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Pil Seung

Location: Penang, Malaysia

February 28, 2005

Another disaster but I didn't turn up

The company got a big lump sum of money recently due to some achievement. Some kind of significant business indicator which could not be disclosed here, of course. I have some kind of feeling that the management tends to spend money on intangible stuffs rather than giving it back to employees.

This was another employee appreciation event which took place at the most prestigious in Penang, the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, a return to elegance, a jewel from the past. Hey, this is really a big deal, and it is one of the most expensive hotel in Penang. The date chosen was coinciding with the 15th day of Chinese New Year. Cantonese call it Yuin Siu Jit, while the Hokkiens call it Chap Goh Meh. I decided not to go due to 3 reasons that I speculated at first. It turned out to be nothing but the truth.

First of all, traffic jam. Although this is part of life in packed cities like Penang, the 15th day of Chinese New Year is a big event. People rushed to Penang to see the "mandarin oranges throwing" event, fireworks, etc. The management realized this and allowed employees to leave early. Some of those who went told us that many reached there late. I am definitely not in favour of a dinner that will leave me stranded on the road and on the Penang bridge for a few hours.

Food is everywhere in Penang. Last year, I hosted a Vietnamese friend who has never been to any other countries before. She jokingly commented that, "In Penang, beside selling food, what else do Penangites sell?" There are many places where you can find delicious food but definitely not at those 5-star hotels.

What am I trying to say here? Hmm... the food that night was so lousy that the cheapest (most economical) hawker food is better. They ordered a 8-course Chinese dinner. The first dish is the most important dish, which has all kind of combinations. Traditionally, the first dish consists of 7 or 9 small dishes put side by side in a circle, with one dish in the center. The one served by E&O hotel that night had only 4 dishes with deep fried imitation crab meet (surimi) as one of the dishes. Shit! I can do better at home. People usually finish this first combi-dish but on that night, there were lots of leftover. Once you see the first dish, you don't have to mention the rest. However, there was one dish worth mentioning. It was the tandoori chicken with naan bread. The bread was so "hard" that teeth will come out if you try to pull it. At the end of the dinner, people went for Nasi Kandar.

In most of the dinners organized by companies for employees, the only way to "attract" people to attend is to organize lucky draw. The first prize was an OEM-branded 29-inch TV, and I think you don't want to know the rest anymore.

Well, as I said, from my observation, the management likes to spend money on intangible things. With the amount of money paid to E&O hotel, you can have all kind of delicious food around Penang for 3 consecutive nights. Ask Taiwanese company people where they treat their Japanese customers. Cheap but delicious! They can't eat E&O hotel, anyway. Who cares?

Since the amount to be paid to E&O hotel is huge, money left for lucky draw is tremendously reduced. Hence, you have OEM-branded TV instead of Sony, Panasonic or Samsung. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention about the lion dance in the beginning of the dinner. It was meant to please the few angmo who were the guests of honour. Hey, this costs money too, and again intangible stuff.

People might be very surprise why 5-star hotel food is so lousy. The answer lies within the fact that they are 5-star hotel. In order to qualify for the 5-star hotel status, one criteria must be met. The food must be halal. The rest is self-explanatory. Please don't get me wrong that delicious food must have pork in it. This is not true. It is the chefs. If you still don't understand, go and ask your friend.

There is no regret. E&O hotel, sorry, but it is a fact unless you prove it otherwise.

Hungry dogs fighting over shit

A clever furniture company organized a so called customer appreciation event recently. It was February 20, 2005 bersamaan dengan 11 Muharam 1426 Hijrah. Quite a number of people turned up as early as 7:00 pm even thought it was mentioned that it will only start at 8:00 pm. Upon arrival to the scene, I saw the board on the stage detailing the line-up of programs for the night. This includes the arrival of VIP at 8:00 pm. Oh, shit! I told my wife, in this case, I guess we have to wait till at least 8:30 pm. To my surprise, those VIPs arrived at 8:03 pm, and the event was started immediately without further ado. Wow! This is my first time seeing VIPs arrived early. Anyway, I asked myself, what the fuck to do with VIPs if this is a customer apprciation program? Well, no explanation needed, it is a show of relationship, showing to competitors and the public that they have some "connections".

After those VIPs had given their speeches, the organizer, i.e., the clever furniture company presented some gifts to those VIPs in front of all the customers. Maybe it is acceptable to Malaysian. What's the problem here? Well, these fucking VIPs are not even customers and they were given something in front of real customers. I am not happy with this. If they are customers, they will be in the same program as one of us. I don't favour special treatment for VIPs. They are elected by the members of the public. Fuck them aside and let's go on with the story.

In order to thank customers for their patronage and support, the clever furniture company lets customer to grab a handful of Malaysian coins (50 sen, 20 sen and 10 sen) inside a bowl. Theorectically, whatever you can grab is yours. There are 3 "lucky strike" coins in there too. If you get it, there are special prizes for you.

For customers who had spent a minimum of RM 1500, but below RM 5000, they will be given one grab, they called it one dip, i.e. dipping your hand in the bowl. For those who had spent above RM 5000, there will be 2 dips. Of course, simple calculation here, a friend had 4 dips, and we knew immediately that this friend had spent above RM 15,000. We only guessed. What about those who spent exaclty RM 5000? They did not give customer the benefit of doubt, and therefore, only one dip is given. Hey, this is the way to make customer happy. Interesting, Malaysia Boleh style, I assume.

When the time come for the lucky dip event, customers were told to line up. Where? It was not specified properly, and since you know Malaysians don't know how to form a queue, what do you expect? It was ugly. People are pushing and shoving each other to get to the front. People who tried their best to form a line wer etold it should start from the other side, not this side. The security guards were rude. Some people scolded the guards, and the latter got angry and threatened to whack customers. The whole system was screwed up. Those who managed to get to the front have the advantage because the lucky strike has not been taken yet, while those at the back is at the mercy of those in front. The fucking furniture company treated customers like refugees waiting to get food from aid workers. Cantonese says, like hungry dog fighting over shit.

Quite some people gave up after queuing half way, while some get mad shouting "Don't push!" to those behind them. Some tried to crack jokes, while some trying to sweet talk the security guards in order to let them cutting queue. Finally, it was my turn. Well, no hurry, the lucky strike had been taken, so the only challenge is to grab as much as you can. These organizer was "no gentleman". After you grabbed your coins, you still have to put them in a smaller-than-your-hand plastic bag. You can't pick up whatever dropped in the process of putting coins into the bag. Hmm... stingy, I think.

This event was a disaster. Some us did not have our dinner yet. We started lining up and, of course, pushing since 8:55 pm and I had my turn at around 10:00 pm. I saw a few colleagues have the same angry face and wow not buy anything from this fucking fucniture company anymore. After "comparing notes" with colleagues, we found out that most of us got around RM20 per grab. If you spent RM 5000, and got back RM 25, that's just 0.5%. Is it worth the trouble next time? Oh, the answer is, there is no next time. Sorry, you have to pay the price for treating customers in such a manner. Furniture Arts (M) Sdn Bhd, we will never forgive you!

February 15, 2005

Interesting people with BMW 735

It was the fourth day of Chinese New Year, February 12, 2005, Saturday. I was driving from my hometown back to the Pearl of the Orient. Traffic was not really heavy on the north bound side of the expressway. During a stopover at the Gunung Semanggol R&R area, I took the advantage to fill up the tank.

When I came out of the mini mart, I noticed a metallic gold colour BMW 735 (car registration number withheld). Some interesting behaviour was observed. The owner stopped next to a pump without turning off the engine. This guy came out of the car and used his cell phone to make calls. The lady sitting at the passenger side (girl friend, I guess) looked quite bored waiting for the guy to go into the mini mart to swipe his credit card.

OK, done. The guy came out. Interesting enough, the guy asked one of the attendents to fill up the tank for him. What? I thought it is "self-service" everywhere throughout Malaysia. Interestingly, the attendent filled up for him. Hmm... maybe the attendent pitied this kind of useless people and save his breath arguing.

It's time to leave. Without saying "thank you" to the attendent, the guy drove the fucking luxury car leaving the Esso petrol station. The slut wound down the window (of course, it is an electric-powered window) and threw the receipt out. What an uneducated litter bug?

When I told this incident to a friend, his comment is that these people must be "kaya terkejut". This is definitely not the attitude of those who worked their way up from rags to riches. Well, there are so many people who die everyday, I wonder why this kind of interesting people is still roaming on earth.

Anyway, just ignore them next time if they do no harm to you. However, if they are ignorant enough to perform unsafe act, and want to die, please die a bit far away from me. I don't want to die and I don't want to be the one to dial the emergency number (or call the coffin shop). Fuck this kind of so called "rich" people!

February 09, 2005

Dumb and dumber

During the Chinese New Year, people will usually travel back to their hometown to celebrate with their parents. Not much different from people in United States travelling during the Thanksgiving holidays. Parents' home was once our home, and it is like a time capsule. I found an interesting book my father gave to me long time ago. It was his Bahasa Kebangsaan (National Language) text book, dated 1960. It was published by Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka.

Here is an interesting dumb and dumber story (in the older day Malay language) from one of the many pages:

Dari Hal Soldadu Dengan Kelasi

Pada suatu hari sa-orang soldadu daripada tentera darat telah bertemu dengan sa-orang kelasi kapal dan kedua-duanya telah berbual. Kata si-soldadu kapada si-kelasi, "Datok kamu mati di-mana?" Jawab kelasi, "Datok saya mati di-laut." Kata pula soldadu itu, "Baik-lah, bapa kamu mati di-mana?" Ujar kelasi itu, "Bapa saya mati di-laut juga." Kata soldadu itu, "Kasehan! Kalau bagitu jangan-lah kamu pergi ka-laut. Dengar-lah nasihat saya."

Kemudian daripada itu kelasi pula bertanya kapada soldadu kata-nya, "Datok kamu mati di-mana?" Maka jawab soldadu itu, "Di-tempat tidor-nya bukan dalam ayer." Kata pula kelasi itu, "Bapa kamu mati di-mana?" Jawab soldadu itu sa-kali lagi, "Di-tempat tidor-nya juga." Lepas itu kata si-kelasi, "Kasehan, kalau bagitu dengar-lah nasihat saya. Jangan-lah kamu pergi ka-tempat tidor."

Dua tiga orang yang telah mendengar bualan soldadu dengan kelasi itu telah ketawa besar.

Happy Chinese New Year

Today (Feb 9, 2005) is the first day of the first month according to the Chinese agriculture calendar. Well, it's a new year. Then, what year is it? Well, I don't know. Some people are counting from the birth of Buddha. If that is the case, it is year 2548 today, and it will be year 2549 when Wesak Day comes a few month later.

Anyway, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Chinese New Year, and also, "Gong Xi Fa Cai". It means congratulations and may you be blessed with wealth and prosperity. Cantonese people will greet each other "Kung Hei Fat Choy", while the Hokkien people will say "Kiong Hee Huat Chye". May the year of the Rooster brings everyone health, wealth, and prosperity. Hope the world will be a better place to live tomorrow.