“Foot In Mouth” Disease

I have responded to the news of the Federal Minister’s plan to ban soup kitchen within the 2km radius of city centre in my Tweets, FB as well as my LinkedIn. Haven’t found the time to actually sit down and pen down my thoughts on this until today.

The main thought that came to my mind each time I hear something as ridiculous as this is – are these the real words that came out from someone’s mouth, or has it been a result of manipulation by the newspapers? Being a person who is sometimes interviewed by the press, I am very aware of the latter whereby words and interpretations of a certain story can be totally off-tangent.

Reading from then salvaging mode press releases by him and a few other supportive parties…well, looks like that was what he said.

Sigh.

Next thought is – I wonder whether all of our Yang Berhormats have been given sessions or trainings on media handling and media crisis management? Perhaps, these two program would be a fantastic part of their leadership development program?

I have never volunteered to cook for the homeless at soup kitchens before, apart from playing a tiny role of sourcing for the rice from Bernas. This came about when the team wanted to do something charitable one December a few years ago.

However, coming from the HR fraternity, I did plenty of recruitment programs for clients back then. Some clients have special requirements that in my mind, not so many conventional recruitment companies want to do due to the low GP and the condition that you need to operate in. No air cond, no flashy office, no formal attire whatsoever, just a pair of keen eye for details and observation skills.

And, a very willing client.

We will sit in these soup kitchens during their meal time, with client sitting behind observing everyone who might have the potential to be recruited. I can tell you one thing – I broke down in each of the session.

You will get one candidate asking for a pair of slippers, or asking whether will there be enough pillows for him to sleep with. Someone else will come along and asked how many meals in a day can he get if he starts working this client? There was one candidate who came all the way from Sabah through a work agency, supposedly to be placed with a client only to be cheated out of his money, Mykad taken away and abandoned in the city.

Not all homeless are uneducated. Some whom we met were just down on their luck. Old men who could not find a job anymore, single mothers who keep two (sometimes three) jobs, taxi drivers, or those who actually work but earn so little that they could not find a decent place to live are mostly whom we met.

Being down in luck for the whole entire year last year gave me a different kind of perspective about what life is. Being homeless is not a choice that everyone wants. I do not believe that when a person wakes in the morning, the first thing that came to his mind is, “Ok, let’s see how I can be a homeless today.”

I wish that some people who sits on their high horses realize that if you strip away most of the things that you have right now , never mind the house and the car – how do you feel? Simple things such as your cable channels, the air conditioner, smart phones – it will be painful indeed.

Now imagine that you do not have a job to sustain life’s needs. Take away the house, let alone owning a car. It gives a domino effect. One of the noblest things to do is to feed hungry people, and I think giving people jobs when they need one also means giving them back self worthiness and dignity. A lot of the Government’s efforts have been concentrated to provide jobs to people. But jobs without the 360 degrees of support is not going to be helpful. Where would the single mothers/fathers leave their children when they go out for work? With an average of RM600/child/month for a day care centre, this is not possible at all when all you earn is a measly between RM20/day to RM40/day.

Poverty in Malaysia is measured by the Poverty Line Index (PLI). A household is considered poor if its income falls below that line. The Poverty Line Index (PLI) for Malaysia was introduced in June 1977 using the 1973 Household Expenditure Survey (HES). It was based on the minimum requirements of a household for food, clothing and footwear, and other non-food items such as rent, fuel and power. For the food component, the minimum expenditure was based on a daily requirement of 9,910 calories for a family of five comprising an adult male, an adult female and three children of either sex within 1-3, 4-6, 7-9 years of age. The minimum requirements for clothing and footwear were based on standards set by the Department of Social Welfare for the requirements of inmates in welfare homes. The other non-food items were based on the level of expenditure of the lower income households as reported in the HES. (cited here)

The urban poor is a reality. Malaysia’s urban poverty line is now RM3,000 compared to RM700 several years ago. In 2012, the Mean Monthly Gross Household Income was RM5,742, an increase of 190%. This may sound fantastic when you look at the numbers. However, again reality strikes. Cost of living rise by the year and even for George and I who had a comfortable combined income found it difficult to make ends meet.

So, coming back to my rant on this topic, think before you speak otherwise you might end up with Foot In Mouth disease.

 

 

 

 

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Harassed Over “Sexy Attire”

Looks like the religious police came in another form – school security guards.

Apparently, there was this lady who went to her children’s school was nearly assaulted by a female security guard for dressing in “sexy attire”.

This lady was accused of exposing her body when all she wore was her work uniform. The news also mentioned how the security guard followed her to the school office and was believed that she wanted to her the mother of two.

Read the news here.

This is not an isolated case because I too, had experienced a similar incident. Way back in 2007, I was harassed not by a school security guard but by the Headmistress of the school itself.

Self-righteous, snooty and higher-than-thou attitude lady, she tried to “instill” some nilai-nilai murni (good virues) to me in that quick-flash lecture outside of a classroom while waving and pointing her index finger towards me.

All these happened while other teachers and my daughter were watching in horror.

More “horror” because I did not take it too kindly because I gave her back with a few choiced words that it trailed off to a nicely written report to the nearest Pejabat Pelajaran Daerah (District Education Department).

I was not wearing a mini skirt, see-through blouse with neon bras, white pants with pink thongs or looking like a slut looking for a hook up at the bar. I am sure the mother of two, Fatimah Abdullah from Melaka was not wearing any sexy attire either.

Read my old story here.

This story also reminds me of another incident in Putrajaya not too long ago. I was supposed to have a meeting with one of the Pengarah (Director) of a quasi-government. Together with a few other associates who happened to be all male, we registered ourselves at the counter. All of my male colleagues were allowed to go through except for me.

Now, this appointment was called by this Pengarah for his briefings as well as his team. There I was, the leading team member who was supposed to present the paper, all dressed up in below the knee length black dress and business jacket was stopped at the reception for “not wearing appropriate attire”.

What?

I was brushed off by telling me that it was their “policy on attire”.

Furious with the ridiculous situation, I asked for the blinking copy of the policy in black and white. I also asked to see the security supervisor. By that time, we were like a show with a few spectators wondering what the heck was going on. One of the security guards pointed to my knees.

I asked him what was wrong with my knees when it was well covered by the length of the dress?

He said…”I think I still can see your knees..”

Realizing that talking to a moron was not going to do any good, I promptly called the PA to the Pengarah and had his good office be aware that we were caught late by this silly drama by his security officers.

The incident passed by when the PA himself came down to escort us in with much apologies.

Sometimes I wonder how people see things? These people ought to know what constitutes indecently dressed to proper ones. Are they following a proper policy or they are acting based on their understanding of what “properly dressed” means?

Sick.

 

Service Culture In Malaysia (Or The Lack Of It)

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost.
That is where they should be. Now put the foundation under them”.
–Henry David Thoreau

Ok, so the Visit Malaysia 2014 is already here and down to almost the first month of its launch.

However, taxi service is still one of the worst I have experienced. The taxi drivers outside of the KLCC and Puduraya still try to charge me RM40.00/trip to Damansara area, thinking that I am one fine Filipina going home. The quoted fare will go higher when they see me walking with this fine Mat Salleh (my husband) thinking that they can earn part of their kid’s college by fleecing this couple. Are you guys fucking nuts?

Where the hell are SPADS officers? They can clamp down on lorries, cars, busses and what ever else that moves on the road, but not the taxi drivers?

What are you guys afraid of? Or, is the matter still “under study”?

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The folks behind the service counter still carry a ton of bricks on the lips to smile. The attraction to WhatsApp on their BlackBerry is just too much.  The front liners at the shops still have their mouth tied shut from greeting customers in a proper way.

I even have a thing or two to say about the employees at the Tiffany’s KLCC. Some of them seriously need attitude adjustment. Hear this, ok?

MY WALLET WILL NOT OPEN UP WILLINGLY TO PAY FOR YOUR BLINKING COMMISSION IF YOU START “TELLING” ME THAT I CANNOT AFFORD THAT SET OF RINGS. AND, LOOKING ME UP AND DOWN FIRST.

Get it?

The latest incident was at the Bormas Jalan Tuan Abdul Rahman this afternoon. I printed my business cards there three times for the past one year. They lost the art work AND files three times as well. Not only that, they ignored me when I asked questions. To top it off, said something that makes ME be the culprit for losing MY files in THEIR computers.

Excuse me?

It is really not my place to tell you that you are making your bosses lose some “miserable” RM25 today but I am taking my hard earned money elsewhere.

I am tired of all these. I am tired being the Grumpy Ole Fartress who will call up the Manager, or worse still, the owner of a certain establishments that their service sucks. That their people need attitude adjustment and that I am not coming back.

And friends wonder why I am being anti social nowadays. The reason is because if I did, then I have no reason to deal with all these things!

Just Shut Up If You Don’t Have Anything Good To Say

I sat in a meeting room today with the executive members of a group of companies. They were pretty intent in listening to a presentation by an senior executive of a potential vendor. My role for the day was to arrange for this meeting so that these people can talk to each other and hopefully develop enough chemistry that they will end up doing business together.

The dude, kinda a newbie in Malaysia must have felt a little bit out of place. With his spiffy coat, leather shoes, he looked like every inch of a successful senior executive. The rest of the meeting team members were semi casual.

Coming close towards the end of the presentation, a member from the group started jibing on the ideas presented and continued to yak yak yak yak…..whatever that came out from his mouth sounded far from being intelligent. I almost keel over and wanted to hide. Not only that, he also started to ask the dude why Australia is imposing visa to Malaysians who want to enter?

Dude in suit said, ” I have no idea, I am a New Zealander…”.

I just wish that some people realized how ridiculous they sound when they open up their mouth.

Do Not Settle For Crap In Your Life

As we go through life, and age creeps up at a higher number than last year, you bound to meet so many type of people. Some are good and some..are just so toxic that you do not even want your Guppy to be in the same room as them. Life is not all about money, and you must treasure the people around you. Do not be that toxic, do not be abusive. Live life as clean and honest as you can as that is the only life you have.

Oh, dont take crap as well as life is too short.

Leave The Drama At The Door, Kids!

I wonder whether kids know how much parents really sacrificed in terms of money, from the day of conception to the day they turn 21. Let me count the ways:

  • Days after the conception, after one missed period: RM25.00 (pregnancy kit).
  • Visit to the doctor to reconfirm pregnancy: RM100.00
  • Expensive dinner for comfort food after finding out that you are pregnant: RM200.00 (maybe more if you love steak or seafood)
  • Maternity clothes: RM2,000.00 (average of 2 a month till you popped)
  • Medical check ups: RM2,700.00 for the next 9 months. Average of RM300.00 per visit. Not included emergencies.
  • Labour room, medical etc RM6,000.00

All these not including other expenses i.e. bottles, booties, etc etc etc. Do not forget the college fees too.

And then, there’s life’s little lessons along the way which are totally priceless, just like the Mastercard advertisement. My mind just raced back to maybe 22 years when real life was just a beginning for me. I thought people could survive on love but the daily reality check was difficult to accept. How naive and accepting I was then.

Bring forward to 2001. Building a business from scratch was not easy. Some got it right from birth. Unfortunately I was not born with a silver spoon, but years of hard work paid off with some relatively comfortable life.

Then, more dramas.

Some children think it is their birth right to run away from home to “think about their so-called crappy lives”. All these just to create unnecessary worry to their parents. And what about that crappy attitude when they talk to their parents. Amazingly, that crappy attitude just change like the swift move of Psy’s Gangnam dance when they talk to their friends. Funnily enough, they are even nicer to their friends’ parents! To add salt to the injury, they even hoped that their friends’ parents are their parents too. And they will tell this right to your face as you serve them dinner after braving the city’s traffic jam and slaving the entire day at work.

Nice.

Now, back to all these dramas. Trust me, it does not end there. It just gets worse. They also think that it is their birth right to air the laundry (of course all these are one sided story) in public so that their self pity, selfish behaviour will be comforted by some unknowing, sympathetic friends.

But God had other plans to test His subjects. He has a dry sense of humour sometimes – for instance, He will throw in the misery and painful break up of a marriage to only reward you with the most fulfilling partnership with your future soulmate whom you only ever had read somewhere in a fairy tale before.

One day He decided to open up the Gate Of Wealth and bestow you opportunities to make heaps upon heaps of money that you can literally waltz into a store and buy everything except the toilet sink. And yet, He tested you with the loneliness, sadness, anger emptiness when your partner left you for someone else younger.

The problem is, you can never buy happiness. And that, is a big problem.

One morning many years ago, I woke up with a bad case of migraine realizing that I had nothing else in my life – no spouse, no wealth, run-out savings, no relatives, lost many friends, no home and no business. Divorce is a messy thing. It saps out the life out of you like the Kalahari during summer time. Not that I have ever been there but I read that the dessert’s temperature could go as high as  50C (122F). The only thing left was a Teenager, the cats and my self determination to rise up again.

So, technically, you need to find that elusive oasis pronto to survive or you are a dead meat. Sometimes, you will see only the mirage…..

Yet, worked I did. Worked so hard so that I can put food on the table, buy clothes, pay the house, save for college, little trips and presents; and all the things as how a single parent should be doing for her little family. 

Children of divorced parents have no effing idea what kind of sacrifices their parents have made. Many, unselfishly sacrificed their own happiness and comfort for the children’s sake. Do you know how many times they forgo their own meals so that you can eat? What about festive seasons when they insist to buy your clothes and not theirs? Or when they have to ask for pay advances so that they can pay for your tuition classes because the ex doesnt believe in paying anything? Does anyone else care that the rice in the can has reached to the bottom that all I could see was the measuring cup?

And yet all these children see is food on their plate, new clothes in the wardrobe, Astro paid, the car moves, the fridge laden with food, phone credits topped up and their pocket money paid. Off they skip happily with friends.

So, what are they after really, for parents like me for instance? Well, I am not asking much. Buy me a simple Ramly burger with your first salary would be nice although a dinner at Lafite would be more fitting. Or, a simple respect by asking how am I.

I am tired of dramas from children of post divorce. Many are ungrateful bunch and selfish. They think that the world will revolve around them forever and a day without an inkling how hurtful or painful their actions and behaviour can be. Some are such suckers for pain that they will stick like a a Super Glue to other people who abuse them verbally. And yet, I really do not understand why the respect and care are not given to those who have sacrificed and protected them.

Conclusion? Perhaps, you have to be cruel to be kind. 

Remember, parents are human too and they will want to feel happiness in their lives minus all the diva-ish dramas. Cause life is too short for dramas.

And I want to live my live for me too. Some decisions such as new location for home, new cat, new sofa, fittings, flower pots, a step dad or step mom are to be made sometime in this life. Some, such as the badly scratched furniture need to be replaced. But not step dad or step mom.

Not happy with that decision?

Too bad.

A Lesson From Building A House

Being a business owner for SME is tricky.

The production line needs to move so that it will churn out products. Your employees keep on quitting on you and you just cannot seem to find anyone to come and work for your company.  After all, you do provide the basics – basic pay, basic annual and SOCSO. The average line managers’ salary is RM2,500.00. You do take in the occasional Management Trainee so that there is someone at the reception table to answer phone calls and do all the other administrative works. The factory is located far away from the main road but it is cheap rental. So far none of the employees have complaint about having to travel the distance.

You want to expand your business but it takes too much time to call those people at the ministries, relevant departments and even to go for any networking sessions with the peers in the industry.

All you want to do is to produce more, sell more and earn more profits. Most of the time you find yourself doing all the fire fighting and ended up dejected. You are always “too busy” to take a look around the company and try to improvise.

And you still wonder why your staff turnover is at an all time high of 50% and no one wants to work for you?

As the title suggests, let’s take a look at what kind of lessons we can learn from building a house.

It is likened to building a house from scratch where you first need to think of what kind of a house are you going to build. Next comes to the type of material, who are your contractors, how long will the house be ready for, location, costs to build this house and so forth. Once the house is ready, you will want to decorate it with all the furnishings, furniture and fittings so that the house will be a home.

A business is like a house where you need to put up the basic structure or otherwise your contractor will not be able to “read” your mind. His understanding of the size of the dream pool you have in mind may not even come close. The 4-seater dining table will serve its purpose – a dining table- but will not look good in a space suitable for 12.

Simple as that. Start with the structure. Sure, you will not see the immediate need as to why you need to lay down a foundation before slapping the mud to build the wall.  But try it when the raining season comes and you will see the mud slides down and you are left with nothing.

Ok, so I am talking about a mud house but this concept is so primitive that even Mr Arg Arg from the Cave Era understood the basics so I really do not understand why a brilliant, post university businessman in this 21st century has a zero understanding of this concept.

Look dude, if you are always too busy, then maybe running a business is not suitable for you. Can’t have a reactive leader up there when there are so many things are at stake. Oh, besides that, do not be too cheap skate as to back peddle on what you have instructed your contractor to do cause nothing is free in this world.

Shopping Experience

George and I have officially declared ourselves as anti-social. The highlight for us are weekend grocery shopping, movies, coffee in Central Market and the weekend trips. Ok, so we do go out to meet friends but honestly, our real social life activities can be counted with both hands.

We can count on the number of reasons why we just dont feel like going out. Shopping malls are pack with gadzillion people especially over the weekend. Drinks are expensive. Virgin Pina Colada can cost more than a non-virgin. Now, why is that? Try buying a bottle of mineral water in a dancing place if that doesnt give you a heart attack. Screaming kids at shopping isle. Family conference at escalators. Let’s not talk about the KL’s infamous traffic jam especially when you try hitting down town in mid day over the weekend.

Oh. Now. Talking about grocery shopping. We love grocery shopping. George gets to hunt down for his favourite cheese, chips and whatever his Canadian taste bud calls for. I like to drool over spice and oil racks and ponder on meat at the butchery. The finale would be coffee somewhere to reflect the day’s shopping experience.

That comes to our, or to be specific my recent experience in Bangsar Village recently.

Did our grocery shopping. Happy as a lark as I managed to get some good brisket and planned to do some serious experiment to make salt beef in brine. Decided to pop in to Caring Pharmacy to get some stuff. As I was trying to get to the cashier, I saw there were a already few people lining up and this rendered part of the isle towards the cashier to be blocked. I requested for the Indian gentleman in front of me to shift a little bit so that I can go out from the isle and stand behind him.

George came by to pass me some personal items and as that happened, the line moved and I shifted as well. I saw to my right a lady with a walker. She looked and sounded like an Italian. Maybe I was wrong but she certainly was not a Malaysian. Could not help to overhear her talking on her mobile.

Then the line shifted again and this time she inched her walker and tried to wedge between me and the Indian gentleman. The line shifted again and so did I. She wedged her walker again and pretended not to see me.

I finally said to her that I was there first, behind the gentleman.

She said loudly, “OHHHHHH no, no, no, no…you didnt. I was here first!” And gave me a look. I insisted that I was there first, right behind the guy.

And she raised her voice higher, accused me of being rude and wedged her walker closer.

There I was, with a splitting headache, a high BP that was 161/100 a day before, PMS-ing, and someone gave me a no, no, no complete with a look? Did she has a death wish or something?

I was not happy. I mean, I could have given her the line and pay for her items but I was not happy.

I called out for the Indian gentleman to verify and he said, “Yes, she was behind me.” I thought that was the end of this silliness. Apparently I was wrong.

Instead, this lady decided to challenge it, and her choice of path was not something that I could tolerate….She decided to say, “Oh, great. Go ahead. You people, backing up each other. See if I care!”

I turned to her. “You people?” “YOU PEOPLE??! Who are you referring to?” She was taken aback I suppose, because here is a woman, oh, excuse me, a local woman who talks back. “I just think that you are rude”, that was all she could say.

I decided not to say anything else than telling her that I did not give a rat-ass at what she thinks. I was wondering why she was here in Malaysia in the first place. If she thinks so lowly of “the people”, then she should just pack her bag and go.

Dark Meat, White Meat

I had the opportunity to have a quick lunch with an old friend of mine today at a shopping mall near the house. We have not met in a few months and it happened that she was around the neighbourhood, and I had a bit of time to squeeze. So, we decided to meet at Nando’s, Tropicana City Mall.

 

Me to server: I’d like to have the 1/4 chicken with the 2 sidelines please?

Server: Ok. (and I proceeded to order the sidelines and my drinks)

Me: By the way, do you think I can choose either the dark meat or the white meat?

Server: (giving me a look) It depends on the chicken.

Me: HUH?

 

Post note:

Makes me want to go back to F&B training.

Island Hopping Tour In Langkawi (And Why Monkeys Drink Beer On Pulau Beras Basah)

The Daughter and I arrived in Langkawi in the early morning of that Sunday. Took a taxi from the airport to the chalet and dropped off our bags before getting ready for an early morning island hopping tour.

I love the ocean and have gone for this island hopping tour for many times. I just love the smell of the ocean and wondered who will join my group for that morning.

The first stop was at the Pulau Dayang Bunting (Island of The Pregnant Maiden). Saw the swimming monkeys looking for crabs on the shore of the island. It was low tide. So many boats with tourists.

Can you see the outline of the pregnant maiden?

The minor trekking uphill to reach to the Lake of The Pregnant Maiden was alright. We stopped several times to capture the pictures of the monkeys found along the trail. Some were seen busy grooming each other. So cute!

Lake of The Pregnant Maiden is a fresh water lake found on the island of the Pregnant Maiden. On days when there are not so many tourists, the lake looks so calm, reflecting shades of green and blue from the surrounding lush jungle and the sunny sky.

The cat fish pool which used to attract so many people is gone. I was told that the otters would come to eat the cat fish, and they just disappear.

The trip took us to see an eagle feeding session as well. There were less eagles that morning as I think they were already full by the previous feeding sessions that may have started since early morning. I caught sight of a few of this majestic looking eagles. Big, with powerful wings, the eagles flew in circles, occasionally sweeping down near the surface of the water to catch fish and the chicken meat thrown in by boat men.

The last stop was at Pulau Beras Basah (Island of The Wet Rice). The island is one of the accessible jump-points in Langkawi. Years ago, I recall of pristine, white beach with beautiful clear water and lush green forests. Now, the beach is littered with garbage, dead corals and a stretch of beach that does not look appealing at all. Hungry and thirsty looking monkeys were on the beach, rummaging through garbage and soda cans.

We saw a group of young local boys taunting a few monkeys by throwing several beer cans towards them. Feeling upset with what we saw, we told off the boys. So no cool. I just felt like throwing cans to their heads and telling their mothers about their sons’ behaviour.

There is no real fresh water supply on the beach so toilet is a real issue. How can you have a popular beach filled with people, and NOT have a toilet? I wonder whether they expect people to get inside the water to poo and pee? CRAZY!

Not only that, there is only one small fresh water well that is filled with floating Styrofoam and cans. The Daughter gave up her mineral water to a young looking monkey. I filled up a few buckets of the fresh water, filled up a few cups fashioned from several mineral water bottles with this water and gave to the monkeys. Several mommy monkeys with tiny babies clinging down from their bellies came out from the bush.

Poor things.

 

I have a suggestion. This suggestion is addressed to LADA, or Tourism Ministry, to the Fishermen Association whose members ply the islands with the tourists dollars, or whoever who has financial agenda deriving from tourism in Langkawi :-

Create a small fund to manage the cleanliness of these popular islands. Now, dont bicker over who should be running the fund. Create a consortium instead with voting rights to manage the fund. Remember, the beauty of these islands are your source of income. When the beauty is gone, so is the tourist dollars. When there is no tourist dollars, no income.

Simple maths.

To the local tourists who thinks it is cool to feed beer to monkeys, to treat our nature like giant dumpster:-

STOP ACTING LIKE STUPID ASS!