Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Animals right - Stop Animal Trading

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” - Mahatma Gandhi

I truly believe in this quote and I would appreciate if you people out there, who deem yourselves as self-righteous and powerful being, to sign this petition to stop any kind of animal trading.

The Hadith has several references to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) preaching kindness towards all of God’s creatures. In one instance, he preached that a man saw a dog with its tongue lolling and due to its intense thirst was licking the mud. The man immediately filled up his shoe with water and offered the dog to drink. The Prophet said that God was greatly pleased with the man because God rewards all kindness shown to every living creature.

So, being Muslims should not stop us majority of us to help dogs, which are ‘Haram’ Dr Habeeb Rahman Ibramsa, lecturer of Quran and Sunnah Studies at the International Islamic University, was also present at the gathering. He criticised the beating as being “un-Islamic”.

“People have become ignorant on what the word ‘haram’ actually means and use that as an excuse to be cruel towards animals. Haram simply means prohibited. For instance, Muslims are not to eat the food a dog has eaten and must wash the vessel containing the food seven times with water and soil. Refraining from eating that food is what is haram, not the dog itself.

“It has been scientifically proven that there is some element in its saliva that is harmful to humans. And the minerals in the soil remove these harmful agents. So it is just a practical guidance. Not made with the intention of creating hatred for dogs".

Mahatma Gandhi also said that “Almost everything you do will seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it”.

"Ever occur to you why some of us can be this much concerned with animals suffering? Because government is not. Why not? Animals don't vote" - Paul Harvey

Note: Heck, how true...

In the spirit of the above quote, I’d appreciate if you could also help, whenever and whatever you can, many helpless animals out there – it could be just next to your house or at your back alleys. Please do visit SPCA and Sherina's Adopt a rescued animal. And perhaps, stop ordering sharkfin soup, will you?

Ulats = Sales Pro

Having spent a year in The Little Red Dot, I travelled back and fro to KL, at least twice a month and I relied on express buses. Being prudent in my spending (not stingy ok heheh), I normally departed from Larkin, JB instead of Beach Rd, Novena etc. So after work on Friday, I would rush through the maddening jam – traffic and people – to get myself to Larkin at least by 10 pm (Aiya, after mas selamat escape, we endured at least 2.5 hrs just to get through Woodlands Checkpoint).

Once there, I scanned through the terminal, looking for familiar kind faces of what we called – ulat bas– to buy my ticket back to KL. I got my ticket in less than 5 minutes. Isn’t that super efficient? Kalah kaunter kerajaan or pejabat Pos. Shame on you Gomen!

I’ve been wanting to share with you people about Ulat Bas for quite some times, especially during Ramadhan where JPJ, DBKL, Poli(mi)s(i) and LPKP rounded up several people – the ulats – from Pudu Raya because they cheated the passengers or roughed them up. That’s what the ever-lying MSM told us.

I have to be sensitive with this issue because my youngest brother runs express bus business. He leased buses from a malay towkay, who got free permits from LPKP – well, very political this business is Before running his own business, he worked for Konsortium Bas Ekpress Semenanjung (KBES) since he was only 18 years old. Five years later, he got fed up with KBES management for mistreating the employees and with enough funds, he and his partner started their own business and they hired people who were retrenched from other bus companies to work for them.

What I admire about my brother is that, though being the youngest, he has mounts of compassion for others – he pays all his staffs at least RM1,500 p.m. (some companies could pay them lower, less than RM1K) because these people, in their middle ages, have families to support. I am proud that he is not one of those business owners who think about getting richer each day and neglecting the welfare of their staffs.

First few months, business was good until the Gomen increased the petrol price in June 2008. While the Gomen told us that they would increase the petrol subsidies to express bus owners, apparently what they mean is that they will only give to certain companies. You see, not all express owners establish a name to itself i.e. like KBES, Transnasional, etc (again, this is very political). Though my brother has his own counter in Pudu Raya, the bus owner didn’t get extra subsidies as LPKP thinks these buses are just free-lancing. The business suffers tremendously and he has to work doubly hard to ensure that the day’s income is sufficient to pay the buses’ lease rental (which has increased in tandem with the petrol hike) and staff’s salary.

During raya holiday, he told me that the ticket sales were so low, it never happened before in the history of Pudu Raya. Pudu Raya was so empty, my brother told me they could play futsal in there. You know why people? The Gomen hired certain express buses, owned by political-connected people, to sell their tickets at other places like universities, colleges so that people don’t have to go to Pudu Raya to buy those tickets. The impact of this exercise – no sales to those doing this business in Pudu Raya i.e. this kills the business and of course, it affects many sole breadwinners working in Pudu Raya.

On TV, the MSM showed how people rushed to buy tickets from Transnasional counters and said that the tickets were all sold out, causing panic to many other commuters, when there were plenty of other express buses available.

Those ulats and those seen with walkie talkie (wei, this is the cheapest mode of communication. Do you know that you can call anyone around Malaysia with walkie talkie service with paying only like RM20 p.m.?) were hauled up in lock-up not just by LPKB, but also Poli(mi)s(i) and DBKL. They stayed there for almost a week before the Poli(mi)s(i) told them that they can be bailed with RM15K. Of course, they can’t afford it and most of them still languished in the lock-up before being charged in court (after Hari Raya).

The Pudu Raya management company even hired bouncers to ward off ulats from Pudu Raya. Dressing in black with sunglasses, these tough cookies gave way to ulats because they know, without these ulats, they wont be having a job from the management company. This company charges around RM2K p.m. for a small counter in Pudu Raya and there have 100s of counters there.

The counters selling tickets opposite Pudu Raya were demolished so violently by DBKL because they just came and say that you cannot sell tickets here and simply started banging on the walls of the counters till they looked like scenes from a war movie.

My brother told me that ulats are actually PRO for Pudu Raya. They know what, how, who, where of anything you need to know before travelling. However, we see them as filthy, nuisance buggers, who are trying to cheat us. They are not, people, trust me. One of my brother’s good friends is an ulat. He is immaculately casually dressed that he could sell one book of ticket everyday. So people, if you guys need a sales pro, look out at Pudu Raya and you’ll find many there.

Some people think when these ulats told you to wait for the bus outside Pudu Raya, they think they have been cheated. Do you people know that it is so bloody hard to get into Pudu Raya? For timely departure, these buses will park opposite Pudu Raya.

While I almost shed tears listening to this injustice and lies, I cannot help but notice one peculiar habit of us, weak human beings.
Note : At the time of posting, my brother had given up his business because of all the above.

Dimana dia Duit Raya Saya?

I had trouble changing my duit-raya this year because my banker sucks! After walking about 10 minutes, I was greeted at the entrance of Bank Cap Kepala Rimau with a small notice – Duit Raya Habis – and it was a week to Hari eh…Well, I’ve worked at a branch in a commercial bank before and I can proudly say that we never turned down anyone asking to change for their Duit Raya. We would ask them to sit for a while while my DBM (Deputy Branch Manager) took out some new notes from the Strong Room. Boy, it felt so great to see one satisfied customer leaving our branch.

After such disappointment, I walked to Bank Islam, which is located nearer to my office, to change my Duit Raya. With its recent rebranding, the branch looked so posh and I was surprised I was greeted nicely by its CSO (Customer Service Officer) and she proceeded to ask me what kind of service I wish to do. I thought I was being nice to her firstly that she reciprocated but nope, I was wrong, she did that to everyone who came in. That’s priceless people – being treated like you are such an important customer.

I shared my Bank Cap Kepala Rimau experience with my sister, who used to work in that organisation after a merger. My sister told me that she waited for almost 1 hour to open a Savings Account for her sons and when she queried about an insurance plan, the lady CSO told her that she cannot answer that as the real CSO is on leave and no one in the branch knows about the product. A week after that, she called the customer care line to know more about the product (as stated in the brochure) and you wont believe what she was told – I’m sorry Ma’am. You need to go to the branch to know more about the product.

Hehehhehhe… That’s Malaysian Business Attitude at its best. Isn’t that reflection to typical Malaysian Government Servant Attitude? This Bank might be big but it is big because of its GLC-status and not because it is so damn good. I reckon the Bank introduced because it realised that their customer service sucks!

By the way, I only managed to change my Duit Raya through my 2 cousins who work in Bank Cap Kepala Rimau and Bank Angkatan Tentera – a day before Hari Raya. Alahai, I felt a big letdown because I had to resort to using my relationship status with those working in the Bank to get my Duit Raya changed. I thought I could do away with this nepotism.

Oh, I forgot to tell – I didn’t change them in Bank Islam as I had to leave for a meeting in 10 minutes time. Of course I learnt my lesson well about customer service – always be there early to greet them, make them feel welcomed and engage in an informal conversation with them. It helps a lot to break the ice so that later throughout the business relationship, my client will not hesitate to share and to assist me.

For me, everyone is important and in banking industry, your clients are your master - they pay your salary. Well, i'd rather put it that both the bank and the clients are in a symbiotic relationship. That way, both parties win!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

An Inspiration to Human Capitalism

Since i came back from The Little redDot, i started frequenting the library at my work place, way too often that i started reading THE FORTUNE. In its 19 February 2008 edition, the mags named Madam Indra Nooyi as the most successful women in business. You must read it here.

Later, i started googling her...the more i read, she makes me sighing in relief, with much gratitude that she is who she is...totally awesome and inspiring. I also found her speech at Columbia University Business School graduation ceremony in 2005 here. I think she is capable of putting soul into those graduates.

She became PepsiCo's CEO in October 2005 and in 2007, she was chosen amongst THE TIME 100. See below.


It shouldn't be surprising that PepsiCo, a quintessentially American company making quintessentially American products, would appoint a CEO who isn't American-born (or male, for that matter). After all, Pepsi gets about 40% of its $35.1 billion in sales of beverages, food and snacks from beyond the U.S. And most of the company's growth is overseas.

For Indra Nooyi, 51, the shocking thing isn't who she is but the world she has inherited. Globalism wasn't new when she joined PepsiCo more than a decade ago, but the globe part has changed. "The world has gone through a radical shift," says Nooyi. "There's incredible macroeconomic stability. That hasn't happened in the last 35 years."

As Pepsi's strategist—she's a former management consultant—Nooyi helped position PepsiCo for growth in China, the Middle East and her native India. (She is now a U.S. citizen.) "I am a global thinker in everything I do," she says.

Her vision is performance with purpose. It means not just delivering localized products—Walkers crisps in Coventry and Sabritos in Santiago. It's about sustainability on multiple levels: human, talent and environment. Efficient water and energy use has obvious paybacks. But creating a better community? "I need a healthy consumer out there," says Nooyi. "The only way I can do that is sustainability."


p.s. Love the parts in bold...

We need more people like her in this world..A good boss, a good friend, a good wife, a good mother, a good daughter and above all, a great human with thinking brain, living heart and soul..

I wish i could be like her...

The End of Raw Capitalism

Note: An interesting article to ponder in the light of current economic meltdown. While i feel sad for the fall of American Investment Giants that many of their employees were left jobless (but these lots were paid incessantly high i am sure they will be OK), i share the grieve of many men and women around the world, who became jobless after their company closures, the people from the Third World, who rely heavily on donations to carry on with their lives, the ordinary people who suffer sleepless nights thinking whether they will still have their job next month or next week and not forgetting to all malaysians that put their money with EPF, who will part with our RM5 billion so that Valuecap could buy the undervalued stocks.

Have you ever wonder, if we, the small people, experiencing unexpected financial problems, will EPF ever care if we could withdraw our money to help ease the financial burdens? I wonder why we, the small people, should allow EPF to borrow our money to help those companies, owned by rich people, so that we could prop them back up at Bursa Malaysia?

Just imagine, we spend thriftly, save wisely while some people spend lavishly and treat us badly. But, when they are in deep shit, they blatantly use our savings without even asking us permission. Do you think they would listen to us? Or at least do something good for us?

That is sooo unfair...

By Elias Karmi, Engage Minnesota

It was just a few weeks ago that U.S. treasury secretary Henry Paulson declared raw capitalism’s death. And if I might add: Thank God someone realizes the futility of our current financial system. Two problems here: 1) it may be too late, and 2) even if we recover, the true solution may never be practiced.

It is challenging for someone who grew up surrounded by our current financial system to be able to feel what is fundamentally wrong with it. To illustrate, let me ask a question: Why is it that you can never own a house or open a business without borrowing money? And if you think that is the way things should be, it is not! Nor was it ever before in human history.

Borrowing money is not how humanity built its great historical monuments. The Pyramids and the Sistine Chapel were not paid for over years and years to come with interest. Yet in today’s world, if you avoid borrowing, you can barely add a wall to your house without going nearly bankrupt. Everyone, from individuals to large corporations and even governments are under some obligation to pay a debt that is often more than their net worth. How did we get here?

Now imagine this: Instead of your bank lending you money at interest to buy a house or open a business, your bank reviews your project, then makes a decision to become a partner with you in that project. If your project succeeds and thrives, both you and your bank make profits that represent strictly each of your capital contributions to the project. And if your project fails, both you and your bank bear losses according to each party’s capital contribution. Imagine how many more people would be willing to invest and open businesses with the fear of debt taken out of the equation.

But of course most banks are very unlikely to take such a risk. The prevalent view in today’s economics is that lending money is a favor banks extend for which they deserve compensation. This is the mentality behind interest on loans and it is the mentality that is putting entire countries in peril.

In Islam, however, money should never in and of itself be a way of making more money. Lending money is an act of charity for which the lender is given back exactly the amount borrowed in the designated time. Wealthy individuals or banks can make profits by investing their capital and taking the risk with the entrepreneurs, not lending money at interest.

Interest on loans came to exist precisely because rich people wanted to make more money without taking a risk. Perhaps that’s why the word usury sounds so much like “use,” or using the poor. Islam recognized the dangers of this practice very early in history and made it a particularly grave sin to take interest on loans, in order to avoid something like the situation on Wall Street today.

To demonstrate how interest and the economy are not exactly friends, consider how the Feds act whenever they want to drive the economy forward: They lower the interest rate. In Islam there is no such thing as “usurious loans” because all interest on loans is usurious.

The solution, which is unlikely to happen in the West, is an interest rate of zero on loans. This is not against capitalism in any way. It only calls for using earned capital instead of lent capital. It discourages lending and encourages true investing.

An explanation of the problem

I could not come up with a better explanation for the problem with interest than Tarek Al Diwany’s from

“If a money lender from the time of Christ had loaned an ounce of gold at 5% annual compound interest, it would today require an amount of bullion weighing several planet Earths in repayment.” Early bankers, El Diwany says, understood this fact: a system of loaning out at interest was unsustainable in the long term.

With paper money, banks and governments can just keep printing more. But eventually the consequences will be apparent.

Says El Diwany: “In the real world things experience compound *decrement*, which is to say they rot and become useless. Meanwhile, interest allows money to grow at compound *increment* towards infinity. Herein lies the fundamental conflict between interest-based finance and the environment. Money loaned at interest does not obey the same laws as the physical assets that money buys.”

That is: Money is allowed to increase toward infinity, while the stuff of this world obviously cannot.

Avoiding interest on loans is not the only thing Islam has to offer today’s markets. Gambling with options, securities and derivatives is also prohibited, which would have saved serious moolah for investors. Today the Islamic finance sector is the fastest growing globally, at a rate of 15 to 20 percent annually. Islamic assets under management are estimated by The Economist to be worth $US700 billion worldwide and expected to reach the $1 trillion mark by 2010.

And even though Western systems are not likely to adopt an interest-free scheme, whatever regulations the Feds place in response to this crisis will inevitably be ones that bring us closer to the Islamic model, not farther from it. You can learn more about the details and specifics of Islamic finance by visiting your local mosque or searching online.

Queen of the Day

My younger brother is getting married in November 2008. As the BIG day getting nearer, everyone is getting excited and wanted to contribute something to the special day - in a way or two. Sometimes, when we thought we are helping, especially about giving ideas and suggestions on how to do things, we could, unfortunately, cause some pains to the Raja Sehari.

I have been thinking - when my special day comes, i just want it to be simple. Here is how simple it will be.

1. Marriage solemnisation - In front of Kaabah, Makkah Al Mukarramah with our parents around

2. Wedding reception - Just doa selamat amongst family members and close friends. No gifts except cash allowed as we will donate the cash to orphanage of our choice. Since we are starting our live together, we feel that we should give these kids a good start in life too

3. Wedding memento - a CD of songs and photos

4. Honeymoon - we will be having ours, everyday, every moment, till the end

I know a lot of people will scoff at my thoughts but always remeber, i will be the Queen of the Day ;)

p.s. this post does not implied that i have found THE ONE & ONLY. Perhaps, a caution to the potential THE ONE & ONLY that he will have a difficult time explaining to his parents and relatives about his QUEEN's wedding wishes...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

You will never walk alone

I read about the passing of a man I do not know – the late Mr. J.B. Jeyaretnam.

After much goggling, my heart cries for him for he fought for the underprivileged and suppressed citizens in the Little Red Dot – on political and judicial platforms. I thought these could only happen in my Ibupertiwi that uses draconian laws and acts to stifle justice and democracy.

What saddened me more, apathetic citizens of that City Country dare not mingle with him, not alone see him straight in his eyes, fearing that they will be reprimanded, as what he confessed. He was alone and lonely.

That struck me that we should never do that to Uncle Pete and other fighters of the same cause. We should let Uncle Pete and the rest know that we are with him.

May JBJ rest in peace…may his fighting spirits continue…may us be inspired to fight for a just cause, not for some but for all…