August 30, 2010

Happy Merdeka! Time to be patriotic...

As the month is Ramadhan, we tend to forget about other stuff that is happening all around us. 

It is our independent day. The 53rd anniversary of Merdeka for Malaysia. A very young age for a nation. Heck, even for a human. There is a long way to go.

And to be involved, in part, to the nation building of Malaysia, it was exciting, and a proud achievement.

I have been involved in a few transaction, as a lawyer and sometimes, just a Malaysian, to hear people saying words like "Oh, you are from Malaysia. I love that country...". Hearing it from another person of different nationality is just a proud moment for me. 

You do know people like to mistake us for either Singapore or Indonesia back in the 80s or even the 90s. But nowadays, just hear how many references have been made in movies and television series like Jurassic Park in the former and Flash Forward in the latter, to name a few. And just look how many Malaysians are involved in so many level in the world arena.

Last year, I was involved in the Merdeka Train Party celebration, which you can read the post here and here.

For this year, as it is the holy month Ramadhan, the celebration I am doing is a bit low key which is to add a twibbon (short for Twitter ribbon) on my avatar on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks to ShamHardy who is a designer for Advertlets. You can also add a twibbon on your by going to this link and do the necessary.

I am going to keep my twibbon until Malaysia day (maybe beyond) and I hope more Malaysian will join in. Some are trivializing the effort but it is something I am proud to support.

August 19, 2010

Suhaila Saad got her LL.M while I still struggle with my CIFP

My partner, Suhaila Saad, finally got her LL.M or Master in Law 2 weeks ago from Universiti Malaya after studying for nearly one and a half years. She toiled and nearly gave up saying she just couldn't study while juggling work and then picked herself up again and finally graduating. When she studied, her room will be off-limit and she would seem too tensed even to strike up a conversation, at sometimes. She did look like she was studying while she was taking her Masters.

As for me, who enrolled in 2006 in a course called Chartered Islamic Finance Professional or better known as CIFP from a new university (then) called International Center for Education in Islamic Finance which was set-up by Bank Negara Malaysia, I am still at it. This university which is already 4 years old had only just one convocation before the next one in end of October 2010.

I am finishing up my Exemption Paper which is called Professional Practice Paper (PPP) to highlight the relevance of my profession (law) to Islamic finance. Actually they are so different from one another unless you are those few lawyers in town who help bankers to put together products and defend the banks which use Islamic finance products in court. This is actually is the basis of my PPP which simply highlight the contribution of lawyers in development of Islamic finance.

The difference between my partner and me is that when I study, except for some shout of frustration (when I can't understand an Islamic finance concept) or some frantic search for a specific words among the other lawyer in my firm, I basically does not look like I was studying. Some of my friends are actually surprised when I told them I am taking another degree. Maybe that is the difference between studying in a real classroom environment (her) and a mostly online course, except for the exams (me). 

Am really hoping I can join her before the 2010 ends...

You can view the pictures of us having lunch after her graduation here.

August 11, 2010

We are only holding a buka puasa and that's it!

After being nearly 11 years in the business, we have dealt with all sort of free food request over the years. I think this is where all businesspeople can relate to. Where those who you hope to help you in your business keep asking when you are bringing them for 'free lunch' hence the saying 'There is no such thing as a free lunch'. In our case, it is free Ramadhan buffet which may cost from RM70-00 to RM110-00 per head. When the Ramadhan buffet at hotels reached nearly RM100-00 per head, we know we cannot cope with ridiculous cost such as that just to meet people.

So, since 3 years ago, we put a stop to it. We still meet people for business but we do it at their office or a place where the word 'food' is not a part of the vocabulary. We still take our staff, the people who mattered to us, for Ramadhan buffet. That's it. For a few VIPs, we send them Hari Raya hampers.

Then, this year, we change our modus operandi again. We are treating friends and a few select clients to a lamb-grilling session. The cost of 2 whole grill lamb, believe it or not, is cheaper than taking a few clients to dinner. Oh yes, we love lamb.

And as we have an under-utilised penthouse which we only used once or twice, if this Friday session go as we planned it, we may hold many more sessions for our clients and friends.

KSH penthouse is on the top floor but that restaurant has changed to DE Garden

If you are near Sunway, Petaling Jaya area, this Friday, do check out our Facebook page here : KSH buka puasa invite.

August 9, 2010

KSH in South Korea : An experience of importing expertise

This happens 2 weeks ago from this date. 

Early morning arrival (7.43am)
 In just 5 days, from a negotiation to go to South Korea, I found myself in South Korea, a place I never expect ever to go on a working trip. It was decided a the last minute that I would represent my firm as the person to attend our client on a quite complicated venture. I nearly did not manage to find a flight as the plane I was on also carries the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia who was on a working visit there.

The hotel we are staying where the delegates from Malaysia were also staying

Why is the venture a complicated one? Our client is one of the few middle-eastern bank in Malaysia. They are financing a development in Sabah. Being a practising lawyer in West Malaysia, we cannot do any work in Sabah which is located in the East Malaysia. However, as we are the lawyers who drafted some of the documentation for the bank for their housing loans, we are chosen to be the lawyer for this particular financing by the bank. Then, to make matter complicated, the development is developed by a developer which is based in South Korea, although the owner is a South Korean living in Sabah.

The pictures of the development in Sabah

We are already in a meeting by 2pm on the day we arrived

As they have targeted most of the purchasers from South Korea to buy the property, they were looking for financing to finance the purchases. Hence, our trip to South Korea. With the luxurious offering by the developer, the purchasers need quite a lot of financing for their purchases. This is where our bank comes into the picture. And us.

Had a bit of time to shop that night as their malls closed at 4.30am!
Trying to communicate with the purchasers there were quite an experience itself. Especially when trying to explain to them about Islamic finance, in which we used the concept of tawarruq to built up the documents. Islamic finance is non-existence in South Korea. However, it seems that South Korean government has a lot of interest in it. We'll see how it will be developed in the long run.

Briefing other potential purchasers/borrowers

The developer's lawyer talking to me about Islamic finance

Had a full discussion day on the 2nd day until dusk as we fly back on 3rd day early in the morning

How's that for a working business trip?
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