Monday, January 1, 2007

Make your own luck in 2007

We have no time to lose, and having no time we must scramble for our chances. We are too poor to be late - Tagore's gitanjali

TWO days into the new year and Bob is already restless. He had a bad 2006. In fact, that's an understatement, he told me over teh tarik and kueh kodok. The year ended with much anxiety for the father of three.

I asked him what kind of a year is 2007 going to be? Happy and prosperous, as the cliche greetings on cards and text messages? Violent and brutal as in the past few years? Sad and miserable? What is his focus this year?

Bob's comments: "I've come to the stage in my life that only one thing matters - my own survival. That's all there is. I've gone passed the stage believing what the political masters say and promise. I'm my own man now. The system is not helping me, not helping small businessmen like me. From now onwards, I'm going to do what I have to do to keep my family intact and to keep me alive, period."

Bob spent the last two weeks of '06 trying to raise funds to keep his small business afloat. For several years, he tried to raise loans from banks. They all turned him down, saying that he has been blacklisted for loan default in the past.

"Yes, I did defaulted. But wait bro, I paid every single sen I owed to these creditors. I have documents as proof. But alas, the banking system in this country just refused to acknowledge that, refused to help a man with good projects to make good. Once you're blacklisted, that's it.

"Where do I go for funds then, you may ask. Ah Longs lah! If you ask me, it is the banks with their don't-take-risk attitude that help Ah Longs prosper. I know that banks give out loans at preferred rates to people with connections. But me, and others like me, sorry lah..they have no time for the small man.

"And if you ask me, is the Government doing anything? Sorry lah bro! Government is good at offering lip service only. Those lip service is not helping me when I was chased by the Ah Longs! I had to deal with it head on, and I'm very lucky to be around still," Bob poured his heart out.

Bob showed me documents to show that he has paid his debts to creditors who were responsible for him to be blacklisted. Maybe, there were weaknesses in his management team. I know he had some cash flow problems but i didn't realise the extent of his problems until he received threats to his life. He got out in the nick of time, enough for him to spend Hari Raya Haji with his family in peace.

The problem was so bad that he had to hide his family for several days. But friends rallied around him and he survived to tell the story.

Which raise this question - how are we reacting to challenges the new year brings? Will we be indifferent, or will we make a difference? Will be withdraw into our own cocoon or will we be more involved in the nation's growing process?

For instance, news of the worst-ever floods in Johor which saw more than 70,000 evacuated resulted in a rally between Government, corporates and non-governmental organisations (NGOs). It is a good feeling to see corporates, politicians and volunteers rallying to help, even though some of them did that more for the television crew and press photographers.

On the international stage, we were "treated" to made-for-tv execution of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Done on the eve of Hari Raya Haji, it didn't endear the executioners to Muslims all over the world. Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad have some hard comments on this, if you see today's newspapers.

Some commentators angrily asked when will the perpetrators of the ethnic-cleansing in Bosnia-Herzegovina be made to go through the same justice system as Saddam. The world was promised much. But nothing much has really been delivered. Sounds familiar, Bob said cynically.

Looking deeper, Bob may be right after all. In the final analysis, it's every man on his own. Bob is going to make his own luck from now onwards..


Anonymous said...

But luck itself is not going to help us survive... We have to adapt, to grab opportunities, to take chances... To risk it all...

Is anything worth the risk? That's the risk we have to take...

Happy New Year Datuk... and all the best in your endeavours!


happy new year tok mat.
i hope you can talk to your friend bob. he shouldnt give up too easily. when he's down, just think of the fact that many others are not as lucky as he is. in fact, many depend on people like him to be able to keep their businesses afloat or otherwise they would lose their jobs. and i know too many people now doing odd jobs or are looking for jobs. they are not choosy; there are just not enough jobs for everyone.
bob has every right to be exasperated, to be anxious. angry even. but let's not lose faith. in times like this, we should be holding one another's hands to ensure that nobody falls off the ledge. we must not think only of our own survival. we must not be like the umnoputeras who only think of their own pockets and wellbeing.
let's make our luck together in 2007. if there's anything i can do to help someone like bob, just let me know.

thank you, and happy new year.

Anonymous said...

Pahit Manis,

Saya memahami kedudukan Bob. Dan saya bersimpati dengan dia.

Saya juga merupakan seorang ahli perniagaan. Bumiputera.

Saya bergiat dalam bidang perniagaan dan makan gaji dengan sektor swasta hampir 40 tahun. Kini, sejak enam tahun lalu saya berniaga sendiri.

Saya berjaya membuat turn around sebuah syarikat yang saya beli dengan tanggungan kerugian yang besar.

Saya kini mempunyai hampir 100 kakitangan penuh. Susah atau senang, untung atau rugi, cuti atau tidak, saya terpaksa membayar gaji mereka selain membayar berbagai jenis cukai kepada kerajaan.

Tahun lalu, 2006, saya kehilangan satu kontrak GLC. Kontrak itu diberikan kepada sebuah syarikat yang bukan Bumiputera sedangkan syarikat saya berdaftar dengan Kementerian Kewangan sebagai syarikat Bumiputera.

Pertimbangan jangka pendek saya ialah memberhentikan pekerja kerana pendapatan syarikat berkurangan akibat penamatan kontrak itu. Saya tak sampai hati maka saya tidak memberhentikan mereka. Ini bermakna keuntungan saya akan berkurangan atau saya mungkin mengalami kerugian.

Nasib saya lebih baik daripada Bob kerana urusan bank saya tertib dan saya tidak sekali-kali berfikir mendapatkan pinjaman Ah Long.

Saya lebih rela menutup atau menjual syarikat saya daripada menjadi mangsa Ah Long.

Tapi saya faham mengapa orang seperti Bob terpaksa bergantung kepada Ah Long. Apa pun yang didakwa, sistem bank kita sebenarnya lebih indah khabar dari berita dan mereka memilih bulu. Selagi sistem bank kita hanya mementingkan keuntungan, usaha memajukan masyarakat perniagaan dan perusahaan Bumiputera hanya manis mulut sahaja.

Saya harap Gabenor Bank Negara kita tidak hanya berbangga dengan gelaran The Best Central Bankers in The World tetapi sepatutnya memikirkan sama peranan bank pusat membangunkan dan mengembangkan ekonomi negara, bukannya menjadi seperti money changer sahaja.

Kalau aliran ekonomi dan perniagaan seperti dua tiga tahun yang lalu berterusan, saya rasa lebih ramai peniaga kecil dan sederhana seperti saya dan Bob akan terkandas.

Mega projek seperti yang dilancarkan baru-baru ini tidak akan membantu orang seperti saya kerana pihak yang mendapat konsesi itu melaksanakan sendiri projek-projek mereka tanpa memberi kontrak kecil atau subcontract kepada usahawan seperti saya dan Bob.

Sekarang sangat jelas yang GLCs bukan sahaja membolot projek rasaksa malah berlumba-lumba dengan kontraktor kecil Bumiputera dan bukan Bumiputera untuk melaksanakan projek-projek ini.

Pahit Manis, terima kasih kerana menghighlightkan masalah dan rintihan rakyat biasa dan peniaga kecil seperti Bob dan saya.

Anonymous said...

nice inspiring piece :D
lovely for the new year

Anonymous said...

True, we need to work hard to survive. We need to get loan to afloat and remember brader, the time will come when everything is no longer important.

steady eddie said...

Y.Bhg Datuk,

It is again my honour and pleasure to thank you, for raising the predicaments and transgressions, that taunt,torment and traumatize the ordinary men and women in the streets.It was just over several years ago that I raised this issue, about the difficulty that brings bucket loads of misery to some of our enterprising friends who go in for such tasks of further capitalization to fund their businesses or ventures.The lack of funding is clearly an indication that something needs to be done, otherwise it may make or break a venture.Many a times they have to stare in the face of adversity whilst coming in contact with financial institutions.Factors such as CTOS and CCRISS, are fundamentally accessed by would be grantors of facilities.It is often utilized by core users of the CTOS system, who are bankers, financiers, traders, securities firms, insurance companies, credit and charge card companies and legal firms.But ironically some of these data is oftentimes not updated.As a result many potential entrepreneurs find it a major pitfall when they get tripped and run over by these systems and institutions.I am sure, in this age and era of cyber space there would be more avenues to cross check and balance.Creditworthiness is something that these institutions rely on as the main parameters of accessing loans and facilities.There is often very little option, or rather no option at all where would be entrepreneurs can go to.Many risks are taken and the tale is oftentimes a tale of disaster dillusion,when loan sharks come in the form of private funders.The ending episode is often one that concerns bereavement and suffering.Perhaps it is indeed time that the powers that be, give a great big thought to viable micro credit schemes or by setting up and introducing a tactical team or committee, to not only look into these issues but there should be avenues where some of these entreprising men and women in the street with viable business plans could seek funding,financial advice and return on investments.That will indeed be the dawn where these entreprising people will come romping home with success stories.Food For thought " Prosper Thy Neighbours" Have a Great Year Ahead...Amen.

Alliedmartster said...


Inspiring. I can surely relate to Bob as I am probably in a worse situation. It does not help that the wife is also involve in a Industrial court dispute that will hopefully come to an end this February (The powers that be has scheduled the third day of CNY for her hearing, how thoughtful!)

Hopefully Bob and people like me can form some sort of alliance one day, and do what the honorable Dr in Bangaladesh did for his kind.

I submitted my proposal to MSC, on that big idea I had, and their response? Great Idea, good working prototype, and surely on a good budget as well. their question? Whats stopping me? and my answer, I can't get the money to help me on my way! Their response? Surely you can raise the money you need, it is not big!...get this, they asked for proposals, they agree that my proposal is good (after going through their panel) but finance wise...go find your own. If I could in the first place, I would not have submitted it to them!
What I got out of this exercise is the same conclusion as Bob....if you need to succeed, you have to go on your own....

Oh yeah...made a bad investment in my car (Landy, remember? ha ha), and have been trying to sell my bank valued RM330K house for RM290K for the past year, but still no takers! So life goes on, the banks are pounding on the door...difference is, even the Ah Longs wont consider me....!

The good news is we both landed a job almost the same time, and am trying to make it work.


Your Landy buddy...

p.s, you just have this in you to come out with great writing to keep me going

Anonymous said...

You are not the only one suffering these days. It is just countless.
Sigh and anger are everywhere if you dare to talk to people who are in the same plight. They are as frustrated as you.
I met an executive director of a company, who during the good times owned a fortune.
He was forced recentl to sell his cars to survive.
He has to scrap the barrel to survive.
And to my surprise, he doesn't hide his feelings.
He just let out his frustration, some name calling of course.
He openly admits that he will seek revenge against the politicians when the election comes calling.
He wished things would have work differently and he was able to turn back the clock.
See Bob, you are not alone.

Anonymous said...


This article that appeared in The Star Opinion column on Tuesday January 2, 2007 is certainly timely. Do check it out:
I can empathise with Bob, been there, done that, probably still doing it. For a woman entrepreneur possibly even harder when people sometimes don't take us seriously, or even too seriously. But the system has to change....