In 2005, the business of legal firm such as mine was booming in Malaysia with property prices shooting upward due to so many people coming to Malaysia to invest in various industries. We were on the panel of so many developers that we kept on thinking it is absurd that anything is going to happen to the business. Our business was closely related to properties that our other department which was banking and finance was tailored to market the properties department more.
In 2006, there was already rumors about impending economic slowdown which will hit Asia or more specifically South East Asia. The rationale behind the fear was the 10 years cycle which economist like to say which will come around in 2007. We were in the Asia Economic Crisis in 1997 which was brought around by speculators (said our then Prime Minister) and 2007 is the 10 years anniversary of the crisis. We do take the news seriously as all the partners in my partnership had never experience firsthand recession before. We were still students when the 1997 crisis happened. By the time we were working adult, in 1999, the economy had somewhat recovered.
As I was in charge of the accounts at the office which among one of my job is making sure the business has enough money to survive, I always warned my partners of the need to look for investments which can be easily liquidated if the need arise. We decided to put what eggs we have into several baskets. Some were in Malaysian style unit trusts, some were in fixed deposits and some were in properties.
The properties that we bought were mostly were from developers whom we are a panel of. The idea is to show them that we believed in their products and bought the properties. We came clean and said that we were buying for investments and not for us to occupy them. That was 3 years ago. In these few months of 2009, we are currently awaiting the handover of two of the properties after having received one last month. We believe two of them are worth more than what we had paid for them but one of them still has a long way to go before it can be said to be a worthwhile investment.
As I had said earlier, we had foreseen the economic crisis to happen since 2007 and we did try to ensure our survivality by investing in a few investments. What we are worried is that Asia, especially Malaysia, seems to be like a boxer in a ring which is still waiting to get punch. We can see the punch coming but we can't be really sure from where it is going to come. Is it from the left? The right? Under the chin? And when it landed, will we feel it like a jab? Like a full force blow? Or just a tap?
While we wait for the blow, we hope someone knows how to shuffle the feet and move the body to ensure the blow will be minimal or even if the punch do land, we are ready to punch back or at least take the blow gracefully.