it...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Baca Sendiri Lah!

I sure hope my bosses won't be reading this.

The fact is, I'm sick and tired of monitoring blogs on a daily basis just so that the bosses at my division can be on top of things.

It all started when Barisan Nasional got whacked by the opposition in the March 8th General Election last year. Ini classic case of knee-jerk reaction lah ni.

On grounds that the company must be more pro-active in keeping tabs with what's going on in blogosphere or the new media or whatever the hell you want to call it, I suddenly found myself having to do this on a daily basis for the past 16 months. Nasib baik le ada a few more colleagues helping out.

Basically, what we have to do is monitor a number of high-traffic, high profile blogs and give our comments or analysis on what the bloggers posted. It does not necessarily have to do with our company or the industry we are in, but it could be about politics or current issues.

Hari-hari kena buat, and I tell you, it is time consuming. I'm struggling to do other stuff to meet my KPIs stipulated in my Individual Performance Contract.

I don't mind doing blog monitoring. Because it also keeps me on top of things. Tapi I rasa tak payah le hari-hari. Kalau ada benda-benda yang relevan untuk update or share, okay lah. Ini tak, hari-hari kena buat. Samada dia orang baca atau tidak blog monitoring report, itu belakang kira. Janji everyday at around 5pm, mesti submit.

Yang sedihnya, out of the 10 or so recipients of the blog monitoring report in the mailing list, half of them did not even bother to read. I know because I get the "NOT READ" return receipt. Kita separuh mampus perah otak buat analysis, dia main delete aje. Meaning memang tak minat pun, but just for the sake of being the priviliged few in the mailing list and so that they can be on top of things whenever they feel like it.

This is the only avenue where I can bitch about this. Because this is my personal blog. Even if one of the bosses at my division terbaca pun, so be it lah.

Please understand my predicament. How do you feel if you have to look at blogs upon blogs for hours in a day, and most of the postings are crap. It can be an emotional hazard. I mean, for all you know, the blogger probably wrote the crap wearing boxer shorts and picking his ear with cotton buds, and here I am in my cubicle wearing neck tie and leather shoes analysing what the bugger wrote, so that certain people can be on top of things.

Bukannya susah pun nak baca blog. Just surf the Net. Even my dad yang dah retire pun Net savvy. Takkan le bosses at this multinational company tak reti nak baca blog?

Baca sendiri la!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Petronas Still The Sole Flag Bearer of Malaysia In Fortune Global 500 : Ranked 80th In The World, Much Better Than Last Year!

It's that time of the year again when CEOs and top management of the world's largest companies anxiously wait for the most coveted list in the world of free enterprise - the Fortune Global 500 list by Fortune Magazine, the premier global business publication.

This year, the Fortune Global 500 list was released by the magazine on 9 July 2009.

Alhamdulillah, Petronas remained a resident in the list, making it the sole representative of Malaysia, something that we should continue to be proud of despite some skeptics and cynics who feels it is no longer a big deal given the fact that the national oil company has already been in the big leagues for many years now.

Still, during these challenging times and volatile business environment, we should take comfort that Petronas still managed to be ranked in a very, very comfortable spot among the 500 companies listed in the Fortune list.

Petronas leaped 15 spots up from 95 to 80 in the overall category (based on revenue). This is an incredible achievement despite the company registering lower profit margins for the financial year ended 31st March 2009.

However, the lower profit margins has definitely taken its toll on Petronas, resulting in slightly poorer ranking in other categories - but still something for us Malaysians to be proud of.

Petronas emerged as the 13th most profitable company in the world and 7th most profitable in the world in the petroleum refining category, just trailing the supermajors - ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, Petrobras and Total. Petronas can be forgiven for losing out to these big boys. Hell, it even beat ENI of Italy, Rosneft of Russia and China National Petroleum. It also the second most profitable company in Asia.

This is the kind of recognition which is pertinent for Petronas to continue to maintain trust and confidence from its business partners and stakeholders. Most of Petronas' business partners are the oil and gas supermajors - these boys don't simply do business with anyone. And bear in mind that for the last decade or so, Petronas' revenue were mainly derived from its international operations of which Petronas has presence in more than 30 countries.

It has always been referred to by many in the oil & gas fraternity as "an entity of which we are very comfortable to deal with". Now, doesn't that tell you something? Surely Petronas is doing something right to be accorded with such accolades.

That is why Petronas staff must hold their head up high and not be disheartened by people who has tendencies to downplay or ridicule their contribution to the country. You guys have done a great job and a great service to the people of Malaysia.

It is hoped that the Government of Malaysia in turn, would do its part to defend Petronas from any attempts to destroy what the latter has achieved for the past 35 years.

It is not just about pleasing people in one state with oil royalty payments or pleasing one politician who thinks Petronas should give special payments to all families in the country to ease their financial burden. It is more than that. It is more than meets the eye. And if we fail to see beyond quick tangible gains, I promise you, we will live to regret it....

Thursday, June 18, 2009

JPA Scholarships : Non-Malays Will Never Be Grateful

I'm not a racist. Demi Allah I'm not a racist.

But sometimes, I can't help but to debate on race related matters and I'm sure many Malays like me are on the same page. The fact is, it is the non-Malays who usually stir up the hornet's nest - provoking us Malays to engage in racial polemics.

The current issue which is clear cut race-based driven, is the awarding of Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) scholarships. It is highly and intensively debated in Parliament and of course, the blogosphere. The culprit who started this is of course DAP's Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang. He questioned JPA's method and criterias when awarding the much sought after scholarships which he claims were given to undeserving candidates.

To cut a long story short, Kit Siang is accusing JPA of favouring the Malays rather than the non-Malays, or to be more specific, the Chinese. He claims for example, that a Malay student who scored 6As in the SPM exams can get a full JPA scholarship to study in the US or UK, while a Chinese student who scored 10As or 12As or 20As was sidelined, left to rot in the boondocks.

I pity the JPA actually. Although I wasn't a JPA scholar, I know that JPA is very, very meticulous in selecting its scholars. My friends who were awarded JPA scholarships back in the early 90s had to go through intense and rigourous interview sessions, grilled and baked by the panel of interviewers before they finally earned their stripes as JPA scholars. And surprise, surprise, my friends were not all Malays - it was a good mix of Malays, Chinese and Indians. At that time, they had to sign a bond with JPA - they were required to serve 10 years with the government.

And guess what? All my Malay friends are still with the government today, long after their bond expired. But my non-Malay friends - they did not even complete the bonds. They decided to buy out their bonds when they were offered better jobs with foreign companies. One of them ditched the government to join Ericsson and the Swedish company actually bought out his contract with the government.

You see? Where is the loyalty among non-Malays? Not a flicker of gratitude for the hand that fed them. Of course a sane person would leave for greener pastures but to me, when debating on this issue, that is not the point. The point is when they applied for the JPA scholarship, they pledged to serve the bond in full, they pledged to be loyal to the establishment that gave them this chance, they pledged everything, even the sun and the moon. But at the end of it, it's just sweet talk and as usual, JPA ends up as the fool. Worse, a large number (Malays included) even defaulted on the bond and poor JPA has to hunt them down for years and years, wasting more money to advertise the names of the defaulters in the newspapers and usually to no avail.

It is not just JPA's predicament but also a predicament faced by other major scholarship issuers such as MARA, Petronas, TM and TNB.

So, here's the million dollar question to Kit Siang and all those out there who are complaining and crying foul for being sidelined in their JPA scholarship applications.



If you can fulfill these pledges or promises, then you deserve the scholarship. If not, you can always try to apply for scholarships issued by nations friendlier to non-Malays. Singapore perhaps?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I'm So Happy...

Hahahaha, I'm so happy.

I'm so happy that my rise from bed at 2.45 am this morning to watch the UEFA Champions League final between Barcelona and Manchester United was worth every minute until the game ended at around 4.40 am.

I'm so happy to witness two beautiful goals by Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi in the 10th and 70th minute respectively.

I'm so happy that Christiano Ronaldo was locked tight by Barcelona's defence.

I'm so happy that Wayne Rooney looked more like a typical English bloke emerging from a bar on Friday night (which will be the case for him tomorrow when he swims in Jack Daniels to drown his sorrows).

I'm so happy that Sir Alex Ferguson was denied the most coveted silverware in club football.

I'm so happy for Barcelona for creating the treble this season.

I'm so happy that MU fans especially in Malaysia, will not have the bragging rights this time around.

I'm so happy that tomorrow will be my 10th wedding anniversary and Barcelona has already given me one gift - they roasted MU in Rome.

I'm so happy and I'll bet Arsene Wenger, Guus Hiddink and Rafa Benitez are also happy.....

Monday, May 25, 2009


Saya jarang-jarang menulis blog dalam bahasa ibunda saya iaitu Bahasa Melayu.

Namun, sesekali, apabila jiwa ini tersentuh, terutamanya apabila yang menyentuh jiwa saya ini adalah isu yang membabitkan masa depan saya, anak isteri dan negara, maka saya akan memberontak dalam bahasa ibunda.

Tiada yang lebih memuaskan hati saya ketika ini selain berkhidmat dengan syarikat minyak dan gas kebanggaan negara iaitu Petronas, dengan rasa syukur dan tenang kerana tahu bahawa syarikat yang amat saya sayangi ini dalam keadaan yang amat kukuh dan diterajui oleh individu-individu yang telus, penuh integriti dan profesional yang mahir dalam selok-belok menjalankan perniagaan dan pengendalian operasi minyak dan gas yang kian mencabar.

Generasi kakitangan baru seperti saya amat bertuah kerana generasi kakitangan sebelum saya yang berkembang bersama-sama Petronas dari awal 80-an sehinggalah kini telah memastikan syarikat kebanggaan negara tersebut melonjak dari kecemerlangan persada domestik ke pentas global yang lebih kompetitif, dalam usaha Petronas untuk mencari rizab-rizab minyak dan gas yang baru demi kestabilan dan kemakmuran ekonomi negara.

Semua sedia maklum bahawa Petronas merupakan satu-satunya syarikat negara yang menghuni senarai elit Fortune 500 sejak tahun 1992 lagi, semuanya berkat, kesabaran dan iltizam pengurusannya yang ikhlas dan serius dalam memastikan Petronas ditadbir urus dengan cekap dan berada di landasan amalan-amalan terbaik korporat (best corporate practices) yang membolehkan ia mendapat kepercayaan tinggi bukan sahaja dari kalangan rakan-rakan niaga globalnya seperti ExxonMobil dan Shell, malah juga daripada kerajaan-kerajaan tuan rumah (host governments) di mana Petronas beroperasi seperti Sudan, Mesir, Turkmenistan, Vietnam, Myanmar dan Indonesia.

Dalam senarai Fortune 500 bagi tahun 2008, Petronas melonjak dari kedudukan global keseluruhan ke-121 (tahun sebelumnya) ke kedudukan ke-95, dengan keuntungan bersih RM61 bilion (US$18.1 bilion). Bagi kategori syarikat paling untung pula, Petronas mencatat rekod tersendiri apabila dinobatkan sebagai syarikat ke-8 paling untung di dunia, menewaskan gergasi-gergasi multinasional yang lain seperti Toyota dan Honda. Di kalangan syarikat-syarikat minyak dan gas pula, Petronas selesa di kedudukan ke-16 manakala dari segi keuntungan pula, ia menduduki tangga ke-6 dunia.

Keuntungan bersih yang dicatat Petronas ini sudahpun ditolak dengan pembayaran royalti, dividen dan cukai kepada kerajaan. Bagi tahun kewangan berakhir 31 Mac 2008, Petronas membayar RM67.6 bilion kepada kerajaan termasuk RM6 bilion dividen khas. Sejak ditubuhkan 34 tahun yang lalu, Petronas sudah menyumbang RM403 bilion kepada kerajaan yang dibelanjakan untuk pelbagai projek, infrastruktur dan kemudahan untuk manfaat rakyat. Untuk dimudahkan cerita, kira-kira 40% daripada pendapatan kerajaan disumbang oleh Petronas. Setiap satu ringgit yang diperolehi kerajaan, 30 sen adalah daripada Petronas. Begitulah pentingnya syarikat minyak dan gas negara itu kepada kita semua.

Saya yakin prestasi kewangan Petronas yang kukuh selama ini ialah kerana ia diterajui oleh individu-individu yang berbakat dan berkebolehan, yang merupakan legasi Allahyarham Tan Sri Azizan Zainul Abidin, bekas Pengerusi dan Presiden Petronas yang akan sentiasa dikenang sebagai orang yang bertanggungjawab menjadikan Petronas apa yang kita lihat pada hari ini. Kesinambungan kecemerlangan Azizan diteruskan pula oleh Tan Sri Hassan Marican dengan disokong barisan pengurusan yang begitu mantap serta diawasi dan dinasihati oleh Lembaga Pengarah yang turut dianggotai wakil-wakil kanan kerajaan termasuk dari Kementerian Kewangan dan Unit Perancang Ekonomi (EPU).

Presiden / Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Petronas pula melapor terus kepada Perdana Menteri, satu sistem yang telah digunapakai sejak penubuhannya pada tahun 1974, untuk memastikan campurtangan politik yang minima. Begitulah kebijaksanaan kepimpinan negara yang terdahulu ketika merangka dasar tersebut.

Hakikatnya, sudah terlalu banyak syarikat-syarikat berkaitan kerajaan yang tenat atau hampir gulung tikar kerana campurtangan politik yang melampau. Kini, saya rasa tidak sedap hati kerana berdasarkan cakap-cakap dan bisik-bisik di sana sini, Petronas mungkin berhadapan dengan nasib yang sama.

Semuanya gara-gara khabar angin di ruang siber, melalui penulisan beberapa bloggers yang mendakwa individu tertentu akan dilantik menganggotai Lembaga Pengarah Petronas. Individu ini dikatakan mempunyai kaitan yang rapat dengan orang-orang penting kepimpinan terkini. Secara peribadi, saya merasakan ini satu langkah yang berbahaya kerana individu yang dimaksudkan turut memiliki syarikat perniagaannya sendiri yang boleh mencetuskan "conflict of interest". Lagipun, semua sedia maklum bahawa anggota-anggota Lembaga Pengarah Petronas terdiri daripada Presiden Petronas sendiri, beberapa orang Naib Presiden Petronas dan wakil-wakil kerajaan Persekutuan yang merupakan pegawai-pegawai kanan Perkhidmatan Awam iaitu Ketua Setiausaha Perbendaharaan dan Ketua Pengarah EPU. Ketua Penasihat Undang-Undang Kumpulan Petronas pula bertindak sebagai Setiausaha Syarikat. Semuanya cukup berkaliber dan memiliki kredibiliti yang tinggi.

Saya amat bimbang sekiranya benar individu yang disebut-sebut ini dibenarkan "menyusup" ke dalam Petronas. Walaupun anggota Lembaga Pengarah tiada kuasa-kuasa eksekutif, apa juga kemungkinan boleh berlaku. Segala maklumat yang dikategorikan sebagai "sulit dan persendirian" akan diketahui oleh beliau dan entah siapa lagi kerana ia lazimnya dibawa ke Lembaga Pengarah untuk perbincangan dan keputusan. Selama ini, Petronas sudah membuktikan ia mampu membuat keputusan-keputusan perniagaan yang bijak dan menguntungkan tanpa gangguan atau campurtangan politik. Cukup sekadar melapor terus ke Perdana Menteri dan kementerian-kementerian yang berkaitan.

Saya amat berharap YAB Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak dapat memastikan Petronas terus dibenarkan beroperasi seperti biasa kerana syarikat tersebut telahpun membuktikan berkali-kali saban tahun bahawa ia adalah berwibawa dan dinamik. Hasilnya dinikmati oleh seluruh warga Malaysia, samada kita sedar atau tidak. Saya percaya YAB Datuk Seri Najib mampu membuat keputusan yang baik perihal perlantikan jawatan-jawatan penting dalam Petronas kerana beliau sendiri merupakan bekas pegawai Petronas dan pasti sayang kepada syarikat yang pernah beliau berkhidmat, syarikat yang ditubuhkan ketika pentadbiran bapanya Allahyarham Tun Abdul Razak, Perdana Menteri ke-2.

Orang Amerika ada satu pepatah berbunyi "If it ain't broken, don't fix it." (Kalau benda itu tidak rosak, tidak perlu ia dibaiki). Saya rasa pepatah ini amat sesuai sekali untuk Petronas yang tidak pernah menghampakan apabila setiap tahun, ia melaporkan keuntungan yang besar, yang membolehkan ia memberikan pulangan yang besar juga kepada kerajaan dan rakyat.

Kalau kita sayang Petronas, kita mesti percaya dengan pengurusan yang ada untuk terus memajukan syarikat kebanggaan negara ini. Memanglah orang-orang seperti Tan Sri Hassan tidak boleh menerajui Petronas buat selama-lamanya, namun sekurang-kurangnya, biarlah generasi pelapis yang telah dididik oleh beliau meneruskan legasi syarikat tersebut untuk kemakmuran jangka panjang negara.