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Archive for the ‘My Diary’ Category

As our company grows and generate more than 200++ employment around Malaysia, I couldn’t help but to remember my younger days.

Those times when my venture went bust and I had no one to turn and settle my business debts.

Those times when I couldn’t even pay for my roti canai and had to ask for money from my staff.

Those times when everyone doubted our efforts and thought it was just another burger stall.

Those times when you cry alone because you just could not settle your problems and there is no way out.

Those times when you act strong and confident to the team but inside you are full of sorrow for you know the next month you can’t pay wages.

Those times when people say you will never succeed because you are just another failed entrepreneur.

But these things changed after my Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

Suddenly things went boom after the pilgrimage.

And everything God grants has its reasons. And I know the prayers I made and the reasons.

I did not ask for rezeki, nor I pray to be surrounded by richness.

I only prayed to do righteous deeds and if God grants me the capacity to make money, then let me do it for righteous deeds for afterlife.

And when things go hard, I know it’s just a sign for me to learn because Allah loves his worshippers. It’s just to teach us things which is hard because we need that knowledge to settle problems in the future.

I measure not someone’s wealth as his ability, but his deeds.

Deeds are what is more important in the eyes of God.

For all this wealth, does not last forever. We’re just custodians. Wealth was never ours from the start. It belongs to God. We just administer it. So how could we be arrogant on something which is never ours from the start?

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THE IGNORANCE PERIOD

When I was in the university, clueless I was on middle income trap.

How could a country with plenty of resources is still trap in the middle income segment? (to see how far we are behind: Malaysia GDP = USD 256 billion while US GDP = USD 14 trillion, China = USD 5.6 trillion).

During my tenure as the student leader, I championed causes with other student leaders in other universities to lower the burden of rakyat. We persuaded the govt to maintain subsidies for petrol, sugar, etc. Little did we pause and think, where do this money come from and how much money do we have?

Even upon graduation, I understand DS Idris Jala’s presentation on the importance of subsidy elimination but I couldn’t understand fully.

Until now.

WHAT I REALISED AS A RAKYAT

The reality is our government wouldn’t be forever rich with cash to fuel our subsidy demands.

The subsidy given to us is paid by someone.

Who is that? It is paid mainly by you taxpayers, borrowers (yes government need to borrow money) & receipts from government ventures (those company owned by govt like Khazanah).

Don’t for a second think your tax or corporate tax is enough to cover our subsidy demands. Imagine how many cents we take from each litre of petrol.

Every litre of petrol you consume, someone is paying for it.

To add to our addiction, some local graduates are not working hard enough to enhance their capabilities.

So what? I still get a job anyway right?

When graduates have less capabilities, it forces companies to hire someone else, which adds to cost.

It forces companies to focus on firefighting, take shortcuts (hire cheap foreign labour), do not innovate, hence in the long run, we lose in terms of cost (imagine using your grandma’s aircond and your aircond today. Which one consume more power and cost?).

To make it worse, since 1980s, we have adopted policies of bringing in cheap labour to work.

So what? Good for business right? No, in the long run.

Cheap labour means companies are not forced to innovate hence they are dependant on foreign workers (easy way out).

That makes the demand for high skilled workers like graduates, a no issue for them.

Imagine a welding company can get foreign labours to weld it. But…… Imagine a welding company which utilizes advanced machinery to weld stainless steel with no need of foreign labour. Obviously this company needs graduates to look after the machinery which would give higher income to the graduate.

To make it even much much much worse, as a result of dependence on cheap labour, companies do not see the point to innovate, hence MSC companies are finding it hard to market solutions like CRM, cloud computing, ERP, etc.

Simply put, these companies are not forced to innovate to compete and they don’t care.

Some don’t even see the need to use technologies to upgrade their competitiveness to reduce costs and increase profitability.

There needs to be someone to tell them how to reduce costs from all angle; operations, finance, admin, etc. Not just IT!

Hence all of us are trapped in the middle income trap.

Except for entrepreneurs who succeed and investors who speculate (like those that buy properties, many of them using debt on debt).

CORRUPTION

This completes the cycle.

Everytime a greedy big bad wolf “crony” gets a job, he hikes up the price of the contract and the government needs to pay more.

When the government pays more, they need to use money from? Taxpayers, borrowers and government receipts lah!

So the government has less money to spend on other useful things.

And when these cronies dress down their accounts and implement tax reduction measures, government do not get back the money that was given to them through the contract!

Then all of us have less money.

And how about those contracts given under a special under-table arrangements?

When it is not given via merit / capabilities, it is given to someone without the skills, we lose out.

Why? They get the money, we get the contract, fair la! No.

Each money spent on non-competitive companies result in less innovation because there is no one to compete! So these companies get cheap labour, alternative ways to save up cost, without building human capital and innovation.

Hence, the middle income trap again.

THE WEAK POINTS

It all happens in a loop.

We are SO RICH with resources yet we waste it. I am truly sad of us being in the middle income trap. I want us out, ETP is really the driving force now but little do we realise, the driving force is actually us the rakyat. But when will we realise this?

So the weak points:

  • Our government is rich but we milk them with our subsidy.
  • Graduates who do not raise their capabilities adds to non-competitiveness of our firms.
  • Non-competitive firms go for shortcuts: foreign labour, etc.
  • Usage of cheap costs measures (foreign labour) results in companies which do not care about innovation.
  • Companies selling high-tech solutions couldn’t make it when companies do not want their solutions.
  • Cronies jacking up prices from government contracts result in less money for government to spend on other good projects.
  • Contracts awarded based on preference, leads to non-innovative culture which leads to middle income trap.

I know there are more problems, FDI, but this is something that can make sense to the ordinary Malaysian why we are in the middle income trap.

RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Force companies to innovate by limiting foreign labour in the long run.
  • Focus on commercialization of our research output in universities so that industries can use them. At the moment, getting research grants are more important than commercialization.
  • Offer subsidy or ITA / pioneer status to companies for commercialization capital investment.
  • Force students to enhance their capabilities by tying up CGPA with practical jobs performance, innovation reflection and financial literacy.
  • Get corporate leaders to be mentors to student leaders rather than focus on politicians in its entirety.
  • Rid off corruption through pre-requisites and standards in contract awards (if no ISO 9001, GMP, no contract). – must take into account the industry capabilities as a whole and use median standards.
  • Increase grants for standards like SME Corp.

I know some of these recommendations are already out, but it is not being emphasized with a big FOCUS. Like imagine if the PM talks about ETP, then everyone would talk about it. So he should champion these things. At the moment the issue is IMPACT. How many research projects are commercialized with the current implementation plan? If you can give me a good answer then you win. But I don’t see my SME peers adopting Malaysian technology from universities en masse.

WHAT I COULD DO, PANDAI AJE RECOMMEND

Well, I would aim to increase innovation to reduce costs & increase profitability as per below:

  1. Utilize cloud computing with proven companies like Xero, Salesforce to reduce the need to hire an accountant, telemarketer.
  2. Increase productivity through documents collaboration to eliminate the need for secretaries and many admin clerks.
  3. Use high technology equipments such as blast chillers, sous vide, to eliminate waste and increase profits.
  4. Research and pair up with universities to come up with a robotic kitchen to reduce kitchen overheads.
  5. Focus on employing high performance workers with high salaries with dividend schemes.
  6. Get all grants from governments which focus on standards and work automation with the aim of reducing costs, not complicating things.
  7. Lower price down to compete with competitors through cost advantage infrastructure and force other competitors to innovate as well.

Just my 2 cents.

Not meant to bang the government or support the opposition. Just some thoughts to improve the country and it must start with something. So I’ll start the culture and if others wanna do it, please by all means because I would love to see Malaysia be no 1. Malaysia Boleh! Not “Malaysia Boleh” as of those Bolehland genre.

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I think I should write this down. It’s interesting to see what happens in the next 5 years, 10 years or 15 years time.

These are my ambitions and with Allah’s grace and blessings, hopefully I can achieve my dreams~

5 years

  • Get married and at least 1 children
  • Get my MBA from an Ivy League university
  • Turn around my company to profitability and scalability
  • Get my company listed on Bursa Malaysia (wah this is not easy)
  • Help 500 entrepreneurs to be financially aware and competitive to manage their business.
  • Help 50 bumiputera entrepreneurs personally to value competition and value building to sustain and grow their business to greater heights with the right guidance.
  • Manage at least RM5 mil of funds from investors in unit trust.

10 years

  • Buy my parents a big house with maids hoho..
  • Get another 2 kids?
  • Get a CMSL license for a personal financial advisory firm
  • Gather friends and investors to open up a Private Equity and Venture Capital company
  • Focus residual income on angel investment for aspiring entrepreneurs

15 years

  • Acquire an investment fund and buy an Islamic bank? (wtf? Am I serious?)
  • Help as many entrepreneurs as I could

Weird objectives. Don’t know how on earth I can achieve all these. But I’ll give it my best shot.

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Life Updates

I’m still in da process of balancing my life, so here are some updates on life (my son should read this when he grows up):

  • Currently pursuing my Masters of Entrepreneurship at HELP University College on a part time basis.
  • Full time employee at Malaysia Venture Capital Management Berhad (MAVCAP) in the investment team.
  • Will be presenting an entrepreneurship paper to Kauffman Foundation on da November 17th and Global Entrepreneurship Week 2009 (GEW) closing ceremony on Nov 22nd with Michael Teoh.
  • Attracted to the changes and 1Malaysia aspirations during UMNO assembly and is seriously considering UMNO as a party.
  • Is madly in love with someone and planning things in the short and long run.
  • Appointed as committee member in Aikikai Malaysia and is in the process of getting things back up and running.
  • Made an Aikido comeback.
  • Will be assisting my best friend with his Islamic fashion startup.
  • Discussing with Rashid on the possibilities of taking the ‘Capital Market Services Representative License’ exams together.

Damn, how on earth do you manage all that at once? Manage your time well, make full use of the time that is given to you. Al-Asr remember? Done that during my university times as MPP and doing it again.

I’ll blog soon.

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Whew! It took me months to complete this just for accuracy! Well, if you’re interested you can buy it directly from lulu.com. You’ll get to start spending the Muslim way right away with your free calculator!

Click here to go to the product page!

islamicbook

Product description:

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This toolkit teaches you how to use your money the Islamic way through the ‘ready to use’ FREE Islamic Personal Budgeting Calculator.

Targeted for Muslims and non-Muslims, you will significantly learn to:

  • Allocate resources for Pursuit of “Spiritual Reward & Wealth Generation” (Muslims desire for spiritual and worldly success rather than just worldly wealth)
  • Learn Islamic Values in Budgeting (Importance of Charity, Zakat, Practice of Debts.
  • Practice Islamic principles in your finances (Islam as Ad-Deen @ way of life)
  • Understand the “Islamic Concept of Need” (how not to overspend and oversave)
  • Increase your Islamic knowledge in the financial area (Quran, Hadith and Fiqh)

The Toolkit Features:

  • Learn only the things you need to know with the FAST Track index.
  • Understand Islamic principles and start right away in less than 5 minutes.
  • Just key in your expenditure and savings amount into the calculator and get immediate results.
  • Guide on using the FREE Islamic Personal Budgeting Calculator.

Purchase the toolkit and you get (priced at US$25, US$10.50!):

  1. Spend Like A Muslim – Islamic Personal Budgeting Solution (PDF File)
  2. Islamic Personal Budgeting Calculator (Excel File)

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The Road Not Taken

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Indeed upon graduation, we are forced to choose many roads leading to who knows where.
For those with ambition on climbing the organizational ladder, their road indeed leads to somewhere.

Nonetheless I too, chose my road based on my ambition and hopeful thoughts.
But I chose to take that path not taken by others.

I chose not to be a chartered accountant when I had the chance of employment.
I chose not to accept an offer with an MNC firm.
I chose not to venture onto start-ups at this moment.
I chose not to work as a government officer.

Then what path am I on?
For all has been planned and with the blessings of Allah s.w.t, success is near.
For when time comes to pass, everything shall be revealed.

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Pernahkah anda melihat manusia yang mengejar pangkat?

Pangkat yang baginya dapat memberikannya kuasa dan berniat untuk membangga2-kan diri kepada orang lain?

Adakah kamu melihat dengan kedua-dua matamu rintangan yang mereka perlu lalui,

Atau kejatuhan mereka setelah mendapatkan ‘pangkat’ itu samada sewaktu manusia itu masih kekal bernafas atau hanya dalam ingatan?

Pangkat itu bukan hakiki ataupun mainan dunia semata-mata,

Tapi anugerah dan amanah yang dipikul oleh manusia itu sendiri.

Senyumlah kepada mereka yang memiliki kejujuran dalam melaksanakan amanah.

Kerana hanya dengan kejujuran sahaja manusia itu dapat memahami “anugerah” dan mencapai kegembiraan dengan keredaan dariNYA.

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