December 30, 2009

Personal and business achievements in 2009

Why not write the resolutions which I managed to achieve and those which I may regret a bit but is just a part and parcel of life? Right? Especially as posterity....Isn't a blog is an online diary?

As this is a business and legal blog, let looks at it in the business sense.

There was one big event where my legal firm changed from having three partners to two partners. I am one of the one who stay and my partner whom I opened up the small legal firm ten years ago is still here. We have been through the phase of shouting at each other on how to pay our small car then to managing a firm of nearly 15 people. We have been through 3 other partners but we have stuck with each other through all the business decisions, bad or good, the personal tumult, personal accomplishment and all that one can think of when you are 10 years together.

We celebrated our 10 years of opening the firm on 20.09.2009 as we registered a firm known as Khairul, Suhaila & Co. 10 years ago on 20.09.2000. In all the 10 years, not all were rosy and lovely. We had to scrape whatever we could find, we had to inject a lot of investment, we sacrificed some of our personal investment and we did all that while we fall in and out of love, build a home, meet new friends and all that jazz....

As for my own personal investment, I actually revamped my portfolio this whole year. I sold one high-end property, got the key to the office I bought with my partner, pawned off another semi high-end property to pay for some debt the firm had invested in, sold of a bungalow plot, sold off a property investment I bought with my wife and refinance my house. Still waiting for one or two of those revamps still in the process of being completed but they are nearly completed.

Of course, there is that one personal hurdle which I consider as my Everest in my writing career. I have finally finished writing my first non-fiction and have been commission to write four other books (2 of them are translation, but need to be written from scratch). In my repertoire there are 4 ideas of fiction where I want to propose to another publisher under a different name and I actually have 2 scripts which some directors have shown interest in.

Yes, from the list above, you can only imagine how busy my 2010 will be. I am readying myself for a new decade and hoping what I do on a personal level will help my business go to another level. It is a daunting task but I think I am up for it...

Have a great New Years Eve and Have a Great Year Ahead....

December 29, 2009

Last Years Post about A Long December

I wrote this post on 27.12.08 about what had happened in 2008 economically. It seems that, except for the part about the petrol price and the effect of the slowdown on China, the same post applies. Even the part of too many holidays applied this year and last year. Go figure. And to think that at this time last year we were expecting the new President of the most powerful nation on earth is going to CHANGE! the world. Yeah, right...

"There was this old song by the Counting Crows (which I bet younger sets never would have heard it except for the Xmas season) called Long December about bleak winters and such and when people gather to celebrate the season although it may not have been a good year. This song is one of my favourite song as it makes you feel the cold air swirling while sad tales or families gather around a hot fireplace. It is a song singing what that year had bring and hoping the next year to be better.

That brings me to this year. Malaysia have managed to weather the economic storm swirling around the globe which had uprooted massive global conglomerates especially in the United States. Powerhouse like German, Japan, United Kingdom and even the emerging China was brought down to its knee. The word recession is being whispered around by economic communities like an open secret everybody wish would never happen.

Malaysia seems to be in a protective globe which had given the people a false sense of security. The people are not in a state of denial although they are happy that the petrol price at the pump is getting lower and lower. They still grumble that the prices of essential goods are expensive although sales for non-essential goods seems to be for the whole month of December. Not everyone is buying. Government for the past 3 weeks have been annoncing stimulus packages and warning companies to not lay off worker without at least some form of compensation. The government, either statewise or federalwise, was caught with their pants down when Western Digital closed up their factory in Sarawak and lay off nearly 3000 workers.

The business communities keep sending mixed signal as there are those who readily admit next year will be tough and their industry might be hit hard. Some are trying to show that they know what to do to weather any type of economic slowdown. Research houses this time around do not holds bar as they warn for everyone to be prudent and change their business models if need to. Even without a major scandal or any one institution fail in its business in Malaysia, when the storm hit the window, we just hope our economic pane is strong enough.

So, it seems that as much as people are tired with so many holidays what's with the Eidul Adha at the start of the month, the Selangor's Sultan birthday (for Selangorian), Christmas, Maal Hijrah and New Year, isn't it best if we have a really looooooonnnnnnnggggg December and just let the wind past us without any damage at all. It may be wishful thinking but if it does hit, just be tough"

December 28, 2009

Legal and Property : New blog direction 2010

As someone who has been in the blogging scene more than a year and had the chance to learn about stuff which may not be understood by others, I am bad at implementing it myself. I know that I should keep on using the same keyword over and over while having a niche to myself. I know that if I keep talking about events I attended or suddenly go off-tangent to promote some products which I have never or even may never use, my blog readers will lose interest and go somewhere else.

I know all these facts but I was just having fun with blogging. I know it is a powerful social media tool. Still. But, I am actually gaining something else from it. I met new friends. I learned new stuff. I am accepted in certain circle which I can only gawp at before. I go places and attended events. Too many of them actually.

I enjoyed myself and as you grow older, as much as money and recognition is important, having fun becomes rarer and rarer. When was the last time you had a night out without having to drink something to help you laugh out loud? I do that all the time with a bunch of different people nowadays.

However, blog existence is another matter altogether. My book is going to be published next year and I am hoping to establish myself as someone people can go to for legal and property advice. My firm has some history on doing work from the cheapest property you can think of in Malaysia to the most expensive one like lands which cost millions or building of same value. All these will be my track record in real life.

Which I hope to extend to my online existence.

As an avid social media user, I should be using it to harness its power to turn it into real life existence. I know that social media maybe just a passing fad but it is a formidable force. In this one year, 2009, I did managed to advice, gain clients and even help people who got to know me through social media, either it is my blog, through Twitter and even those who emailed me.

So, from now on, I will be posting more of my thoughts which relate to property and law. Or those which has everything to do with law in Malaysia. Although I did launch Ask the Lawyer which is a blog where you can ask me, as a lawyer anything, I think this blog has been too well-known to be ignored. A brand is only good when it is recognised and Legal Cat-asthrophe or kruel74 is a brand on its own.

Which I should take advantage of....

p.s. - But I am still gonna post about events and other things...

What Avatar and Muallaf have in common?

There are SPOILERS in this review of these 2 films...

I know, people are already comparing Avatar to Star Wars and one tweet by someone I fleetingly saw said "Avatar is what Star Wars is to my parents". That may put the bar too high as Avatar is not as original as Star Wars although the technology is very much awesome.

I am actually predicting the Oscars nomination already for Avatar but that is another thing altogether.

So, everyone know what is Avatar but does anyone know what is Muallaf? It is a small film by the uber director of Malaysia who had left us this year, Yasmin Ahmad. I am not sure how others can watch it but if you are Malaysian, after you watch that behemoth of a movie called Avatar, why don't you wind down, and bring yourself down to earth with a small movie called Muallaf.

And it is not a movie about a Muslim convert. It is about how there are good in people as much as we don't believe there is any. If Dark Knight (which incidentally being shown the whole weekend over HBO) took two and a half hour to say the same thing, this small film took one hour twenty minutes to say the same thing.

Oh, what does the film called Avatar and Muallaf has in common though they are lightyears in technology and budget? Both starts in the middle of someone's life and there are strong women...

 If you can't find the strong women character in Avatar, watch it again.

As for Malaysian, what are you waiting for? We waited nearly one year before our government allow us to watch Muallaf. Even our neighbouring country, Singapore, has been graced with its showing...

I was fortunate to be given the chance to watch it 2 weeks ago and I am going to watch it again and again...



December 26, 2009

How much my business have grown : Events in 2009







 The year has been a great one from me with various events taking place on a professional level which I can only dream of years before. As I am too consume with my writings, I will just put up a few of the events pictures and explain them.

From top, the first one was a launch of the small aircraft Cirrus CR-22 which I had the privilege of witnessing. The second picture was taken during the opening of the Ferrari showroom by the Naza group. The third was the TEDxKL which is a TED endorsed event featuring a few big names including the late Yasmin Ahmad, the legendary film director extraordinaire of Malaysia. The last was the launch of a kopitiam owns by a client whom my firm have grown together with since we were just a 2 persons outfit.

To say that I am quite amaze at the leaps and bound I have grown professionally is an understatement. With these developments, I am hoping for a great year in 2010....

December 24, 2009

Real Property Gain Tax : Latest Development

There they go again. Changing the law as the feedback for a particular amendment was not well received by the people. As much as the rakyat will rejoice about the way things have developed, it just give the business community a scare as they may have to take into account the uncertainty in the cost of doing business. But, I bet, the way things have turn out for the dreaded Real Property Gain Tax will be received well by all.

Our Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib has announced very late last night (23.12.09) that the RPGT which is to be taxed on all property transaction, no matter how long you have held it in your possession, will only now be taxed on any transaction for property held lesser than 5 years. The 5 years duration seem to go back to the original timeframe which was the determining factor of how much RPGT you have to pay before its deferment in April 2007.

Before April 2007, a tier of RPGT which starts at 30% and finally to none for individual was levied on any property transaction which stops after the fifth year anniversary. For company which sell any of their property, the RPGT will stop at 5% even after passing the five year line.

Then in the last Budget 2010 announcement, the Prime Minister who was also the Finance Minister announced an RPGT scheme where no matter how long (or how short) you hold a property in your hands and then sell it with a profit (called 'chargeable gains' in the RPGT Act), you have to pay a flat RPGT of 5%. That means, if you have in your possession a land which you inherit from your parents or grandparents or even an ancestor whom you never meet or the land was in your family since time immemorial, when you sell it and make any gain, you will have to pay the 5% tax.

It was quite absurd as the only exemption is the once in a lifetime exemption which you can apply when you elect any of the house that you sell as your resident; a property transaction between spouses; parents and child; or between grandparents and their grandchild. There is also the across the board  exemption of RM10,000 which is given to all transactions. And of course, the cost when you buy the property, the maintenance and the renovation that goes into the house can help you lessen it.

I had written a chapter specifically about RPGT in my book "39 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyers When You Buy A Property in Malaysia" explaining how does one calculate and how to lessen it. Now, with this new development, I am not sure whether I should publish a half baked or half-confirmed law or just amend it to generalise it more....


However, as I tweeted yesterday at kruel74 (add me up), I did say "As a person who is selling a few properties since last month, I am glad that RPGT has been changed to another form, but as an author, I am now stuck with a manuscript which I have to amend".

Decision....decision...

December 23, 2009

Bidazzled.com : Bid and give to charity...

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Bidazzled. All opinions are 100% mine.

Bidazzled.com is an online auction market which is revolutionising how online auction is done. You can get savings up until 90% on brand name merchandise while giving to charity. Bidazzled.com started in early Novermber is created to fund a lung cancer charity which is the Ruch Foundation.

How Bidazzled does it auction is through what is commonly known as Penny Auctions or Pay-Per-Bid auction. Bids are purchased in advance and then these are used to bid on merchandise. Prices increases a few cents with each bid placed. When this is done, a few seconds are added to the countdown clock to give others the chance to bid. When there are no other bids, the auction ends. You will get the price of whatever was being auction at the the price the auction ends. An example will be a brand name sunglasses which is being auction off. If the last price which the bidding stop is ten dollar, you will win it at 10 dollars.

The great thing about Bidazzled is that auction winners usually will save more than 80 percent off the retail price. If you don't win, you receive up to 50 Bonus Bids as a thank you for participating. You can also purchase the auction item less the investment you had in the auction.

Bidazzled also typically makes an offer to buy the item back for either using cash (paypal or check); or cash and bids; or just bids. During the first month of launching, there have been 2 winners of Nintendo Wii. They have also won with just their 5 free bids!

Here is an exclusive offer for you who are reading this post. Until January 15th, as long as you register this codes at the registration page (where you have no obligation or cost of any kind), 15 additional bids will be given you. This offer is exclusive to any reader of this blog. The codes are :

1) Blog: BBP1202A
2) Twitter: BTP1202A

Bids cost $1 at Bidazzled and are available for purchase in bid packs as low as $25. You also receive bonus bids when you purchase a bid pack. The highest cost of a bid when you dilute the cost with the bonus bids you receive is only $.67 per bid and often much lower.

Bidazzled has a lucrative Viral Referral program. If :
- A refers B. A receives 5 Bonus Bids
- B refers C. A receives 4 Bonus Bids
- C refers D. A receives 3 Bonus Bids
- D refers E. A receives 2 Bonus Bids
- E refers F. A receives 1 Bonus Bid

What are you waiting for? Go to Bidazzled to start bidding!
 
 
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December 22, 2009

Hard Rock Hotel Penang : Murphy's law nearly hit us

We were scheduled to arrive for our Hard Rock Hotel escapade on Friday the 18th of December around 4 pm. We flown in by Firefly into Penang for the first time as we have always drove to Penang before this as the journey is just a 4 hours drive. We were apprehensive of Firefly, the spin-off of Malaysia Airlines, which is to cater to the budget conscious crowd. Even their name is Your Community Airline. So, I asked my wife to call ahead Hard Rock Hotel to confirm our booking and told them that we maybe late.

When she called in, the reception was busy as it was the middle of the school holiday and very near Christmas. The staff who answered the call was flustered and understandably rushed. Before even asking properly about our booking, they immediately, in quite a rude manner said that we have no booking then and no booking can be made as they are full. Even after giving the booking number, instead of being helpful, she was adamant that we couldn't have possibly made a booking in early November as they were fully booked since October. Even when my wife read out the booking number, same answer was given!

As I was out and about in Shah Alam town to settle a few matters, my wife called me and told me that we have no booking as she cannot find in the email which was sent by the hotel to confirm our booking any other number except the number which has the booking number clearly printed out. I was perplexed as our flight was at 2.50pm and all these happened at 11am.


The reception is an island which doubles up as a bar

From just confirming our booking, we had to decide to fly to Penang or not as at a peak season such as now, we just couldn't afford to be stuck on the island without a booked room. A second call was made and my wife managed to get the Manager on Duty by the name of Kathy. She was also baffled but did gave a solution which is to email her the email confirming our booking. We did and she promised to get back.

As that 18th was a Friday, I had booked a cab to send us at 12pm to the Subang Skypark so that I can still go and perform my Friday prayer. After the prayer, which finished at 2.15pm, I walked to my wife who was killing time at the Subang Skypark's Starbucks. Asked her whether she managed to get the hotel or did they called back. Nada...

We waited until 2.30pm before boarding the plane. In the email I sent I did warned Kathy that I would be very disappointed if even with a confirmed booking, there was no room for us. We boarded the plane and worried all through the flight. Upon landing, I turn on my Blackberry and there it is, an email from Kathy which explained there is a room for us. We rode the transit to the hotel while my wife decided how to convey the rude treatment which she had to endure.

We checked-in with no problem and asked for Kathy. She was just passing and as I was just trying to explain to her why we were a bit disappointed, my wife let it ripped....


Not sure which staff is the one who was not properly train and may not be this one

To be fair to my wife, she was the one who was looking forward to the holiday and she did had to endure the two calls which were unpleasant. Coupled with a few on-hold calls which were not really handled well, she just had to let it out.

I just hope they will at least learn to manage guest properly next time and I did put in my comment to the General Manager which I hope will be noted and acted on. And yes, we know they have one of the best brand around but I still think the people behind the brand is still important. Didn't we learn anything from Lehman?




On the plus side, the whole holiday is one of the best that we had in a long time but we really had a near miss in the early part of it. I even tweeted to the Twitterville, if we didn't get any room, I would tell them, I am a lawyer AND a blogger. Don't know which they would be more afraid of but luckily it was solved amicably...

December 20, 2009

Avatar is the theme for 2009

I am not just talking about the movie but they are the driving force of the avatar landscape that we are experiencing now. With 3 movies where you can escape from being yourself and be something else through technology, are we getting any nearer to being someone else through other medium.

I am talking about 3 movies which are Surrogates, Gamers and now the behemoth of the avatar theme, Avatar by the uber film-maker, James Cameron of the Titanic, True Lies and Abyss.

Surrogates were an adaptation of a book which is very much makes you anticipate Avatar more. Gamers was just there as a filler. Good action idea but not as good delivery. In term of rating, I would rate the 3 movies from Surrogates to Gamers to Avatar. Surrogates are too poorly executed but Gamers' camera was too in-your-face that it became nauseating.....

Avatar, the movie? Wow, that is one trip you want to take again and again. Am not going to review it yet as I think there is nothing for you to know except my advice is to go and watch it. If you can afford it, watch it in 3-D. The experience is something very, very worthwhile.

Other than movies, people have been using avatar to hide their face and become whatever they dream of with avatars. In Facebook and Twitter. In many other social media. The peak was the past months when even in Facebook, the accounts have been staggering. Yes, of course, there are people with more than one account, but you cannot deny the fact the list is growing. Day by day.

Does it not become more and more a reality when all those movies become a reality? In Malaysia, we do drive cars as if we will never get hurt if we get into an accident. An avatar syndrome in the making?


Twestival KL Happens this year and it brings people behind avatars together

December 19, 2009

Why Iron Man is much like USA

If you have read the comic, you would know that Iron Man is the most politically incorrect hero in the form of the man behind the mask. Maybe he did managed to save the world a few times either alone or in a team but he is well known to be an alcoholic which is a story arc by itself.

So, he is the politically incorrect hero which try to save the world. All the time.

Get it?

Like a certain country which seems to be doing the same thing. Over and over again.

One leader after another.

But as people from other countries says that they are bad and are the great terrorist of the world, the culture its produce is still being consume en masse....

Much like Iron Man. You love him but you know that you shouldn't...

Just look at this trailer from Iron Man 2 :


December 18, 2009

flymas.mobi – as Easy as 1, 2, 3


 
As an avid twitterer and most of other social media, I am also big on making sure all my social media needs are met even during when I am away from my personal computer. I might be on the road during work or when I am off vacationing somewhere. I actually managed to do work and get confirmation on my mobile while being mobile. I even use my old Blackberry to type, edit and publish a blog post while I am in my wife's kampung which is in a place called Tapah Road which is your typical Malaysia kampung where you may not see anyone with a PC or a laptop except if there are students within the household.

As important as being able to do things with a mobile, especially with a Blackberry, which I think is a better mobile unit than any other PDA, it is also important if the websites that you frequent has a mobile format. It does makes a lot different between navigating a website optimised for a PC and those which are optimised for mobile phone.

As an avid traveller, I know of may instances where I need to make a fast booking when I am abroad. I was in Germany in 2005, where I used Malaysia Airlines as my airline of choice, and I had to change my flight plan. Just imagine the hassle that I have to go through looking for a place to surf the internet, check my flight booking and finally confirm the flight. As a lawyer, I do have to travel within Malaysia on short notice as I sometimes have to meet clients at their location.

With flymas.mobi which you can surf here but is better optimised for mobile browsing, you can buy your tickets, see all the available flights, confirm your booking and change your booking, check in, see the timetable and even see what deals are currently on offer.

As a spontaneous person, I may just whisk my wife somewhere exotic for the umpteenth honeymoon...

Maybe somewhere like Terengganu or Langkawi or even somewhere in Australia. Or like below, somewhere in Bali...



December 17, 2009

Have a great Awal Muharram to all whatever your religion, race or nationality

I had the opportunity to watch Muallaf the other day thanks to All Malaysian Bloggers Project which is part of the Star Online. This post is not actually about the event. I will do a proper one later. This post is about a message from the movie.

Muallaf is about religions and how one religion can actually be appreciated by other who is professing another religion. Before anything else, please have an open mind as I bet anyone can attest, whatever religion they are professing, all religions have become far too complicated for any one religion can claim they are pure and is the best for everyone. Of course, as a Muslim, I would say mine is the best religion for everyone but I can't say as much for all the people who profess it, even the leaders.

So, today is Awal Muharram or the day where we turn over a new calendar for Muslims all over the world. Just now, after Asr, the final prayer before the day change for Muslim, we have read our end of the year prayer and after Maghrib, the first prayer of a new day for Muslim, we would have done our new year prayer. 

This year is the first time I did it together with my business partner and my staff. I think as the prayers contain the hope for more rezeki and such, where you work plays an important part in your life, doing the prayers where you do your business is more appropriate. I think...

So, that was what has been afflicting religions everywhere. As much as we would like to say we are in the safest route to heaven, nirvana, or whatever we want to achieve in our afterlife, we are losing the sight of our humanity. That is what I have found in Muallaf, a comment in the lives of people of Malaysia who exist side by side with each other but is separated by their belief and race.

So, this new year, whether for Muslims who celebrate it today or all who celebrate in 2 weeks time, what have you achieve? As I tweet early during the day, where you can link me here , it is the growing number of non-Muslims as friends whom I am learning more and more about tolerance and such day after day. And most of them are through social media network. As someone who has just one year of school, either secondary or tertiary or even work with anyone who is of other race or religion, that is a BIG achievement.

And I am proud of it...


Just some of the friendly faces I met within this year (pic courtesy of Euveng.com)

HAVE A GREAT AWAL MUHARRAM EVERYONE!

WHOEVER YOU ARE...

December 16, 2009

My old notebook since 2003





I have been through thick and thin with this notebook from the time I drive a Proton Satria to a BMW....

Do you know how hard it is to set up a business? If you don, then you must also know, unless you have a rich parents or a rich relative that you can borrow money from, when you buy even one equipment for your office, it has to be something worthwhile. Being in a 500 square feet office then also makes it important for us to be mobile as most clients are more than happy to be attended at where they are and for us, we are actually a bit apprehensive of our small office.

Now, my personal space in the office is already 500 square feet. We have more than enough room for everyone.

That is why I bought this notebook which has now has been with me through thick and thin and is the only personal computer which I use when I am in the office.

I actually can afford more than this notebook now and I do have a netbook but I just want to remind myself of how far I have been through to get to where I am today.

And, to get a Lenovo notebook would be very good indeed if they think their notebook can be a kind of a substitute for my old notebook...

* This post was written for this contest where you can win a new notebook if you have an old one. Send picture with a witty history of the notebook... Here's the link : Lenovo - Consumer Promotion (closing date : 18.12.09)

Property launches pick up at end of year

The property market is suddenly picking up at the end of the year as I have been asked professionally and also as an investor to sale launches which see various types of properties being offered. There are those which are the choice of low income group as their first property, which is the low cost apartments unit and these are also the choice of the middle income as investment. How they managed to get their name on the list of those who are eligible for low cost housing unit is a Malaysian mystery which most know the answer to but never bother to pursue.

There are also high-end property launches which are the choice of those who can really afford it and those who think they can afford it. I am actually looking at these type of properties as I have been realigning my property portfolio since October when I see that I have too many properties to maintain that it is not financial viable to have them. Since the middle of the year, I have been looking for buyer for a few properties and is now refinancing the house which I am currently living in.

When I do all these transactions, I am not looking to gain that much money out of them as some of the transactions were done just to lower down the monthly repayment that I am currently paying to the banks. The time is ripe for these transactions as the rate of interest is low and the financial landscape has change. Financial institutions do not offer any perks anymore in giving out loans and are actually looking for more quality borrowers than just looking for any borrowers.


So, you have the choice of shifting your property investment portfolio from your current banker to the one which can give you a more favourable terms. You can even sign a new arrangement with your current banker as they may be able to give you a better term. All of my properties have been held at least between 3 to 5 years and these are justified durations for property portfolio realignment.


As for the high-end property that I am thinking of investment, I am still incline to believe in the prospect of making money through property investment and maintaining one good high-end property is way much better than a few mid-level properties which may attract unattractive tenants or even buyers.


However, the key is to find one which can make a return. And that is where you must hunt carefully...



Just one of the property that I held before but already disposed of

December 13, 2009

Young Corporate Malaysia Summit 2009 and Bar Council EGM

To me, one of the highlights (there were so many) in the Young Corporate Malaysia Summit 2009 was when one of the speakers, Dato Johan Raslan asked back to the audience whether we want other citizen of the world to come and be given equal opportunity in Malaysia. And then when a lot of them answered "Yes......", he asked back "That is brave but are we ready?".

That is basically the question that all lawyers are asking themselves at nearly the same time yesterday, 12th of December 2009, when we were having our Emergency General Meeting (EGM) to discuss about the Key Performance Index which has now rule the life of judges in Malaysia. Lawyers believed, most of them anyway, especially those whose work are closely related to court (some do work which prepare you to go to court but are rarely there themselves).

You must also know a bit who is Dato Johan Raslan. He is the founding partner of the branch of Price Waterhouse Cooper in Malaysia and he has been auditing a lot of listed companies in Malaysia. I mean, a lot of them. I have been meeting him in a lot of these companies AGM where he will endorsed the audit of these companies. Year in, year out. So, he knows a lot about competition and how to address them. And as you know what has happened to the corporate world with regards to auditing companies thanks to Enron et. al., you will know how competitive it has become. The Big Four is now has become The Big Three (or is it lesser?).

As for Malaysian lawyers, we are now awaiting an amendment in the law which may allow foreign lawyers to practice here in Malaysia. Although it may be confined to Islamic banking law, some are sceptical that it will stop there. Hence, we are quite adamant in not allowing any foreign lawyer in at all.

As for me, who has never get any crutches, ever.

Bring them in.....

You'll never know how good you are, until there is competition...

(says one who owns his own company and need to pay 15 salaries every month, which makes me have quite a lot to lose if I take the wrong risk)



December 11, 2009

My first edited manuscript experience

I received a call yesterday morning at around 9 am as I was settling down at work. As my business partner and my senior associate were out, I have to babysit the office. The call was from my book editor. Asking me to look at my email in which she had just sent an edited draft of my manuscript. I was excited about that as it shows how dedicated the publishing house in trying to get my book as early as possible. I was also a bit apprehensive as this is my first book and I have never been edited before.

Being a blogger, you have the luxury to publish without being edited and with English being my second language, I have the tendency to think in my native tongue but write in English. As I love reading and has scored better in English than Malay (my native tongue) in exams, I have this perception I am good in English. Or so, I thought.

As my book is in English, it was edited extensively and I now know how editing is done. As it was edited by a lawyer, there were also some comments on my choice of law and my take on it. As for me, all the grammatical error is acceptable as the publisher do have their own way in publishing the book later. I just accept the amendments. Like using words for number and not using .00 at the back of denominations to make it more tidy. All those are just editorial tricks which I bet all writer had to learn as they write more and more.

Only the part where she (as I can see her name using the Microsoft Words comment tool) has a question of law which I have to put my foot down stamping my authority does the editing may have taken too much of a twist from my earlier intention. But I bet, all writers have to pass through this.

As the publisher did asked me to get back to her that day as the long weekend will allow the lawyer to edit my work for a second time, I did my acceptance of the editing in record time. By 2pm, the editing was done on my part.

I am now hoping the book editor will be as fast and now I am hoping to have my take on property law in Malaysia will be out in the next month or so...

December 9, 2009

My Real Property Gain Tax Rants

 
My legal firm now is close to a meltdown regarding this Real Property Gain Tax issue as clients want to sign and get their property transaction over and done with. The Real Property Gain Tax or better known as RPGT in the property fraternity is a two-headed monster which is making a comeback as government wants to get a new source of revenue. It was shoved under a carpet for a while between 1st April 2007 until 31st December 2009. And yes, there are still days for one to sell their property and keep all the money that they gain (if any) for themselves and not pay any taxes to the government. There are 15 days or 14 days for you to do that according to whether you work in Selangor or other places.

What is RPGT actually? It is a tax which is imposed on those who makes money out of disposing their property. Before 1st April 2007, there was a tier where you will not pay any RPGT after the fifth year of holding to the property and then disposing of it. So, if you inherit a property 10 or 30 years ago or you own part of a property in your kampung which you never pay one sen for as you have a rich relative who left it to you or if you just bought a property a year ago and has to move away and sell it, ALL OF YOU, now has to pay a 5% RPGT. No two ways about it. Of course, there are exemptions. Such as if you sell the house you lived in, you get once in a lifetime chance to get the exemption or if the transfer is between kins such as father or mother to their children or to between spouses. And there is the RM10,000-00 or 10% (whichever is higher) chargeable gain exemption.

The issue that is bugging us for the next 14 working days or so is whether if our client sign a Sale & Purchase Agreement before 31st December 2009, they will be exempted to pay the RPGT or not as the new amendment will come into force by 1st January 2010. Not all will be affected if what we, as lawyers,  understand the law to be is read carefully. They will affect those who buys leasehold property which mostly has the what is termed as Restriction in Interest where a State Government's approval need to be acquired before the property can be transferred. In Selangor, the state I am practising, except for certain place, most of the property in it is under this restriction. Parts of Subang Jaya, Shah Alam, Petaling Jaya and Damansara are under this type of restriction. This restriction is better known among property fraternity as 'Consent' or Consent to Transfer. And everyone knows the fastest you can get an approval from the state authority is 1 months or truthfully, it usually takes 3 months (although the State government has been saying they are fast!)

Why can't these clients get away with it if they signed before 2010 comes? It seems, there is an amendment done in 2006 where in Schedule 2 of  Real Property Gain Tax Act 1976, it is stated that there maybe some Sale & Purchase Agreements which are viewed as conditional contract. It explains that a conditional contract is where the disposal or acquisition requires approval from the government. And if there is such approval required, the date of that approval is the disposal date. So, if I sign a Sale & Purchase Agreement before 2010 but my property has a Consent attached to it, although I stamped the agreement before 2010, I may still be taxed with RPGT if my consent comes later.
As a property investor myself, who is currently restructuring all my property portfolio, including by refinancing one house, disposing one land, disposing one house and looking for either one or two more to add into it, I am adversely affected by the RPGT issue. I am selling one house to a Sarawakian bumiputra and that in itself is an issue which is another can of worm altogether. Malaysian may understand it and we in the legal fraternity has our own opinion about the consent issue.

We just got an email from a senior lawyer who is always advising the government on amendments that the procedure will still be the filing of the document showing how we acquire the land (may be Sale & Purchase Agreement or a certificate by the court for inheritance) and the document of disposal. And we just got the forms for the clients to sign. Seems that there is no change in the forms.


I hope the government will rethink on how to do this procedurally and sticks to how they charged it before. They should also impose a limit on how a property is acquired as this is supposed to curb speculators. This issue is affecting me on a working level and on a personal level. If you do have any question about this matter, email me or leave a comment at the comment section...



Luckily we managed to complete the sale of this house earlier...


...but for this we may or may not be so lucky...

December 8, 2009

Now I know how those marketeer do it : TwitterHawk

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of TwitterHawk. All opinions are 100% mine.

Ever heard of targeted marketing on Twitter? I think I have been at the receiving end a few times. Saying the word 'sport shoes' and then suddenly having a well-known sport brands follow me on Twitter. As an avid Twitter user, I am always tweeting about what I do and some of the things that I do from day to day is shopping (or at least accompany my wife shopping, who does it more than me)

So, how did these marketeers do it? I was then introduced to TwitterHawk. TwitterHawk is actually is a real time targeted marketing engine. As a real time targeted marketing engine, it will actually 'listen' to people tweeting. It can eavesdropped on Twitter, look for people tweeting by the topic and location that you choose. You can actually join in mid-conversation while they talked about something which may relate to your brand.

TwitterHawk will preiodically search Twitter for you, according to the boundary that you has set. If it find something which is related to your chosen topic or within the location that you has indicated, it will either auto-reply or generate a list of matches for you. You can then respond to the matches or reject it from your TwitterHawk account.

Monitor your campaign with true Cost per Click (CPC) with link tracking. And all this is at the cheap site average of less than $0.02, which is much cheaper than most site. And it is free to start using but later when you have purchase credits, the charge is at the low price of 5 cents per credit.

Am writing my books now and this maybe useful in marketing them on Twitter. At least it is quite affordable.


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Newszapped, a new way to post your video



Last Friday, on a cold morning, I went to another event where another new media which is tapping the power of social media is launched. The company in question, called Newszapped seems to offer the new media for a particular subscriber of a telecommunication company, Maxis. What it is offering is simple, you can take a video up to 8 minutes, log in to their site, post your video and share it to all the known social media such as Twitter, Facebook and even your email list. But, they do charge you a fee for doing it.

As I was a participant of another such event 4 days before that, called under Project 500, which got quite a lot of brickbats from Malaysia online community, I commended this company how it approached the introduction of their product.


David Yong from Newszapped

They chose to call all their partners and explained the functionality of their offering. A Maxis representative (I forgot the stand-in who was covering for Kugan that day. I think his name was Dinesh) was there to tell us about what is the future for Maxis customer. What peaked the interest of most of the bloggers there was when he starts to tell us about Finder301, an exclusive Maxis customer directory, which are a compilation of places in towns. And they have a lot of food bloggers who are doing reviews for them. If you are one, why not submit your review. I think for submitting your review (either food places or places of interest), you don't need to be a Maxis subscriber. Here is the link for Finder301.


The rep from Nokia telling us about how much their user uses what
(and just a small percentage use their mobile phone to call other people)

There was also a representative from Nokia, one Henry Wong, who showed us a few of things that Nokia has up its sleeves. The integration that Nokia has with all the social media and web is quite amazing. Wait for it when it comes out.


The rep from Maxis

Newszapped itself was represented by David Yong who told us the excitement about Newszapped. He used the March 08 as the starting point for them to develop the website. A place where you can put up your political rally or those things where you may want to share with other web users.If you do a lot of Vlog, why not try them at Newszapped.


Some of the bloggers who came that day
(Suresh, Bboyrice, JonYKT, me, CurryEgg, Bryan)

There was supposed to be a representative from Nuffnang to tell us where Nuffnang fits in the picture but a mishap delayed him and when a representative do appear, the talk was already over. I think most of the blogger that day were there for him.

The idea of using a website to post some video especially from whatever mobile apparatus you have on yourself, which they are banking on will be a mobile phone with a Maxis line is still too far fetched for me. They are banking on the technology where by pointing your video recorder or your phone to a particular place, it can tell you some information on the place. It is too futuristic for me now. As for me, as of now, I will still stick to my Blackberry and occasionally my digital camera to take some pictures and write the story later.

December 6, 2009

Bremont : From pilots to watchmakers

It may not described this company in full, but this is what the brothers who currently own the Britain wristwatch company told us during the launch of their new collection in Royale Chulan Hotel. You may say that I am going to harp again about another posh event that I went to but this one has an interesting business story.

The family who owns the company has the surname English. Quite a name, huh? The brothers even made jokes about their name being unacceptable in certain countries. Nick and Giles were both in Malaysia and mingled with us on that day.




If you go to their website, Bremont.com, you will see there are a lot of planes in the pictures. It seemed that they have a lot of history with planes. They were pilots and their father actually died while piloting a plane. One of the brother was in it (which I'm not sure which one) and the one who was holding the microphone then joked that the one in the plane that day is not quite right today. That is the life changing event that changed the course of their company. I wonder what event in my life would make me do such a thing. Do you know what is yours?

Joke aside, they changed the direction of the company and they became watchmakers. They don't really have a long history of watchmaking but they do put them under a stringent test. They strapped it on a pilot and eject the guy from a plane. The watch is supposed to withstand that force.

The video that they showed that night had John Boorman who rode with Ewan McGregor around the world on a motorbike (quite a biography there which my wife and I love). That is another life changing event which changed how Ewan and John decided to take a lifelong passion into a journey. They did another journey across Africa after, which book I still have to read.

And get this. One of their watch is not for sale for whatever price. You will be offered the watch if you earned it. And leave it to my business partner who went to one of the brother and asked him that night, with a glint in her eye "What should I do to get one of those limited edition watch?". He simply answered "Wear a jumpsuit and do what that pilot in the video did. Being ejected from a cockpit of a jetfighter plane!".

I think I can do that too....


The watch in a display case


The watches on the models that night

December 2, 2009

Project 500_Part 2

Continued from previous post...



As someone who has never been asked to test anything at all (except for my wife's cooking, which is delicious, honey!), I was excited when I was told that Project 500 was a new software which integrates all the social media that you can think, and then some. It is just a beta version of a web based software. We were to test it, give a feedback through surveys (there are two of them) and we can suggest other things which we think can improve Project 500. As Project 500 is the project name, we were even ask to suggest a name for the new software.

Before we go further, let me be frank. There is a reason I was never asked to test any software or even a hardware. My experience in testing some new gadget was when I was quite close to the editor of this one pull-out section of a local newspaper which is about cars. We travelled twice to the north of Malaysia in brand new cars and on one of the occasion, I even got a speeding ticket (he paid for it). The speeding ticket was due to my idea of testing a vehicle is where you need to see how fast can it go. I mean, the speedometer goes up to 300 km/h for a reason right? So, that was my whole history of 'testing' something. And as I said, my wife's cooking (which did I mention is very, very good, right?)

Oh, and my experience of testing the new portable broadband product which was called a Wiggy of all thing. And which is now embroiled in the controversy due to its advertisement using the word "Potong!" or "Cut!" which is a play on that word to suggest you don't need a wire to get good speed on your internet. That test has at least gained me a netbook for quite a good price....




So, what is my understanding of Project 500 from the briefing and the few days I have tried it?

The best way to explain what is the Project 500 is to look at this image :



It shows you an image of one interface to get you connected to all your social media site (the host that day, Hannah Tan, used the acronym SMS or Social Media Siet, which confused me a bit as I have been using SMS as acronym for Short Messaging System for handphone)

The interface for Project 500 is this web based look :



It is supposed to be a beta version, which some of the techies who came that day explained to me as very near release date but can still be tweaked.

What I remembered most about the system, although they say can be accessed with mobile phone, especially when they used this image :



was that, when I tried to access the site using my Blackberry Storm,

IT CRASHED MY BLACKBERRY!!!!

My Blackberry Storm never had any problem before since the first they I took it into my possession. So, the next day, I had to spent nearly 3 hours getting my Blackberry restored. And thanks to my constant back-ups, I managed to return it to its former self.

Still, it was a hassle. And the initial feedback I am reading in twitters and other review like the one done by Niki Cheong, which you can read in his post : Initial thoughts on Project 500, which is a better review than this, are not flattering. Some are even angry as they think they are used as guinea pig. Read the comment section too. There are a lot of other bloggers and testers and invited-testers-but-turned-off-by-the-questionnaires who gave their opinions on it. During the event itself, there were only 170+ of the 500 who came as it was a long weekend and most people were out of town.

As for me, I don't mind that as they did give us a free movie screening (where my opinion on the movie is another matter altogether) and some vouchers. And I got to spend some time with some friends. So, as my friends always point out, I am easy to please.

If you want to join in or get to know what is Project 500, you can join in but you will not be asked to participate in the survey (which is good? bad?). Here is their address :

December 1, 2009

Project 500_Part 1

Got a mystery invitation last week to attend the launch of something called Project 500. I told someone I met there, it was like that television series of 4400 where the number connotes the people who were abducted by alien one time or another then suddenly came back all at once. So, maybe we are going to be experimented upon.

It was not far off than the truth...


The registration

Four days before that there were a gathering of bloggers to watch the movie Ninja Assassin courtesy of Nuffnang and those who got invited like Nigel of Rant of Orang Terbang fame,  Chris of Perpetual Tockism and me were talking about it. Those who didn't get an invite were asking around and wondering what it was all about. As were we. The email only states the place, the time, and there will be a free movie screening of New Moon. Those who couldn't attend the screening was even given a choice of to just attend something they labelled as 'The Briefing'.

Then, 18 hours before the event, we got another email stating that we can bring another person who would want to come to watch the movie and to join the Project 500 itself. Within that 18 hours, those of us who were in touch with our Twitter-self, we sent out nearly every hour invitations for anyone to come with us to at least watch a free movie. As it was a long weekend. No such luck. Everyone was out of town or in the middle of coming back to town. There was no one to give them too...

Look at the leftover New Moon tickets up for grabs....



That is bboyrice making a scarf out of the tickets...




I did suggest some of the single guys or gals, go and give out the tickets to those who were going to watch a movie that day. No one did and the tickets were wasted just like that. There were those who were there on their own initiative when they heard the news through Twitter but from what I heard, there were only 170+ people who were the original Project 500 invitees.

To be continued...

I’m a Sherlock Holmes in the Making

I am so a fan of Sherlock Holmes that when I was in my primary school, I went to the public library in Seremban to read the book which show how Arthur Conan Doyle published it  more than a hundred years ago. In the newspaper. As it can't be signed out, I have to make it a point to stop at the library nearly every day.

And now Nuffnang is giving 60 bloggers and their partner to watch Sherlock Holmes earlier than anyone. I am not going to miss this chance. So, they asked us to look for clues. I found mine in KYSpeaks.com :



Hope it shows them how Sherlock Holmes I can be...

November 29, 2009

The mystery of Ninja Assassin




If you like the Korean singer Rain as a macho looking handsome man. Or even as a beautiful man who set your heart aflutter. Then, Ninja Assassin is not the movie for you.




Ninja Assassin is so violent that the blood will be flying off the body count like only Wachowski brothers can do it. The Wachowskis love to be mysterious that they never give any interview anywhere. They are unlike the Coens of Fargo fame. They are here just as producers but you can see their trademark everywhere in this film.




They pushed the envelope again in special effect and this time they make ninjas, well, more ninja-like. Like the ghost they are and as potent. There are mysteries in the movie which my wife and I never really solve. Like who was feeding the character Rain is playing with information from the inside of the 9th Clan. Or why the 9th Clan cannot defeat modern weaponry if they are invincible.




Some questions alike that are best left unanswered. One thing for sure. If you are like me. Who love violent kung-fu actioner, Ninja Assassin is it. It is one of the action movie of the year which I really enjoy. I consider it as the extension of the kung-fu dojo scene which Wachowski showed in The Matrix.


 
Where Keanu declared "I know kung-fu"


November 26, 2009

Discretion of a boss

Every eve of Eid, be it Eidul Fitri or Eidul Adha, if it is a working day, I will get request from my staff to be let off early. I know it will seems to everyone I am a scrooge as I rarely allow this, it is something which I detest as I consider my staff will be saving up their holiday for long holidays. Sometimes, they even ask me to be let off early for New Year or whatever holiday which will allow them to reach their destination earlier than they have planned.

Again, I rarely allow this. As I rarely get any reprieve from my staff about anything, I consider these requests as merely the staff way to see what they can get away with. My staff are not the type who stays back until late. No one will knowingly volunteer for more work. They even do not completely do their own work. They are very much different from some of the friends whom I know who stay back in their office until late. We are actually watching them and just finding an excuse to get them to leave. As they love to read this blog (some of them), I just hope the message will be clear.

I always believe we can't really cheat in doing our work. Somewhere, somehow, your lackadaisical attitude will bite you back. Eidul Adha is about making sacrifice. If only one party do the sacrificing then the other just reap the benefit, we do we stand? Maybe time for reassessment has come....

As it is a long weekend either in Malaysia or USA (and with Black Friday coming), have a great one guys....

November 24, 2009

They don't make them like they used to...

I was greeted by a sour face of my business partner this morning. As everyone was busy, I didn't know the real story until it was lunch time. It was about the attitude of those girls who are currently in our office doing their attachment or more popularly known as internship with us. They were sent over by their university as a government initiative for new graduates to get some working experience before they started to work in the real world. We don't even have to pay them. They got an allowance paid for by the government. Convenience huh?

Until you hear what we have to deal with....

As they were under supervision by their university, we have to deal with a supervising professor who assigned us whom to send to our office. There were 4 changes of students who were supposed to attach with us ranging from 4 to 5 persons per batch. At long last, after delaying for nearly 3 weeks, 2 girls came to report for duty at our office. One of the girl straight away for two days off as her grandmother had just past away and she needed to attend to family matters. As they are attachments and we are actually giving them a chance to experience working life, we were not too strict and allow it.

Then within the space of 2 weeks, at least one of them would do a disappearing act with excuses ranging from family matters to no excuse at all. One day, when both of them did not turned up, we called them over the next day. Their answer was the dumbest answer any staff could ever give. Ever.

They were stuck in traffic due to some mishap on the road and as they were late, they decided to not come and they couldn't call the office as they did not have the office phone number. That really take the cake.

My business partner who had assigned them some real work was angry at her job, which has a dateline, are being left being half-done. She straight away asked them to be aware of the reason they were sent there and to really act like those who have been given responsibility.

After all that, the straw that broke the camel back for my partner was when today one of them came into her office and asked to not continue the internship at all as she find it hard to get to office everyday as she live quite a bit far from our office. She asked my partner to allow her to do this while she still receive her allowance. And to confirm with her professor that she finished her internship on time.

That was when my partner gave it to her like any good boss can. What really riled her up was when she asked her to take a bus or even a taxi, with the firm paying the fare, this girl said, she never used any public transport and she really doesn't know how to use one.

And these are the product of our local university? No wonder they say there's a brain drain in the country.

November 21, 2009

No Compromise for Mister Potato Fiesta 2009

Have you ever eaten potato chips which have been left out in the open without the can being properly closed? I have had my share of eating such things. Sometimes, it was when I was craving for some crisps and had imagine it on my mind the feeling of such crispy potato chips to invade my mouth. The disappointment of the potato chips being uneatable or even soggy can be really overwhelming sometimes. I would then go looking for a fresh can to make up for that type of disappointment.

I thought I am the only one having this problem in my household but it seems that other than us humans (my wife and I), our cats also hate potato chips which are not crispy. It shows that how much importance should be give to crispiness of potato chips. Look at Cookie face when I gave her some of these chips which have been left in the open and is quite soggy :




It is my fault for leaving the can to open the night before and I forgot to close the can properly. Usually, I will have my Mister Potato with my evening tea like this :



 Mister Potato crisps are never soggy if it has just been open. They have ensured quality all the way. Do you know that they are having a contest now?

The #1 Mister Potato Contest consist of 8 stages of games where you take on a role of humble potato peeler in the Mister Potato’s organization. You have stumbled upon a series of secret steps to climb the corporate ladder and set to be the #1 Man in the Mister Potato Empire!


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The first step you’ll have to do is to register for an account. Once you’re done with that, you’re one step closer to win the following prizes;
• 1st Prize – RM5,000
• 2nd Prize – RM3,000
• 3rd Prize – RM2,000

Now that the cash prizes have got your attention, we’ll share what else you need to do to win the prizes. There will be 8 different challenges in the #1 Mister Potato Contest which will give you a brief idea on how the crispy chips of Mister Potato are made. They include plucking potatoes,

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Slicing potatoes,

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Chip crunchiness audio test,

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…and many more! At the end of the challenge, you’ll be given a chance to upload a picture of yourself dressed up as Mister Potato! Dress to your best as this will be a very important task to win the cash prizes! Once you’re done, you’ll need to wait until 29th November where the gallery page will be open for public voting until 5th December. During this period, rally your friends and family to vote for you as you’ll need all the votes you can get to attend the grand Mister Potato Fiesta of the year!!


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50 contestants with the most votes by the end of the voting period will be given a pair of invites to join the Mister Potato Fiesta 2009 where the best 10 contestants will be pitted against each other to be crowned the grand winner for the #1 Mister Potato Contest! Go to Mister Potato website to enter.

I actually have completed all the stages in the contest but when they want me to dress up like Mister Potato, I lack the facial hair. Maybe I can grow my mustache and try to enter later.

As for now, let me enjoy my crispy Mister Potato's crisps with my evening tea...
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