Thursday, September 28, 2006

Money matters

Consultants and experts......
This year has been a traumatic one for many of my close friends with regards to money matters. I have encountered many times where my friends who are close to me getting involved in dubious and frivilous investment schemes promoted by eager "consultants" and "financial experts". Nowadays, every "Tom, Dick and Harry" is an expert in finance. In this article I am not dishing out any advice on finance. Far from it, I would like to just share some of my friends and my own experiences(adventure and misadventures) on this matter of utmost significance. We all agree that because of money, family and life can get destroyed, literally and figuratively speaking.

The real expert....Sir John Bond, the highly successful Chairman of HSBC who retired this year after heading the second largest bank in the world for many years has this to say. In an interview which I read in The Edge this year he was asked as to what one single advice he wanted to share with the world. He said that in his life long carrier he always "learn the most from OTHER PEOPLE mistakes". Seeing, understanding and learning from other people's misadventures helps him NOT to commit the same mistake. Abraham Lincoln also penned the famous statement that "History repeats itself for those who do NOT LEARN from it". In this way, we will not end up in the situation where "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread".

Money makes money....The above statement has become famous after Robert Kiyosaki used it in his blockbuster book, "Rich dad, Poor dad". He introduced the concept of having a passive income stream whereby an astute investor need not have to work at all but yet have an endless and abundance of money to spend. Something like "they live happily ever after" fantasy world. The Bible(NIV) in 2Th3:10
says "If a man will not work, he shall not eat". This is clear indication that everyone should work until his retirement comes and not fall into the trap of wanting to "enjoy life without need to work". Work is good as it gives us a purpose and worth in life. If you do not like your work now, it is not a change of the type of work that is required but rather a change in our heart towards that work. Our attitude towards it is critical. John Wesley has reminded us on this matter when he says about 300 years ago "Work as hard as you can, earn as much as you can, and give as much as you can". Moreover, "idleness is the devil's workshop".

Investment....The most often used tactics by "financial experts" to lure people to invest in all kinds of funny schemes is by using inflation as a weapon to "scare the hell" out of those who are not investing. Their reasoning goes like this. Our inflation rate for Malaysia this year of 2006 is about 3.5%. Our fixed deposit rate is 3.75%. By not investing and keeping your money in the bank, our money is not actually growing(that is shrinking) albeit at a minutae 0.25%. Many times they convince us by saying that the real inflation rate is much higher. Just look at the price of a car or house 10 years ago and now. So you cant loose by investing. That logic is erroneous. Why? Most of the times, the investment they suggest gives worse returns!!! I mean negative territory. Although, they always portray a rosy picture at the begining. But we all know that it is at the end when we liquidate that counts for all our intent and purposes. The second richest man in the world (next to Bill Gates), Warren Buffet who has also been called the "SAGE of Omaha" has always maintained that the most important single rule of investment is "NOT TO LOOSE THE CAPITAL" . In other words, you are likely to even loose your pants in investing if you are naive and stupid. Even, Sir Isaac Newton, the brilliant scientist lost a huge fortune in shares and henceforth noted that " I can calculate the pathway and trajectories of the heavenly bodies but not the folly of humankind"

Should I invest.................Almost all people who are hard at work in their field does not not have the expertise, time and energy to invest in areas outside that field. In other words, if your line is not in finances, by reasoning you should not invest. Without skill, knowledge and experience in investment you are "trying luck" and tempting fate too much. During my childhood days, I remember very clearly the game called "Tikam Tikam". In the canteen or sundry shops are these beautiful toys hanging there as prizes for all to get if by luck the tiny slip of folded paper which we buy (something like 10 cents for each slip) strikes it. On hindsight now, the unwary and foolish candidate is invariably the loser. Many times some of the toys are still hanging there when all the slips have been purchased!! In other words, most of us are actually not equipped to invest at all in our life span. Dont "Tikam Tikam". Caveat Emptor("Investor beware"). Better to have simple food on the table than the "roast duck in our dreams".

Conclusion of the matter

Eccl 12:13 "Fear god and keep his commandments for this is the whole duty of man".

Monday, September 25, 2006

25th Reunion by Tai Kim Teng


This is the first time I am blogging here. Thanks for the opportunity. I just came back from my class reunion in Kuching a couple of weeks ago. It was a very refreshing and nostalgic moment for all who came(35 classmates). This is my personal experience and observation. Oon Keong who is in the same class of 1976/1981 University Malaya was unable to come. So I have volunteered to organise the next reunion in Ipoh in 2 years from now. In this way, Oon Keong will have no reason not to come.

Class of 76/81............
There were 128 students in my class. We studied together for 5 years from 1976 to 1981 in MU, KL. Those were the happy and carefree days. Life was good. Since graduation, most of us have gone our saperate ways and have been busy with our own lives. Most of us have never met each other for the last 25 long years! There was no time even for the occasional letters. By now, we are all half a century old or young whichever way you like to look at it. Some comments I gleaned from the intense discussions going round the tables that night, were:

Observation of life........

1.High IQ

The studious, hard working and intelligent ones complained that they are doing less well overall in life than those who are more "playful and carefree" classmates who "seldom study and fall alseep" during lectures. There was a particular bunch of outstanding classmates(4 of them which I cannot forget) who go to nightclub almost everynight and rarely revise their work. Surprise of surprises, today there are "successful" O&G specialist. All of them! They are more relax and less uptight with their lives. Their attitude is be happy and enjoy life to the fullest. You can see now that their family are very pleased with their father. They are now good family man and enjoy a balanced lifestyle.


From this event, it would seem that IQ (Intelligence Quotient) does not gurantee a "successful" outcome in later life. Sometimes it can a hindrance if the IQ "thing" goes too much into the head and puffs one up (pride and not teachable).
Goldman invented the theory of EQ ( Emotional Quotient) two decades ago. IQ assess your ability to analyse, understand, absorb and present knowledge correctly. EQ on the other hand assess you ability to network, relate, foster and establish relationship with others. No wonder my 4 "happy go lucky" classmates are doing better today. What they lack in IQ has actually been compensated by higher EQ. I believe the old adage that "style without substance is useless" still holds true. However, a nutritious food without excellent presentation would also not sell well. Therefore, by reasoning, substance and style are both important in life. John White says that it should start with inside out, not outside in. Both is required, IQ and EQ.

But, by not mentioning SQ (Spiritual Quotient), we have left the most vital part of our life on earth. Some of us are "wired" to seek God from an early age. There is a perennial hunger in our soul after things eternal and spiritual. These people spent a lot of their time on earth seeking the "peace which transcends all understanding and higher calling" in life which are not visible. They are more reflective and calm in their demeanor. Sometimes, we call them the "spiritual" types.
As we approach the second century of our lives, SQ will become more and more important. With one leg already in the coffin, as the saying goes, one need to ponder the "afterlife' seriously. Things visible which were very important before seems to occupy less space in our life nowadays. Wisdom, good health, peace, God which are not visible to our naked eyes are much more sought after commodity.

2. Life is a marathon and not a 100m dash

The famous tale of the "Hare and the Tortoise" which we listen during childhood is too often forgotten in later life. The person who starts with a great roar and superb confidence in life may not necessary finish strong. During one of the reunion night, I had the opportunity to have a long chat with one of my classmates. She was top of the class and had a nice boyfriend who love her very much since schooldays. Everyone knows that they were the perfect couple. Unfortunately, things have changed so much after 25 years. They have gone saperate ways and each have migrated far away from each other. Surprisingly, both came for the reunion from overseas. The boy told me that he took 30 hours to reach Kuching from his city!!It must have be a very long time since they have last met. I can sense it as they they were totally absorb in their own world of intense and passionate discussions during dinner. Next morning, I saw them together again in the hotel lounge. So much not said have to be said and so much more to be forgiven. Life have changed so drastically. Opportunities have been missed. Trivial things may have been misunderstood and left to fester. Things could have turn out better if just.........
In life it is true that "To err is human and to forgive is divine" Most things in life are small things which we make it out to be a big deal. The other day I came across this saying, "If one want to go far in life, one have to throw away the baggage of unforgiveness, resentment and bitterness.
A good start is desirable but it is the ending that counts for everything, the coveted prize of eternal life with Jesus.

Got to run and bathe now. Bye.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A reunion at Ipoh Swimming Club. We were so happy to meet Wai Hoong after all these years. So much to talk about. We left only after the waiters started switching off the lights at the other end of the hall. Just in case you cannot figure out who is who in this picture. Yau Ngan Sing, Kwoon Wai Hoong, Teh Moon Chong, Leong Oon Keong.

At the launching of my first book - Fun With Phonics, at the Menteri Besar's house in Jan. 2006. On my right is DatinSeri Diraja Dato' Kamariah, MB's wife who is Chairman of BAIDURI which sponsored my book for all Year One pupils in the whole of Perak as a special project. Nothing to shout about really. Just got a lucky break , doing the right thing at the right time for the right people!