May 31, 2009

Corporate celebrities...

This was the setting

For someone who has seen the man and heard of him, when faced with him in real life, you know there were more to him more than meet the eye. The man is Tun Daim Zainuddin. The twice Finance Minister of Malaysia. Who brought Malaysia back from the bring of recession in 1997. Who had advised Tun Mahathir when he was the Prime Minister on how economy should be handled. I attended a talk by him courtesy of the same organizer who brought the brother of the current Prime Minister, in his capacity of CEO of one of the largest bank in Malaysia (you can access that here). This group is really going places.

One of the most glaring views that you could see when he talked was that he was not really a politician. He spoke using a typed text and he was kind of a one word man when I was engaging him in conversation. Yes! I managed to talk to him personally after the session. Albeit surrounded by a lot of other eager people. That was when I asked him what he thought of lawyers. He said there are too many of them and you can never be rich by becoming just a lawyer. That was why he left the profession.

I was actually surprised of 2 things when he was giving the talk. One was the fact that he was born in the same village as our 4th Prime Minister and the fact that he was a lawyer. I didn't know this 2 facts. I did mentioned to my wife that he might have gotten his break as he was the neighbour of Tun Mahathir when he was small. My wife said he maybe a neighbour but what he accomplished now is more impressive that what he accomplished as the Finance Minister. I concurred with her.

He is now an owner of a medium size banks in a few countries in Africa and he is successful in his venture. He told us of how he started. Why Africa and how he managed to break the barrier of the perception of people around the world that Africa is the place where you can't make money unless you exploit the people and bribe the government. He told us that he started small and now he is one of the most trusted banker in Africa including such countries as South Africa, Kenya and a few others. We don't actually know the name of the bank but his success story in Africa was featured once in a daily here.

After the talk, there was a bit of a gathering and I was surprised at the people who were there. There was a few young CEOs and even owner of well known companies. I managed to use the opportunity to my advantage and I even got a few of their personal handphone number. My wife had to wait for me, bullshitting myself around until nearly 1am. It was fruitful, though. These corporate celebrities are rarely seen mingling so freely like what they did yesterday. My partners who had to be in another event would be jealous of me, but I did sell their names and 'looks' too.

There was another weird fact which made me think less of the Malaysia politicians or even those who know him personally. This was the second talk he was invited to since he retired the second time in 2001. My question is? Why? Shouldn't a mind like this be queried and picked on?

May 30, 2009

Naughty by nature

I was thrown out of my boarding school between Form 4 and Form 5, which means I one of the most important exam to get my high school diploma and get a good future, known as Malaysian Education Certificate or SPM. I had to go to a public school and my mom supervised me everyday as I was diagnosed by the psychiatrist as 'Without Remorse', to borrow a Tom Clancy fiction's title. Great huh... It defined me with this 2 words.

For the past 2 weeks, I was revisited with this revelation a few times as I met old friends from that boarding school. Once after I was giving a talk on how to be an entrepeneur to a bunch of university students and another one is when one friend posted a picture in Facebook which I participate in a discussion. 

In the first instance, we were surrounded by our spouse and in my friend's case, his small children. We talked about how naughty we were in school and then the question came, when did each of us leave school as we know both of us did not graduate from the boarding school. Our mind were hazy as we left school in 1991. My wife knew of my 'crime' but we did not really delved into what I did to get me thrown out.


 
The talk

Then, 2 days ago, the other occurance happened in cyberworld, when someone posted a picture and the comments below it became lenghty. I joined in. I commented that I was thrown out from that school. A friend who left way earlier due to his parents moving outside the country asked how come as he said, I look successful nowadays. I tried to be modest and said it was just appearance.

Out of curiosity, does what you did in those years really affect your life now? I was naughty then and so were a lot of my friends then. Some have become accountants, magistrates, lawyers, prosecutors, doctors, engineers and businesspersons. Some are artistes, writers and civil servants. And what happened then seems to be a thing of the past. But we revisit it on our children again and again...

Fair? Hmmm.....

May 29, 2009

Working Weekend

Don't you hate it sometimes when you have to go to work on a weekend?

That would always be the question which has been asked again and again by employees among them. How about the employers? Employers maybe those who hire you and ask you to work on weekends. Some of you have never met these so called 'employers'. Some are actually shareholders. So, do they work on weekends?

As for me, being on-call 24-7 is normal. I can never say no and I have to be accountable to all client. So, working on weekend comes naturally. Sometimes, we do have to attend events such as launching of a new phase within a development or a launch where we need to meet clients who are planning on buying our client's properties so that we can arrange a signing with them all the necessary documents at the office later that week. We do have that. But sometimes, a working weekend is not just these formal work. Like, tomorrow for instance.

Tomorrow, we are going to have to help out a client in which she is marrying off her daughter. And guess what, as much as it will look as if we are just there to have fun, we are actually there to ensure our beautiful faces will be remembered when the next time she needs a lawyer. She is the owner of a development smack in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. My partners, who are ladies, are more the one who have to 'work' tomorrow than me.

I am just there to eat the dinner... That is hard work too.... ; )

May 28, 2009

That's not how the world work

In one of the episode of the television Leverage, I heard one of the guest character said to the rag tag band of modern day Robin Hood she believes that what they are offering is not feasible as "That is not how the world works", she said. Of course, our heroes break convention, steal money (a lot of it) from the bad guys and give it to this lady who was rehabilitating soldiers who came back from whatever war the United States was fighting but was not covered by their insurance company. 

As a television series, Leverage is not that original but the cast is fresh and the banter seem to click. There are no real 'secrets' among them yet, but I bet there will be. This post is more about those words said by that guest character. The way the world works...

I did once posted about how most of those people who are successful in business are those who doesn't give a damn. Quoting from the film Gone With The Wind, courtesy of Rhett. Anyway, this post is in the same vein. I think, there is no need to beat a dead horse and point out that if you want to be successful in anything, you need to make sure the world will work for you. You can't say that there is already a rule in doing something and you cannot break it. Of course, there are laws but some of these guys break it, and they did it through legal means.

Huh? 

That, is a post for another day...

May 27, 2009

We will not retrench but we accept resignations gladly

This is currently the stand that we are taking in our small legal firm. In which we do not fire or even make threat of firing anyone. Okay, "fire" is to harsh a word. We do not retrench anyone (in the word of the Ministry of Human Resource, which I am not sure is the name it still held or is it being change to something else?) Does anyone ever use the word 'retrench' in real life? Except reporters, newscasters and those who held PC or Press Conference?

Anyway, as much as we try to fight this economic downturn which is claimed by all economists and politicians as to be hitting our shores full-blown, companies which wanted to cut down on their spending especially the salaries that they have to pay their workers, did just that. Retrench and bear the consequences of bad public relation with trade union and the workers. But it is actually effective. Why do you think they do it left and right without caring about the picket fences which happened in front of their gates or the letters issued by the Ministry demanding explanation. Whatever the threat, they need to survive and sell things and pay dividends to their shareholders. That is the bottom line.

As for my legal firm, we are small. We are suffering from clients who is considered as conglomerates but does not pay according to the terms that they themselves have set when they appointed us as lawyers. We just bear the brunt by injecting cash into our reserves while pushing for the payments that we deserve. We then still treat our employees as if they are a part of us. We negotiate with them on the amount of their pay raise. We asked them to be with us during this tough time. We did not try to say to them that we hope they stay although we are paying them lesser than what they can get if they work in the middle of the city. All claims are still paid on time and each still get whatever we have stated in their letter of offer. 

If all else fail, we always accept their resignation, like those who left us for better pasture. We wish them the all the best...


 
What? We are fired? You still have to feed us though...

May 26, 2009

Never been hired

This is one problem that I have. I have seen successful people whom I know online and I know personally who have done better than my business who have quit a successful career, open up a business and now is considered as one of the successful entrepeneur in Malaysia. I envy them as their business relates closely to what they have been doing while under the employment of others. They moned all the knowledge that one needs to be successful and then apply it to their own business. The contacts and network that they created when they were an employee made it easier for them to gain contracts or new businesses. 

I was never that people. I never had one experience of being interviewed or being asked to perform a test to show what I can give to add value to institution. I have never been berated by an interviewer or argued so much with an interviewer that I was hired to fill a vacant post  (a true story on account of one of my friends). I have never been asked to hope that I will be called for a second, third and fourth interview. I have never been in a predicament whether I need to resign 24 hours or I can follow the term of my letter of my appointment in order for me to clinch that other job. I have never had that experience of wanting more for what I do. 

Maybe it was a good thing never having to experience this. Maybe it was not such a good thing. I should at least know my capability to work under someone else. Being asked to perform things I don't really want to do. Complaining how much I should be paid. Unsatisfied with my job, day in, day out. 

Or maybe I am those worker who had it good. High pay. Commissions. Good boss. Fast claim payments. Job security. Sponsored holidays. Bonuses. And such.

Just to make a point. I am so glad where I am and what I have achieved, if I am given the choice again, I will still open up my own business without missing a heartbeat, than working with someone else. 

Being your own boss has never been an option. It is the only option...

May 25, 2009

What is SEO? (an amateur blogger's understanding)

After writing for 3 days about how I start (keyword, start) to understand the way of how to make money from blogging, which you can assess here (Dayt 1), here (Day 2) and here (Day 3), I have been having this thought about what is SEO or search engine optimizer, is all about. It seems to be the utmost important to most bloggers, especially those high-ranking one who seem to manipulate the system to gain higher ranking. How do they do it, you ask? Read ahead...

Before we deeper into the use and what tool can you use in trying to gain this higher Google ranking. According to Wikipedia - Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of improving the volume or quality of traffic to a web site from search engines via 'natural' ('organic' or 'algorithmic') search results. Typically, the earlier a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, and industry-specific vertical search engines. In short, SEO helps you to come first when people use Google to search for a specific word. Like if you type MALAYSIA, if you are one of the blog which is high on the list, Google will show the most relevant site for it. If my site, Legal Cat-asthrophe, has a high ranking due to a good SEO placement, my site can come up top. 
 
And, do you know that you can manipulate SEO? It means that you can put the popular word for that day, which means the words that people are searching that day, and if you can weave it into your post of the day and you can be ranked higher in Google.

Search engine optimizers may offer SEO as a stand-alone service or as a part of a broader marketing campaign. Because effective SEO may require changes to the HTML source code of a site, SEO tactics may be incorporated into web site development and design. The term "search engine friendly" may be used to describe web site designs, menus, content management systems and shopping carts that are easy to optimize.
 
And do you know that there are consultants who can help you to attain this high ranking. There are consultants who carry out optimization projects on behalf of clients, and by employees who perform SEO services in-house. If you think you need an expert opinion on how to utilise SEO, you can always always try a SEO Expert website which you can find here. These experts have been advising companies for such a long time on how to attain higher ranking on Google

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May 24, 2009

Now I understand how to make money from blogging...Part 3

Adgitize is new and has this widget like Entrecard. I joined them, put up their widget and let it be. Then I monitored my earnings, which was very low. Just USD 1++ per month. Then, this month, they started a new campaign to tell the bloggers how a blogger can really make money from them. I read the postings of other bloggers which I suspect is a kind of a viral campaign as they came up within days of each other and i decided to give it a try. It was not easy as you have to do a bit of 'work' such as clicking on nearly a hundred widgets on other people blog. The droppings or clickings on other people blogs were just one way for you to gain points and money.

Adgitize also wants you to dsiplay their advertisments as many as possible and this is another way for earnings. Then if you posted a post everyday, you can gain points too. Finally, the one where you know they will gain more money than you is by becoming one of the advertiser. You have a choice of 14 days for USD7-00 or one month for USD14-00. I was actually reluctant at first but I convinced myself that it was just an investment which might be worthwhile. I used my first Paypal transaction to buy some ad space and I suddenly don't have to click as many as 100 sites to gain 100 points. I only needed to go to 50 blogs. The maximum points you can get a day is 500 and these points are shared among all community in Adgitize which gives more to those who work or pay more. Fair right?

However, the best way to make money is by being listed in a advertising community like Social Sparks which gives out opportunity for you to earn. You can be an affiliate, which means you can promote a product by helping whoever selling it to sell that particular products such as what I have done which is to sell 2009 Entertainment coupon books for shopping for various things like dining, shopping and travelling in the United States. If you are interested you can click here. Then you can also earn by taking Cost Per Click in which each click on the advertisement earn you money. For me, the opportunity I have taken for CPC as it is known is for Blockbuster, the rent-a-movie shop in the USA. The best is paid post which can get you quite a high sum if the advertiser like your post. I did one but there is a bit of adjustment needed to be done to my posting for me to get nearly USD11++.

However, getting into Social Spark is not easy. I waited for my PageRank to be 2 and 3 for my 2 blogs and have been blogging for 9 months before I get approved. However, within weeks I have earn nearly USD3++. I think, as the posts said for the past 3 days, I now know how to make serious money from blogging...

May 23, 2009

Now I understand how to make money from blogging...Part 2

My earliest foray into making money from blogging was by using the deafult blogspot advertisement which is linked to Google which is Adsense. You can basically put advertisement everywhere in colours according to the template you choose. The only snag usually for amateur blogger like me is their high cashout amount (the amount of money in your account before you can ask to be paid) which is USD100.00. After blogging for nearly 9 months, I only managed to gain USD 40++ only from Adsense. Some bloggers to me that is quite good so I am keeping their ads on my blogs. What I like about them is their detail reporting and suggestions on how to generate more income and they now have more innovative advertisement than just lines of words in colours.


Then, I also joined the local blogging advertisement community in Malaysia called Nuffnang. They seem to be the popular choice among bloggers as a way to make money by having a widget at the top, side and between posts for their automatic advertisements to appear. Their cashout  is also quite low which is RM50.00. Even though it is low, I am still waiting for the time I can do just that. I have now reached RM40++ with them and hoping to cashout in a week or so as I have a good campaign with CIMB Bank and KFC on this very blog. You can know more by clicking on them. ; )

Nuffnang has a competitor in Advertlets which I have just joined when I realised I should spread my earning to other players as I have two blogs. I suspected Advertlets has very small staff members but it does has its own way in attracting advertisers and bloggers. As of April 2009, the experiment in comparing the company has started.

As Nuffnang is very protective of their turf, they have this special privilege that they give to those who only give space for their ads and not to competitors in the South East Asia region. That special membership is called Gliterratis (Advertlets also has one too, called Titan for bloggers who stuck with them for more than 3 months). I am a Glitterati from day one. Then, I was bumped down to an ordinary member when a new advertisement company, which I believed was from USA is said to be originating from Asia. That advertiser was Adgitize. I was confused and this reason of Nuffnang keep bumping me off from Gliterrati to Ordinary made me decided to finally pull off my other blog, As Good As It Gets, from being one of the registered blog with Nuffnang.

This is the end of Part 2. Read more on Adgitize and Social Spark tomorrow...

May 22, 2009

Now I understand how to make money from blogging...Part 1

I was told once that you can make money from blogging. Money in terms of some money for you to live by if you really work hard enough or money enough for you to buy some groceries. Some even claim to have been millionaires and even some are called pro-bloggers meaning they are professional bloggers who make a living by blogging. I was also told that blogging is not just a fad in Malaysia as the urban legend has it, blogging was the reason why the old government was brought down on its knee until the last Prime Minister decided to call it a day as his predecessor used blogs to attack him and changed him with a person who seems to have got his endorsement. That was how big blogging has been in Malaysia.

Then in September 2008, I joined the so-called bloggers. Within a month, I managed to win prizes, freebies and meet new people. It was a whole new horizon for me who is well-known among my friends to be a know-it-all. In blogging, I know nothing. I thought by just having a blog, people will come and read it. Ha ha... Yeah, right. It need work and a lot of know-how. Mind you, I never have a mentor or anything except this one guy whom I was working with to develop a website for Selangor Bar, Eddie Law, who owns a blog and a website, eLawyer, which is basically his livelihood. 

From him, I got to know about aggregators such as Project Petaling Street and Negaraku!. Both are local to Malaysia. Then I get to start to know pinger sites such as Pingler and Ping-O-Matic. They gained me traffic that I crave. One year before I started my blog, in 2007, I had joind the bandwagon as a subscriber of Facebook and of course, for close friends, they get my personal attention of me duplicating my blog there as notes. It get feed into the system and I gained more readership. I actually have to manage 2 comments section, here and on Facebook. 

Then I discovered real traffic accumulater such as Blogexplosion, Entrecard and Easy Hits 4 U which are all uber aggregator which will bring you traffics but not necessarily readers. And they may not be local. But, please don't let that be a hinder to you as you get to meet new friends and new ideas and even better community. If you decide to join any of what I have mentioned above, which buttons you can find at the right side of this blog or down below, you can improve your PageRank. What you need to do to gain real traffic is to interact with the other members which is in the thousands through the forum at all these great sites.

(This was supposed to be a one post subject but it became too long. This is just on how I gained traffic only but tomorrow, it will be about how I gained money through various means as an amateur blogger)



May 21, 2009

Big town lawyers vs. small town lawyers

In 1999, after I managed to endure the 9 months of chambering, being told what to do and being sheltered by my parents from the real world, I bid adieu to the legal firm which showed me what being a lawyer is all about and opened up on my own small legal firm. As the legal firm was in Seremban, a small town south of Kuala Lumpur, I had the chance to feel how a practice in a small firm is all about. Other than me, there was another  lawyer, my partner, an ex-public prosecutor who coincidently was from the same university as me but we have never met before that. I proposed to him to be a part-time lawyer with his firm but he proposed for me to be a partner after just 2 months.

The best thing about being an owner of a small firm in a small town is the camaraderie that is felt among all lawyers in the town where nearly 150 lawyers were practising. For a town of maybe a half a million people (which have grown significantly now) there are still enough cases to go around that we tolerate each other well. We played sports together like football and tennis. Have gatherings for all major celebration from the Muslim Eidul Fitri to Hindu's Deepavali to Christmas. We attended each other's weddings and deaths. We know who are the outsiders in court and know how each judge will act at any given time and type of cases. We are small but not in the type of Grisham's A Time To Kill small. Even when a new lawyer is admitted, we have a small reception where nearly all lawyers attend. It was a very friendly atmosphere.

When I transferred my business or more correctly terminated my business in this small town and move to try to get a bigger cut of the cake in Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur, I was surprised. Although that year 2000, the lawyers in whole of Malaysia were nearly 12,000 in which 6,000 of them are practising in the KL, I only knew those who I have known in my alma matter. The others I only get to know after I became active in my Bar Council activities. I get to play team sports when I moved to my current neighbourhood and not with other lawyers. Even the lawyers who play together have at least something in common either they were from the same universities or was in the same town while taking law in England or Australia. There were no gatherings or people just hanging around together unless they were on opposite side in a suit. It is all about work and no lawyers know each other except if they work together.

I still think both have their own advantages and disadvantages. As an ambitious person, knowing another lawyer is not of utmost importance. If I need another expertise, I can always hire one and pay them accordingly. I don't need to be friendly with them. As a human, the small town teach me making a living does not necessarily makes you a robot and cannot be civil with your fellow colleague. It may just be a different perspective but after being in both type of places, sometimes I do wish I still am practising in that small town.

Just to make sure I keep my perspective of life clear.

May 20, 2009

Why must we lower our professional standards?

When you sell hot dogs or whatever local delicacies by the roadside, you get paid in cash and you will easily divide the cost for whatever you are selling the next day and the profit. You will know whether you make a profit there and then. Not so when what you sell cannot be seen as a good. I just use what is in my head and what is called professional skills. Sportsmen are called professionals too but their medals and their score are the proof that they have done a good job. A lawyer who goes to court and made sure his client did not die in the electric chair or at the gallow has done a good job.

Then what about lawyers such as me who ply our ware by developing documents from scratch and sell it to those who need it and because the language is understood, the client will turn to us and say, "This is good but I think I could have done it myself". 

That is not the best part which is the part where the client suddenly has a training in drafting. 

The best part is when they suddenly say, "So, how much of a discount can you give me? My son is taking law in London you know. And why are you charging me so high when my other lawyer never charged me this high".

This happened to my partner who was handling a transaction worth millions courtesy of one of the banks which we are a panel of. The so-called VIP client was courted for months with my partner dining at his restaurant and getting to know him more than she need to as the loan taken from our client-banker was for the working capital for his chain of restaurants. It was not really that big of a deal as my partner already frequented one of his restaurant but this time she did her part in ensuring she gets to know the client properly before attending to his loan transaction. 

When she confronted by the client with the said questions, she blew her top. She asked back a simple question whether he really knew the worth of a lawyer work? If he didn't, why did he sent his only son to become a lawyer. If it is so easy to do just that, why did he sent him to London and spent so much money on his son education. Shouldn't he be understand the worth of the work she did for him?

Alas, he is too jaded to be perturbed by my partner's outburst. He just waived it off and still ask for a discount. We kept to our guns and explained to him what we have done for him and the difference between the loan we did with what his other lawyers had done. We managed to collect the fee with minimal discount.

I wonder whether other professionals have the same problem too?

May 19, 2009

As much I am proud of what I achieved, sometimes I want to start over

Celebrating 10 years as a lawyer

As the title said, I am really proud of how far I have come. I have built a two persons show, which we thought wouldn't last even it's first month, got onto panels of a few banks which laughed us off in our first year and then even managed to move from one small office of 500 square feet to a medium sized one of 3600 square feet. From doing everything ourselves to 2 staffs and now there are more than 15 persons relying on us to give them salaries every months. Of course we have our ups and downs and sometimes we even have to fork out our own money to top up the shortage of money in our coffer.

What I sometimes wish to do, like all those films which I have watched like Before the Devil Knows You Are Dead or the likes of it is to do something out of the ordinary and go away forever to some far off lands where know one knows me and I can start something new all over again. Sometimes the wish is more about starting a new career off tangent from the present one I am holding. Something simple, where people wouldn't rely on what you say or do to help them in their predicaments or problems.

I have met a few people who had done just this. Most of them did not commit henious crime or anything really bad (according to them). They said they are there to nurse a broken heart or over-bearing spouse or partner or parents. They wanted to do what their heart was saying to them. They wanted to go where no one knows their name. Where people don't even speak their language. I met them all over the world. Certain parts of Malaysia accessible only by boat. In Australia (a favourire for Malaysian), in China, in Europe and even in Indonesia. Some were professionals but some had an early start by going away exactly after school. One of my mother's friends stayed in the Holy Land of Mecca for 25 years and returned home when she was 85 years old.

How I wish I had that courage sometimes. More to see whether I have the strenght to survive than anything else. I am a descendant of these people called Minangkabau from Sumatra who are supposed to love to travel and make their fortune somewhere else.

Maybe this restlessnes is in my blood....

May 18, 2009

Trade secrets

When you deal with a business like mine, you actually have to trust us with a lot of your secret. If you come to us to defend you in a court case where you might go to jail if you lose the case, you better tell us the truth. As what I have posted once, the first question a lawyer should ask, which you can read here. Whether you really kill that guy. Whether you really steal that bike. Whether you really had consensual sex or you forced yourself on her. If it is a civil case, why you don't want to pay the person who says you owe him money. Or why you don't want to finish the job that was entrusted to you. All these are questions that we as lawyers are going to ask and you as the client, will need to enlightened us.

However, this is not the trade secret which is important for lawyers. All these are clients' secret which are actually protected by the attorney-client privelege. There are laws for that. What lawyers should be worried about is how to tackle the cases presented in front of them. How agreements are struck. How certain trials are conducted. Questions in court which will turn the tide in favour of their client. The way you pose a question until an uncooperative witness breaks down and tell you all that needed answered.

All this are trade secrets of lawyers and it is not easy to steal as it is usually in the head of the lawyer who had been to various negotiations, various trials and even various talks. If they had put in place a succesion plan in their office, usually this skill will be passed to that person. However, once, I have seen one of my friends who worked with a medium sized legal firm took away with her nearly 10 volumes of precedents in the form of agreements when she quit from the firm. That is why after we had our own firm, we also copied all the work that is done in our staff computer, just in case we need to find all the precedents which we know can help us sometimes in the future.

That trade secret worth quite a lot, if you asked me.

May 17, 2009

Even professionals sometimes need some handholding



I went to an interesting forum on Thursday, 14.5.09. It was conducted by Professional Services Development Corporation of Malaysia. A new corporate entity under the Malaysian government auspice to promote professionals in Malaysia and encourage them to go outside the country to market their services. They are mostly engineers, quantity surveyors, engineers, accountant, doctors and lawyers. The best part of it is with regard to the two last profession which one of them is what I am. In one of the question and answer session, a lawyer, who may have some experience in trying to market himself outside Malaysia, asked why does Bar Council, our legal association, did not participate in the forum as a presenter? The answer by PSDC : Bar Council was invited but said they were doing fine without any help, hence the absence. Ditto the doctors.

I actually smiled to myself, knowing the notoriety of my professional body of doing just that. I also knew a few of the PSDC guys personally and did chat briefly with them. They did point out, of all the professionals, lawyers have submitted long ago their liberalisation road map and I, myself, know of this as I am one of the lawyer sitting in one sub-comittee which deals with such liberalisation albeit on just one side of the law. I also know that we have had discussions with government divisions on allowing foreign lawyers to come into Malaysia which we have set to happen around 2012.

Alas, we were hijacked by the government of the day when what we discussed was not given due consideration as they announced a liberalisation gameplan which they concocted themselves. We were warned at the last meeting that if we did not agree to their proposal, they will do it for us. As they are the lawmaker and we were bound by the act which govern our profession extensively, they might get their way. Again, I bet, if the other lawyers know about these discussions, which was to be secretive and under non-disclosure policy, I bet some will be crying for blood, as lawyers, in Malaysia, are akin to do (or is it globally)

Just a thought. The liberalisation is not really for all type of legal business. It is on just one type of legal business and it will only be for non-Ringgit Malaysia (our currency) transaction. And in our last discussion, most of the lawyers who do offer these type of services did not felt threaten at all. They felt it is about time this liberalisation happens. These so called corporate lawyers have been offering their services to the world for more than 5 years already and they themselves have established client base in countries which the lawyers in Malaysia never heard of. Heck, I know one who had offered to build a new monetary system for a country. Imagine that.

So, PSDC is right. Although some professionals do need some handholding, lawyers seem to have a mind of their own and may already done it. One other thing, PSDC did points out that they can only help association but will be too tedious for them to help each and every firm. If any does approach them, they will try to help but will also limit themselves to what they have been assigned to do. As for now, maybe going outside the country will require us to do it on our own.

p/s - Oh, a bit later in the afternoon, a Bar Council guy did come in to enquire about a few matters for clarification whom I know is very hands-on on the liberalisation issue. It seems that our association does care about us after all...

May 16, 2009

To attain confidence, you must not give a damn...

Everyone has heard it at least once of the infamous quote by Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn..." (look it up kids, it might just make your day). And that is the best damn advice I ever hear on how to go through to life and how to be successful in business. Do Donald Trump or Bill Gates or that insane Virgin guy, Sir Richard Branson, or some famous Malaysian, like Tony Fernandes, the AirAsia business owner, ever give a damn. Like they will ever stop doing what they think is right or what they think can make money from them every time they here someone say they cannot do it.

As lawyers, I have met a few of these people and I sometimes tell them the bad news when I say to them that they just can't do a particular thing because the law does not allow it. They can't build that property there as those lands has been tagged by the local council as agriculture. They can't get that approval as hundreds of entrepeneur before them had tried and failed. They couldn't do this. They couldn't do that. As a lawyer, that is my job. To tell them the law and let them decide. To put all those on paper and for them to find a way out of it.

Being the entrepeneur, they will rarely listen. They will still apply the license. Buy that land. Tie-up with that company. Buy into the equity of that company. They will be cocky at the right place and demand that they are entertained. If there is a need to pay anything, they are willing to spend. If there is a law needed to be amended, they will muster the strength and the staying power to do just that. Some even finally become politician as they want to make real difference. Some became great leaders due to this.

So, my dear? Do you still need to give a damn to get what you want?

May 15, 2009

The week for lessons to be learnt (again!)

This week, amidst having some blogging event, Advertlets' Angels and Demons screening on Tuesday, at work it was just as hectic. I had meetings with bankers of a different level (corporate). Some new clients and that was on top of the normal adminstration of the office. So, as we navigate through various appointments, my partners and I were also excited with the chances given to us by these clients and bankers. It was kind of breaking the barrier of new business which we have flirted a bit before but never really got the chance to prove ourselves on our capabilities. Of course, we have already done corporate banking matters before most of the jobs were related to our forte of property and banking lawyers. This time, the industry is new, oil and gas.

Oil and gas is not actually a new industry to us on a personal level as we have many friends who are working with the owner of that two big building in the middle of the town of Kuala Lumpur which was were once were the tallest building in the world. There are also friends who work with the service and support industry to the oil and gas industry. These friends have always tell us tales of the job involving travels and basically living life which is not 'normal' and more global than any other ordinary mortals. When we get to know a few of the owners who are of different league from our friends, we were excited to say the least.

My partner was introduced to one of them by a banker who was processing the loan for the company in which they want to obtain a financing for a part of their working capital. It was just a paltry sum to the amount that they are looking for. As the COO of the company was looking for an even bigger loan, I set an appointment for him with one commercial bank which may have the capability to finance his venture. On the day of the appointment, I actually had just met the man for the first time. He seems young and was dressed just in a jean and an untuck shirt. Knowing his industry which usually does not really emphasise on appearance but more on knowledge, I did not give much thoughts on how he looked.

During the meeting, other than the banker who really has knowledge on the subject matter, I also asked him a few probing question even to the point of who is the company's 'real' owner. He answered it gamely and even threw a few hints or two. Alas, what he was asking for was too big for the bank to absorb but I told him that I may have a solution for him by setting him up with a merchant banker. Then we parted ways and I did a few background check on him. That was when I found a few discrepancies in his story. Then I asked the first banker to recheck all the documents that the company had submitted. True enough, yesterday, the banker called me to tell me all  the documents are fake! And to make matter worse, the story about owning facilities in the east coast are all just a story. Nothing more.

It was sobering when you learnt that even banker can be fooled sometimes and the lesson that you need to relearn again and again, always check the background of the clients that you are dealing even with the primitive way of calling a friend who is living in his part of town.

p/s - But at least we got to know a genuine oil and gas company through another client within this week too and this one checked out well. Hmmmm.... You lose some and you win some...

May 14, 2009

Lawyers and Money Laundering

Being a lawyer, sometimes, you have to deal with people from foreign country looking for someone who wants to represent them here in Malaysia. We are also open to be abused, as in being used by syndicates to siphon money into our country as lawyers are actually agents who do jobs and represent people for various transaction. The problem with dealing with foreigners is that not all of them are genuine. Some are taking advantage of the system trying to 'clean' their dirty money which they may have accumulated through illegal ways. They then find an unsuspecting lawyers who will then be a victim if he or she is not careful enough. 

Malaysian government has enacted a law called the Anti-Money Laundering Act or AMLA, as it is well known to monitor and take action against any individual or company which had acted in such ways which may actually try to bring such money into Malaysia. It is a law which allow them to even freeze the account of the suspected money launderer. As lawyers, just imagine if this happens and that money is in the bank account which you keep all your other client's money. You actually cannot use any of the money until the investigation is completed.

That is why a lawyer must always be suspicious if there is a call out of the blue or if someone here asked you to handle transaction worth millions or a high sum of money without explaining who they are or what they do. Basically, nowadays, lawyers have to be more careful of whom they are dealing with, as opposed to the old days when as long as they get paid, they can take a client's instruction and get the job done. The problem is that most of the transaction asked to be done by the alleged money launderer is genuine. As in buying propoerties, renting properties, banking transaction such as loans or even setting up an office here in Malaysia. How far can a lawyer know his client especially as you grow bigger and you have too many client to know them individually.

That is unless you do all this with full knowledge who your client are. Then you yourself should know the consequences of such action.

May 13, 2009

Even electronic company have a blog nowadays (a.k.a. the LG Blog launch party)

Thanks to one of the local internet advertising company Nuffnang


I was again invited for an exclusive event.


This time it was the LG Blog Launch Party which is a launch of the blog, The LG Blog,  by an electronic company, LG.


It was really about launching the blog and not really about their products (except for the prizes). There were biilboards and product placement around the place, Metropol Gourmet bar, which I had to ask around ask it was located at a building which had changed its name a year ago.
The Nuffnanger were there in full force. And of course, most of them knew each other. As for me, I did recognised a few of them but the age difference did make a different. My date backed out at the last minute due to some scheduling conflict so I was doing more people watching than really trying to enjoy the party, which had too many interval in between. The highlights were the blog launch at around 9pm :
Then the best dressed angel and devil which gets to take away an LCD television, each.
This is the devil winner and yes, the devil is in the detail that she was so in character, she did not smile the whole time and I just couldn't imagine if she did not win. Either the judge would have gotten speared or his husband as she is known as the Red Mummy in the blogging world.

The angel winner is another lady but I think she was just a passable angel as she is really angelic as angel can be.



I think that night, most men wear themselves as angels and the ladies seem to be the devil. Hmmm...
Other things to see were :

The bloggers :
 

The food and most importantly the open bar :


The celebrities :





By 11.30pm I was already at another club closing a few deals. All in all, it was entertaining to say the least and informative to know that blog is not just for normal people but even established company.

May 12, 2009

Lawyers getting arrested is akin to lion tamer bitten by the lion

We know being a lawyer is supposed to be exciting. Especially if you deal on a daily basis with courts and criminals. Some lawyers, like me, are too chickenshit and just sits back at our office, out of harms way and the reach of those judges who wouldn't give lawyer the time of the day. Those who just couldn't stand lawyers who dress a bit too flashy and always later for court. So, we stayed in the safety of our office and let those who have this sense of justice to go and play the litigation game. Those who we consider as braver than us. 

So, when on 7th of May, nearly a week ago, 5 lawyers were arrested in Malaysia for trying to defend a few people who got caught while assembling albeit in a supposedly illegal gathering, it was a moment of reflection and a kind of a revelation with question popping in my mind like "Can lawyer be arrested for demanding to see his or her client?". Of course, in a country where a lawyer was questioned once by the police (or was it the Anti Corruption Agency) for asking a 'sensitive' question in court, it may not be too of a surprise.

I was once a criminal lawyer and when you deal with the police, you tend to have to insist on certain matters for it to be delivered. While in court, or even ourtside it, you talk to the prosecuting police officer (PO, you call them) more like a friend than anything else. Even with the investigating officer of the case. Although you know and they know, you might pounce on them in court later. Being nice is not something you need to learn in law school. You can get mileage out of it. Unless circumstances require you to do otherwise.

Here, in Malaysia, there is no such thing as reading your rights or processing someone before being jailed. After a case in which the court says that the circumstances of the arrest will have no merit on the case. Don't ask me which case, I have to go and look for it, or even if the case law already changed. I am that bad in criminal law nowadays. So, being arrested will give the police a window of 24 hours before they are required to be charged in court. If at all. Like what I suspected will happen to the 5 lawyers. 

I don't think they will be charged. So, why do we need an Emergency General Meeting called upon by the Bar Council this Firday, 15.5.09? Yes, that burning question, why were these lawyers arrested in the first place? For wanting to talk and see their clients? I still believe there was no valid reason.

Like a lion tamer who got bitten by the lion, then survives, he or she will need to go back into the cage to show who is in authority. Whips and chair will be used in a lion tamer case. For us? This EGM is the whip that maybe just the whip we need.
Read the brave souls account at Loyarburuk.com.

May 11, 2009

Legal business and capilisation

Not everyone will start off a business with capital. When I started my business, I was sharing an office with a friend for 2 months then with a client for nearly a year. Actually, what we did was akin to kind of breaking the rule under the Legal Profession Act as lawyers cannot share office with clients but we were desperate. We couldn't afford to rent our own office then, so we shared the office with another lawyer friends but used another address then we shared an office with a client. We did not really share but more of being paid for the work done for them by being allowed to use all the facilities in the office. There were just my partner and I then, so we did not need much space. Basically, we were the legal department for that client.

When we moved office, as the client failed in his venture, we realised we need some money. We did try to approach a few banks, which did not have any SME scheme for professionals, unlike today (mind you, this was in 2000) and then when we kind of get laugh off by the bankers, we tried the government. Then, they asked for some kind of collateral. That was when it was our turn to laugh. Asking two 27 years old lawyers for some collateral. If we had any collateral, we would have an office long ago. That was then when we turned to our parents. 

As both of our parents are not really well off, we managed to secure just enough to rent an office, equipped it with a telephone line and fax and then hire a staff. We then moved our operation to a real office. Although it was just a 500 square feet office, we had a nice reception as the former tenant was a wedding planner and they bought new furniture when they moved to their new premises. A few of the furniture are still with us even today and now are use properly within a nice lobby and meeting room. Then, those furniture  were mostly what we needed for us to function. Other than that we just need hard work and determination. It paid off after doing small retail works for walk-in clients for a year then we were appointed as the only lawyer for a development.

When we started, we did not really see the need for money for a legal firm to grow. Except for the basic necessity. Then we realised that a legal firm is also a business and injection of capital or financing is normal for any business. That is if you want to grow and make a mark. Or at least compete with other business in your line of work. In 2007, we managed to secure a sum enough for us to renovate and rent a real office which was a whooping 3000+ square feet. We even have a penthouse on top. And thankfully the rent is cheap. We not only spent the money on the office but also an IT system for us to manage the firm properly. Judging by how we managed to secure a few jobs due to having that system and impressing our clients with our office, we said that it was a worthwhile investment.

Within this one or two years, we may need more financing so that our business can expand its reach to the business community. In short, we hope our legal firm can compete at a higher level. As  a businessman, I see potential but that potential need to be fed with capital. Then maybe it can be fruitful, with enough hard work...


 
Just one of the furniture from our early days

May 10, 2009

Have fun in college but do learn something...

...and it does not necessarily mean your major.


I mean, I actually love the time I spent in college between 1992 and 1998. Love it to bits. I was not an A student. Not even a B student. I went to college not for the education. It was more for the fun. Serious fun. I mean, the all day, all night partying that you couldn't remember what you did type of partying. Actually, all this was not me (though I had my share). I was too goody two shoes to do it. But I did have my share of seeing my friends who partied too much or was too engrossed in something or another that they did not even graduated. Did it matter? Not one bit. One of them is an IT security expert. Another just changed his major and is doing quite well with his degree.

Life can start one way but end up another. You can plan to be a doctor or a lawuyer or whatever profession that seems to be the choice of affluent parents at that moment or is being pushed by the government as they are short of certain profession to help them in nation building. What usually happens is when you are those students who came into universities either locally or in foreign lands took a course which was supposed to be needed by your country such as due to shortage of doctors or nurses, then when you came back to your country, there are too many of doctors or nurses. So, these strategic planning by the government rarely came through. They will end up importing doctors and nurses. 

In my earlier part of this blog, I did write a fictional account of what I did when I was in college. You can find the links in my postings between August and October last year. I named that account Sold Soul on how one's journey from a law school to becoming a lawyer who was willing to do anything. I did not finish the writing as I found writing non-fiction accounts give me more satisfaction.

Anyway, back to college or university life. There are a lot of distraction when you are there. The party. The girls. The drugs. The party. The girls. You get the idea. Most of them are actually the same thing. Done over and over again. Started years ago. I bet even in ancient Rome, those toga parties those American fraternities are famous for, were done quite a bit too. Whatever you have did or done or are doing in college now and all that you have been through were all old news. It have been done again and again. So, is dropping out of college. Or not completing your degree or course or whatever you were sent there to take. Or just passing enough course to get that degree.

My simple advise is if you ever been to college, have all the fun that you can have. But do learn something. So, at least those fun time you had are not the only thing you gain there.

 
An old picture from college

May 9, 2009

I used to hate contest

Before I knew the world of blogging, I consider contest is for wimps. The real contest in life is trying to live it while making sure all the convenience in the world is within reach and that is where you need to be at your best. If you cannot be at your best, then this contest call life will not reward you anything. In short, I hate contest because it is just one part of life that is being assess and it is more of luck than accuracy which will determine whether you win it or not. As I said, that was before I discovered blogging and the opportunity that it presents. 

It seems that there are still a lot of space for one to grow as although I am quite late in catching the blogging bug, it seems that there are not that many people here. I mean, in a country where there are 26 Million people, if the blogging community may only be around 100,000 or even more than that, say 500,000, which I doubt, that is just 3% to 5% of the population, which is to say, that is not that many people blogging in Malaysia. Even if you count how many people blog (actively) in the whole world, it might not reach even a billion people. 

You then have to take into account those people who blog for blogging sake meaning as a diary of event which happens around them like any other diary. From what I understand, that was the first purpose that blog was introduced. Before it became the money making machine that it is today for a few people or for people to have this thing called community through it (what I write here is all hypothetical with no supporting evidence, so if any blogger friends care to input or correct me, you are most welcome)

Back to entering and winning contest. I have been winning a few actually since I became a blogger. I believe I manage to win something because there are not that many of bloggers taking part. Some just need you to be part of a community and you can comment on the postings of that community like what All Malaysian Bloggers Project which is owned by one of Malaysia influential and most circulated newspaper, the Star. I won my first contest with them when I won the Madagascar screening tickets. I also won with them the new Guns N Roses CD and one whole week preview screening of the new Star Trek movie. Then I won a few with an online advertisment company called Nuffnang which include my first beauty pageant event and then a few products launches. Some I got to participate just because I own a blog. Through all these, I get to know new friends and learn new stuff. Some of the friends are people who are thousands of miles away. 

They say bloggers are anti-socials who live in the cyber world and out of touch with reality. I beg to differ. I think they are just those who like to disseminate their knowledge through different means and not all will be able to understand. Some people (which are mostly those in authority) think owning a website where their 'people' are the one doing the reading and posting is considered as blogging. Some just post a few lines per day and they consider themselves a blogger base on who they are in real life. There are so many type of blogs and bloggers and even video blog are considered as blogs nowadays, though some say they are not blogs.

With all this diversity and controversy I think I really like this blogging world and may not leave it just yet.... What's with all this summer movie tickets to be won!!!

 
Watched this movie thanks to blogging

May 8, 2009

Legal firm is also business

As I had posted the other day a bit on how my family already has it's first entrepreneur in my mother, which you can read here, this post is on the misconception of lawyers are always good at doing business. I mean, as all lawyers know the law, business comes second nature to them right? I mean, if people have any corporate matter to settle like how to incorporate a company or there are disputes between directors or shareholders, they will go to a lawyer and get his or her opinion on it.

Lawyers also know the law enough not to break them but this statement will be viewed very sarcastically by others as they know, since the day Mario Puzo wrote in the Godfather how lawyers play a part in ensuring organised crime thrive with the help of lawyers. That quiet Tom Hagen in the Godfather was considered one of the most important component of the whole gang. Even some murders were committed due to his suggestions (all these are in the book, not the 3 movies)


A legal firm are sometimes seen to be more than just a business. Legal firms are just a facade which is where lawyers congregate and strategise while the mundane stuff like running an office are not given the well deserved attention. Okay, maybe not all legal firm are like this. It may apply to legal firm which has between 2 to 20 partners which is considered small even by Malaysian standard. Well, between 2 and 5 actually by Malaysian standard as when we cross that 5 partners then they are considered big already. Even in mine where the partners are three and there is an associate, people will usually say mine is a big legal firm (which actually is just medium sized)

Rarely will you see in a small or even a medium legal firm, the lawyers sit around waiting for client to come and meet them at the office. Of course, it happens, but it will be through appointments and prior arrangements. Lawyers are supposed to be seen around town, meeting important people and closing deals or just sitting beside their clients (which can be in a jail or any one of the hotel lobbies). They will then gain more by being seen rather than by trying to really solve a problem. And rarely people give a thought of lawyers actually having to pay overhead, staffing, bills and other mundane office stuff. As if all this does not matter. 

That is why in 2007, when my firm started to spread it wings, one of the thing that we did was moved our office from a place where we didn't really want clients to come to a better office which has a proper meeting room, a pantry and even a kind of lobby for clients to wait and be impressed by our success. Just to make a point that we do have things to pay for. Maybe one day I can find some pictures of the old office in contrast with what we have now. Just to show that lawyers also need the money given for a proper office to serve clients better.

May 7, 2009

So, this is how an airplane is marketed

I was invited for a rare event (for me at least) in which a client of mine launched his company's right to sell a small airplane, Cirrus SR20 within Malaysia and still negotiating for other rights across South East Asia. The airplanes are sold and manufactured by a company out of United States from Duluth, Minnesota, and one of their Vice President, Ian Bentley, was even with us to oversee the launch. My client is an integrated training and services company for pilot training and flight simulator which even have a flight school and club. They actually more towards helicopter when they started but then they venture into small planes and they are now a Malaysian success story.

I have always attended the launch of property for sale or event other events. And I am not that well versed in anything to do with an airplane except for commercial airplanes in which I board it to go from one point of the earth to another. Basically, I don't really have an ambition to fly a plane, either something small like what my client is selling or even those big aircraft you see flying in the sky. So, this was the nearest I have ever been to an aircraft. Ever.

Once, a client did asked me to accompany him to fly on a helicopter as that was the only time he had to discuss with me a certain matter. Luckily (or unluckily) it had to be postpone as the pilot had landed somewhere else and he did not have time to wait for the helicopter to arrive at the place we were supposed to board. He was scaring me with tales on how some of the people who flew in the heli vomitted and just couldn't stand the feeling of being in a small enclosure.

Anyway, the event was considered a success as there were a few VVIPs who managed to turn up, attended the briefings and then was told on how they can owned the plane. Some just stayed for the morning briefings and took whatever brochures my client provided for them to decide whether they have the spare money or not to buy the airplane. What interest me was the flying club which seems to be affordable for even me to join. There was the one time joining fee of either RM2,000-00 (USD540) or RM4,000-00 (USD1,081) and then there is the annual fee of just a few hundreds. Then they charge you an hour rate which differs if you pay the first amount of joining fee or the second. It depends on the plane that you use. And if you can afford to buy one, you can lease it back to the company in which the money generated will be enough for them to maintain and refuel your aircraft.

As usual, being the blogger that I am, I just can't resist taking some pictures :


BMWs on hand to drive us to the hangar



The hangar called SkyPark
(supposedly a place for VIPs to park their private plane)



Me in the cockpit


The Cirrus SR22

One of the private jet ready to go off somewhere

May 6, 2009

Power nap

I wrote once about how important is rest to making sure you are fully recharge everyday. This view is thanks to the master assassin Jason Bourne from Bourne Identity trilogy (the book, not the movie). He believe that sleep is important for him to function effectively as a killer. Not that I am training to be a killer or anything (though if not counting any religious belief, that would have been cool), I really know what he meant when he said "Rest is a Weapon".

However, this is more about power nap. Just a short nap at the office or anywhere you know you won't be disturbed to ensure that you can gain a bit of the freshness that you feel in the morning. I know quite a lot of my friends and clients who does it. They did it not because they did not have enough sleep or they are the type who parties all day and all night, but they do it just to make them ready to face the othjer half of the working day especially if they are planning for an all night session to catch up on a specific project.

They sleep just about anywhere. The bosses has their day bed to act as a place for them to nap. Some in Malaysia use the place where they pray as the place where they nap as prayer time is usually just a bit after 1pm. They can then straight away do their midday prayer before having something to eat and then came in into the office refresh. Some of those who doesn't really have a place to take a nap had even used their table to sleep. Either putting their head on their arm and sleep or some who are small enough did it under their table (you know who you are)

Do you do this? Just taking a nap to help you recharge?

May 5, 2009

Inside the mind of Malaysia top banker


The stage is set for one hell of a session

I kind of joined an NGO a few months back thanks to a friend who invited me when they wanted some feedbacks on what would people expect an NGO which is targetting youth should be like. Most of the feedbacks were sarcastic as in we believe all NGOs will succumb to the darkside and will be affiliated with a political party in no time. No one really believe they will manage to stay neutral for long. They closed the session with thanks and we were treated to some food and then we thought they got cold feet as we never heard from them for quite sometime. Then, they launched. We only saw the launch on television and we were not invited. Then they went underground again. They have a website and a Facebook profile in which I got invitation to register, in which I did and two weeks ago, I got an email from them for an evening with a guest of them.

What a guest it was. It was a no-hold barred session with one of Malaysia top banker who has relation with the current Prime Minister. The new one-month plus Prime Minister. When I got the email, I immediately replied and RSVP for the event. I asked my partners to follow me as we are actually one of the panel of lawyers for the bank and it would be great for us to know what is in the mind of the CEO of one of the bank which we serve. 

The itinenary was actually quite disappointing when I first read it. It was supposed to be just a 10 minutes talk and then we will be allowed to ask a few questions. How wrong was I. He came a bit late, around 8.10pm although the time stated that he will be arriving 8pm. The setting was kind of informal although it was in an auditorium. The Master of Ceremony immediately started the event by introducing the man of the hour and the moderator, whom is also the NGO's president. As the moderator is also a high profile person, he had the advantage of knowing a few things about the banker and he introduced him properly with his CV. Then the banker took the stage.

The word that I can described his view on the current favourite topic of all talks done by bankers nowadays about the current economic situation as refreshing. He seems to have this believe that Asean (not Asia) is the new place to do business. His bank has now branches in Thailand and Indonesia. These destinations are currently not as popular as places to invest but he believe otherwise. He said in all the chaos, there are a silver lining. He even said that maybe we will even be sheltered from the global recession which is like a plague, felling one giant economy after another. This is a man who believe in one he does. I would not like to dispute him as his bank now is now one of the biggest bank in Malaysia and was said to even rival Barclays in term of capital. Just imagine the fortune of my country if anything is to happen to it. Never mind the jobs that I lost if it ever happens.

It is good to see that when the question and answer session came, he did not mince his words. He said it straight faced on what need to remain the same or what needs to be changed under the present government. He told us how one gets to his position. The only thing that he hold back is his personal life as he said he hates it when people cannot leave him alone even if he is on holidays. He brought his wife just now so he did traded some in-joke with her while answering questions but that was the only personal side that we saw of him. Mostly the questions were about banking and economy and he answered it gamely. The session lasted fr nearly close to one and half hour.

In short, it is good to know, the bankers of Malaysia know that we are not going to get through this crisis easily and as much as he is venturing outside of Malaysia, he knows that he needed to be prudent. For me, I am hoping he knows what he is doing as much as what he said just now.

And yes, the man was Dato' Seri Nazir Tun Razak, CEO of CIMB Bank.

May 4, 2009

Agriculture is business (but it is not for me)

My mother is a successful businesswoman after she retired in 1989. She rested for 3 years, in which she travelled around the world first to the United States and then backpacking through Europe. She did these travel when she was in her 50s. She then tried to rest but after a few years of not really doing anything, after working for nearly 25 years, she decided that she wanted to do a business. She had worked as an officer to one of the biggest plantation company in Malaysia since she still young and that was actually how he met my father. When my mother retired, which had everything to do with me already going to college and I had full scholarship, so they didn't need to finance me through it, and my brother had secured his first job, my mother was supposed to really retire. Not start a business.



What she love is agriculture. So, she became a landscape contractor. Since we were small, all my brothers and me had to support her love for it. We would be asked every school  holiday to go straight to the orchards which she had cultivated since forever as the land is adjacent to my grandfather's ancestral house. We hated the fact that we have to forgo all the fun that we could have with our friends during school holidays. We had to cultivate the land, pulled out weeds, sprayed pesticides and then during fruit seasons, we had to sell some of the fruits. We were taught everything that we need to know how to cultivate our own land. We had the full low down on all these but sadly none of us ever really had any interest.

I remembered seeing my brothers trying to wiggle themselves out of going to the fruit orchard by staying back at their boarding school or even saying that they have to study for exams. I knew better as they themselves told me that they just couldn't stand staying under the sun. Their other excuse was that they had done it longer than me and that time (which seems everytime) it was my turn. None of us really became interested in agriculture. There was once in Malaysian history in the 80s when agriculture was brought back as the 'in' thing as the government wanted to minimise the need to import food. Then in the new millenium, when our Prime Minister changed, he tried to revive it again. Agriculture was pushed as a business now. Supposedly enough to support the nation need for food. Again.

As most of my friends who wanted to do business seems to find agriculture as a new thing to them, I told them flat out that I am not interested in joining them in making agriculture as a business. I have been involved in it for quite some time I told them. The nearest that I have been to agriculture as business was when this one period where my wife worked for my mother. I myself do sometimes help my mother if she need invoices sent to somewhere near my office or letters needed to be typed but it was more obligatory than really joining her in her business. My mother had been in the business for nearly 18 years now. She does have this one more contract as a landscaping contractor which the awarder kept renewing. The orchard is still there and I actually do barbeque there sometimes when fruit season comes. Usually, it is to treat clients from my firm. Bust still, as the title says, for me, agriculture is just not for me (at least for now) 

I Can Relate to Ghosts of Girlfriends Past

This statement is so true as I was dating 8 girls when I met my wife. Ask her, it is not a secret. I even know my wife through one of my then girlfriend. How I wish I am as good looking in the rugged kind of way that Matthew McConaughey was in that film (or any other place he seems to pop up) but I was actually not even close to the word handsome, ever. Maybe it was just my confidence.

Among that 8 girls, there was a student, an accident adjuster, a lady of the night (kind of), a lawyer, and there was even the girl whom I finally married. I met her, dined her, exchange book with her but I did not exactly fell head over heel with her. It took time. It will not be like the scene in the movie trailer where McConaughey had to past through all the girls he had slept or gone out with as I was never a 'player' but you get the drift.

If I am given a choice, I actually would love to meet the girl of my dream early. It was just that I was never that popular in college and I had the chance to see the world when I work. In retrorespect, I think it was for the better. At least I got to know the world a but more before I settled down.

p/s - In case you guys are wondering why I posted a post not at my usual time or usual topic, it is for me to get tickets for my wife to see the movie below but what I told you up there are mostly true :


May 3, 2009

May Day

I never thought that the First of May as anything other than just another holiday. I was always thinking of what to do on such holidays. This time I spent it by spending half a day with some Star Trek fun. Maybe I am just too jaded that I did not realised there are those who think of May Day as a meaningful day. I was not unappreciative to workers as I would seem. I worked for others before. But it was not to really make a living. It was more to learn what working was all about. A few post ago I did say I wouldn't change any decision that I have ever made on how my career had become. That career did not start with with me getting my law degree.

I had worked at a restaurant once. Selling a delicacy well know in Malaysia called satay. Satay is like meat on a stick and has to be grilled on flames and eaten with a special sauce made from peanut. It is supposed to originate from Indonesia but Malaysian love to add some chillies on it. I worked there as a waiter while I was doing my law degree. I met the owner while I was touring Indonesia with my mom (how apt) and I asked the lady whether she had an opening at her restaurant. She said why not, she always need waiters, so as I still had 3 weeks before the new semester opened then, I took the opportunity to gain some money. It paid RM10 (USD2.85) for works between 6pm to 12pm. We basically had to be waiters and then clean up before closing the shop.

One of my other job is to be an office boy in a legal firm. I was living 50 km from Kuala Lumpur that one time in my parents' house and I had just finished my high school. It was just to fill time waiting for a place at the university and I decided to follow a neighbour who worked as an accountant in that legal firm. On the first week, I just followed him to see whether he need anyone for anything or not. He said I can actually help him sent some festive season cards. In short, I was the mail room guy. I never really get to see any legal stuff but seeing him living the high life made me decided to be a lawyer. I actually kind of a rival to the guy now. How time changes everything. I did write a post about it once. You can read it here.

If you see the trend, I always approached people at the most unlikeliest time whether they would want to have me as their employee. I was actually willing to do anything. Because of that I was also willing to bet my life on trying to strike out on my own when I became a lawyer. I actually never had to work for someone else as a lawyer and I am hoping I will never have to. Time are tough now but I still believe there are enough work for everyone. So, although this is a late post on May Day, I just hope my bloggers friend, wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever work you do, you had a meaningful 1st of May...

May 2, 2009

What an eventful week

It all started 3 months ago when I got to know when my exams for my Masters were scheduled. It was to be within a whole week with the final one being on a Thursday after two exams being consecutive on Monday then Tuesday. It was supposed to be a week full of studies and staying awake until 3am to cram for the finals of finals. Yes, if I manage to pass this 3 subjects, I will only need to do an articleship for 6 months and then if all goes well, I will obtain my Masters.

That was the plan but what happened was I got distracted. Big time...

Last Saturday, I was invited for the meet-up with an advertiser which wanted us to comment on their website and I grabbed the opportunity to see their cool headquarters. That started the ball rolling. Read my take on them here and here. It was fruitful in a way as I now know where to do a garage sale virtually.

 
Then I managed to get two tickets for the Wolverine film thanks to some shopping. It was the 11th hour of picking the tickets which I shouldn't have got but luck was on my side. I watched Wolverine 2 days before the worldwide premiere. Hey, unless you are a movie reviewer or the owner of Ain't It Cool.com, two days is a big deal for me. Here is my take on it - X-Men Origins : Wolverine.

This two event happened while I was taking my exams on Monday and Tuesday. The only real free day for me was Sunday.

Then on Wednesday, I was told I am invited to another event. The advance screening of Star Trek. I was ecstatic. And this was one day before my killer paper. The paper was on Risk Management of banks which was very tough for non-bankers like me. I crammed for it the whole day and night and an event on Friday just after I finished my exams is just a good way to celebrate. Read my take on the event here.




So, it was a perfect week with events, with movies and some exams in between. Just hoping that I answered correctly the papers. If I did manage to have that, then that would be the icing on the cake....
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