Thursday, January 06, 2011

A New Year, a New Reflection...

For the record, I'll turn 46 come September 2011.

Back when I was in my early teens, my parents weren't doing very well for quite some time.

My mom owned a hair saloon in Chinatown waaaay back then. I was in Victoria Institution. I walked back to my mom's hair saloon after school.

Most times, when I needed new clothes, or when I pestered my mom for some fancy clothes, my mom would take me to Chinatown to buy all the cheap fake stuff there.

Initially I didn't know most of the stuff sold in Chinatown were fake stuff; I was just happy getting new tees, new jeans, new whatever that my mom bought me. Then my "rich" friends in school "revealed" to me about Chinatown.

That was when I was very down. I told my mom. My mom said "Don't listen to your "friends"... mommy loves you."

Being in my early teens, I was obviously still disappointed. In this modern materialistic and "must have face" world, I am sure most would feel the same way too.

I did complain a few times to my mom; she mostly just tried to evade my complains and instead asked me things like "You know I love you, right?" or "Do you have any homework that I can help you with?" or "How was your schoolday?.

In my 46 years of existence, there are not many things that I can remember, things that stand out. But I do remember one thing.

One day, me+family were on a rare trip to a shopping mall. I guess it's like a "vacation" to me. My mom took me to the jeans section and started choosing a pair of jeans for me. I was very very happy. Then I looked at the prices of the jeans. I told my mom "But Mummy, these jeans are so expensive!!! Why not we just buy the jeans near the saloon?".

My mom answered "Remember what I told you? I said I love you, boy. I know you want these original jeans... I know you will feel better wearing these when you're with your friends. But you can have only one. Let's see which one looks good on you..."

My mom is 80 years old come May 2011.

Happy New Year to all and may all of you be happy this year.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Way My Boss Got Rich

He was quite broke actually.

He got a marketing degree at some UK college (or uni, I forget). Can't remember his job history but what I know is that he got a job at a real estate agency as a Marketing Support Executive. His job then was to essentially provide property listings to his agency's real estate negotiators.

Boy, he was really hard working then. His concentration was to cover the entire industrial sector in the-then most expensive industrial properties in the whole of Malaysia, which was in Petaling Jaya (PJ). With his hard work, you could ask him about any industrial property in PJ and he would know who was the owner, which property was for sale or for rent and how much was the price/asking rental.

At the same time, he started studying and passed his exam to become a registered real estate agent proper. He then quit his job and set-up his own start-up real estate agency together with a few partners.

That would be his Jackpot #1. His agency really did well. Really well indeed.

While there, he closed a deal whereby he got to know one of his clients pretty well. Together with that client, as well as a few other friends he got to know, he started to develop a property; his first foray into property development.

That would be his Jackpot #2.

He then quit that agency and started a new one. The property he co-developed with others was a 6-storey flatted factory-cum-office project and it was built solely as a long-term investment i.e. for rental income generation.

During that time, the property scene in Malaysia boomed. It was during the early-to-mid 90s. His new real estate agency did even better than his first one; most of his real estate negotiators there regularly had 6-figure annual incomes year-in-year-out.

With his property development partners, he continued to look out for specific properties to develop. Which they did so, with quite a few new properties developed, all with the focus on long-term rental income generation.

His property development/investment company then became a real estate investment trust company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.

Jackpot #3.

He is now worth many hundreds of millions of Ringgit.

Friday, September 03, 2010

"Thought I'd send this rather than invading the forum with OT posts.

More important than knowledge of forum and its people is friendship and respect of each other.

I'm sure you know that respect is earned, and that friendships is a choice rather than mandatory.

To be fair, I probably haven't earned yours' (and most likely many others') respect and many probably wouldn't want me as a friend. That's OK and not the end of the world.

The feelings I have towards the forum (and some of its inhabitants) are deep-rooted and goes a long way back. Some of reasons are known by only a handful. Suffice to say I had been wronged, it was proven I was wronged and yet I never received an apology from the individuals concerned.

I don't want this PM to be a novel-length explanation (which you may understand since I think you know I'm the kinda guy that is succint and to-the-point). I know I have been an ass at times but I have my reasons, reasons that you may not fully understand.

Last but not least, I posted on my FB profile the words "The list of people that don't like me is long but insignificant; and the list of people that likes me is short but distinguished."

Thanks for reading. Have a good weekend.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Life is Tough

I'm experiencing a very tough phase in my 45-yo life right now.

A month-or-so back, I had been excited when a "friend" informed me about a building owned by his company is (was) for sale. The high-rise building is in KL CBD. He had told me "I want RM1,000 per-square-foot" when I had asked him about selling the building. The "friend" holds a quite senior position in his company's real estate investment department; I had no reason not to believe that if I could find a potential buyer at the price he mentioned that a deal could potentially be on the table.

And so, I had approached a company/potential-buyer about this. This company was extremely interested; I was ecstatic. But when I went back to my "friend" about this, that's when -- in hindsight -- trouble loomed. This "friend" then told me to be very careful when corresponding with him via email, that I should never ever say that I "found a buyer for XXX building that you said can be sold for the price you mentioned". His reason was that the building was never on the market and that even though he said he "wanted RM1,000 psf" for it, his company must never know that. I understood this at the time, since his company is a HUGE company in the world market, and so I adhered to his instructions on being extremely P&C about this. Note that when I initially proposed the building to my potential buyer, I had explicitly said that this matter was very very VERY P&C, that the building has not been put on the market for sale.

After having obtained a formal Expression of Interest Letter from my potential buyer and having informed my friend about this (since this letter indicates the serious interest my potential buyer has), my "friend" then had the following responses :

- when I asked for financial details/operating statements from him (since this is required by my potential buyer when it comes to investing in properties), my "friend" said this "takes time"

- after some time, I asked my friend again about getting the required info and he then said he heard rumors that my potential buyer may be under investigations for accounting irregularities and therefore he needed confirmation on this before he can proceed to deal with my potential buyer

- still later on, my friend then tells me that my buyer seems to have blabbered that they are in negotiations to buy this building and that the market now knows that the building is for sale and that a reporter had even asked him about this. He said this was supposed to be extremely sensitive matter and strictly P&C. I said I had informed my potential buyer on the sensitivity of this deal/matter and that if what happened was the case that I had nothing to do with it.

After the last incidence above, my friend then told me the building will not be sold, not to my potential buyer nor to anyone. I countered if he could let me approach other potential buyers with strict NDAs to be signed but my "friend" said "No, building won't be sold".

Having gotten excited about a potential deal that could've netted my company RM3.5 Million in professional fees and having reflected on what happened, I cannot help but think that my "friend" was never in a position to say something like "No, I want RM1,000 psf". To me, I held his position in his company in high regard ("VP" in his company's specific division) and therefore took his words to mean that I am allowed to find a buyer at the price quoted. But after having reflected on all that happened thereafter, I believe my friend was just saying something he was never in a position to say so i.e. the building his company owns was, is and never is to be sold at the moment, regardless of his "I want RM1,000 psf" comment.

I wasted my time. I spent a huge amount of time and money marketing the building. I was, in short, given the run-a-round, trying to sell something that I think is not for sale at the moment.

This was, and still is, a huge disappointment to me. The commission would've set me up for life. Don't ask me for the name of the building; I will give this "friend" of mine the courtesy of not being truly nasty. I could still be wrong about what I think of him/what happened, and he could be absolutely true about everything he told me... but I think not. It could also be true that he was trying to make such a potential sale/deal go through just for me as a friend when the building was never ever on the market... but I will never know and I prefer not to ask/talk to him anymore about this.

So, that goes

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I seldom have time nor inclination to post the following... but somehow this year, this time, this minute, I feel like it.

My 2010 New Year resolution is that all my friends have a happy 2010. We all, somehow or other, have some unpleasant memories; I have had my share.

The following was something I had posted online a few months ago. It was after the accidental (car-related) death of a guy that was part of a closed-community that I was a part of (but is no longer).... :

Member blackhorse@Ruben's passing somehow affected me a lot even though I have never met nor corresponded with him. To be honest, I was surprised myself how much it affected me. Hence this post.

A number of things went through my mind when I first got the SMS from Terence yesterday evening. It was a combination of shock and sadness. Anger was there also after I read Suffian's post explaining the circumstances under which Ruben met with his fatal accident.

I have had the unfortunate experience of sufferring the death of loved ones in my life.

My brother-in-law was the first, and I had deep regrets in not being able to reach his house earlier after I got the call from my wife (since I was the nearest kin to my bro-in-law's house at that time)... and I had even greater regrets in not knowing how to do CPR There was nothing I could do; my sister-in-law (the wife) was crying and asking me to help when I reached their house. My bro-in-law was laying on a row of chairs put together. I checked his pulse and then his breath, and he wasn't breathing. It was the first time I had encountered such a situation and I didn't know what to do; I didn't know CPR. My wife arrived shortly after me and all I could say was "He's gone..." and then my wife rushed over to my bro-in-law (her brother) and started yelling "Ah Lek... Ah Lek... wake up, wake up...". I just felt so helpless then, looking at my wife and sis-in-law, both of them sobbing.

Me and my wife had our first child in 1995. There was so much joy, understandably. Midway during my wife’s pregnancy, we bought a house (we were staying at my parents’ house then) and we did the usual renovations. Something happened that made my wife tell me “I wanna move to our own house now.” And so we did, which was late in her pregnancy. Everything was normal after that, my wife went into labour at the expected time. I stayed with her as much as I could while she was in the Tung Shin hospital, only leaving to do some essential things. The first night at the hospital, my wife told me to go home and rest, I objected but after her persuasion, I relented and went home to sleep. I got a call from the hospital in the early morning of the next day, telling me to go to the hospital urgently, no time to explain to me. By the time I got there, my wife was in an emergency Caesarian. I was told by the nurses that my son’s monitored heartbeat fell alarmingly during the night. After the Caesarian, the doctor told me my baby had ingested meconium ( a baby’s first stool). When my wife was wheeled out of the operation theatre, she kept asking me “What happened?” because she didn’t know anything. Later, while she was resting, I informed here. My critical-situation baby son was sent to KLGH. I flitted back and forth between my wife and my son. At KLGH, a paedetrician informed me of my baby’s situation, which wasn’t good. It was unlikely he would survive. I had asked if my baby could possibly be a handicapped Special Person if he lived and the doc said that it was highly likely. I was crushed and my mind swirled. I had even asked the doc if it was legally possible to let my son go; the doc said it is possible but it is illegal. I went to visit my baby. He was like choking or coughing often, with tubes going into his tiny little body. I left to return to be with my wife. She asked me how was Xie Ming and I lied to her. My baby passed away less than 12 hours after his birth. Later on, I found out that it was extremely bad feng shui to shift to a new house when the wife is pregnant. Believe?

My father passed away in 2001, after a struggle with “old man’s disease”. Towards the end of his life, he could no longer take care of himself and slept most of the time. My mother who was already 70 at the time also could no longer take care of him (my father no longer could go to the toilet himself) and I had to make the difficult decision to send him to a home. My father, at that time, was a bit delusional already, often extending his hand out as if reaching out for some invisible person. I kinda recognized the signs. I had asked him “Who are you reaching out for?” and he would like suddenly come back to reality and replied “Oh no, nobody…”,. My father passed away in his sleep less than 24 hours after I had admitted him to the home. He was 80.

What I’m trying to say is that Life is both Precious as well as Uncertain. And that we should cherish always and as much as possible the time we have, to spend it with our loved ones. I regret never knowing how to help my brother-in-law, I regret not being with my wife that night and I regret not loving my father more before he passed away. The sight of Xie Ming struggling to breathe still haunts me somewhat till today, although me and my wife are extremely happy with our only son, our 10-year-old Sean. Our son Sean had asked us before if he could have a brother and we had told him that he does have a brother, just that his brother is “away”. In time, we will let him know.

LGTC brothers and sisters… what happened to Ruben is the saddest thing in the history of this unique club/community/family. The loss of one of this family’s members played on my mind from the time news of his demise was forwarded to me by Terence. I never met Ruben but it doesn’t matter. LGTC is such a unique fraternity.

I hope everyone here recognizes how fragile Life is. We spend a lot of time talking and joking about driving fast (and therefore living dangerously). It is nice to have such banter, yes, but I sincerely hope everyone here will practice sound judgement and due carefulness. It only takes something small to cause a lot of heartache… driving fast when a dog sudenly runs across the road, or a little stone that jumps up onto your front windscreen, or an insect within your car cabin, or a call on your handphone. What happened to Ruben wasn’t his fault… but it simply pays to be aware at all times whenever you are on the road, whether driving a car or riding a bike.

What I have described above is simply an example of what can happen to a normal person.

If you aren’t afraid of Death, then you should at least be a responsible human being by thinking about your loved ones. We never like to read about bad news… we certainly don’t want our loved ones and friends to mourn and suffer because you died.

At 44-yo, I only hope that I can continue to keep my wife and my son happy. I hope that the rest of you -- my friends -- will have a very happy 2010 as well.

Happy New Year.