.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

December 21, 2004

Making money out of thin air - Part 2

I paid my Indah Water bill today. F#&% !!! T*&l%$m!c#*+h~@! I am pretty sure that was your response.

Many years back, some ingenious souls thought of a way of getting rich quick by privatising government agencies. Started with basic utilities such as the National Electricity Board (Lembaga Letrik Negara) and the Telecom Department (Jabatan Telekom). With the establishment of Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Telekom Malaysia Berhad, people started to see "some people" driving S-class Mercedes-Benz, and hence, more and more privatisation projects. Of course, after a while, ideas are running out, nothing else to be privatised. Hmm... how about privatising the shit business? As a result, Your National Sewerage Company was born. Consumers do not complain when the government privatised the electricity supplier and the telephone service provider because consumers continue to pay almost the same rates. In the Indah Water Konsortium Sdn. Bhd. case, this is purely making money out of nothing. In the past, we don't have to pay for sewerage service because the local municipal was in charge of it. We are paying the assessment rate (kadar taksiran), cukai tandas (toilet tax), etc. When IWK came in, we continue to pay those taxes as well. Furthermore, there is no contracts signed between residents and IWK, so why do we have to pay out of a sudden? They don't even have our names as they just put the word penghuni (resident) on the bill. Many people were not paying a single at all, and this dragged on for a couple of years.

In my opinion, IWK was more than just a simple privatisation project. It is a kind of test cases to test the water. Let's see the people's reaction towards making-money-out-of-nothing projects. If this goes well, let's privatise the garbage collection service, traffic lights, etc. Something that you used to enjoy for free will be chargeable soon. A new company, with those top guns buying new SUV to take their ham-kar (whole family) out, while the rakyat do not want to pay up... you are now in deep shit. No worries, mate. "Cry for help!", as simple as that. This line is now added to the company name. Milik Penuh Menteri Kewangan Diperbadankan. Well, they keep quiet for a while until the election is over. A year since the last election, they are sending the rakyat the bill again together with a "legal threat" letter. This time could be for real, I don't know. I gave in, sorry. Anyway, I still think that Martin Luther King Jr. was right when he once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".

I would imagine that this kind of IWK crap will not surface if the majority are really mature in electing their leaders. This is something that is easy to be said than done. I don't think that we can be a developed country in the near future, unless we really start to *think*. By the way, those people are not stupid too. If IWK will cause their downfall, I am sure they don't even dare to even test the water. Maybe we should read the book, Can Asians Think? by Kishore Mahbubani, Singapore's ambassador to the United Nations.

Making money out of thin air - Part 1

Every homo sapien is interested in making money, you and I are no exception. Some are trying to work harder, while some are trying to work smarter. There are people coming out with new high-tech gadgets derived from new technological breakthrough, and at the same time, there are also creative people coming out with new tricks to con people. Well, I bet you have seen bogus monks before, still "begging for money" even in the afternoon at 4 pm. Hey, the real ones beg for alms (in the form of food) and will return to the monastery before 12 pm. Here comes the stupid public who thinks that giving money "towards god" will gain them some extra mileage in their daily life. Some said it improves their luck, some said they were healed from a chronic disease, and some even mentioned that their kids do better at school...

This reminds me of a story about dividing money donated by followers of certain religious groups. If you the kind of people who are too serious or sensitive on religion, please click the "X" button on the top right corner of your browser immediately. Bye.

OK, here is how the story goes. Once upon a time, there were 4 chief priests of different religions met to discuss and find a method to divide money donated by followers. The first guy drafted a proposal where certain percentages go to charity, certain percentages will be used to upkeep the place of worship, a fair amout to cover his daily expense, etc. The second guy proposed, "I would draw a line and I would throw all the money up in the air. Whatever falls on the left will be used to run the place of worship, whatever falls on the right will be used to cover my daily expenses". The third guy not to be outdone, thought of an even better idea, "I would draw a circle, and I would throw all the money up in the air as well. Money that falls inside the circle will be my *salary*". Wow! What a great idea? The last guy who remained silent since the beginning said, "Come on guys! Use your brain la... ". "Since god is up there, I would just throw all the money up in the air and tell him to grab whatever he wants. If he doesn't want the money, I will take it la..." Thank you, sir! You are a genius, meeting adjourned, let's go for lunch. Must order a bowl of 佛跳墻 today!

December 19, 2004

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

By the mid of November every year, my favorite radio station will be playing Christmas songs day and night. K103fm, your official Christmas station is helping to create the mood for this festive season in Portland and Beaverton, Oregon. If you are physically there, tune to FM 103.3 MHz on your radio. Otherwise, you may listen to the live stream on the Internet powered by Liquid Compass. Due to certain legal issues, you will not be able to listen to all the local commercials on the internet streaming broadcast. You might miss stuffs like what are being offered at Fred Meyer, but who cares?

Here are the lyrics for one of the Christmas songs that is being played again and again on K103fm.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
Take a look in the five-and-ten, glistening once again
With candy canes and silver lanes aglow

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Toys in every store
But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be
On your own front door

A pair of hopalong boots and a pistol that shoots
Is the wish of Barney and Ben
Dolls that will talk and will go for a walk
Is the hope of Janice and Jen
And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Everywhere you go
There's a tree in the Grand Hotel, one in the park as well
The sturdy kind that doesn't mind the snow.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas
Soon the bells will start
And the thing that will make them ring is the carol that you sing
Right within your heart.

By the way, Robb Topolski changed the lyrics to something related to another annual event, but this one is a bit painful... hehehe. They recorded the song as well, no joke, man!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Focal
Everywhere you go!
Those three-sixties from five or ten
Of our most trusted friends
Superlatives that make our brag sheets glow!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Focal
Soon we’ll know our score
But the prettiest site to see is the paycheck that should be
Just a wee bit more

I told my absentee boss that my peers were a loss
And their work was ragged and rare
They would just talk and then go for a walk
And to me they just don’t compare
As I’m the best you must attest
And less would be unfair

It’s beginning to look a lot like Focal
Everywhere you go!
Our ratings will be proposed
In meetings behind doors closed
Can you recall events twelve months ago?

It’s beginning to look a lot like Focal
Our names upon the chart
But the thing that will go ka-ching
A raise I hope they bring
Please don’t break my heart

Hmm... annual performance review??? Sorry, I can't tell you, it is confidential... You have to find out yourself, no spoon-feeding! Anyway, Feliz Navidad !!!

December 17, 2004

Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

When I was a teenager, during my secondary school time, I found that one of the most challenging examination papers was "essay writing". It was not really something hard, but for the first 5 minutes I realized that I was still staring at the questions, still deciding which one to choose. Wihtout making any obvious movement, I looked to my left and right, and had the feeling that I am the only one in this world that had not started writing. Once I had made up my mind, it took me another 15 minutes to plan for the whole essay and to think of the first line. Well, tough enough. Once I got throught the first 20 minutes, I would keep writing and writing without realizing that time really flies. The environment was really quite during the 2 hours that your ears could hear the "buzzing". When the exam invigilator barked "Time is up! Put your pens down!", I started to regret that I wasted too much time in the beginning even though I had completed the essay. Keep promising myself not to waste too much time in the beginning, try to understand why I can't make up my mind, etc. Nevertheless, there was a "feel good" kind of thing, like you have accomplished something, you can't explain it. Will talk more about this later. Well, those were the days...

Many times, people just can't get started until the very last minute. There are many self-improvement books that you can grab from a book store. People trying to beat procrastination, learn to do planning, execute efficiently, and many more, and I still don't know why people like to put things off till eleventh hour. I found the answer in 1999 when I attended "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" course conducted by James Cathcart. Hey! We are addited to our own natural pain killer, i.e. the endorphin, which is produce by the pituitary glands. By the way, endorphin is the short for endogenous morphin. As a result, people continue to delay things till the very last moment, do it under pressure, and "taste" the endorphin at the end. The same goes to those who like to eat chilli... to name a few: habanero, serrano, and jalapeno. Not to be outdone by the Mexican, there are also the sky-pointing chilli (ji thin jiu in Cantonese, phrik chi fa in Thai), rice chilli (cili padi in Malay), etc. People keep on eating chilli because they feel good from the endorphin. The brain misinterprets the burning sensation from the capsaicin enzyme and thinks that the tongue is injured, thus releasing endorphine to reduce the "pain".

WTF to do with the title? It took me quite sometime to really find time to blog. Most of my time are pretty much occupied, spend quite an amount of time on work. The rest are for the family, strictly no working on Saturdays and Sundays, but we work quite late during weekdays. Sometimes you want to do it, but the other side of yourself keeps telling you to do it some other time. Today is the day that the "just do it" side triumped over the "later la..." side. Can't think of any title better that the Chinese saying, "Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" (千里之行,始于足下). Hey! This is not a joke, and someone really made a journey of more than a thousand miles. Our comrade, Mao Zedong made the Long March in 1934~1935 with some 86,000 men and women for a little over a year, covering about 6000 miles. OK, I guess I have to continue with my version of long march some other day for now. Till the next blog, have a great day!