If you liked the financial articles that I have been writing for Dollars And Sense Malaysia, here are some more:
If you are considering to trade-in your car for ride-sharing apps, perhaps this could help.
A guide on how age usually affects one’s investment strategies.
3. Is It Cheaper To Settle An Accident Out Of Your Own Pocket Instead Of Claiming From Your Insurance?
To claim or not to claim. Perhaps this would give you a better idea on what to do if you ever get into such a situation in the future.
Suddenly find yourself having too much money to spend and don’t know what you should do with it? This might help.
Just in case you’re wondering whether Brexit would affect us.
If you’d like to read more, you can click here. 🙂
Since I strongly believe that financial literacy is an essential skill every single Malaysian should have, I’ve decided to help a Singaporean FinTech Start-up out by writing some guest posts about finance related matters.
Here are some of my first articles.
Hope you guys find them useful. 🙂
If you have no idea what would happen if you died without a will or how to go about claiming your inheritance, this piece might provide you with some answers.
A good servicing agent is important. This piece would help you tell the good agents from the bad.
A detailed analysis on the pros and cons of buying a new car vs a used one.
Important things I believe everyone should know about insurance products.
This might make you think twice when buying a new car in Malaysia.
This piece would give you a basic understanding of what constitutes a diversified investment portfolio.
Am I too young or too old to invest? When and how should I start?
If you have these question, perhaps this article can be of some help.
If you would like to read more, you can do so here.
Hope you guys found my articles useful! 🙂
Here is a list of Rails Apps I’ve built over the course of my 9-weeks @ NEXT Academy.
This is a simple rails app that allows you to:
- Search For Listings
- Make Reservations For Listings
- Pay For Your Reservations
- Sign Up & Login
- Update Your Profile
- Create Listings
- Receive emails when a reservation is made on your listing or after you’ve made one
Gems & skills I’ve learnt to implement while building this app:
- Basic Git Version Control
- Figaro (so access keys won’t get pushed to git)
- CarrierWave, MiniMagick & AWS S3 (to upload, store & resize images)
- Clearance (for basic user sign in & sign up)
- Action Mailers (automated sending of customised emails)
- Delayed Job Workers, Redis & SideKick
- ElasticSearch & SearchKick (Search Function)
- Facebook-omniauth (for fb sign in)
This is a simple app I learned to build in a day or so following some online resources that allows you to chat with fellow registered users of the app. Users can open multiple chat windows. It behaves just like a simple version of msn/gmail chat/ fb messenger without group chat or file uploading functionalities.
Gems & skills I’ve learnt to implement while building this app:
- Configuring Faye & Private-Pub, especially during deployment (it takes 2 servers)
- Toastr Gem (Real-time styled temporary pop-up notifications that displays the sender and message whenever a message is received)
- It also makes a nostalgic msn sound whenever a message is received.
Besides these, I’ve also built a few other apps that I have yet to Deploy (put on the internet)
1. Quora Clone
A quora clone built on the sinatra framework that allows users to:
- Encrypt password using Bcrypt
- Post questions
- Post answers
- Upvote questions & answers
- Downvote questions & answers
- Reset vote
- Count & display total number of votes as well as owner of question & answers
- Paginate listings
2. Twitter Clone
A very unsophisticated sinatra based twitter clone with a simple tweet feed that allows users to follow & unfollow each other that I built in a day as part of an assessment.
- General tweet feed
- Users are able to signup/signin/signout
- Users are able to follow and unfollow other users
- Displays follower and following count and follower and following list on users profile
- Displays all of users tweets on profile
3. Ruby Racer
- A simple terminal based racer where 2 letters or emojis race against each other
- A simple terminal based contact list where you can list, add, update & delete contacts using ARGV
- I also made a classic 2D animated load screen for it just for fun
UPDATE: I’ve since gone on to build a variety of test apps to explore the use of:
Graph Databases (Neo4j)
- A simple rails blog with comments using neo4j
- A simple rails based quora using neo4j
- Rails FB-Omniauth & Devise using neo4j
- Neoid, ActiveNode, ActiveRel
- A hybrid postgresql + graph database architecture
- Compartmentalised testing of various neo4j database designs for my startup
HTML/CSS To JPG
- A Simple Financial Recording App
- A Simple Anonymous Real Time Chat App
- A Simple Searchable Portfolio Of Profiles
React Native & Node.js
- A Simple Mobile Listing App
- A Simple Tic Tac Toe App
- A Simple Library Of Various Mobile UI Modules
I am still in the midst of learning more about them because they are necessary for me to build my current startup, which is quite technically challenging as it has never been done before. I believe it is a zero to one solution that is orders of magnitudes better than anything that exists now at solving the fundamental global problem that it aims to solve.
Stay-tuned and let’s hope I’ll be able to build it soon! 🙂
If you’re interested to find out more about the 9-week programming bootcamp I’ve participated in, you can click on the pictures above, or simply click here. They offer a full-stack web-development course (the one I joined) and an iOS one.
If you’re interested to sign up & would like to get a discount, they are giving out a RM250 discount that will be refunded to you at the end of the course if you sign up via the link above. I don’t know how long this offer will last but for now I think it is still on.
Have fun! 🙂
Most people were wrong,
When they thought there will never be a market for personal computers,
Because no one would ever want one,
When Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak started the personal computer revolution with Apple,
At a time when computers were big clunky machines only used by corporations & universities.
But it turned out to be the start of the PC revolution.
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. – Steve Ballmer, 2007, USA Today
Most people were wrong,
When they thought there was no chance the iphone was going to get any significant market share,
That it will just be another niche product like Palm PDAs,
But it turned out to be the start of the smartphone revolution and a multi-billion dollar industry.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought the world doesn’t need another search engine,
When Larry Page & Sergey Brin built Google,
The 13th major search engine after Alta-vista, Metacrawler & Yahoo etc,
But it turned out to be the best and last search engine.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought the world doesn’t need another social network,
When Mark Zuckerberg built facebook,
At a time when Socialnet had died, and Friendster & Myspace were struggling to monetize,
But it turned out to be the best & last social network & a huge & still growing cash cow.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought that facebook was foolish to keep the newsfeed feature,
When 1 million facebook users or 10% of facebook’s user base back then threatened to leave facebook if they din’t remove the newsfeed feature because it was an invasion of privacy,
But it turned out that Mark was right that the newsfeed was a crucial tool in helping friends stay connected with each other & one of the major tools that made it better than its competitors like Friendster & Myspace, which all eventually died out.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought Jack Ma was foolish to build an internet company in China,
At a time when the majority of China’s population doesn’t even know what the internet is,
But it turns out that it kick-started a series of events that led to the eventual founding of Alibaba, which became listed on Nasdaq through one of the biggest IPO events in history in 2014.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought no one would ever want to use an app that made messages disappear,
But it turns out that enough people found it interesting enough to use it,
And it turned out to be a billion dollar company called Snapchat.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought 2 designers and only 1 technical co-founder was a weak team,
Hence a bad team to fund,
But it turns out that the team was able to build a 20 billion dollar company called airbnb.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought no one would ever want to stay at a stranger’s home,
That it was simply ridiculous to rent out your room to a total stranger,
But it turned out that people had been doing it since forever with friends, relatives & people they could find some kind of common connection with,
It turned out that airbnb wasn’t a bad idea at all, once you’ve ironed out some issues.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought another car company is bound to fail,
Especially an electric car company,
When Elon Musk started Tesla,
At a time when the last successful American car startup was Chrysler, founded 90 years ago,
At a time when big car companies like GM were failing.
But it turned out to be the start of the electric car revolution.
Most people were wrong,
When they thought it was impossible to start a private space transportation company,
And that it was impossible to make rockets reusable & space travel significantly more affordable,
When Elon Musk started SpaceX,
But it turns out that it was possible,
As SpaceX managed to deliver payloads into space at a significantly lower cost than its competitors,
Even if rockets weren’t reusable, simply by innovating on design & technology,
It also recently successfully landed its Falcon 9 rocket after delivering a payload into orbit,
Paving the way towards a future of reusable rockets & affordable space flight.
All while already being a profitable company.
Most people can be, and are often wrong about these things.
That’s why most people are not billionaires.
That’s why most people won’t take the risk to build world-changing companies.
That’s why most people are not visionaries.
That’s why most people don’t end up leaving a dent in the universe.
Hence Peter Thiel’s favourite question:
“Tell me something that is right, that most people disagree with you on,
Tell me something that is contrarian, but right.”
However, there is a difference,
Between being contrarian, but right;
And being contrarian, just for the sake of being contrarian,
For getting attention,
For satisfying your own ego or just being ignorantly or baselessly contrarian.
Most people might be wrong,
But they always have a point.
To be contrarian, but right,
One would need to be humble,
And seriously understand, evaluate and consider all the criticisms & points everyone has raised,
And understand if there is something they see that most people don’t see,
Or is it the other way around where there is something most people see that they themselves don’t see,
In which case they would be contrarian, but wrong.
But if you fully understand everything most people say & where they are coming from,
But still see something they don’t see and believe that you are right,
Then there is a chance you might be contrarian, but right.
That is when you might have something called,
There is nothing wrong with being most people.
In fact, most of the time, we are most people.
Most people are cool,
Most people are kind,
Most people are smart,
Most people are awesome.
Most people also have to see before they believe,
Most people have to experience before they realize,
Most people prefer to follow after someone else has tried.
But every once in a while,
We see something that most people don’t see,
We see something that is true, but most people disagree with,
We realize something that is contrarian, but right.
We suddenly become, unlike most people.
If, and if we do decide that that something we discovered is so important that it is worth pursuing,
That it is worth proving,
Against the collective opinion of most people,
The journey is going to be hard,
So damn hard.
Simply because, right now,
Most people won’t understand,
Most people will think you are a fool,
Most people will mistakenly think you are arrogant,
Most people will mistakenly think you are stubborn,
Most people will think you are wasting your life,
Most people don’t see what you see,
Most people will think you are making a big mistake,
Most people will think you are, well, just wrong.
Simply because that is the nature of being contrarian,
But for every instance of being contrarian, but right,
There will be some people,
Some people who will believe,
Some people who will take the risk and try,
Some people who will agree,
Some people who will grow to love it so much,
Some people who will start spreading the word,
Some people who will support you.
Some people, just those some people,
We just got to find those some people.
Some people will become more people,
More people will influence more people,
And there will come a time,
When some people finally becomes most people.
By that time,
Most people then might not be the same most people now,
Most people would realize how obvious it was,
Most people would agree,
Most people cannot imagine it any other way,
Most people won’t be able to understand how people can disagree with something as obvious as that.
So, if you happen to be that some people,
Who is fortunate enough,
Or unfortunate enough,
Depending on how you see it,
To see something that most people don’t see,
Something that is contrarian, but right,
And worth proving,
The choice is up to you.
But if you happen to be, indeed,
Contrarian, but right,
When the time comes that the some people right now become most people in the future,
Your journey in proving it will be another story of a moment a long long time ago when,
Most people were wrong.
– Johnson Khoo
I first started joining these Feed The Poor & Homeless Sessions back in 2013 when I was still studying for the Certificate In Legal Practice (CLP) examinations.
At that time, I chanced upon this blog post by Timothy Tiah on a feed the poor & homeless session he joined (blog post here) and also heard of such initiatives from friends who heard from their friends. I thought that it was a very meaningful initiative and hence I Googled about it to find out how I could take part in one of the sessions.
As a result, I stumbled upon this group on facebook named Feed The Poor Project, Malaysia; which is essentially a group of random Malaysians from all walks of life who come together every once in a while to Feed The Poor & Homeless in the back alleys of our very own city, Kuala Lumpur.
A RANDOM GROUP OF MALAYSIANS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
The group is led by EJ from swimin12.com (he also happens to be a very good swimming coach) and a few others who would take turns to organize such sessions. EJ told me back then that they started this as a group of friends who wanted to do something and start the ball rolling so that more people would start their own feed the homeless sessions. Their aim was for more people to learn how to do it by joining them the first time so they could organize their own sessions in the future so more and more people would be aware of what they could do to help the less fortunate in the city, and together, make a difference.
I was fortunate enough that they were organizing a session soon in Jan & Feb of 2013 as part of an initiative called the People Of Hope, led by Firdaus Feeq from CVS Productions & Raj who happened to take some photos and videos of some of these sessions.
Here’s one of them.
FEB 2013 FEED THE POOR & HOMELESS SESSION
It was really an eye-opening experience and I learnt a great deal from the experience. I made it a point to join the subsequent ones if I had the time and gradually started organizing random sessions of my own and got my friends involved who in turn got their friends involved too.
Till today, I still join or organize such sessions every once in a while. Sometimes it is not even planned, it could be a spontaneous session where one of us was at an event that had a lot of leftover food that was going to be thrown away anyway and we would ask if we could pack the food, then call a few friends up to help distribute the food later that night. I first got the idea that you could do this when one of the regular participants in those early sessions, Joanne, brought boxes of leftover kuih-muihs from an event she organized to be distributed to the homeless. I was really inspired by that kind act of hers and hence I tried to do the same whenever possible.
It is an amazing and meaningful experience that I personally feel everyone should try to be part of at least once in their lifetime. Here are some ways the experience benefitted me and touched my life which I feel could do the same for you too.
1. YOU WILL BE REMINDED OF HOW FORTUNATE YOU TRULY ARE
When you see the conditions that the poor & homeless people in your city live in, you will come to understand how lucky and fortunate you truly are to be able to live in a proper house. Even if you’re just renting a room and can’t afford a house yet, it is still much much better than having to collect recycled bottles to make a living during the day, and scavenge for a piece of used cardboard at the end of the day so it can become your bed at night.
Not only that, they would also need to wait until all the shops have closed before they can “roll out” their makeshift cardboard beds by the sidewalks in front of these shops.
WHEN IT RAINS, THEY HAVE NO PLACE TO SLEEP
There are times that we went on a rainy night, and we realized that the poor & homeless will not be at their usual spots when it rains as all the sidewalks and back alleys would be wet and flooded. Up till today, I still do not know where they would go when it rains, they probably have a temporary shelter under a bridge or in some building’s basement where they all go to when it rains, but I can’t be sure.
RAIDS BY AUTHORITIES
Every once in a while, the authorities will round them all up and ferry them off in trucks. Where to? I do not know, but they will not be on the streets for some time after that, only to return again after a while.
WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO LIVE LIKE THAT?
A lot of us from the modern generation take having a roof over our heads for granted, some of us have never even been on an outdoor camping trip before (which to be honest is still much better than having to live on the streets because you’re still likely to have all the equipment & food you need).
Can you even imagine having to wait till the shops close before you can “go home” because your “home” is actually a busy street by day? Sleep on nothing but cardboards and hard cold floors on sidewalks, exposed to the wind, noise & street lights and always be prepared to shift when it rains or take a trip on a truck in the middle of the night when the authorities come raiding?
Once you start realizing that, that’s when you truly start to understand and be thankful for how lucky you are to at least have a proper roof over your heads.
2. IT SUDDENLY MAKES ALL YOUR TROUBLES SEEM SMALL & INSIGNIFICANT
We all have our own problems and struggles in life. It could be our failing grades, business challenges, cashflow & HR problems, incompetent subordinates or superiors, the teacher that doesn’t like us, the boss that hates you, a spouse that doesn’t understand you, not making enough to buy the newest iphone, or a better house or car, rising costs of living, judgmental friends, our parents favouring our siblings more, our car breaking down or someone banging into it etc.
But when you find out the troubles the poor and homeless face every single day, you’ll suddenly realize how trivial and insignificant our problems are compared to theirs.
EVEN FINDING DRINKABLE WATER IS A PROBLEM
When I first started distributing food to the poor & homeless, I was actually quite surprised that a lot of them asked us if we have water.
“Abang, ada air kah bang?”
I have always thought that what they really needed was food because that was more expensive and water should be quite easily available to them. But then I realized that I was wrong. I suddenly realized that they din’t have a home, and hence no tap to collect water from to drink, let alone find the utensils to boil it.
WATER FROM PUBLIC TOILETS?
They probably get the bulk of their water supply from the tap water in public toilets or public water coolers that are few and far between, but even then I suspect they would have to do it secretly and out of sight because most people would probably be uncomfortable sharing the same toilet as them while they’re drinking from the tap or hogging the public water cooler, I would think that the security guards in public malls or toilets would chase them away too. Once in a while, they could probably afford to buy the occasional bottle of bottled water from the money they begged or money they earned selling used soda cans or cardboards.
That’s why nowadays, we try to buy cartons of packed drinks or bottled water when we go as well. Sometimes, if the drinks are not enough, some of us might buy some more from a nearby 7-11 to give it to them.
THAT’S NOT ALL
That’s not even mentioning what they have to do when it rains heavily on the sidewalk in the middle of the night, the judgmental eyes of passer-bys and so many other challenges they face.
In light of these, sometimes I feel ashamed to complain about the problems and struggles I am facing in my own life, because I know that there are many more people who are facing much worse and fundamental problems than me like the lack of drinking water out there.
3. YOU OPEN YOUR EYES TO WHAT’S REALLY HAPPENING IN YOUR CITY
A lot of us are very fortunate to be brought up in a very good environment, where all our friends are well-educated, civilized and well-off. We have been taught from young by our parents and teachers to stay away from the so called “naughty kids”, work hard and pursue success in life.
In the end, we work really hard and achieve a lot of success. We’ve been overseas, have a stable good paying job, won numerous awards and built up an impressive set of achievements, at which point we’ll feel that we have worked hard, seen the world and deserve all the success we have today. It is easy to understand why someone in that position would feel like they have seen it all, deserve to have everything they have because of their own hard work and that their world view is likely to be right.
LIVING IN A PROTECTED BUBBLE
But the reality is that most of us are living in a protected bubble, one that is built by society’s natural class system and social dynamics.
If you are a working professional today who came from a normal middle class family, the chances of you coming across the poor & homeless and can totally experience and understand the perils they go through is quite slim. Your life probably revolves around your comfortable home, offices, malls, restaurants and the occasional vacation.
The poor & homeless seem to be living in another universe altogether.
But if you are truly smart, inquisitive and well-informed, you would want to make the extra effort needed to learn more about the poor & homeless, and why and how they ended up that way.
YOU’LL REALIZE THAT THERE’S A WHOLE DIFFERENT WORLD OUT THERE
You’ll slowly realize that although yes, you have worked very hard and deserve credit for it, you can’t deny the fact that you’re fortunate enough to be given a decent head start as compared to the truly poor & homeless. Yes, there are many people much more fortunate than us, but there are also a lot more people much less fortunate than us.
You’ll realize that some people don’t even have parents and a roof over their heads to begin with, one fine day they just found themselves alone as a kid on the streets. Some come from broken families, or parents who are involved in drugs or gangster-ism who would keep extorting you for money or try to sell you into prostitution if you were their children.
HOW WOULD YOU HAVE FARED?
How would you have fared if you were born into that kind of situation. Do you think you would still be able to find out for yourself the secret to success, learn how to network, met all the people you knew, work hard and know all the things you know today that helped you succeed?
If you were sold into prostitution or forced into gangster-ism at a young age, do you think you would still know how to read and write the English language and pick-out self-help books or watch motivational speeches or TED talks on youtube to set you on the path to success? It won’t be that easy.
I, for one, believe that there is hope, and that anyone at any stage of their lives or in any situation can still pursue and achieve their dreams.
HELP THEM, AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
I believe that if they work hard and persevere, they’d one day be successful. But if they are in a situation so dire that even drinking water and a place to sleep at night is a problem, someone needs to help them solve these basic needs first, and if you have the extra resources, help point them in the right direction and hopefully a handful of them would find the courage to break out and pursue their dreams. But first, you’ll need to give them hope that one can exist for them, and tell them that it is possible to have one, and how to achieve it from where they are. Most of them would be so battered that they won’t want one, but well, at least you can say you’ve tried your best to help those who want to be helped.
All these experiences will help you understand that there is a whole different world out there and the various factors and circumstances that might have caused it, a world that you might not have known existed if you were only indulged in your own world and social circles.
You’ll also realize that people can fall from the elite and wealthy to the poor and homeless sometimes. Life happens, and it would be good to know & understand why things like that happen.
4. IT HELPS YOU STAY GROUNDED & CONTENTED
Sometimes, in the pursuit of our dreams, for example my “Impossible Grand Plan To Help Malaysia Fulfill Its Full Potential”, we might start to lose our direction. We might get too engrossed and blinded by the pursuit of “success” that we forget why we wanted to pursue our dreams in the first place. We forget to be thankful and grateful for what we have, and forget what it truly means to be happy & contented.
IT REMINDS US THAT SUCCESS IS FLEETING
Feeding The Poor & Homeless helps us stay grounded because it reminds us that there are still many people who are less privileged than us out there, and that one day we might end up in their position as well because you’ll learn from these visits that anything can happen in this world, that once wealthy businessmen and restaurant chain owners can end up homeless as well. (You might meet some once successful & wealthy people who are now homeless during these sessions)
IT REMINDS US THAT TRUE HAPPINESS COMES FROM BEING CONTENTED
When you see how these homeless people can be so happy & kind (they only take one packet for themselves and will share theirs with their friends if we run out of a certain item, they’ll also save one for those who are not back yet) & courteous to each other and us even when they have so little, you’ll realize that true happiness comes from contentment, and being thankful for what you have.
(Read more here)
5. YOU LEARN NOT TO JUDGE
During these sessions, you will see old aunties and uncles who are sick or got abandoned by their families, but you’ll also see young drug addicts or able-bodied teenagers who ran away from home.
EVERYONE IS THE WAY THEY ARE FOR A REASON
Some of you might feel that we should not help the able-bodied young teenagers because they are healthy enough to find a job and are throwing away their life because of their own choices, that they deserve to be homeless. For all you know, there is a possibility that they might be involved in crime and snatch-theft as well.
PUT OURSELVES IN THEIR SHOES INSTEAD OF JUDGING
While I felt that way at first too, I soon realized that if I was born into a homeless family, an orphan, or with parents who were drug addicts or was an abandoned kid on the street, I myself would probably have taken up drugs and resorted to stealing to survive too! Simply because I knew of no other way!
Because society has already labeled me as hopeless, I have no other alternative, no access to education, help, and no other way to survive. My life would probably be no different than theirs if I was born into their circumstances. It is easy to say what we would do today with the exposure and knowledge that we already possess, but if we were really to be born into their situation, our lives, choices and attitude would probably have been exactly like theirs or even much worse.
Hence, who are we to judge? When we are fortunate enough to not be in their position and had to go through what they went through?
WE HELP ALL OF THEM WITHOUT JUDGING
Hence, when we distribute food, we try our very best to help all of them without judging, and instead try to understand them and do all we can to help.
6. YOU LEARN TO BE HUMBLE
When you realize that anyone could become homeless and that anything can happen in life no matter how successful you are today, as seen from previously wealthy businessmen and bankers who are now homeless and living on the streets as a result of one very bad financial recession or other reasons, you’ll learn to become humble. You’ll learn to be grateful for what you have today and not take things for granted.
WHEN HOMELESS PEOPLE CAN BE MORE COURTEOUS AND KIND THAN YOU
You will also be humbled when you see how homeless people care and look out for each other, sharing their food with each other when there isn’t enough and saving portions for their friends who are sleeping or not around.
You will realize that most of them will say thank you and only take what they need and tell you where their friends are so you can distribute the food to them just in case we din’t know where to find them.
Sometimes, I feel that they are probably more caring & courteous than some of us non-homeless people who are only focused on what we want and will stop at nothing to get it, simply because we believe that the world is unfair to us and we’ve got to fight for everything.
But look who’s talking. If the poor and homeless who have much less than us can be caring & courteous towards each other, why can’t we?
7. IT RENEWS YOUR HOPE & FAITH IN HUMANITY
Sometimes, if you get trapped in the corporate or business world for too long, you might start to become jaded and think that this is a dog-eat-dog, every man for himself world that we live in.
But when you see that there are still so many people who care, who are kind enough to make time and put in the effort to give and help those in need, who have compassion, and even homeless people who care for each other and are sincerely grateful and happy, you’ll realize that there is still so much good and hope in humanity, and we can all be part of it.
8. YOU’LL MEET AWESOME PEOPLE
During these Feed The Poor & Homeless Sessions, you will also meet awesome people from all walks of life doing all sorts of interesting things, bankers, lawyers, accountants, entrepreneurs, videographers and so much more, all kind hearted souls who made time to do something good and meaningful.
You’ll get to meet interesting people, build friendships, learn from each other and have a great time doing something meaningful together.
9. YOU’LL FEEL A DEEP BUT SILENT & INDESCRIBABLE KIND OF JOY & SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT
I don’t know how to describe this. But as you walk the streets and back alleys carrying boxes of food and distributing them to the poor & homeless, you’ll just feel happy, a sense of quiet joy that stirs in your heart, although you’re sweating from all the walking and carrying, you somehow just feel happy that you’re doing something meaningful and making a difference.
10. THE EXPERIENCE IS PRICELESS
If you go to a movie, you will be entertained; if you bought a brand new Ferrari, you’ll feel happy; but the feeling of seeing a genuinely thankful smile from someone receiving food from you and seeing them hungrily eat that box of food, knowing that they only get such handouts and the opportunity to eat proper food a few times each week when soup kitchens, NGOs and random volunteers like us come around, is just priceless.
“If you ask me, nothing beats the joy of seeing a genuinely happy smile from someone whose day you know you’ve made because of something you’ve done. These are things that money can’t buy.”
11. YOU’LL HEAR INSPIRING & TOUCHING STORIES FROM PEOPLE YOU’LL OTHERWISE NEVER GET TO MEET OR HEAR FROM
During these sessions, if you’re fortunate enough to meet some of them who are more willing to talk and share their stories with you, you’ll be able to hear all sorts of inspiring and touching stories about their lives that you’d otherwise probably never be able to hear about.
THE AUNTY WHO FLED HER ABUSIVE CHILDREN
There is an old aunty from Penang who sleeps under a bridge who left home because her children abused her and felt that she was a burden to the family. Although she felt sad, she never blamed her children, because she feels guilty that she can’t provide for them and her children had to take care of her when they are going through a hard time themselves.
TOOK A BUS TO KL TO FIND A JOB BUT TO NO AVAIL
Hence, not wanting to burden her children any further, she took a bus to KL in hopes of finding a job but no one would hire her because she doesn’t have any skills. I think she makes a living now by collecting old cardboards and soda cans to sell to recycling centers.
CAN ONLY AFFORD TO SHOWER & WASH HER CLOTHES TWICE A MONTH
She told us that she could only afford to wash her clothes and shower once every two weeks at the public toilet at Puduraya bus station where you have to pay 20 cents to enter.
THAT COULD HAPPEN TO US TOO
When I heard of her story, I realized that that could happen to me when I am old too. In all honesty, we don’t have total control over how our children would eventually turn out to be and how they would treat us when we are old and becoming a burden to them. Reality is harsh, and things like these do happen, more often than you think it does. When times are tough, people are capable of many unthinkable things.
What I took away from this story was that you never know what could happen to you in the future, and we should also not take it for granted that our children would look after us when we are old. The best we can do is to love them to the best of our ability when they are young and teach them the right values in hopes that they will grow up to be nice & responsible people, while also saving up for our own retirement so as not to pose a burden to our children; and most importantly, make sure that we take care of our own parents to the best of our ability and not let the same thing happen to them.
THE UNCLE WHO LOST THE WILL TO LIVE ON
There’s another old uncle who decided to live on the streets because he felt that there was no meaning left in life, and that there was nothing worth living and fighting for. Because of that, he’d rather just live life one day at a time and see what happens. Whatever happens, happens, and he will just accept it as it is simply because living doesn’t really matter to him anymore.
ONCE A PROUD OWNER OF A RESTAURANT CHAIN
This uncle was once a proud owner of a chain of restaurants, but it went into serious cash flow problems during the 1997 economic crisis and eventually went bankrupt.
WIFE AND CHILDREN LEFT HIM DURING THE FINANCIAL CRISIS
After his business failed and he went bankrupt, his wife took their kids and left him. That left him very hurt and devastated.
DIN’T SEE THE POINT IN LIVING AND FIGHTING ON
After all that had happened, he couldn’t see the point in living and fighting on anymore, simply because there was nothing for him to live and fight for. He felt that nobody loved him, and nobody cared about him anyway. His wife left during his darkest times, and took their children away together with her. Everything that mattered in his life was gone.
So to him, he might as well just be dead. Even if he fought hard and rebuilt his wealth and restaurant chains, he felt that his wife will just leave him again when times are tough and he would lose everything again anyway, so what’s the point in working hard? Might as well just live off the streets and take each day as it comes since there is nothing to live for anyway.
THESE ARE VERY REAL THINGS THAT COULD HAPPEN TO ALL OF US
If you are a businessman or an entrepreneur, you would know very well that the same thing could happen to us any time. Sure, we can be as cautious as possible and have many contingency plans to prepare for the worst, but we all know that when shit happens, it happens; and there are 101 million things, however unlikely, that can go wrong with our businesses or investments that can either put us out of business or leave us in a pile of debt. You win big, you also lose big. It is a risk we all have to take.
The difference however lies in whether we have hope when adversity strikes, and the motivation to overcome adversity and our toughest times believing that we will come out of it and see the light one day, whether we have something to fight for and the hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
As Jack Ma, the CEO and founder or Alibaba said:
“Today is tough, tomorrow will be tougher, but the day after tomorrow will be beautiful. But most people die tomorrow evening and will never get to see the beautiful day” – Jack Ma
This story taught me to always have hope, no matter how tough the situation may be, because once we lose it, all is lost. It also further reinforced the relationship truth I discovered some time ago that a relationship built on purely external attraction alone such as physical looks and material wealth won’t work because it falls under one of the “8 Types Of Relationships That Won’t Work”, and will ultimately break down when the tough gets going, which will definitely happen in our lifetime, like what happened to this uncle. It also taught me the importance of finding not just any partner, but the right life partner, simply because
“If we manage to find the right life partner, life would be like heaven on earth; but if we found the wrong one, it will be like a living hell”
And also how the woman a man chooses to be with can determine his life. (Read more here)
Here is another story by Joel Neoh which I came across in my facebook newsfeed some time ago:
12. IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Through feeding the poor & homeless, I got to see the world in a different light, and it fundamentally changed the way I look at a lot of things in life and life in general.
IT CHANGES YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON LIFE
I’ve realized that what most of us see and experience in life is largely confined to our very own social bubble, but through feed the poor sessions like these, you’ll get to expand your horizons and discover and see things you never knew and never thought you’d ever discover.
The lessons and insights learnt from these experiences might also change your perspective on life forever.
YOU’LL LEARN OF THE UNPREDICTABILITY & HARSHNESS OF REALITY
You will also realize how unpredictable life and reality can get, that kids really do kick their parents out of their houses, that spouses do leave each other when times are tough, and very successful people can end up bankrupt and homeless just like that.
You’ll learn that things like these do happen to real people, people who were once like you and me.
IT GIVES YOU THE COURAGE & FORESIGHT TO FACE WHATEVER THAT’S AHEAD
In a way, it gives you the courage and foresight to face whatever life might have in store for you in the future, because through all their stories, you have an idea of what could happen to you in the future, and what you could do to prevent it and how you could handle it if it really did happen to you.
YOU’LL LEARN HOW TO DRAW LESSONS & POSITIVITY FROM HARDSHIPS
Contrasting their choices and the choices of other people who have been through similar situations but decided not to give up, you’ll learn important lessons about life and the importance of remaining positive and never losing hope in times of hardships and the huge difference it can make in someone’s life.
If worse comes to worst, you also know that you can still survive on the streets and be happy as long as you are contented.
IT MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON
The experience also helps you better understand that there is a story behind every person and there is a reason why people end up the way they are.
It makes you less judgmental, more compassionate, kind, more grateful and appreciative of what you have today and also better able to empathize with other people.
All in all, it will make you a better person.
HOW IT USUALLY WORKS
Feed The Poor & Homeless Sessions usually happens at night after 10pm, simply because that is when all the shops have closed and they would be able to go back to the sidewalks in front of the shops to “roll out” their makeshift beds.
However, there are also certain soup kitchens who operate consistently a few days a week during the day at fixed spots where the poor & homeless would come to queue up for food.
RANDOM GROUPS OF PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE
The ones I usually join are the ones from the Feed The Poor Project, Malaysia facebook group or random ones organized by me or some of my friends.
We do not represent any group or organization, we are simply a random group of Malaysians from all walks of life coming together every once in a while to do something we believe should be done.
If the session is pre-planned, we would usually approach one of the few kind restaurants we know of that supports such initiatives one or two weeks in advance. On that day, they would cook extra rice, dishes and sponsor the food. At the end of the day, at around 9pm, we would go over (bringing our own Styrofoam boxes) and pack the rice and extra dishes of the day into those styrofoam boxes and bring them to the meeting point.
Sometimes, if these restaurants are not available, we would then buy our own food. But usually, we would still buy cartons of packet drinks or bottled water to distribute along with the food.
There are also plenty of charity groups and NGOs who organize soup kitchens consistently.
On certain nights, you might find that there are many Christian, Buddhist and NGO groups giving out food all on the same night. But just give anyway, this is because the poor and the homeless don’t get food regularly, when they do, it usually comes all at once on weekends or the eve of a public holiday, simply because that is when most volunteers like us have the time to come out and distribute the food to them. They might not have food for the next week or two, hence that extra packet of rice you give them might have to last them the whole week or more, so they would definitely need more although it might look like two packets is more than enough for one night (we have to keep in mind that they don’t get food every night).
That is also why we try our best to distribute food on a weekday night where the soup kitchens are not operating or when no one else is distributing food as best as possible. However, that is actually quite hard to do because most working adults won’t be free and have work the next morning. But it could be done, and we have done it before.
SPONTANEOUS & RANDOM SESSIONS
Every once in a while, some of us might have some extra food from an event, and we would just ring up a small group of friends to distribute the extra food that night. It just takes 2-3 people to do the job.
POST CHINESE NEW YEAR
We’d usually have one each year after Chinese New Year, where we would collect all the leftover CNY oranges and goodies and top them up with packets of rice and drinks to distribute to the poor & homeless.
JUST FEEL LIKE IT
Either that, or we would also do it when we felt that we haven’t done it in a long time and felt that it was about time that we do it again.
MEETING POINT & A SHORT BRIEFING
We’ll usually all meet at a pre-set meeting point and have a short briefing before we go off to distribute the food. Here’s a short list of guidelines that would usually be included in the briefing.
- Find a buddy and always walk in pairs, at least, never wander off alone
- If they are sleeping, don’t wake them up, just put the food beside them
- If they appear hostile or crazy, don’t try to engage or talk to them, just put the food near them and leave
- If they ask for money, just tell them that you only give food and offer them food, don’t give them cash, that is because there would be no end if we gave them cash and there is only so much we can give, plus you might be unknowingly funding their diet on drugs, so it is best to just stick to giving them the essentials like food, water & clothing
- If a crazy person keeps complaining to you and harassing you, just politely nod or decline and walk away
- Try to stick together and walk as a group
WE WALK THE BACK ALLEYS & STREETS TO DISTRIBUTE FOOD IN GROUPS
After the briefing, we would carry the food and water and walk as a group to the streets and sidewalks where they usually are to distribute the food to them.
Sometimes, the younger ones might all come over and queue up for the food, but we’d usually try to avoid the places with crowds and try to walk further in to give those who are too weak and sick to walk out from their “beds” first before distributing the food to those in a crowd.
IF THERE IS STILL EXTRA, WE’LL DRIVE FURTHER TO DISTRIBUTE THEM
If there is still leftover food, then we’ll drive to other further locations in our cars to distribute the food and water to them.
IS IT SAFE?
I would say that if you follow all the safety precautions, it is.
But ultimately, you will still be distributing food on the streets of KL in a relatively high crime area, so you would still have to look out for things like snatch theft etc. Just make sure that you don’t bring your valuables along with you, don’t walk with your handbag facing the road, and always walk in pairs or in a group and you should be fine.
If you are a girl or a group of girls, make sure you have at least a few guys to accompany you on the trip, and only go if you have at least 3 people in your whole group.
But if you take all the necessary pre-cautions, it should be quite safe. At least nothing has happened to us on all the trips we went on so far.
MORE MOMENTS FROM THE VARIOUS SESSIONS
HOW YOU CAN JOIN
If you’re interested to join, you can start off with joining a couple of the sessions, and once you have enough experience, you could start organizing your own sessions.
*Special thanks to Firdaus from CVS Productions for some of the videos and photos taken during the various sessions & all those amazing people and friends across all the sessions who contributed their valuable time & effort to help out and make our city a better & more loving place to live in 🙂
When I came back from Singapore in 2009, one of the main reasons was because I wanted to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential.
(Read more here)
The biggest question is of course, how? Who am I to think that I can do that?
Is it even possible?
WHAT IF BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET WERE MALAYSIAN?
Then I figured, if Bill Gates or Warren Buffet were Malaysian, with their personal fortune of between 40-80 billion USD each, they could have a good chance of impacting Malaysia in a significant enough way to help us fulfill our full potential leveraging on their personal wealth alone!
Call me naïve, but I actually think that it is possible.
MONEY: EVIL, OR SIMPLY A TOOL THAT AMPLIFIES THE INFLUENCE OF THE OWNER?
I believe that money, wealth and economic influence is neither evil nor good, nor is it the root of it. It is the love of money that is the root of evil, not money itself.
Money & wealth is simply a neutral tool that amplifies the influence of its owner. In the hands of good people, it can be used to do a great deal of good; in the hands of bad people, it can be used to do a great deal of bad.
Ultimately, all governments and authorities, even that of the USA, are in some way or another influenced by corporations with the most financial influence, isn’t it?
Why else would the USA have such a hard time reducing its carbon footprint?
Basically, money and wealth is a powerful enabler, but it in itself is neutral.
THERE IS NO REASON FOR BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET TO HELP MALAYSIA
Now, while Malaysia has much that it can improve on, we are still a very fortunate country. We are blessed to be in a land with rich natural resources, no natural disasters and no wars. We are also not terribly poor or starving to death every day.
So there would be no incentive for people like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet to help Malaysia in any way. Their efforts, through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, should, and are rightly so, focused on helping the people in really poor countries where kids and families are dying of diseases and starvation every single day.
BUT WHAT IF A MALAYSIAN BECAME THE NEXT BILL GATES OR WARREN BUFFET?
However, if someone from Malaysia who is passionate & patriotic enough to want to make a difference in Malaysia and somehow managed to amass a personal fortune to rival that of Bill Gates or Warren Buffet (the wealth amassed should also be fully independent, global, from the private sector & not linked with any government), then that person has a very real chance of being able to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential leveraging on his or her financial & economic influence.
BUILDING A MATURE ELECTORATE SO EVERYTHING ELSE FALLS INTO PLACE
I sincerely believe that the first step towards fulfilling a country’s full potential starts with having a mature & well-informed electorate, in other words, it all starts with the people and citizens of the country.
This is because a country’s infrastructure, elected government, polices & direction is ultimately reflective of that of the majority of its electorate. Sure, there might be some discrepancies or delay in reflection due to various factors, but if the majority of the electorate is united on one front, things will slowly but surely correct itself to reflect that of the electorate.
THE POWER LIES IN THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE
Ultimately, the power lies in the hands of the people.
But right now, Malaysia’s electorate is far from being mature. Sure, there are factions of it that are, but many of them have already left or are planning to leave the country.
Another significant portion of our electorate is in the process of maturing, but are still predominantly influenced by emotional triggers. Then there is the significant portion of our electorate in the rural areas who do not have access to knowledge and information and are largely oblivious to what is actually happening in the world and around them.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
So, being such a naïve dreamer that I am, I dreamt up these steps that I’d have to take to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential.
STEP 1: BUILDING A MULTI-BILLION USD COMPANY
To have any chance of amassing the financial and economic influence that Bill Gates or Warren Buffet has, you’d either have to go into commodity, infrastructural or finance based conventional businesses like Robert Kuok & other Asian tycoons did, or start a tech start-up that would change the world.
THE PROBLEM WITH CONVENTIONAL BUSINESSES
The problem with starting conventional businesses is that it takes a very very long time to build it into a multi-billion dollar empire due to the nature of conventional businesses, by which time most founders would usually be well-past 60 by the time they become billionaires. This would not be viable because you won’ t have the energy and stamina needed to put into motion the subsequent steps to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential at that age.
Furthermore, these businesses require huge start-up costs and usually only works if you come from an already wealthy family in the industry or if you started at a time where the country’s infrastructure was non-existent and just starting out (e.g post-independence or post war).
THE TECH START-UP ROUTE
That would mean that the best bet would be to learn how to build a multi-billion dollar tech company from start-up to exit in 5-20 years.
A GLOBAL COMPANY THAT SOLVES A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM EVERYONE IN THE WORLD FACES THOROUGHLY
The catch here is that, in order to build a multi-billion dollar tech company, you CANNOT go in wanting to build one. You will most definitely fail.
You will need to be genuinely passionate about entrepreneurship and in solving a problem thoroughly. None of the really successful founders of multi-billion dollar tech companies started what they started because they wanted to be billionaires.
They were just really passionate about solving a problem or strongly feel that certain things should exist or be done differently.
Fortunately for me, I happen to be genuinely inspired by the power of entrepreneurship and am very passionate about solving problems as well. I enjoy the thrill, risks & journey in doing so.
I love bringing talented people together to build something amazing that would positively impact the world in a significant way.
(Read more on 5 Things Multi-Billion USD Companies Have In Common)
RESULT: SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC INFLUENCE
Once you’ve built the company to a certain stage and have thoroughly solved the problem, you’ll be able to exit by way of an IPO or an acquisition.
USING THAT FINANCIAL & ECONOMIC INFLUENCE GAINED FOR STEPS 2-4
You probably only own around 10% of the company you’ve built by the time you exit due to dilution, but if the exit is big enough it would generate enough financial & economic influence to carry out steps 2 through 4.
(Read more on The Power of Entrepreneurship)
STEP 2: INSPIRE THE YOUNG , ESPECIALLY THOSE IN RURAL AREAS
The next thing that needs to be done once you have the financial & economic means required at your disposal is to bridge the rural-urban divide so that the entire electorate can make rational & well-informed decisions.
HOW TO TRANSFORM A VILLAGE INTO A CITY
Research has shown that you can transform a village into a city just by putting a game console that is connected to the internet in the village.
In 20 years, the village will become a city.
THE POWER OF INCEPTION
Why? Simply because the kids in the village would be playing the games and be fascinated and curious about the things they see in it, they would be interested to know more about those fancy cars and aeroplanes in the video games they play.
Curiosity is a seed. Once implanted into someone’s mind, it will grow, and slowly but surely drive them to be more inquisitive and set them on a journey of lifelong learning and discovery.
It is inception.
CURIOUSITY GROWS LIKE A SEED
As the children get more curious and motivated to learn about the outside world, they will gradually get their hands on more knowledge and trigger a chain of events that would slowly but surely transform the village into a city.
AN X-MEN-LIKE MANSION TO INSPIRE THE YOUNG
Personally, I am a very simple and easily contented person. I strive for the best in business and the things I do but for my personal life, I am contented and grateful for the simple fact that I am alive. I do not need things like Ferraris and private jets and yachts, although I don’t mind being on them once in a while just for the experience.
But what if I could share these experiences with people so that they would be inspired?
Imagine a mansion just like Professor X’s school for mutants.
What if I could build one just like that with private jets, yachts, fancy cars and facilities and turn it into a place to inspire an entire generation of rural kids!
TED TALKS & EXPERIENCES
A place where rural kids living in longhouses would be given a chance to experience flying in a private jet, living in a mansion and attend TED talks from inspiring people all over the world in 4 month batches, where they would spend the first month learning basic English and spend the rest of it going on various experiences and getting inspired by people doing amazing things all around the world.
When they go back to their long houses after spending 4 months in the mansion, they would be inspired and curious about the world, and would spread that spirit to their friends in their villages who haven’t had the chance to visit the mansion yet.
With a batch rotation system, the aim is to allow as many rural kids to experience the outside world and get inspired as possible.
RESULT: A GENERATION OF CURIOUS, INSPIRED & MOTIVATED MALAYSIANS HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE
Once someone is inspired, it sets that person on a lifelong journey or learning. It is like a spark that starts a huge fire that would keep burning throughout that person’s life.
STEP 3: PROVIDE AN ACTIONABLE PATH TO GAIN KNOWLEDGE & SUCCESS
However, getting inspired isn’t enough.
You’ll also need actionable steps for inspired people to take to charge of their destiny and pursue their passion & dreams.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am perfectly fine with someone wanting to have a simple life staying in a village milking cows. I personally would love to retire to that kind of life. But I feel that if someone wants to be a lawyer, a scientist, an astronaut or travel and see the world, there should be a path for them to be able to do so, and that is what I want to build.
EDUCATION SEARCH ENGINE, CONTENT & CSR
One of the ventures I am planning to start in the future is an education search engine that would revolutionize education, and I plan to make it available for free to the rural kids in Malaysia. Furthermore, I’d also build the infrastructure needed for them to access all the educational materials, TED Talks, and troves of educational information on the internet through various CSR initiatives.
You could either collect 2nd hand computers that big corporations would throw away when they upgrade their hardware or buy it off them at a discounted price, build a simple computer room in the villages and a diesel power generator (or a solarcity panel & tesla powerwall/packs), install the content and TADA!
You’ve built the infrastructure required for rural kids to have access to education and information needed to pursue their passions & dreams!
RESULT: A GENERATION OF EDUCATED & ANALYTICAL MALAYSIANS
I believe that this would slowly but surely result in a generation of educated & analytical Malaysians that would be able to make rational & well-informed decisions.
STEP 4: INVEST IN CULTURE & THE PERFORMING ARTS
I’ve also realized that all countries with a mature electorate have a vibrant performing arts scene.
(Read more about my journey in the performing arts here)
I suspect that the reason is because the performing arts teaches us how to have an open mind, explore and experience different ideas from different perspectives, not take ourselves too seriously, learn to accept each other’s views, learn from our past and present, and laugh at ourselves.
Malaysia has a small but growing performing arts scene, but much much more could be done to spur and promote it to the masses.
RESULT: A MATURE ELECTORATE THAT IS ABLE TO RATIONALLY ANALYSE ISSUES, ACCEPT & LAUGH AT EACH OTHER’S DIFFERENCES & MAKE WELL-INFORMED DECISIONS
Plays & musicals like Juno & The PayCock, Les Miserables and other forms of art speaks to our emotions, and moves people. It teaches us to have the emotional capacity to understand others and explore complex issues in a real but light hearted manner.
It would slowly give our electorate the emotional ability to understand, explore and accept various views in a courteous and civilized manner.
If a significant portion of our electorate can do that, we would have a mature electorate.
THE CHAIN OF EVENTS THAT WILL FOLLOW A MATURE ELECTORATE
So what’s going to happen once we have a mature electorate?
If you ask me, this is what is going to happen, and everything is going to eventually fall into place.
1. A MATURE ELECTORATE WILL NATURALLY ELECT INTO POWER A CAPABLE GOVERNMENT
If the electorate is mature and able to make well-informed decisions, there is no way they would tolerate an inefficient & incapable government, they would naturally elect into power a government that is capable.
If there is a problem with the electoral mechanism, they would slowly but surely make sure that it is fixed over time.
2. A GENERATION OF CAPABLE LEADERS WILL NATURALLY EMERGE
If our electorate consists of educated, passionate & well-informed people; it is natural that a generation of capable leaders would slowly start to emerge.
3. A CAPABLE GOVERNMENT WILL NATURALLY IMPLEMENT SOUND ECONOMIC, EDUCATION & LEGAL POLICIES
A capable government with smart people in the cabinet and parliament would then naturally put their great minds and expertise to work to come up with the best policies for the country.
4. MARKET FORCES & NATURAL PROGRESSION WILL BRING OUR COUNTRY FORWARD NATURALLY
With the right policies and an electorate that is mature, educated & well informed; market forces will naturally take over to drive progression and growth for the nation and everyone in it.
At this point, I know most of you will be thinking that this is impossible, that I must be hallucinating, naïve and over-ambitious.
Even the first step in building a multi-billion dollar tech start-up that would change the world is hard enough. 9 out of 10 venture backed start-ups fail, and 95% of new conventional businesses fail within the first 5 years, that is just how it is in reality.
Even if I did manage to build a billion dollar company, I might be too old by then to do anything else.
There are also so many obstacles and challenges that would prevent me from implementing steps 2-4.
Furthermore, such things usually take generations, and probably can’t be done in someone’s lifetime, unless you’re fortunate enough to be a founding father of a newly independent country.
Guess what, I totally agree.
It is impossible for all the above to happen. If it does, it would have taken a hell load of luck, hard work & determination; but seriously, a hell load of luck, it’s like all the stars would have to align for this miracle to happen.
I must be dreaming, and I am fully aware that I am dreaming.
But you know, they say that if you aim for the moon, you’ll at least land among the stars even if you miss right? Even if I have been trying for my entire life and only managed to build a small company, at least I’ll still have a small company and live a normal comfortable life right?
Or maybe I would just be able to build a billion dollar company by the time I am 80, but I could put all that wealth in a trust fund to start the ball rolling right?
If I could carry out steps 1-4 and see it through in my lifetime, that would be wonderful, but if not, I hope that I can at least start the ball rolling.
I DREAM A DREAM
Am I dreaming?
And to those of you who want to tell me to dream on because this is impossible and will never happen, don’t worry, I will, every single day and every waking hour of my life, because I am a dreamer.
“All men dream, but not equally.
Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses
of the night wake in the day to find that it was vanity;
but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men,
for they may act their dreams
with open eyes to make it possible.”
– T.E Lawrence
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”
– Steve Jobs
This piece is purely meant to explore a seemingly impossible, over-ambitious, naïve, and probably unnecessary hallucination of the author and is in no way implying anything about anybody, organization or situation in Malaysia. Malaysia is a great and beautiful country as it is today. This is just a random hallucination by the overly concerned and probably perfectionist author on what can be done to bring Malaysia to even greater heights and stay awesome in the distant future. The author is a dreamer and is just dreaming, everything is and will just remain an innocent dream.
At the time of writing, Facebook is the world’s largest social network with 1.44 billion monthly active users; together with Whatsapp & Instagram (which it acquired), it is also the primary way people stay connected with and update each other on their lives.
Besides that, it also has a market cap of 226 Billion USD.
On the other hand, Google is the world’s most popular search engine and is the primary way most people search for information online, they also happen to own the primary tools for business correspondence and online video consumption in Gmail and Youtube.
It currently has a market cap of 368.5 Billion USD.
EVER WONDERED WHAT THESE 100+ BILLION USD COMPANIES HAVE IN COMMON?
I did some research and found these interesting traits these companies share.
1. THEY SOLVE A FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEM THAT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD FACES
One of the reasons why companies like Facebook & Google can grow so big is because they are solving a problem that everyone in the world faces. There is a need for their product and solution anywhere in the world, which is what makes them so scalable and able grow to such a scale once they’ve found the solution to the problem that they’re solving.
GOOGLE: ORGANIZING THE WORLD’S INFORMATION
The internet has tons of information, and everyone wants to find what they’re looking for, simply because we humans are naturally curious beings, and are constantly on the lookout for knowledge, answers and interesting things.
However, it was hard to do so because the internet is so vast and so unorganized.
That is where Google developed its search engine with a superior algorithm to make it easy for all of us to find what we want on the internet and went on to dominate the world.
Today, if you have anything you want to know or find, you can just “Google” it.
FACEBOOK: CONNECTING FRIENDS
Everyone has friends, and we all want to stay in touch with each other in some way or another.
We humans, after all, are highly social beings. We are naturally curious about how our friends are doing, and love interacting and sharing things with people we care about. We also like receiving comments, attention and being talked to. It is a fundamental human need.
Facebook utilized technology to create tools that help facilitate various interactions among friends and help us expand our ability to stay in touch and build relationships with each other in a much easier and convenient way.
2. THEY ARE USUALLY NOT THE FIRST IN THE MARKET
I also realized that they are usually not the first in the market. Because the problem that they’re solving is a fundamental one that everyone faces, there are naturally a lot of people trying to come up with a solution for it.
YAHOO, ALTA-VISTA, META-CRAWLER AND SO MANY MORE
Before Google came along, there were already many search engines available, and all of them are huge and have received substantial venture capital funding.
I remember vividly how I would stay in the computer lab with all the search engines open in my browser searching for pictures of planes (I was a huge fan of fighter planes as a kid) when I was in primary school back in 1997 (I was 7 years old then).
The reason why I had to open so many tabs on so many search engines was because the results are all different and you get a lot of irrelevant links that appear when you search for F-15 or F-18 fighter jets.
FRIENDSTER, MYSPACE AND OTHERS
I still remember how everyone was going around asking friends to
“Write me a Testi, write me a testi (testimonial)!”
back in high school.
Literally everyone was using Friendster back then.
They are all big companies in their own right and have taken in millions in venture capital funding
3. THEY ENTER A WARZONE: A COMPETITIVE MARKET WITH MANY BIG PLAYERS BUT NO CLEAR WINNER
THE “SEARCH ENGINE WAR”
However, none of them have really solved the problem thoroughly yet. They were all big, but there was no clear winner. No default search engine that you would go to.
The practice back then was to search for the same thing across all the search engines until you found what you were looking for as I did with my search for pictures of airplanes and fighter jets when I was in primary school.
“Hey, I still can’t find what I want to find on these search engines”
which was the reason why they decided to come up with an algorithm that could help users find what they were looking for as fast and accurately as possible, which eventually became Google.
THE “SOCIAL NETWORK WAR”
Almost everyone had a Friendster account back in my high school days. Myspace was also really big in the US.
From all the videos and interviews I watched about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg since back in Facebook’s early days in 2004, Mark Zuckerberg said that he never thought of wanting to build Facebook or to compete with anybody, he just realized that he still couldn’t type in someone’s name and find some information about someone even with Friendster and MySpace around.
He never thought that he would be the one to solve that problem for in his mind someone like Friendster, Myspace or Google would probably be the ones who would solve it.
The problem back then was that although Friendster and Myspace were hugely popular and everyone was on it, people usually did not use their real names, so your friend Bryan might be SilverSurfer89 and your friend Amanda might be BlackAngel91 or something on Friendster & Myspace, hence you couldn’t really find someone and useful information about them by typing in their names.
Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that he actually suggested the idea to Myspace so they would do it, but they refused and think that what they had was already good enough, that left Mark Zuckerberg no choice but to start thefacebook which became the facebook we know today.
4. THEY MAKE SURE THEY SOLVE THE PROBLEM THOROUGHLY
Friendster, Myspace, Yahoo & Alta-Vista all got something right. They have all solved the problem to a certain degree and have gained reasonable success.
However, their downfall came when they thought that they have solved the problem and are comfortable with what they’ve built so far, that was when companies led by people who are truly passionate about solving the problem thoroughly kept innovating, kept improving, eventually overtook them and left them in the dust.
SEARCH: THE SEARCH BAR
If we think about it, how is Yahoo, Alta-Vista & Google different from each other?
They all have a search bar where you type something in and get a list of results in the form of links. The search bar is what all of them got right, the first half of the solution, but the problem is not fully solved yet, because a lot of the links that were returned were irrelevant, and it was also clouded with ads and all sorts of distracting content.
In other words, you still could not find what you really wanted to find in an instant.
SOCIAL NETWORKING: A FRIEND LIST
The same goes for social networking & connecting people. Friendster, Myspace & Facebook all have a friend list and people’s profiles. That was the part that they all got right.
But human to human interactions are much more complex than just having a list of friends, otherwise that would just be a digital version of a phonebook, a lot more needs to be done to truly connect people better and help friends stay in touch.
NOT BEING DISTRACTED BY INVESTORS & PRESSURE TO MONETIZE
When a company has reached a certain size and has taken on venture capital funding, they would be under pressure to aim for an exit either through an acquisition or an IPO, and one of the milestones that they might need to achieve before they can do that is to try to monetize their product.
The danger is that if the focus of a company shifts from trying to solve the problem to monetization too early, before the problem has been solved thoroughly, the company might be heading for disaster as another company that is determined to solve the problem thoroughly first might overtake and destroy them entirely, just like what Facebook did to Friendster & Myspace.
GOOGLE: OPTIMIZING THE ALGORITHM
For Google, the way to solve the problem of helping users find what they want on the internet quickly and accurately was to keep optimizing the algorithm until that was achieved.
CONNECTING PEOPLE: A COMPLEX PROBLEM THAT INVOLVES COMPLICATED HUMAN INTERACTIONS
On the other hand, Facebook’s mission to better connect people is more complex due to the complicated nature of human social interactions.
We don’t just want to know who our friends are, we also want to talk to them, find out more about them, see who their friends are, be able to give them attention, attract attention, share things and much much more.
FACEBOOK: KEEP ITERATING NEW FEATURES TO BETTER CONNECT PEOPLE
Hence, for facebook to be able to solve the problem thoroughly, they had to keep innovating and keep coming up with new features and see which works and which doesn’t.
Facebook has come a long long way since the day it started, where it was essentially just a directory and friend list of students studying in campuses.
How many of you still remember the “poke” function, which still exists today, but nobody pokes anybody anymore these days. Then there was the superpoke, where you got to draw on people’s wall and post funky emoticons and birthday cakes. That was hot for a while but din’t really stick as it got too cluttered and now it is gone, replaced by a much better and well oiled news feed and timeline.
HOW FACEBOOK’S NEWSFEED & PHOTO-TAGGING FUNCTIONS KILLED FRIENDSTER
I am the kind of person who would stick with one thing once I find it to be good enough. I am not too eager to switch to new things and try out every single new thing that’s out there. Peer pressure doesn’t have that big an effect on me as well.
So when I eventually got on Friendster, I loved it!
I loved the testimonials I got, amazing and sincere things my friends wrote like:
“Johnson is a really nice guy….
I actually feel very sad that they are all gone now and I din’t have a chance to download them before Friendster deleted everything.
Needless to say, when facebook first came about, I was very reluctant to open an account, because it seems like exactly the same thing as friendster, but much more childish, because people were just poking each other and drawing graffiti on each other’s walls, something which I din’t find particularly interesting.
However, I suddenly realized that all my photos were on facebook, because my friends would upload them on facebook and tag me in it. I wanted to see my photos, so I had to open a facebook account.
After a while, I realized
“Hey! You can see what Tim did last night!
What Audrey had for dinner last night!
What Bryan was thinking…”
etc all on your newsfeed. Not just that, you could also like things and comment on things.
Slowly but surely, I got hooked, and realized that I din’t go back to Friendster anymore, because Facebook is so much more interesting and has so much more tools for you to stay in touch and interact with your friends!
FRIENDSTER & MYSPACE STOPPED INNOVATING TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM THOROUGHLY
If you ask me, that’s how Friendster & MySpace died.
They thought they had solved the problem. They stopped innovating, stopped iterating and focused on trying to make money by introducing paid photo collages etc.
IT IS A FEATURE WAR IF YOU’RE TRYING TO SOLVE A PROBLEM THAT INVOLVES COMPLEX HUMAN INTERACTIONS
Some people might disagree with me on this, but in my humble opinion, if the problem you’re solving is one that involves complex human to human interactions, it is going to be a feature war, where you have to keep coming up with tools and keep iterating until you find the right set of tools that work and solve the problem thoroughly. Some might work, some won’t but you have to keep doing it until you’ve found the optimum set of tools to solve the problem you’re trying to solve thoroughly.
Due to the intricate & varied nature of human interactions, one single tool won’t work, you need a set of tools. This is because facebook wouldn’t have been able to solve the problem of connecting people better if they just focused on optimizing the friend list and profile page.
SOLVE THE PROBLEM THOROUGHLY
Ultimately, it is absolutely crucial for companies to be passionate about solving a problem thoroughly and stay focused on that until they really get there.
5. FINAL RESULT: A CLEAR WINNER, DISTANT 2ND PLACE & A COPYCAT BY A BIG COMPANY
At the end of these “wars”, I realized that they almost always end the same way.
“Those who do not learn from
history are doomed to repeat it”
There will be a clear winner who enjoys close to monopoly status in the market and in the process becoming a 100+ billion USD behemoth, a distant 2nd place, and a 3rd late entrant usually by a big company who also wants in on the game, but realizes it is too little too late.
GOOGLE, YAHOO, BING
For the “Search Engine Wars”, it is obvious that Google came in 1st, you can say that Yahoo came in a distant 2nd (although they’re struggling right now, became more of a news portal and has much of its meager market cap propped up by its stake in Alibaba), and the new late entrant by a big company in the form of Bing (by Microsoft).
FACEBOOK, TWITTER & GOOGLE+
For the “Social Network Wars”, Facebook won, followed by a distant 2nd and differentiated product offering in Twitter, and now, it is Google’s turn to be the big company to come in with a late entrant in the form of Google+.
So yup. That’s usually how it ends.
SO WHATS THE NEXT BIG THING?
The important question we’ll have to ask ourselves today, however, is this:
“Where is the next Google or
Facebook going to come from?
Which problem will it solve?”
I believe that history is bound to repeat itself, and there is a reason why things happen in a certain pattern over and over again.
The challenge, however, is to be able to apply the principles and lessons you’ve learnt from the past, and apply it in the present. It is easy to look at things retrospectively, but it’s another thing altogether to be able to identify the opportunities while it is happening right now in the present.
So we have to ask ourselves this:
“Right now, as we speak, which are the
industries that are solving a fundamental
problem that everyone in the world faces,
has many big players, but has yet to have a
clear global winner, much like what was
happening during the ‘Search Engine Wars’
and the ‘Social Network Wars’?”
Once that has been answered, we would need to figure out how to solve those problems thoroughly and be passionate enough to execute on them, keep working on them and see it through.
ALL THE BEST!
I have personally identified 2 key “wars” that are currently on-going where they are all solving a fundamental problem everyone in the world faces, all the players are big but there isn’t a clear winner, and have all gotten half the solution right.
I happen to also be very passionate about solving both these problems, and strongly believe I know what those companies are missing, I have what it takes and the solutions to solving these problems thoroughly.
(I will tell you more about them soon)
I just need to keep testing, keep iterating, keep rolling things out one at a time until I reach that point.
I am focusing on rolling out a solution for one of these problems right now and it will be available soon.
This is the very first step in my impossible grand plan to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential, to achieve enough financial and economic influence by building a multi-billion USD company that would make a significant positive impact on the world.
Wish me luck! And all the best to all of you if you’re pursuing something similar too!
Leave your email here if you’re interested to check it out when we launch!
There is a saying that goes:
“Behind every successful man, there is a woman”
THE STORY OF HOW THE WOMAN MAKETH THE MAN
There is also this fictitious but interesting story that has been circulating around the internet about President Barack Obama & his wife at a restaurant that goes something like this:
One night President Obama and his wife Michelle decided to do something out of routine and go for a casual dinner at a restaurant that wasn’t too luxurious. When they were seated, the owner of the restaurant asked the President’s secret service if he could please speak to the First Lady in private.
They obliged and Michelle had a conversation with the owner.
Following this conversation President Obama asked Michelle,
“Why was he so interested in talking to you?”
She mentioned that in her teenage years, he had been madly in love with her.
President Obama then said,
“So if you had married him, you would now be the owner of this lovely restaurant,”
to which Michelle responded,
“No. If I had married him, he’d now be the President.”
THE POWER & INFLUENCE WOMEN HAVE OVER MEN
The above story and quote both imply that women have a huge and significant impact on the man they choose to be with and who their man will become.
Personally, I can see why that is true, and actually agree with it to a large extent.
THE EXTREMELY CHALLENGING ROAD TO ACHIEVING GREAT THINGS
As a man with big dreams to build multi-billion dollar companies that could positively impact the world in a significant way (read more here) and having an elaborate & detailed plan to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential (read more here) myself, I can tell you that the journey is a long, hard and often lonely one.
You will face plenty of roadblocks, challenges and setbacks.
DOUBTERS, NAYSAYERS & JUDGMENTAL EYES
People will doubt you, your family & friends will doubt you, they will think you are crazy, or naïve.
They will judge you, they will think you’re arrogant, they will think that you’re just after fame or to satisfy your egoistic needs, when the reality is that you ask yourself whether you are good enough to do this in the first place every single day, have panic attacks in the middle of the night worrying if you’re ever able to pull through, whether this passion of yours to make the world a better place is worth fighting for, worth sacrificing so much for.
You are also constantly trying to learn, from your own mistakes, and from others; hence you actually listen and carefully analyze each piece of advice people give you, you actively seek for advice & mentorship; and try all of them, until a point where you have tried enough to know that most of the advice people give are not true, only a small portion of those that you’ve tried, tested and corroborated are, and you will be able to fully understand the logic and reasons behind why some advice are true and some aren’t.
THE BREAKING POINT & PERIODS OF INTROSPECTION
At some point, even you will start to doubt yourself, your ability, your intentions, your actions, and your choices.
Each time, you will go through the whole process of introspection, repeatedly asking yourself whether you’re wrong, whether you made any mistakes, and how you can be better; because the fact is that you’re actually very humble, because after seeing and learning so much, you know that there is just so much that you do not know, and from all the successful people you’ve learnt from, you’ll know that you need to be humble and constantly learning, constantly challenging yourself and be open to the idea of being proven wrong to keep getting better and in order to achieve success.
NEWFOUND CONVICTION AFTER EACH PERIOD OF INTROSPECTION
At the end of each session of introspection, you’ll find newfound conviction, that what you know and believe in so far is right, that what you’re doing is worth it, and that you’re on the right path, and know exactly what you need to do, what you should believe, and what you should disregard because you’ve tried and analyzed them and they are not true.
THE PILLAR OF STRENGTH AND SUPPORT
In my personal opinion, I see myself as a rather confident individual. I’m sure of myself and what I know based on the experiences and achievements I have so far.
My friends seem to see me the same way. Many of the greatest and most successful men in history like Lee Kuan Yew, Abraham Lincoln or Obama would seem to be extremely confident too, sometimes even over-confident.
MOMENTS OF SELF-DOUBT WILL COME NO MATTER HOW CONFIDENT YOU ARE
But the truth is, no matter how confident you may be, there will come a point where you will have moments of self-doubt, because trying to achieve something of a certain scale and impact is always going to be challenging and full of naysayers, be it starting a business, or trying to change the world.
SPIRITUAL MOTIVATION & INTROSPECTION
Of course, these moments of self-doubt can be overcome by drawing strength from God, praying, re-visiting your spiritual inspirations (whatever they may be), or through a period of introspection or meditation, where you will emerge stronger, refreshed and with newfound conviction to soldier on.
BUT IT IS DISTRACTING & TAKES TIME
However, having too many of such sessions is distracting and takes time to happen. It takes time for one to fully recover from a moment of self-doubt through these ways, especially when a long string of fundamental setbacks happen consecutively, during which time the person’s performance would drop significantly, hence delaying the amount of time needed for the person to achieve success in whatever they may be doing.
A SIMPLE HUG OR “YOU CAN DO IT, DEAR” CAN ACHIEVE THAT IN A SECOND
This is where a simple hug, a pat on the back or some simple words of encouragement and re-assurance by someone who truly know you, understands you, supports your dreams & is constantly rooting for you and standing by your side can shortcut the entire process of introspection and spiritual recovery.
Believe me, it makes a huge difference.
THE IMMENSE POWER OF A WOMAN’S TOUCH
Although drawing strength from God, passion, introspection or any other spiritual form works; a physical hug or words of encouragement from the woman you love remains the most direct, simple & efficient way to get out of a moment of self-doubt.
It will transform your day, and if you’re on a daunting journey full of challenges trying to achieve something significant, you will need as many hugs as you can get.
ALREADY SUCCESSFUL MEN CAN PROBABLY GO MUCH FURTHER WITH THE RIGHT WOMAN’S SUPPORT
Sure, a man can achieve success on his own.
But the journey is probably going to be much more fulfilling and enjoyable if they have someone to share it with, someone who understands them, loves them and constantly roots for them.
If a man has already achieved some degree of success by his own might and ability, finding the right woman later on would probably give him even more strength and motivation to do even greater things, for example changing the world and saving lives through philanthropy, or take their companies to the next level, like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs.
THE STORY OF LEE KUAN YEW & HIS WIFE
Despite his high-handed and iron-fisted tactics that some of you would disagree with, you can’t take away the fact that Singapore is what it is today largely because of Lee Kuan Yew.
If you are a young person reading this, I urge you to read up on the various historical accounts of Singapore’s journey, corroborate them, and make a well-informed judgment for yourself on whether it was easy to build Singapore to what it is today.
Sure, today, with the relatively comfortable position that Singapore is already in, Singaporeans have the luxury of criticizing things like there is not enough freedom of expression, that Singapore is not democratic enough, the income gap is still wide etc. And yes, of course, all these needs to and should be improved on as well.
IT WAS EXTREMELY DIFFICULT TO BUILD SINGAPORE TO WHAT IT IS TODAY
But we need to bear in mind that Singapore was a small island with no natural resources to support itself (not even water) back then with their main industry of servicing British naval ships diminishing.
THE THREAT OF COMMUNISM
Furthermore, there was also a strong threat from the communists who draw their influence from the communists in China who wanted Singapore to be like China (China Pre-Deng Xiao Ping & Pre-Capitalism is an incredibly backward, corrupted, poor and very very different country from China today, in fact China learning from Singapore’s success as a result of Deng Xiao Ping’s leadership was the first step in helping China become what it is today).
THERE WAS STRONG OPPOSITION ON MANY OF HIS POLICIES, ESPECIALLY LANGUAGE
The Chinese community wanted Chinese to be the official & administrative language of Singapore, and also wanted to preserve their ethnic Chinese vernacular schools.
Lee Kuan Yew faced strong opposition in trying to make English the administrative language of Singapore & the standard medium of instruction in its schools.
IT TAKES GREAT VISION & GUTS TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT INSTEAD OF WHAT IS POPULAR
If Lee Kuan Yew just wanted to be popular, he could have just made Mandarin the standard medium of instruction and satisfy the demands of the majority ethnic Chinese Singaporean population.
But he knew that in order for Singapore to survive and prosper in a world where English is the language of trade & knowledge (when China was still a poor and backward country), Singapore’s standard medium of instruction needed to be English for it to even survive, let alone the threat of communism from the communist ideologies associated with Chinese education at that time.
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE?
You have to ask yourselves, if you were in his position at that time, facing the challenges & oppositions he faced at that time, and knowing the consequences your decisions would have on the future of your country, what would you have done?
Would you have done the same? Can you do better than Lee Kuan Yew did?
Was it easy?
HIS WIFE SUPPORTED HIM THROUGHOUT
Many of us succumb to peer pressure easily. It is much easier to do the thing people want you to do even if you know it is wrong than to do the thing you know is right and you should do.
Lee Kuan Yew had to make many such decisions, and the opposition he faced and gravity of the decisions he had to make are on a much bigger scale than what any of us would have to face.
HIS WIFE & SOULMATE WAS THERE FOR HIM THROUGHOUT
Lee Kuan Yew & his wife met in a special class in Raffles Institution when they were still in high school. They were both extremely smart people and from his memoirs and books, you’ll find that his wife was able to understand him completely and their love story is quite a touching one.
I can only imagine the amount of stress & challenges Lee Kuan Yew had to go through during the early years of building Singapore, and I suspect his wife played a huge part in giving him the strength and support needed to stay sane and make the right decisions instead of the popular ones.
THAT IS PROBABLY WHY LEE KUAN YEW LOVED HIS WIFE SO MUCH
His wife was his soulmate. She was there for him each part of the way, during his most difficult struggles and most daunting parts of his journey.
That is why when his wife was bed-ridden, he spends each night reading poems and literature to her, and when his wife passed away, it was noticeable that his will to live on has somewhat weakened and passed away himself 5 years later. Her death left a void in his life.
I suspect that it was also because he knew, deep down within his heart that he could probably have never been able to persevere, and do what he did for Singapore without her constant support throughout.
A TRUE STORY OF HOW A WOMAN MAKETH THE MAN
This is another true story that I know of from my circle of friends that shows us how a woman helped a man become who he is today.
This man is now a very successful businessman. But when he started his business years back, it was really though. He did not come from a wealthy family, and it was a huge risk for him to decide to venture into business.
The infrastructure for the business he was starting in Malaysia at that time wasn’t really ready and it was also the nature of the business that he was in that takes a long time for someone to establish a presence.
His wife was just a humble office worker, but she supported his dreams throughout.
For long periods of time (about 10-15 years), his wife was essentially supporting the family, putting their children through school and keeping his business afloat (because it kept losing money in the early years) from her meager salary as an office worker.
But her support and his perseverance eventually paid off, and his business finally took off, after 15 years.
15 years is a very very long time, their children grew from being babies into a teenagers in that time. It takes great capacity for love, perseverance and support for his wife to be able to do that, but it all paid off in the end.
Nowadays, business is easy for him, and they are living a very good life.
BE THE WOMAN WHO IS A MAKER OF MAN
From the above stories, you can see how powerful the influence and support of a woman can be. These men would probably never be able to achieve what they have achieved, or even if they did, not as much, without the constant support & encouragement from the woman in their lives.
One wonders what would have happened if his wife left him halfway when times were tough, when she had to pay the bills & put their children through school, or gave up and asked him to find a steady job instead of continuing to invest in his business somewhere around the 10th year before it really took off?
THE STORY OF A HOMELESS MAN VS MULTI-MILLLIONAIRES
In fact, I think I do have an idea of what would have happened.
During one of the Feed The Poor & Homeless Sessions that I organize from time to time, I chanced upon a homeless man who used to be a wealthy business owner of a chain of restaurants. However, when the financial crisis of 1997 struck, he faced financial difficulties and went bankrupt, at which point his wife took his children and left him.
As a result, he lost his will to fight and live on. That is why he chose to just live on the streets until today, simply because he has lost hope on humanity, on family, on love and has lost the purpose of living.
THE WOMAN IN THEIR LIVES BEING THE DIFFERENCE
I know for a fact that bankruptcy is not the end.
I personally know quite a number of very successful individuals today who went bankrupt or almost bankrupt and went on to become multi-millionaires. They were able to achieve it because they never lost the will to fight on and recover from their predicament, and more importantly, they had the never-ending support of the woman of their lives.
Therein lies the power and influence a woman can have over a man’s life.
GIRLS, USE THAT POWER OF YOURS
So girls, it is clear that you have the power within you to influence and determine the success of the man you choose to be with, and your own too, by being such a woman.
Do also bear in mind that by doing that, it is not just your own life and your man’s life that you’re impacting, you are also impacting the employees of the businesses your man is running, the impact the business or organization has on the consumers, society and much more.
If your man is running a restaurant, you will be bringing good food to the masses; if it’s an NGO, benefits to the groups that NGO is helping, if it is someone like Mark Zuckerberg Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, to revolutionize entire industries, change how people connect with each other, or save millions of lives annually by providing malaria vaccines.
If you become one such woman, your man would also love you deeply and thoroughly, just like Lee Kuan Yew did for his wife, because you would be irreplaceable to him.
Put that immense power of yours to good use girls!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT MAN
But of course, it is also important for you to choose the right man.
If you choose a man who is already in ruins in the first place, it wouldn’t work as well. This is because being on a rescue mission is one of the “8 Types Of Relationships That Won’t Work”. Your man would be more like your project instead of your lover.
If the man you choose is the type who doesn’t have much ambition, then the effect might not be as great as well; but you will still be able to bring out the best in him; or maybe inspire him to do something in the future. Just make sure you don’t try to change him or hope that he will change, because then you will be “Falling In Love With Your Partner’s Potential”, which is another one of the “8 Types Of Relationships That Won’t Work”. But if what you really wanted is just a quiet and simple life, then that’s fine.
Trust me, it’s true.
(If you’re interested in more tips on choosing the right life partner & building successful relationships, you can follow this guide that has been proven & verified to be true over 7 years here)
TAKING ON THE WORLD YOURSELF
At this point, I know some of you might be thinking:
“Hey Johnson! Girls can be leaders and take on the world themselves too! Our power is not only limited to a supporting role!”
That’s exactly what I think too!
WOMEN HAVE THE POWER TO TAKE ON THE WORLD THEMSELVES TOO!
So girls, if you’re really passionate about something and are willing to go through the challenges and make the sacrifices required to achieve it, do go ahead and pursue your dreams and passion!
Never underestimate your own power and influence!
BUT DON’T UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER AND IMPORTANCE OF A SUPPORTING ROLE
While we always celebrate great leaders and people who are credited with achieving great things, let us not forget that most of the time the people who deserve the most credit and are most important are those behind these great leaders who have been their pillar of strength & support through their entire journey, without which they would have given up long ago and would never have been able to achieve the things they’d achieved.
MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, THE SUPPORTER IS MORE IMPORTANT & INFLUENTIAL THAN THE DO-ER
The truth is, more often than not, the person behind these great people who have achieved remarkable things are the truly impactful, powerful and influential ones, and the person who have achieved those things would certainly know.
This most powerful and influential role, is also a role where most women thrive in, because of your capacity to love, to support, to persevere and to have faith.
It is also probably because this role not only allows you to influence & support your man in doing great things, but also your entire family, and provides a better opportunity for you to build and nurture a family, which just happens to be what a larger percentage (of course, there are also women who prefer to change the world themselves or have different priorities) of women want and view as a priority.
So, do not underestimate the power and influence you have in a supporting role, it is actually more important and meaningful.
THE STORY OF MARGARET THATCHER
Margaret Thatcher was the first and only woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom till date. While many criticize her iron-fisted tactics, you can’t take away the impact and influence she had on the United Kingdom.
She was one of those leaders who was not afraid to do what she feels is right for the best of the country instead of what is popular and as a result ushered in a period of prosperity and recovery for the United Kingdom.
IT WAS A LONELY AND HURTFUL JOURNEY
But her journey as the first woman Prime Minister who had to implement unpopular policies for the good of the country was often a lonely one.
Everyone would seem to hate and oppose you because you truly cared for the country. Sounds ironic right? But that’s what usually happens. It’s just like a parent disciplining their child for their own good, and it hurts you so much that your child hates you for disciplining them but you still do it because you truly love them and know that it is for their own good.
They would only learn to appreciate what you did and thank you later on in life when it became obvious to them that you were right.
SHE HAD HER HUSBAND’S SUPPORT THE WHOLE WAY
In her case, she was the one on the frontlines; while her husband played a crucial supporting role; otherwise which she might have went insane or cracked under pressure (a man would’ve faced the same).
To understand how important a role her husband might have played in her success, watch the 2011 autobiographical film “The Iron Lady” and you’ll get a better idea.
THE IRON LADY (MARGARET THATCHER) – MOVIE TRAILER
When her husband passed away in 2003, she wrote this as a tribute to him:
“Being Prime Minister is a lonely job. In a sense, it ought to be: you cannot lead from the crowd. But with Denis there I was never alone. What a man. What a husband. What a friend.”
This gave us an idea of how important a role he played in her life.
FIND A MAN THAT LOVES & SUPPORTS YOU DEEPLY
So girls, if you have decided that you should be the one being on the frontlines leading the way pursuing the cause that you’re deeply passionate about and are willing to face the numerous challenges and make the necessarily sacrifices like Margaret Thatcher did, then I urge you to find a man that loves and supports you deeply, someone like Margaret Thatcher’s husband did for her, because it’s probably going to be an adventure, and a long and challenging journey full of ups and downs, which is much better and much more meaningful & enjoyable travelled with a companion.
But please choose carefully and make sure he’s the right man, otherwise he might destroy you.
THE LADY (AUNG SAN SUU KYI) – MOVIE TRAILER
AUNG SAN SUU KYI HAD A LOVING & SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND TOO
Being a leader trying to achieve significant feats because you believe it is the right thing to do is never easy, that is why it was no surprise that Aung San Suu Kyi, another amazing woman who has dedicated her life to a cause she strongly believed in also had the support of a loving and supportive companion.
You can read up more about it or watch the film “The Lady” to get a better idea of her life.
HAVING IT ALL THROUGH BALANCE LIKE SHERYL SANDBERG
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of facebook, is another powerful woman who is impacting the world in a significant way through what she does with facebook but still manages to have a fulfilling family life. She achieves it by being efficient, finding balance & standing up for her rights for family time.
But unfortunately, her beloved husband just passed away unexpectedly while exercising just a few days before I wrote this piece.
Nevertheless, here is her tribute to her husband from which you can see how important a role he played in her life, and vice-versa.
You can read more about her thoughts and views on women, work & the will to lead from her book “Lean In”, which I think is a book that every woman should read.
GIRLS, YOU HAVE THE POWER TO CHANGE THE WORLD
So girls, after reading about all the stories above, it is clear that you have the power within you to change the world!
Never underestimate the power and influence you have over men and the world, and rock on!
“Most women want a man that’s already established. A strong & amazing woman will want to be part of his struggle, survive it, have an adventure of a lifetime, succeed together, and build an empire.”
When I first wrote “12 Ways Malaysia Might Be Different Today If Lee Kuan Yew Had Been Our Prime Minister”, I never expected it to get much attention. It was just my simple way of paying tribute to a man I personally hold in high regard for his unique perspective, grit & vision (despite him using certain tactics that some people might not fully agree with, we could have another discussion on that over coffee).
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME & MESSAGES
Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you amazing people who found my humble piece of writing interesting, for your kind shares, likes, time and effort put in to drop me comments, emails, whatsapp messages, friend requests and of course for voicing out your perspectives, disagreements & critiques as well.
I am truly humbled and would sincerely like to thank each and every one of you for taking the time to read my humble piece of writing.
I AM IN THE MIDST OF REPLYING EACH & EVERY ONE OF YOU INDIVIDUALLY
I am in the midst of replying each and every one of you individually right now, and if you have yet to hear from me, my sincerest apologies as I am trying my very best to reply as many of your emails & messages a day when I can find the time.
Thank you so much for your understanding and I would definitely get to replying your message soonest possible.
RESPONSES & THE WAY FORWARD
To those of you who enjoyed reading my piece & share my sentiments:
“Thank you so much!”
For the few of you who did not fully agree or have raised your respective criticisms or reservations, I just want you to know that I hear you, and value your insights a lot.
In general, most of the reservations & criticisms raised came along the lines of:
- It is pointless to dwell on the past & what ifs
- Malaysia is hopeless, on the path of no return & there’s nothing we can do about it
- It wouldn’t have been possible for Lee Kuan Yew to be Prime Minister & implement his vision because of our deeply rooted racial segregation
While I fully agree that it is pointless to dwell on the past & the what ifs, and am fully aware of the fact that Malaysia is a much bigger country with its unique set of challenges and circumstances at the time for something like that to happen, which is the reason why I mentioned in my previous piece that it would have taken “some miracle or another” for Lee Kuan Yew to become our Prime Minister and have a chance at trying to build Malaysia the way he envisioned it despite the challenges (it wasn’t going to be easy).
(I did not & am not going into the details of the challenges and the possible solutions to the challenges, along with their side effects & pros & cons here because of a lack of time, but if you are interested, we could have a lengthy and in-depth discussion about them over coffee)
EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITIES & THE LIMITS OF OUR POTENTIAL
Contrary to wanting to dwell on the past, the purpose of me writing that piece, besides commemorating Lee Kuan Yew & his ideas, was to explore the possibilities and limits of our potential, in hopes of inspiring us as a nation to do the little that we can to drive our nation forward towards one day realizing our full potential, little by little, and step by step, no matter how impossible it might seem.
It is not so much about what could have happened, but what can we do today to make the things we hope to see happen actually happen in the future, through knowing what we could have been and could still become today, or some day in the future.
HAVE HOPE FOR OUR FUTURE
For those of you who have given up hope. I want to tell you that I totally understand where you’re coming from and how you feel, because I have been there many times myself.
But I would also like to remind all of you that it is often during times of adversity and hopelessness that hope arises, and through the determination, actions and perseverance of a small group of people who somehow, still manage to hang on to the believe that there’s hope, slowly but surely, manage to inspire more and more people, even generations, to hope, and through many little actions, resulting in a chain of triggered events, and eventually a collective effort that slowly but steadily, through time, from hopelessness, brought a dream, vision or potential to reality.
IT TAKES TIME
There was a time in the United States, where it seemed totally hopeless for slavery to ever be abolished and for races to be treated equally (although there are still some factions of racism today), for African Americans to ever be able to be free-men, to vote, be treated equally, let alone have an African American president.
AMERICA TOOK CLOSE TO 250 YEARS & A CIVIL WAR
It took America close to 250 years for that to happen, close to 100 years since their independence in 1776 for the north to abolish slavery, having to go through a civil war in the 1860s where many lives were lost, and through the leadership & grit of Abraham Lincoln (who was assassinated after), managed to keep America united and on the right path towards being slave-free and racial equality, another 100 years for Martin Luther King Jr to speak out and inspire another movement in 1963 with his famous speech of “I dream a dream”, to the day an African American finally became President of the United States when Barack Obama took office in 2008.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR “I DREAM A DREAM” SPEECH
When Lee Kuan Yew & Singapore first separated from Malaysia, it also seemed like there wasn’t any hope for Singapore to survive, let alone develop into a thriving metropolis, being a small island with no natural resources and even sufficient fresh water to supply itself. It almost seemed clear that Singapore would one day have to crawl back to Malaysia for survival back then.
WE ARE ONLY TURNING 58 THIS YEAR
Malaysia gained its independence in 1957, and we’re only turning 58 this year. Comparatively, we are still a very very young country. While I hope that we do not have to go through a civil war of any sort to achieve our full potential, the point I am trying to make is that change can take a long time, and in many cases generations, how fast it can happen would depend on the little things each generation does, and that would mean the little things that all of us, as a generation, do; right here, right now.
OUR LITTLE BELIEFS AND ACTIONS MATTER
We might feel that what we believe or what we do as individuals is too insignificant to matter, but that’s where we’re wrong, because every little thing that we believe or do has a collective effect on our country, which might trigger many little chain events that might filter down to future generations & could have a huge impact one day.
HAVE HOPE, DO WHAT WE CAN, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS
Hence, I’ve come up with a list of ways that I believe all of us could contribute to and slowly but surely help drive our country towards fulfilling our full potential.
1. BE THE BEST IN WHAT WE DO, WHEREVER WE MAY BE
Years ago, I attended a seminar in which the then managing partner of one of Malaysia’s top law firms shared his view on solving the brain-drain problem, which I found to be interesting and extremely viable.
HAVE MALAYSIAN BUSINESSES EXPAND GLOBALLY & HIRE TALENTED MALAYSIANS BASED OVERSEAS
He believes that he could help solve the brain-drain problem by expanding his businesses internationally, and through his businesses hire talented Malaysians who have chosen to migrate abroad to run his businesses in the respective countries that his businesses has expanded to.
That way, these talented Malaysians would still be working for a Malaysian company and indirectly contributing to the Malaysian economy and Malaysian success story by helping a Malaysian company expand globally although they are based overseas.
YOU CAN STILL HELP MALAYSIA FULFILL ITS FULL POTENTIAL BY BEING THE BEST YOU CAN BE
With more Malaysian companies expanding globally, you can be based overseas but still be helping Malaysia fulfill our full potential by working for a Malaysian company that has a branch overseas.
BUILD GLOBAL BUSINESSES
If you are a businessperson or entrepreneur, you could try to expand your businesses to as many countries as possible and make an effort to hire talented Malaysians whenever possible.
Even if you do not work for a Malaysian company, as long as you are the best at what you do, you would still be able to shine for Malaysia and share your experiences with Malaysians back home when the opportunity presents itself someday.
MENTORING & PASSING ON YOUR EXPERTISE WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY PRESENTS ITSELF
Hence, even if you have chosen to migrate or be based overseas (which I can totally understand and believe is necessary if your talents are not appreciated here or if there is a lack of opportunity to further & develop your skills locally), you could still help Malaysia fulfill our full potential by being the best at what you do by passing on your skills, experience and mentoring Malaysians back home when the opportunity presents itself.
2. BE THE CHANGE WE SEEK TO SEE, STARTING WITH OURSELVES
There is a saying which goes:
“Do not do unto others what you do not want others to do to you”
I find that it is only fair that we start being to others who we hope others would be to us. Even if others do the opposite to you, it does not give you the license to do the same (things you don’t want them to do to you) to them, that is because by doing so you would be no different from them, and any change we hope to see in our nation should always start with ourselves.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
For example, if you believe that Malaysians should not be discriminated against based on our race or religion, then we should also make sure that we do not do so to our fellow Malaysians of other races ourselves.
LITTLE THOUGHTS CAN INFLUENCE YOUR ACTIONS
We shouldn’t even allow ourselves to think that way in our minds, this is because even though you only keep it to yourself, it will subconsciously show in your actions, inaction and influence you to make certain decisions and take certain actions that reflect your thoughts.
THE EXAMPLE OF RACIAL STEREOTYPING
Let’s face it, most of us would probably have at some point in our lives as Malaysians been swayed or persuaded to pre-judge or make an assumption of someone based on their race and associated stereotypes.
If stereotypical thoughts like “Chinese are rich, greedy & selfish”, “Malays are lazy & religious extremists”, “Indians are cunning & cheats” or “Kadazans & Ibans are uneducated” ever crossed your mind, then you would have been guilty of that too.
The truth is, race and religion has NOTHING to do with how someone is.
THERE ARE RICH & POOR, GOOD & BAD PEOPLE FROM ALL RACES & RELIGIONS
As there are rich Chinese, there are also plenty of rich Malays, Indians & Kadazans. Similarly, I have also seen my fair share of lazy Chinese, extremist Chinese, dishonest Chinese as well as such people from each race. But there are also generous and kind people from each race & religion.
IT IS UNFAIR TO ASSUME SOMETHING OF SOMEONE JUST BASED ON THEIR RACE OR RELIGION
I am of Chinese descent myself, and I feel that it is extremely unfair when a Chinese Malaysian conveniently assumes that all Malays are lazy and reliant on the government or all Indians are conmen and cannot be trusted.
Sure, there are some or even a number of people who are like that who belong to these races, but I also have plenty of extremely talented and hardworking Malay friends who are extremely successful at what they do today. I also have Malay friends who are among the kindest, friendliest and easy-going people I know.
GET TO KNOW PEOPLE ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS
My best friend is Indian, and he is one of the most sincere & honest people I’ve ever known. I also have a group of close friends who are largely of Indian descent, and they are all honest and hardworking people, amazing people just like you & me.
Similarly, I also know people of Chinese descent who are lazy & directionless, or only know how to pick fights, bully and complain.
The point I am trying to make here is that race & religion DOES NOT determine what kind of person someone is. There are awesome people from every race & religion, and there are also not so awesome people from each of them.
DO NOT RETALIATE BY DOING THE SAME, BE & STAY DIFFERENT
So, we should not pre-judge and pre-determine what kind of person someone is just based on their religion or race. Even if others are doing that to us, we should not retaliate by doing the same, because that would just make us no different from them.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE & BE THE LIGHT & CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THIS WORLD
Similarly for other values & beliefs that you might have, start by acting them out and being that person you think people should be yourself. Trust me, over time, people will be able to see and feel it and be influenced by you. Even if they might not agree with you, they would still grow to respect your values & beliefs.
You can change the world, one person at a time, starting from yourself.
3. DO WHATEVER WE CAN TO HELP OUR RURAL & UNDERPREVILEGED FELLOW MALAYSIANS PROGRESS TOGETHER AS A NATION
It is my humble opinion that in order for us to progress as a country, we need to progress TOGETHER, both rural & urban.
WE NEED OUR RURAL FRIENDS TO MATURE TOGETHER WITH US
This is because only with a fully mature electorate where almost every single person in the country is educated & equipped sufficiently with the necessary analytical & critical thinking skills to make well-informed decisions, can we elect into power a capable government based on the strength of their proposed policies and be united in implementing them and drive our country forward together as a nation.
THE RURAL URBAN DIVIDE
Did you know that according to World Bank data, Malaysia’s rural population stood at almost 50% back in 1990 and still stands at around 27-30% in 2014? While many villages & kampungs have been upgraded to townships and hence considered “urban”, the infrastructure that they have there in terms of access to knowledge, education, opportunities to see the world and what is happening outside of their town is still pretty much of a rural standard.
According to recent report from World Bank, only 15.9% of 25-29 year olds in Malaysia hold a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2012. (read more here) So, if you’re reading this and you have a bachelor’s degree, you should know that you’re one of the more fortunate ones in the 15.9% of Malaysians who had the privilege to access higher education. If you’re older than 29, the percentage you represent is probably even smaller.
WHAT MY PLKN EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME
When I came back from Singapore in 2009, I re-enlisted into our very own PLKN or Khidmat Negara (national service) program that I had to defer before because I was still doing my ‘A’ levels in Singapore when I got selected when I was 17.
At PLKN, I met plenty of fellow Malaysians from rural areas, especially from Sabah & Sarawak where a lot of them still live in longhouses and villages deep inside rural areas.
They were among the most friendly, nice & inquisitive people I’ve ever met!
PEOPLE ARE CURIOUS, MOTIVATED & HUNGRY FOR KNOWLEDGE
Probably because of my experience studying overseas, many of them kept asking me questions on how the outside world was like and many more. They were curious, motivated and hungry for knowledge and to learn more!
IF ONLY THEY HAD ACCESS TO THE INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIRED
If only they had access to the infrastructure and systems required for them to find these troves of knowledge by themselves, or had someone to guide them and impart these knowledge & know how to them. Imagine how far they could do and how much they could all become!
If you’re reading this, you’re probably from an urban area or an area which at least has access to the internet and would also have had the privilege to access a good enough education to be able to be fluent enough in English to understand what I am writing.
HELP THEM GROW TOGETHER AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
But please bear in mind that there are still plenty of our fellow Malaysians in the rural areas who might not be as fortunate as us to have access to such privileges and do whatever we can to help them as much as you can through the various volunteer programs that we have around.
4. EXERCISE SOUND JUDGMENT & MAKE CAREFULLY ANALYZED, WELL-RESEARCHED & WELL-INFORMED DECISIONS ON ALL MATTERS TO OUR BEST ABILITY
Sometimes, it is easy for us to get too carried away by our emotions, but as a mature and intelligent electorate, we should always keep a calm mind and analyze each situation thoroughly before making a decision and taking a stand.
DO NOT BLINDLY OPPOSE JUST FOR THE SAKE OF OPPOSING
We should not blindly oppose for the sake of opposing because we do not like a certain party or a certain person. Sometimes, they might be right and may have a point. We should learn to view things on a case by case basis.
It is great that we have plenty of social media tools today, which is a powerful way to spread and get access to information. However, it is important to remember that there are also many people who use it to spin stories and half-truths to incite people’s emotions that’ll spread like wildfire, because we humans are ultimately emotional beings.
Granted, there are many stories and information which are true and credible. But we have to remember that there’s always 2 sides to a coin. It is important for us to do some additional research on both sides of an issue before coming to a conclusion. Every piece of information or story should be corroborated with other reliable sources.
ALWAYS MAKE WELL-INFORMED DECISIONS
In order for us to truly progress as a nation, a significant portion of our people would need to be able to make well-informed and well-researched decisions on various matters and be able to see through the all the incendiary gimmicks that people might be pulling off.
If a US styled Presidential Debate like the one between President Obama & Mitt Romney on the various policies and issues Malaysia faces were to ever happen, our electorate should be able to understand the complex arguments involved and make a sound judgment based on that and support from our own research, and it should not be a face-off that’s based purely on emotions.
5. EXERCISE OUR RIGHT TO CHOOSE A CAPABLE GOVERNMENT (BASED ON OUR RESPECTIVE SOUND JUDGMENTS)
While it is important to keep a calm & analytical mind, we should also exercise our right to vote, choose and voice out peacefully once we’ve made up our mind after much careful consideration. If we do not even bother to exercise our right to choose a capable government, then we should not complain when we get shortchanged or when our rights get infringed upon, because we would have in a way brought them upon ourselves by not exercising our right to choose in the first place.
6. FOCUS ON IMPLEMENTIG CREATIVE SOLUTIONS, INSTEAD OF SOLELY COMPLAINING ABOUT PROBLEMS
Most people tend to resort to complaining and blaming others when problems arise. While it is important to find out who is accountable if certain people have a duty to carry out their tasks well, it is also important for us to not add to the problem by purely complaining and spread negative emotions around.
While it is good to do our part to voice out our opinions and hold those parties at fault accountable, we also have to understand the sad reality that sometimes, for whatever reasons or circumstances, these parties in question would never admit fault or even if they did, won’t do anything about it or take a long time to do so.
FOCUS ON FINDING SOLUTIONS
Hence, to set ourselves apart, and for the greater good of our country, we could try focusing our energy into coming out with creative solutions that would solve the problems instead, creative solutions that we ourselves, a small group of us, or various organizations or private companies would be able to carry out.
For example, if we believe that the welfare system in our country is not good enough and the poor aren’t being taken cared of enough, then organize your own Feed The Poor Sessions; if you believe that our rural brethren do not have safe houses to live in, the start or join something like the EPIC Homes Program; if you believe that the service industry is really lousy in Malaysia or that employees are not being compensated enough, then find a way to make changes in your own companies by training staff better, hence making more money and being able to pay your staff more.
EPIC HOMES PROGRAM – BUILD VIDEO
It is the little things like these that makes a difference, and more often than not, it is also what will set you apart and make you more successful individually, because successful people are often those who focus on being positive amidst adversity and come up with solutions to solve the problem instead of purely complaining.
7. LEARN TO APPRECIATE THE BEAUTY OF WHAT WE HAVE AND MAKE THE BEST OUT OF IT
There is no use crying over spilt milk.
Life would be much better and more progress can be made if we chose to focus on the positives instead. Every challenge and bad situation is an opportunity for us to shine & innovate.
WE ARE AN EXTREMELY BLESSED COUNTRY
To be honest, Malaysia is blessed with many amazing things despite our many shortcomings. We have no wars, no serious natural disasters like earthquakes or typhoons, have an abundance of natural resources, land and good food!
Sometimes, I feel that we are too blessed for our own good because countries usually rise up after they’ve been through the worst.
Furthermore, the happiest people are often those who are grateful for what they have and make the best out of it.
8. KEEP OUR LOVE FOR MALAYSIA BURNING AMIDST THE ADVERSITY. HAVE HOPE.
Most countries usually emerge stronger through adversity, they unite and come back even stronger after the worst periods in their history.
IT IS THROUGH TIMES OF ADVERSITY THAT NATIONS EMERGE STRONGER
Communist China finally rose up after a dark period of backwardness after World War II, Indonesia went through their fair share of struggles from the killings of 1965-66, America grew stronger with each war it went through from the American Revolutionary War for Independence, to its Civil War and Word War II. Likewise, Japan & Germany also came back stronger to become major economic powers after their lost in World War II.
WE CAN DO IT AS LONG AS WE HAVE HOPE
While I hope that we do not have to go through any wars or major instances of adversity (which in some cases can be too serious for a country to recover from in a short time), my point is that we should keep our love for Malaysia strong and most importantly, have hope, because hope is what gives us the strength to soldier on in hopes of a better day.
“Have hope, because hope will give us the strength required to rise up from adversity to build a better tomorrow, which will definitely come as long as we never lose hope.”
Many Malaysians might not be aware of the fact that Lee Kuan Yew was actually the first person who championed for a “Malaysian Malaysia” when Singapore was still part of Malaysia back in the 1964 elections.
WINNING A SEAT IN THE PENINSULA & HIS VISION OF A “MALAYSIAN MALAYSIA”
Lee Kuan Yew led the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the first Parliamentary General Election held after the formation of Malaysia in 1963. Although he ended up winning only 1 seat, the Bungsar constituency which is now part of the Seputeh & Lembah Pantai constituency, his rallies championing the idea of a “Malaysian Malaysia” where we were Malaysians first and treated equally based on need & merit regardless of our race & religion attracted large crowds, an indicator of the people’s interest in a “Malaysian Malaysia” even back then.
*Note: The PAP with Lee Kuan Yew as its leader was already the ruling party of the state of Singapore then
However, since it was the first time Lee Kuan Yew & the PAP competed on the mainland (Peninsula Malaysia), most of our voters still voted for the parties they were familiar with and for fear that voting in a party foreign to them till then would disrupt the balance and harmony of our existing coalition.
After that, the story from some historical books and some books in Singapore is that
(Watch this video & you’ll know that Lee Kuan Yew really did cry)
“…the prospect that the PAP might rule Malaysia agitated UMNO. The PAP’s decision to contest federal parliamentary seats outside Singapore, and the UMNO decision to contest seats within Singapore, breached an unspoken agreement to respect each other’s spheres of influence, and aggravated PAP-UMNO relations. The clash of personalities between PAP leader Lee Kuan Yew and Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman resulted in a crisis and led to Rahman forcing Singapore to leave Malaysia in August 1965.”
It could also be that
“Singapore voluntarily left Malaysia because of disagreements, or that Singapore was too demanding or that Lee Kuan Yew & the PAP was arrogant”
Which is the truth?
I do not know. I guess we could only imagine from the recounts of various parties and leave it to our own judgments.
But I sincerely do believe that our founding father, Tunku Abdul Rahman is a great person and had our best interests at heart when he made the decision, given the situation and various considerations at the time. I personally have a great deal of respect for him too.
Nevertheless, Singapore left Malaysia for good, Lee Kuan Yew cried when announcing the news to Singapore on television, and the rest, as they say, is history.
THE WHAT IFS
But sometimes, I can’t help but to wonder what would’ve happened if Singapore & Lee Kuan Yew managed to stay on in Malaysia, and by some miracle or another managed to garner enough public support with his vision for a truly “Malaysian Malaysia”.
So after reading all his books from his 3 part memoir to “The Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going” & most recently “One Man’s View Of The World” in an attempt to understand the logic & perspectives behind his thoughts, here is a list of ways Malaysia might be different today if Lee Kuan Yew somehow managed to become our Prime Minister back then.
1. ENGLISH MIGHT HAVE BEEN OUR ADMINISTRATIVE LANGUAGE
Singapore’s education system back then was very similar to what we had in Malaysia during that time period. There were the English medium schools founded by the British and vernacular schools founded by our own ethnic groups.
SIMILAR MAKE-UP OF SCHOOL SYSTEMS
Lee Kuan Yew mentioned in his books that it was a huge challenge back then to introduce English as a standard medium of instruction in schools and government departments across Singapore. He faced strong opposition from vernacular schools, especially from Chinese medium schools who were afraid that the move would erode their Chinese roots, culture & way of learning.
THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR ROOTS & ORIGINS
Lee Kuan Yew understood the importance of staying true to our roots and origin, and it was also his desire for us to not lose our roots and identity.
ENGLISH – THE GATEWAY TO KNOWLEDGE & TRADE
However, he also knew that English was the language of the world, the language of trade, and also the language to unlock troves of knowledge found in English books & educational materials.
Hence, he worked tirelessly to come up with a system that could give Singapore the best of both worlds as far as possible, while understanding that an average person can only ever master one language in his lifetime and have one main language which they think in, together with a secondary language that they can master enough to be fluent in.
A WIN-WIN SOLUTION AFTER MUCH EXPERIMENTATION
After much experimentation and trial & error, he finally found a system that worked, where the standard medium of instruction in schools would be English, but he also made it compulsory for all students to take up their respective mother tongues, be it Malay, Chinese or Tamil.
That way, he was able to create a Singapore that was fluent in English and their respective mother tongues so as to not lose their multi-lingual & multi-cultural identity while being able to have access to troves of knowledge and trade that was all conducted in English.
THE NEUTRALITY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
The fact that English was a neutral language to all ethnic groups, because it did not belong to the Malays, Indians or Chinese, and also happened to be the most practical and global language for trade & access to knowledge, made it the perfect language for Singapore to use as its administrative language.
In other words, no need to fight over the use of Chinese, Malay or Tamil, all shall use English, a neutral language which gives you access to knowledge and trade. On top of that, you are also required to learn your own mother tongue to preserve your ethnic identity.
A win-win if you ask me.
Since Malaysia’s make-up & issues were similar to that of Singapore’s , Lee Kuan Yew would probably have taken the same approach for us, and hence our administrative language would probably have been English, just like Singapore today.
2. WE MIGHT BE MORE MERITOCRATIC AND LESS RACE-BASED
Not to say that Malaysia is not meritocratic right now, I know plenty of people who were able to achieve success by their own merit in Malaysia.
However, it is just that it could be better.
REGARDLESS OF RACE, LANGUAGE & RELIGION
Lee Kuan Yew firmly believes that a nation can only be successful if it is built on meritocracy and transparency, where people who work hard and can deliver results are rewarded accordingly, regardless of race, language or religion.
This can be seen in the national pledge every Singaporean citizen has to recite during assembly every morning while they’re in school.
“We, the citizens of Singapore,
pledge ourselves as one united people,
regardless of race, language or religion,
to build a democratic society
based on justice and equality
so as to achieve happiness, prosperity and
progress for our nation.”
– Singapore’s National Pledge
However, it is important to note that this doesn’t mean that Lee Kuan Yew is against all policies that would help certain groups of people.
NEED –BASED, NOT RACE-BASED
In fact, in his books, he mentioned that there was indeed a need to have policies that would give an advantage to the underprivileged or those who might be in need of more help to have an equal footing with others and have implemented them in Singapore.
However, he did stress that such policies should be need-based and not race-based, because as there are rich Chinese, Malays or Indians; there are also poor Chinese, Indians or Malays. As a nation, he believes that all should be treated equally and those that are in need of help, regardless of race, should be helped; and those who are not, should not.
3. WE MIGHT NOT FACE A BRAIN DRAIN PROBLEM
The irony of this is that a substantial number of our top Malaysian talent have been, and are continuing to be lured away to Singapore. Plenty of my friends have become permanent residents there and if you’ve been in Singapore long enough, you will also realize that many Singaporeans were ex-Malaysians or have a parent that was an ex-Malaysian.
I myself almost became one of them. (read about why I did not here)
With their ASEAN Scholarship Program (read about my experience here), world-class education system, economy, government, a system that appreciates talent and constant effort to lure the world’s brightest minds to their country from an age as young as 12, you can clearly see Lee Kuan Yew’s commitment to build an ecosystem that would attract the world’s best to work and invest in Singapore.
HE KNEW THE TRUE VALUE OF HUMAN RESOURCE
This is because Lee Kuan Yew knows that Singapore’s only major resource is their human resource, hence such a huge emphasis on its education system and talent sourcing programs.
Of course, there are also many Singaporeans who leave Singapore for London, New York, Beijing, Hong Kong or Silicon Valley.
However, in today’s globalized world, it is perfectly normal for there to be a healthy talent exchange between the world’s biggest and most successful cities. The difference is that there are as many talented individuals from these cities that are coming to Singapore as those who are leaving, resulting in a healthy exchange of top talent, and is definitely not a brain drain.
A brain drain happens when there is only a one-way-street of top talent leaving but no talent of a similar quality coming in, which is a problem I think Malaysia is facing today.
4. WE MIGHT HAVE A MORE EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
The public transportation in Singapore is very well planned out and regulated so much so that you can get anywhere in the country without a breaking a sweat either by their well planned out MRT-lines that are the 2nd oldest in Southeast Asia, by bus or by cab.
This was because Lee Kuan Yew understood the importance of an efficient and affordable way for its residents to get around in order for its economy and country to prosper.
Of course, Malaysia is a much bigger country and it would not be as easy to have such an efficient public transportation system to be built over the whole of Malaysia, but I believe that it is definitely possible to do so for our major cities at the very least.
If Lee Kuan Yew was Prime Minister of Malaysia, he would probably do whatever he can to make our public transportation system as efficient and pleasant as possible.
5. THERE WOULD BE LITTLE TO NO CORRUPTION
Lee Kuan Yew strongly believes that good governance, transparency and an appreciation for talent is crucial to attract foreign investments and for a country to prosper.
That is why Singapore’s government officials are one of the highest paid in the world, with their compensation regularly reviewed to match that of the private sector and is being pegged to performance.
In a way, Lee Kuan Yew rather “bribes” his own government officials by paying them a super high salary openly and transparently so that there would be no need and no incentive for them to take any bribes or have any reason to fall for the temptation of corruption.
For a government official, if you are already earning so much, you have a lot to lose and very little to gain to take the risk in accepting a bribe or falling for the temptations of corruption. Hence, it makes it easy for government officials to resist the temptations of being corrupt simply because it isn’t worth the risk.
This way, Lee Kuan Yew was able to keep his government as transparent and corruption free as possible. It is likely that he would do the same if he was the Prime Minister of Malaysia.
“I am probably the highest paid in the Commonwealth if you go by official salary, but I am probably one of the poorest in the Commonwealth…I am the best paid and probably one of the poorest of the third world prime ministers” – Lee Kuan Yew
6. WE MIGHT HAVE A MORE TRANSPARENT SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE
With private-sector level compensation & strong enforcement, Singapore has managed to maintain one of the most transparent systems of governance in the world, which allows for a true meritocratic society to develop.
It is likely that Malaysia would have adopted similar principles and have a stronger enforcement system and transparency policy if Lee Kuan Yew had been Prime Minister.
7. WE MIGHT HAVE A MORE GLOBALLY RESPECTED EDUCATION SYSTEM
The National University of Singapore, which used to be part of our very own University of Malaya, ranks 22nd on the 2014 QS World University Ranking, while our very own University of Malaya ranked 151th.
Singapore’s education system has also been consistently ranked highly in world rankings as compared to our very own. From my 6 years in the Singaporean system (read more here) and 6 years in the Malaysian system (primary school), I did notice a gap in the quality of the syllabus, exposure and all-round development.
However, in a way, our education system right now produces better entrepreneurs, as we would have to fight for ourselves and learn how to be resourceful in order to truly succeed. The trade-off however is that the majority who might not be as motivated or resourceful might be left out. Our ecosystem is more suited for outliers to thrive.
With more effort and stronger willpower, Malaysia might have a more globally respected education system than we already have today.
8. OUR ECONOMY MIGHT BE MUCH BIGGER & SUCCESSFUL THAN IT IS TODAY
With a better education system, more transparent system of governance, the ability to attract more top talent, better human resources, coupled with our rich natural resources, there is a possibility that our economy might be much bigger and successful that it is today.
9. THE RINGGIT IS LIKELY TO BE STRONGER
The Singapore dollar and Malaysian ringgit traded at the same rate until 1973, but 1 Singapore dollar trades for 2.68 Malaysian ringgit today.
With a likely bigger and stronger economy as a result of a likely better education system and ability to attract top talent and a more efficient management of the natural resources we have, it is likely that the ringgit would be stronger today.
10. WE MIGHT HAVE A MUCH MORE MATURE ELECTORATE
Singapore has a rather mature performing arts scene that has been cultivated through a strong emphasis on the involvement of co-curricular activities such as symphonic band, choir, drama, dance etc in schools.
When I was back in Singapore, I attended a friend’s concert or performance once every few weeks. However, I couldn’t find enough people to watch a KL PAC play or MPO concert with ever since I came back from Singapore although the tickets are much cheaper here.
However, I feel excited that the performing arts scene in Malaysia is actually up and coming and has huge potential. I realized that most developed countries would have a mature performing arts scene, probably because it is through the performing arts that we learn to laugh at ourselves and accept each other’s differences.
With the likelihood of a better education system and more exposure to the world and the performing arts, it is likely that Malaysia would have a more mature electorate that is able to explore sensitive issues with a laugh, and make well-informed decisions for themselves.
(Read more here)
11. WE ARE LIKELY TO BE MORE MALAYSIAN FIRST, RACE SECOND, A MALAYSIAN MALAYSIA
Even from his campaign in 1964, Lee Kuan Yew’s vision was always for Malaysia to be a “Malaysian Malaysia”. Hence, it is likely that he would have made sure that this became a reality if he was ever our Prime Minister.
12. OUR AVERAGE INCOME MIGHT BE HIGHER
With the policies that Lee Kuan Yew might have implemented to ensure a world-class education system, a transparent and meritocratic system of governance, a hub to attract foreign investment and top talent, likely resulting in a stronger economy and a stronger ringgit, coupled with our larger population size and rich natural resources, there is a chance that our average income might be higher.
WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN THE SAME?
However, it is also important to note that certain things would’ve still been the same even if Lee Kuan Yew became our Prime Minister.
1. MALAY WOULD STILL BE OUR NATIONAL LANGUAGE
Many people might not know that Malay is still the national language of Singapore, which is the reason why their national anthem “Majulah Singapura” is still sung in Malay till this date.
English is just their administrative language and the standard medium used in schools, but Malay remains their national language.
2. MALAYS & INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WOULD STILL HAVE BUMIPUTERA STATUS, BUT WITHOUT SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND BENEFITS AS WE KNOW IT
I remembered reading in one of his books that Singapore still recognizes the special position of the Malays as the indigenous people of Singapore and that position is still protected under Article 152 of the Singapore Constitution.
However, that does not mean that Malays would enjoy special economic benefits as of right as the protection and recognition applies only to their special position as the indigenous people of Singapore and their language and culture.
Special economic benefits and privileges are given to Singaporean citizens as of need rather than as of race or ethnicity.
3. WE WOULD STILL BE A MULTI-LINGUAL & MULTI-CULTURAL SOCIETY
Lee Kuan Yew in his books mentioned that he feels that we as Southeast Asians should not forget our roots and our culture, which is why he made it a point to make the learning of one’s mother tongue compulsory for Singaporeans.
It is likely that he would do all in his power to preserve our multi-lingual and multi-cultural roots as well.
4. WE WOULD STILL GO THROUGH A “DICTATORIAL PHASE” OF GOVERNMENT
Lee Kuan Yew has been described as a benevolent dictator by many history books and articles. He has also been said to have used the Internal Security Act left by the British to curb the threat of the communists and in the process, and as some critics say, his political opponents as well.
However, from his books, I can see that his actions all come from having Singapore’s best interests at heart. So, if some of you think that Tun Mahathir’s way of governing can be seen as bordering on “dictatorial”, it is likely that Lee Kuan Yew would have been the same too. But from his books, we can expect that Lee Kuan Yew would always have our nation’s interests at heart even when he resorts to “dictatorial” practices.
5. WE WOULD STILL HAVE SOMETHING LIKE THE NEP TO GIVE AN ADVANTAGE TO CERTAIN GROUPS OF PEOPLE, BUT IT WOULD BE NEED-BASED AND NOT RACE-BASED
In his books, Lee Kuan Yew acknowledged the need for policies that will help the poor and underprivileged to even out inequality, but stressed that they should not be raced-based, but need-based. As long as a Singaporean citizen, regardless of their race, falls into the category where they would need some government assistance, it shall be given to them.
6. WE WOULD STILL HAVE PLENTY OF GOOD FOOD & KNOW HOW TO SPEAK OUR MOTHER TONGUES
All Singaporeans today are fluent in the English language. However, they still speak their mother tongues and appreciate their cultural practices and food although I have to say that in my personal opinion Malaysian food is much better and we tend to be much better at our dialects and mother-tongues.
Nevertheless, even if Lee Kuan Yew had been our Prime Minister, I believe that we would still have plenty of good food as we have today and still know how to speak our mother tongues.
Hence, that pretty much sums up the ways in which I think Malaysia might be different today or similar if Lee Kuan Yew was ever our Prime Minister.
LOVE OUR COUNTRY AS HE DID HIS, AND WE’LL DETERMINE OUR NATION’S OWN DESTINY
I might be wrong.
But nevertheless, I believe that we as Malaysians should learn to love our country. Whether you liked the way Malaysia might have been different today if Lee Kuan Yew had been our Prime Minister or shared his vision for Malaysia or not, I believe that as long as we Malaysians work as hard and fight as hard as Lee Kuan Yew did with his country’s best interests at heart, in his case Singapore and in our case Malaysia, Malaysia would slowly but surely become the great and successful nation that we envision it to be, or more than how great it already is today.
“At the end of the day, what have I got?
A successful Singapore.
What have I given up? My life.”
– Lee Kuan Yew
This is just a personal piece to explore my imagination on what might have happened if someone whom I have always regarded as a great leader who recently passed away had been the Prime Minister of my country. It is in no way whatsoever meant to draw a comparison with anyone or any organization. It is just a part of my personal imagination of the “what ifs” and “would haves” if history had taken a different turn at some point, which I can never be entirely sure of in the first place. I would also like to say that I love my country and everyone and every bit of its history that has made us who we are today. I also have great respect for the men who built my country, Malaysia, especially our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman and Tun Mahathir whom I personally admire for his vision and wit, all of whom have contributed to building Malaysia into the country I love and am proud of today. Factual references in this piece are also written from my memory of the books and articles that I’ve read, and hence might be wrong or inaccurate due to the limitations of my memory, of which I did not re-verify because this piece was never meant to be anything more than a personal expression of my imagination for personal consumption. So there is really no reason for anyone reading this to feel threatened or insulted in any way because this is merely an innocent piece of my personal imagination of what might have happened if a man that has already passed away had played a different role in his life.
If you’re interested, here’s a follow up piece on “8 Ways Malaysians Can Do Our Part To Help Our Country Fulfill Its Full Potential Regardless Of Who Our Prime Minister May Be“
Enjoy & Have A Great Day Ahead!
Ever been out with a friend or a bunch of friends and happen to bump into some friends of theirs?
Ever had them engaging so deeply in conversation that you felt awkward and left out, start looking at your phone or struggle to decide whether to be proactive and say hi or simply just disappear into the background?
I am sure we’ve all been through that, especially here in Malaysia where we don’t have a particularly strong introduction culture.
That’s why, as nice, respectful and considerate friends, here’s a list of the reasons why we should start adapting an introduction culture and start introducing our friends to each other when they meet.
I feel that something like this should be common courtesy and manners that each and every one of us should learn to cultivate.
1. So Nobody Would Feel Left Out
If you’ve been on the receiving end of this you’ll know how it feels to be left out all of a sudden when the friend you’re with starts talking with a friend they’ve just bumped into for a really long time about topics and people that you don’t know anything about, leaving you all alone and feeling left out.
Of course, those of us who are more confident would be able to work this one out by being proactive and taking the initiative to introduce ourselves, and that’s what I’d usually do.
However, over the years since coming back to Malaysia, I’ve realized that Malaysians in general are not too receptive of this behavior. They might think that you’re being too friendly, too pushy or weird; which till this day I still can’t quite grasp why. Perhaps most Malaysians are just not that used to meeting genuinely friendly people who would say hi to strangers.
Furthermore, doing so would also take a certain amount of courage, which is fine on a good day when your self-esteem is high, but might take a bit more effort on a bad day.
Things would just be so much easier and so much more comfortable if our common friend could just start by making a simple introduction.
So, to avoid making our friends feel left out, please remember to make an introduction whenever your friends meet.
2. So It Won’t Get Awkward
If our friends are not properly introduced, and either party is not a particularly great conversationalist, the situation can get pretty awkward.
Simply because accidents can happen when people don’t know enough about each other to start off a conversation with and might accidentally step on each other’s toes. Furthermore, the stranger who ends up introducing themselves, if they do, would come across as “intrusive”.
(I personally don’t see how this can be intrusive at all but well, somehow, some people feel that way.)
Either that, or it’s just going to be weird if there is this “extra” person who’s nearby looking at their phones or being part of a conversation that they know nothing about and throwing an awkward smile every once in a while.
So, to prevent such uncomfortable awkwardness, please make that introduction.
3. So Everyone Feels Comfortable
When you’re with people whom you don’t know a thing about and they’re talking about people or things you can’t relate to, you’ll naturally feel uncomfortable.
You’ll have that “Why am I here” feeling.
But things would be very different our mutual friend made that introduction.
4. Because Only You Can Do It
Guess what, in such situations, only the person who knows everyone is in a position to make an introduction!
So if you’re the mutual friend, it has to be you!
5. To Plant Sparks In Hopes Of Fireworks
We are actually surrounded by amazing people in our extended network, it’s just that we haven’t been introduced yet!
I’ve had friends from different circles of my life going on to be soul mates or best of friends, and they got to know each other because of a simple introduction I made on a random occasion or on one of my random outings. And to think that they might have never met if it wasn’t for that introduction I made, is sad and scary.
(Here’s a story on a group of strangers who became awesome friends because they got introduced)
The thing is, you’ll never know what could happen. There probably won’t be any follow-up from most of the introductions you make, but for those few that go on to become lasting friendships or even love stories, it’s worth it.
Besides, what do you lose by making an introduction anyway, so just make it!
(Here are some tips on how to make an introduction if you’re interested)
“For those few that go on to become lasting friendships or even love stories, it’s worth it.”
If you’re wondering how you could easily introduce your friends to each other, here are some tips that might help you do so.
1. INTRODUCE YOUR FRIENDS RIGHT AFTER SAYING HI
Introduce them at once after saying hi so you don’t keep either of them waiting.
Don’t let there be any opportunity for either of your friends to feel awkward or left out.
*Bump into another group of friends*
“Hey Henry, what a co-incidence!”
“By the way have you met John?”
2. INTRODUCE THEM BY THEIR NAMES
*continuation from above*
“John, this is Henry”
“Henry, this is John”
3. DESCRIBE YOUR FRIENDS BRIEFLY AND HIGHLIGHT THEIR STRENGTHS/BEST QUALITIES
“John is my high school friend who’s now a pilot, he’s a really cool guy who loves sports”
“Henry is my colleague, he’s really good at cooking!”
4. POINT OUT SIMILARITIES IN INTERESTS/BACKGROUND/LIFESTYLE
“Oh by the way Henry/John is a Man Utd fan/loves musicals/loves basketball too!
*pointing out similarity*
Maybe you both can (do the activity) together!”
*suggestion to build rapport*
5. INVOLVE EVERYONE IN CONVERSATIONS (FILL THEM IN)
Sometimes, we might get carried away talking to a friend about something or somebody that our other friend has absolutely no idea about.
This would cause our other friend to feel awkward and “extra”, the “what am I doing here” feeling.
So, as friends, we should fill our friends in to make sure they feel comfortable.
*when you are talking about someone your other friend doesn’t know*
To your other friend: “Just in case you’re wondering, Jane is our classmate from high school who recently….
(fill your friend in on the context of the conversation)”
*when you are talking about an event that your other friend doesn’t know about*
“John bought a car recently, that’s why he’s asking/thinking about….”
6. GIVE THEM TIME TO TALK TO EACH OTHER
Once you’ve planted these conversation starters and properly introduced them, give them some time to find out more about each other.
You never know what could happen as a result of this simple introduction you’ve made!
“You might just have introduced two future good friends, soul mates, business partners, or travel buddies to each other!”
Time is one of the extremely valuable things in our lives that we can’t get back once we’ve given it to someone. Once we block out a timeslot to spend with someone, that time is gone forever.
“Time that we’ve given or committed to someone is something that we can never ever get back, a part of our lives that will be lost forever, so it better be worth it and not be wasted…”
People need to learn to understand that it is a huge privilege and honour for someone to agree to spend a part of their lives that they can’t ever get back with you, even if it is just for a 15 mins meeting.
That is why, I feel that it is extremely important for us to respect each other’s time, appreciate it and not waste any of it; because otherwise, we would be literally robbing someone of their life and precious time on earth.
1. SET A DATE AND CONFIRM FAST
If you’ve already decided or agreed to meet someone or go for an outing, then open up your schedule, find an available date, set it, block out that slot and confirm fast.
If you have too many free dates and do not know how to choose, then let the other person know all of them and let them choose.
If your available timeslots don’t match, then provide a list of available timeslots weeks or months ahead, or as far into the future as it takes until you find one that does, and confirm it.
Either that, or just cancel and try again next year or during your next “available period”.
“Don’t have a ‘tidak apa’ attitude, it is an inconsiderate act of selfishness”
Some of us tend to adopt a more casual or “tidak apa” attitude towards this because we are either not on a tight schedule, have nothing really important to do or simply only care about ourselves.
But bear in mind that the person we’re meeting or are going on an outing with might not. They might have a tight schedule, many important things to do and many slots that are urgently waiting to be filled and confirmed but can’t be filled yet because they are waiting on our confirmation and respect us enough to entertain our deely-daley-ness and inconsiderate indecisiveness.
So don’t leave it hanging.
“Communicate. Set a date & confirm fast.”
Even if the other person schedules other things first and is busy with their lives, having to think about confirming the date and time with you at the back of their minds is a huge waste of time and brainpower for them as well.
So decide. It’s either a yes or no. If yes, decide when and where fast.
2. SAY NO OR EXPLAIN UNAVAILABILITY QUICKLY
For a lot of Malaysians, we are often stuck in the “maybe” zone, and this very reply and state of mind (a state of indecisiveness) is what wastes a lot of time.
If we are feeling “maybe” about something, we should really just say no, and if you’re courteous, explain why. This is because mostly, the fact is that we simply don’t care enough to make something happen and make it a yes.
In that case, just say no and don’t waste anyone’s time.
“Decide whether it is a yes or no, either make it happen or not, don’t be an even bigger asshole by further wasting someone’s time…”
A lot of times, we are reluctant to say no because the reasons behind it makes us feel like an asshole.
The fact is, if it does, then we are an asshole and we should just admit it, because if we say maybe and waste other people’s time, we are just being even bigger assholes than we already are. So either don’t be an asshole and say yes and make it happen, or just admit it and say no and not waste someone’s time.
“Have the courtesy to explain why if you really want to but can’t”
If you really want to meet or make something happen but can’t due to various good reasons, then explain it immediately.
This way, at least you will both know and understand what is happening and can work something out together. Don’t leave others waiting or guessing and waste their time in doing so, because it is not a pleasant process and might cause misunderstandings as well.
So if it is a no, say so quickly. If you are courteous, then do explain why. If you really want to but can’t, explain the situation promptly and I am sure something can be worked out in no time.
3. DO NOT CANCEL OVER PETTY ISSUES
Of course, emergencies happen, and if something really urgent and important came up, it is perfectly fine to cancel and re-schedule.
But we would be horrible time-robbers if we cancelled over petty issues or because someone you wanted to meet more wanted to meet at the same time.
Well, this is a matter or priority and how much you respect each other’s time.
“Respect people’s time equally and try not to be selfish…”
Personally, I respect everyone’s time equally and am not a selfish person.
So I would never cancel or re-schedule if other friends or people I cared about more wanted to meet at the same time, because I respect everyone’s time equally and they would just have to wait. But of course, if I cared more about them, I would have naturally scheduled in more time with them on another date. However, I do make exceptions for urgent and special circumstances that I have no control over such as for someone who’s only in town for that particular weekened, has a flight to catch or if it is an urgent emergency. Having said that, I would still make it a point to explain why I really had to cancel and am very sorry about it and promise to make up for it, and really do make up for it as soon as possible.
In short, we would be robbing someone of their time if we cancel over petty issues because they would have already committed that timeslot to meeting you and would have rejected other opportunities or activities in your favour. Furthermore, it is also not always, and often not possible to schedule a replacement activity or meet in time because you cancelled, so that slot would’ve been wasted in some ways although they can spend time doing their own personal things.
So don’t cancel over petty issues, only do so if it is an urgent and important emergency.
“Make sure you make it up to someone if you do cancel, because you would have wasted their time in some way or another…”
Having said that, I also feel that if we do happen to have to cancel due to an urgent and important emergency, the onus should be on us to make up for it and initiate a replacement meet or outing to make up for it, because we would have wasted their time nevertheless and we should do something about it.
4. BE ON TIME
Given the unpredictable circumstances of Malaysian traffic conditions, parking problems and culture, perhaps it is impossible to expect on the dot precision like the Japanese do.
Having said that, we should still always try our best to be on time by aiming to arrive early to compensate for the many delays that might occur along the way.
In a Malaysian context, a margin of 10-15mins is still arguably acceptable, but if it is anywhere more than 30mins, then you would definitely be robbing someone of their time.
Personally, I also feel that if we are the one who initiated the meeting, or if we are in a position to most benefit from the meeting or outing, then the onus should be on us to put in the extra effort required to make sure that we are absolutely on time and not have the other person wait for us.
5. BE STRAIGHTFORWARD & INFORM EARLY
If we had a flat tire, got involved in an accident, will be late, or had something urgent come up and have no choice but to re-schedule, it would be our responsibility and also common courtesy and manners to be straightforward and honest in informing the people we are meeting of the situation as soon as possible so that they have time to make plans to make good use of their time due to the your cancellation or delay.
Even though some of us might not appreciate our own time, bear in mind that others do, and I am sure a lot of people would appreciate such gestures and manners from us, especially busy people who have many important things to do.
If you are one, I am sure you would understand.
If you are not one right now, perhaps you would become one someday, and you would finally grow to understand this.
Nevertheless, someone’s time is a part of their life that they can never ever get back once it is spent or being committed to you.
DON’T BE A TIME ROBBER
So don’t rob them of it, and in the same way don’t rob yourself of your own precious time on earth.
Do share this message around if you think it is worth sharing and would help save yourself and countless other people from getting their precious time robbed from them.
“All of us only have a limited amount of time on earth, so don’t rob others and ourselves of it…”
Right now, at the time of writing, you might or might not have met me yet; but I just wanted you to know that even from today, I have vowed to love you with all my heart & soul, to always be there for you & try my utmost best to make you the happiest woman in this world.
By choosing to marry me, you’ve probably found a way to appreciate all the sweet little things that I’ll do for you from time to time to not find them annoying, the little notes that I’ll write you from time to time, the random poems, the random improvised songs on a guitar which I think are sweet & funny, but can actually be quite lame & childish at times, and the random surprises I’ll throw you in an attempt to brighten up your day.
The truth is, I’ve been practicing them all along on friends & random occasions, and I hope my skills would be good enough to make you laugh by the time I finally find you.
THANK YOU FOR BEING WILLING TO GO ON AN ADVENTURE WITH ME
I also want to thank you for having the courage to go on this long & exciting adventure, called life, together with me; especially when you’ve found out about my dreams & passion in trying to help Malaysia fulfill its full potential (story here) , in the process having to embark on the extremely challenging journey of entrepreneurship & start-ups (story here), in hopes of being able to build a world-class product that could leave a significant positive impact on the world, making it a better place while in the process attaining the financial & economic influence needed to make a difference in my country.
It’s hard. I know. It’s very hard.
Most would think that it is impossible, that I am hallucinating, that I am overestimating my abilities, or that I am only speaking of such a dream in an attempt to impress or satisfy my ego.
THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING & SUPPORTING MY DREAMS
You would have had to have known me enough to know that my passion is real, that I truly care for others and making a difference in my country and I, of all people, am the last person that would ever say something just to impress others or satisfy my ego, because I am the sort who is comfortable in my own little introverted world.
Plus, with the tremendous amount of challenges & sacrifice, financial and mental, needed to achieve this, together with the fact that only 1 in 10 start-ups would eventually succeed, the fact that I am doing this in a region where the ecosystem is not entirely ready to build billion dollar companies, exits are relatively small, mainly comprised of localized versions of globally proven products, and even if I do succeed, there is no guarantee of me being able to make an impact, that achieving just one of these milestones might take me years to decades, and maybe even a lifetime, and would require me to give most of my wealth away, it simply makes no sense for me to do it if I wasn’t genuinely passionate about it.
You would know that every single day, I ask myself whether I am hallucinating, whether I am the right person to give this dream a try, whether I have what it takes, whether I am good enough, and whether I should just give up & live a simple & comfortable life as a lawyer, conventional investor or an investment planner.
But you would also know that I am doing all that I am doing not for myself, but because I feel that it is what God has called me to do, through an extensive series of events that happened when I first started having a personal relationship with God. You would know of my testimony, and know that although I have doubts about this from time to time, that God has always reassured me, that I have faith in Him.
Furthermore, you would also know that I think that life is short, and would like to live life to the fullest, have no regrets, and try my very best in everything I do. (Story here)
So this is me trying, despite my doubts about myself, because I believe in God, I believe in trying, and I believe in my ability to learn & do whatever it takes, that my best will forever be improving, that one day, hopefully it will be good enough, to at least try to make my dreams a reality, that the chance of it succeeding and lives it could impact would be worth it, and that no matter what happens, the journey will be a fun & exciting one, a roller-coaster ride, full ups & downs, one that I hope to embrace, cherish and share together with you, an adventure of a lifetime.
THANK YOU FOR BELIEVING IN ME
It must’ve taken a lot of faith for you to believe in my abilities, for you to care enough to find out more about me & my dreams, the reason why I am pursuing them, understand them, have faith in my extremely detailed step-by-step plan in achieving them and support me in my pursuit of them.
You must have gotten to know me pretty well to be able to believe in my ability to learn & achieve things, from the way I do things, react to things and my past achievements so far; and also to believe that I have the character to be a good husband & a good father, from my actions, from the way I treat people, the way I think, the way I hold true & act on my principles & values, react to situations and especially what I do or not do when nobody is looking or nobody knows.
I cannot promise you that I will be successful, but I can promise you that I will keep trying, will remain positive, and will give my best. I am confident in my ability to earn, learn & achieve from my past experiences, and am quite confident that we will have an amazing adventure and a comfortable life together, but for you to be able to see it and believe it as I do would require you really getting to know me over time and taking a leap of faith, therefore I thank you for that.
Furthermore, by now, we probably both understand that happiness doesn’t come from achievements or material wealth, it comes from within, from being contented, and having someone to share the joys of life together and having someone to support and encourage you during difficult times, having someone to be there for you and go on this long journey and adventure called life together no matter what happens. (More here)
We both would understand the simple fact that, as long as we are together, we would be happy; and this, is what’s most important.
THANK YOU FOR INVESTING YOUR TIME TO GET TO KNOW ME
I don’t know how you were able to do it, to believe in me, and to care enough to find out more about me. But I am glad you did, and I can’t thank you enough for it, which is why I think you are absolutely amazing, and would love you from the bottom of my heart until the day I die.
I really want to thank you for having such a big heart, to be able to accept me for who I am, for understanding my values & principles, and also to accept and love my friends as much as I love them.
Thank you so much for understanding that my friends are extremely important to me, and for understanding & sharing the values I believe in, to love God whole-heartedly & love people fervently. I know it is hard, that’s why it would’ve been very hard for me to continue to hold true to these values and live my life doing so if not for your love, encouragement & support.
As you would’ve probably also found out, I value my friendships a lot, and have many close friends, bros, and god sisters whom I am really close to and love. Thank you for understanding that I love them as my own siblings, and for accepting and loving them as you would a brother or sister-in-law, although they are not my real siblings. (Reason can be found here & here)
NO ONE CAN EVER TAKE THE SPECIAL PLACE YOU HAVE IN MY HEART
Thank you for understanding and realizing that although I love them a lot and would do a lot for them, more than some less loving people would do for their other halves, none of them can ever take your special place in my heart, that very special place that could only fit one person, which I have always been reserving for you.
That single most valuable place in my heart, that is reserved only for my soul mate, the most important person in my life, the person with the keys to my entire heart & soul, all my secrets and everything I ever knew of, the top priority in my life, the person who could heavily influence the decisions I make in life, the person I would always save first if my mom and the person, my god siblings or any other person fell into the sea and I could only save one, the person whom I would love with the most precious part of my heart that no one else can get access to, the person I would literally die for, and that person is you.
THANK YOU FOR BEING PATIENT WITH ME
I also want to thank you for being patient with me, for taking some time to really get to know you before really making romantic advances and going after you, because I am not the kind of guy who would go after a girl just because she is pretty or attractive, because I am more attracted to someone’s heart & character, which would take me some time to discover, and also because knowing me, I would love the girl that I eventually decide to commit into a relationship with so much that even though I have strong & rational opinions of my own, I would probably give in to her wishes eventually if she insists on it.
She would have a very strong influence over my life & the decisions I make, in how I use my abilities, how I treat people and how I choose to live life, as you would probably have realized by now. That is why I thank you for your patience in understanding why I need to take some time to find out if you had the heart & character that would help make me a better person, be able to accept & love a person such as myself, and not abuse the influence you would have over me.
And of course, thank you for not being scared away by the sincerity, honesty and possibly intensity when I eventually went after you.
THANK YOU FOR UNDERSTANDING MY FAITH
I would also like to thank you for attempting to understand the role God has in my life, that most of the principles & values I hold true, the things I do and pursue in life are largely influenced by Him. I do not know whether you are already a Christian right now, or like me before, a rationalist and skeptic still looking for answers, or simply enjoying life & not thinking about stuff like these at the moment; but I thank you for eventually attempting to understand why I do what I do & believe in what I believe in, and giving God a chance, in attempting to explore His love for yourself.
This is important to me because without your understanding, I wouldn’t be able to live a life where I put God first in everything I do, because knowing me, I would love you so much that you would be first instead of God, unless you too have found God for yourself, and believe that we should put God first, so we can embark on this exciting journey together where we put God first in our lives.
THANK YOU FOR LOVING ME
There is also a high chance that you, my beloved wife, could be my first and only girlfriend, because at the moment of writing, I am 24 and have yet to commit into a romantic relationship, despite receiving interests from potential suitors, because I have been holding out for you, someone who has the patience to truly get to know me and what I am up to, someone who has the capacity to understand and support my values, principles, and dreams, someone who would be willing to go on an adventure of a lifetime with me, facing the ups and downs might hold together.
Sometimes, I do wonder whether I am being too picky, whether I should hold out until I finally find you, but I realized that I should, because if I get into a relationship just for the sake of it, I might end up hurting the other person should they not be fully aware of the dreams, values and principles I hold, or do not have the capacity to understand or support them.
Hence, since there is a high chance that you could be my first and only girlfriend, I would have a lot to learn about being a good boyfriend and being in a relationship. So I’d like to thank you for loving me enough to guide me through it and hopefully make up for my lack of experience.
But don’t worry, if my history in other things is a good guide to fall back on, I should be a pretty fast learner, I hope.
Well, at this moment, I do not yet know how we would eventually meet; maybe we have, but I do not know it yet, but whatever the case, I would like to thank you for assuming the best in me from the start and not judging me too soon.
As you would probably have found out by now, I am a genuinely & sincerely friendly guy. I love meeting new people, getting to know them better and build lasting friendships. I would regularly check in on my friends, make sure I spend enough quality time with them, make sure I’ll be there for them when they need me, and I love to get to know people better individually over coffee, both guys and girls.
THANK YOU FOR ALWAYS ASSUMING THE BEST IN ME
Chances are you might have been one of them, so thank you for assuming the best in me from the start, and not thinking that I was overly friendly, having ulterior motives, insincere or was trying to impose my views on you by sharing what I have learnt & thought would be beneficial to share as some people would if a stranger did so.
Thank you for investing the time & having the faith required to know that I am indeed a sincere friend.
YOU WILL ALWAYS BE MY TOP PRIORITY
Now that we are married, thank you also for having such a big heart to care for my friends as I care for yours, to support me in continually checking in and spending quality time with my friends, being there for them, spending quality time with them, having coffee with them and continue to get to know more new friends, and joining me whenever you are free.
You might have also realized by now that although I care a lot about people, you will always be my top priority. You would always be at the top of my list of people to love and care about, to spend quality time with and to be there for, simply because you are my wife, my soul mate, the person I love the most and the most important person in my life, whom I have committed to spend the rest of my life with.
LOOKING FORWARD TO SHARING OUR LIVES TOGETHER
I also hope you’d share my passion for living life to the fullest and love the little adventures that I’ll bring you on, the random road trips, backpacking trips, luxury trips or just the random treasure hunt for good food, or some random crazy idea that we might come up with together like taking whichever is the first flight out of the airport (like these).
I might not know you yet, but I am looking forward to share your passions and interests with you, and I am pretty sure I’d love them too because I am a generally curious person who’d like to try anything at least once. Of course, it would be fun if you’d also attempt to appreciate my interests such as music, performing arts, good food, travelling, exploring new places, spending quality time in cooling places like mountains with a cup of hot coffee, and so on.
THANK YOU FOR ACCEPTING ME FOR WHO I AM
Of course, I also want to thank you for accepting & understanding my flaws and imperfections, or at least tolerate them.
Things like my somewhat extreme swings in thought and behaviour depending on the situation that can come across as contradictory and hypocritical at first, like how I can be very serious when I am supposed to be serious, but surprisingly carefree and goofy when there is no need to, how I am actually a very emotionally based person, who can also be very logical when it is best to be logical, how I can be shy but yet friendly, how I can be conservative & careful most of the time, but embrace extremely high risks when there is a need to or within the limits I’ve prepared for, how I can be hyper, crazy and talkative sometimes, but quiet and emotional when I’m feeling moody.
You would also probably have found out by now that deep down inside, I am actually a very shy and introverted guy, a guy who din’t even dare to order KFC from the counter when he was young because he was afraid that the person wouldn’t sell him KFC.
It’s just that over the years, I’ve found the strength and the capacity to expand my circle of trust significantly by assuming the best in others and loving others sincerely, by understanding why people are the way they are, accepting them the way they are and also through the love of God, which allowed me to be the genuinely friendly and caring person I am today.
Thank you for understanding and accepting all these about me.
I also realized that I might not be as good looking as Lee Hom or Tom Cruise, but thank you for being able to find my tall and unique features, which I personally find to be quite alright, attractive. But more importantly, thank you for spending enough time to get to know my full character, personality, unique sense of humour and engaging me at that level, because that is where the true foundation of a successful relationship can be built, when all our beauty and physical attractiveness fades in years to come.
I don’t know when you will be reading this, but if we are really old by then, I hope we can be like one of those old, wrinkled couples in their 80s & 90s in the park, where anything else in the world would not matter anymore, where they’ll be happy as long as they have each other, where they do not need to say a word to know that they care and love each other, where the mere presence and company of each other is enough to make them smile & feel loved.
LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU SOON
Honestly, at this point, I can’t be entirely sure whether you even exist, or if you do, whether I’ll meet you before you’ve decided to give your heart to someone else. You might still be discovering what you want to do in life right now, in another relationship, in another country, or simply just living an awesome life.
But whatever the case, I just want to tell you that I love you, and thank you for choosing me as your husband, loving me, having the patience to get to know me, understand me, believing in me and being willing to go on an adventure of a lifetime together with me. You might not have realized that you have such a big & loving heart to love and accept someone like me yet, or you never believed you could, but I just want to you to know that I believe in you too, and I have faith that I will find you one day, and help you discover and realize how amazing you are.
Meanwhile, I will continue to search for you, and I look forward to the day I can find out more about you, love you, and start this adventure together, because I know it will be awesome.
Your Future Husband
P/S: I hope you don’t mind long letters :p
“If you manage to find the right partner, life would be like heaven on earth, and I’m glad I finally found you.”
A wise man at a talk once recounted the first time he heard this quote from Braveheart:
“Every man dies, but how many truly lived?”
This quote had a profound impact on the speaker, which motivated him to take more risks in life, enjoy it while he can and embark on ventures that made him the success he is today, and of course, not forgetting to truly live and experience life.
HAVE YOU TRULY BEEN LIVING?
That got me thinking whether I was truly living my life to the fullest at that moment, and I realized that I could do much better.
In life, it is easy for us to be caught up by routine, by going to classes, rushing for assignments, deadlines, family commitments and work. But have we forgotten to truly live in the midst of all these busyness, commitments and routine?
Have we forgotten to see the world, experience the world for ourselves, spend quality time with the people you care about and so on?
OUR GREATEST REGRETS WILL BE THE THINGS WE DID NOT DO
I remember reading somewhere that a research has been done on what do people regret the most when they are old and near the end of their lives, and after surveying many old people who are in the last days of their lives, they’ve found that most people never really regretted the things that they’ve done, but instead, their biggest regrets are always the things that they did not do, the overseas trip that they did not go for, the business venture that they did not dare to start, the skill that they did not find time to pick up, the people they did not find enough time for before it’s too late, and so on.
As the old Cantonese saying goes:
“Long Life Kung Fu, Long Life Do” – Word for Word Translation of Cantonese Saying :p
The idiom is basically getting at the fact that there will always be work for us to do and that work will never end, so we should work diligently, but also make time to truly live out our lives, because work that is meant to be done over a lifetime should be evenly spread out over our lifetime without compromising our right to live life to the fullest.
DON’T LET LIFE PASS YOU BY IN A BLUR
If you have graduated and are currently in the workforce, you might realize that time flies much faster than you think it does.
In a blink of an eye, 5 years would have passed, your friends would have gotten married, you might have gotten married yourself, your kids would have grown up, but you would pretty much still be going through the same routine every day in your job and life, and everything would seem to have passed by in a blur.
While there is nothing wrong with that, have you ever wondered whether perhaps, you could have done a little more with your lives, or remove yourself from the routine and rush of life every once in a while, to pause in the right moments, to take it all in and enjoy the special moments of your life?
As the saying goes, “life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away”.
GO AFTER MOMENTS THAT TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY
How many times have you experienced that thrilling, yet soothing feeling where everything around you seem to just pause, for you to fully absorb and take in the experience?
Such moments where that surge of happiness rushes through your heart, and just stays there, and leaves you completely and absolutely wowed, and dumbfounded? Moments that leaves a mark in your heart, that would stay in your memories forever, and shine like bright spots and highlights of your life when you look back at it?